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Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials is the first installment in a series of courses designed to show experienced Illustrator users to how master core features and build art more efficiently. Adobe Illustrator has evolved dramatically over the years, and many creative professionals may be missing out on features that have been added to the latest versions. This course takes a fresh approach to core concepts, such as paths, attributes, object hierarchy, groups, and layers. Advanced techniques such as combining multiple effects and customizing textures are also included. Exercise files and a free worksheet are included with the course.
So at this point, we not only know about the great power of being able to apply attributes to groups, we're also acutely aware of what can happen if we ungroup something that has an attribute applied to that group--meaning that attribute disappears. So, how do we work around that issue? For example, say I'm working in this file right here. It's groups_2.ai, as we can see right over here, and have a lovely motif over here that has a drop shadow applied to the group. If I click on this, I can easily see in my Appearance panel that I have a group, there are contents with in that group, but there is a drop shadow that basically encompasses the entire group itself.
One thing to note, by the way, is that the drop shadow is not being applied to the contents here. The contents are listed here, but notice that there is, like, no eyeball. There's, like, no listing here. It's almost like we skip over that area. Illustrator is letting us know right now that the drop shadow is being applied to the group, and oh, by the way, there are some contents that are in here inside of that group. Now, if I take a look at the Symbols panel inside of this document, I have here a flower, and I have also leaf. And say I want to add a third flower and maybe an additional leaf to this document as well.
So I am actually going to drag our a flower here on to this artboard. Let's put it right above here, and let's take one of these leaves and maybe we will go ahead and rotate this leave just a little bit like this. I'm just using the Rotate tool. The R key is the keyboard shortcut for the Rotate tool. So I have these pieces of art nicely positioned inside of my document, but the problem is is that these elements that I've just now added to my document are not part of this overall group. In other words, because this entire group over here had the drop shadow applied to it, these new elements that I've now applied do not have a drop shadow on them.
But I need those elements to have a drop shadow. I want those elements become part of the group. Now I can simply just take all these elements now and choose to create a new group. In doing so, I am creating a brand-new container that contains the existing container that has a drop shadow on it, and the new elements. So it won't add the drop shadow to the new group. Now in the past, because of the way that we always thought about groups before, what I probably would do is take this element right here at this group, ungroup it--use Command+Shift+G or Ctrl+Shift+G to actually ungroup the artwork-- then reselect everything. And now I'll create a brand-new group again by pressing Command+G or Ctrl+G. However, in doing that process, as you can see, I've blown away that drop shadow, and if I didn't pay attention to what the settings were for that drop shadow, I would have to find some way to understand what that exact same drop shadow was, and replicate it.
Now, in this example here I'm using a very basic drop shadow, but I am actually going to use the very complex appearance. For example, before we were using some really complex paths that had maybe four or five different strokes applied to them. So obviously this is not going to work. So I'm going to press Undo a few times. I want to go back to the example before where I don't actually have any artwork at all on my document, except for the original group, which has a drop shadow applied to it-- in other words, before I actually drag that to any of the symbol. What I'm going to do as when I am going to use my regular Selection tool here and I'm going to double-click on the group.
This is going to activate a mode called Isolation mode inside of Illustrator. What I've just done now is I've actually isolated just this group. You can actually see that I am in Isolation mode, because at the top of my screen over here, at the top my document window, I actually have a gray bar. And the gray bar alerts me that currently I'm inside of layer 1, and I'm looking at the Group that is inside of layer 1, meaning I've currently isolated now this group. Now, if there are other objects inside of my document, I will see that those objects get grayed out.
Just to give you an example, I'm going to double-click on a blank area here to exit Isolation mode. Then I'll create some kind of background, just a regular rectangle here, and I'll send this to the back. Let's choose Object > Arrange > Send to Back, and let's go ahead now and apply let's say a color-- maybe this kind of dark blue color here. And that now is a background for this piece of artwork. I just want to show you if I used a regular Selection tool now to double-click on the group to isolate the group, you see how now that background is kind dimmed back somewhat? It's no longer full strength.
When I isolate something Illustrator, automatically dims back all the other artwork inside of my document, and more importantly, it also locks it. Notice that even though I didn't lock that other background color, I can't select that object right now. The only thing that I can select are elements within my isolated group. Now if you really understand what a group is--remember that we said a group is a container--then we can imagine ourselves right now that since we've isolated the group, we are now actually inside of that group, meaning we are physically sitting inside of the container.
What's really interesting about this concept is the following. I am actually going to double-click here for a second to exit Isolation mode. Notice now I am using my black Selection tool. If I click on any of these objects right now, the entire group becomes selected. However, if I double-click to isolate the group and now I click on that same leaf, the entire group does not become selected; only this leaf becomes selected. Now, if you know how this Selection tool works inside of Illustrator, that might seem little odd to you because the Selection tool will always select the entire group--but not when you're already in the group.
You see, if I'm already inside the group, it makes no sense to select everything by clicking at one of the objects. So one of the real benefits of Isolation mode is that by isolating a group, I now can actually edit each of the individual objects within that group using the regular Selection tool. Let's go back here to the Symbols panel and actually drag out let's say this flower right here. Notice that as soon as I drag out the flower, the flower gets a drop shadow. It becomes merged with the rest of the elements that are inside the group, and the drop shadow now takes on the actual boundaries of this new flower.
If I add now a leaf as well and I drag, let's say, that out about here--I will actually hit the R key for the Rotate tool and kind of rotate it just like this-- notice that the leaf now automatically has a drop shadow. Why? Because I am directly adding these objects into the group. Because I've isolated my group first and now I'm inside that container, anything that I now add--if I draw with a Pen tool, or I draw some shapes using let's say the Rectangle or the Ellipse tool, or I start adding art work using symbols, or I even copy and paste elements--those elements all get added directly inside of the group, meaning they now take on the attributes that are applied to that group.
In this case, that's the drop shadow. Now if I'm done editing, I can now simply switch back to my regular Selection tool to double-click on any area outside the group. Or if I want to exit Isolation mode with a keyboard shortcut, I can simply tap the Escape key on my keyboard. So you can now see that if I click, all the elements becomes selected because they are now inside of that group, they all take on the group's attributes, and I've been able to successfully add elements to a group without blowing away any of its attributes.
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