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Adobe Illustrator has long been a popular vector–based drawing program, but for many the learning curve is steep. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals, author and leading industry expert Deke McClelland shows users how to get in to the Illustrator mindset and overcome this learning curve. He covers the application's key features in a new way, making it simple and easy to master Illustrator. Deke teaches viewers how to use the core drawing and shape tools, the transformation and reshaping features, text, and the Pen tool. He also explains how to export and print. Even if learning Illustrator has been a struggle in the past, this training can help make sense of it. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to use the Offset Path command in order to create a couple of variations on this uber shape right here, this combo of the fingers and the spiral shape palm. I have gone ahead and saved my progress so far as United shapes.ai inside the 07_edit_transform folder. I'm going to Ctrl-click or Command-click on that eyeball in front of the Elements layer in order to switch back to the Preview mode. Notice that my fingers appear a little bit too thin. Especially when compared to the thicker blue fingers that are associated with my big unite layer, as well as the thicker red fingers that represent the beveled edge. So let me show you how I made those.
Make sure that the Elements layer is active, click on the fingers in order to select them and I'm going to go ahead and press Shift+X in order to switch the fill and the stroke, so that we can see these black strokes combine with these transparent fills right here. So we can keep track of what's going on with our selected objects. I'm also going to turn off the big unite layer for a moment, so that we can really just focus on this shape and nothing more. Now we could make this shape thicker, if we wanted to bolster these edges here by going up to the line weight value and changing it to, for example, 6 points and that's going to move those edges outward. If we then combined those thicker strokes along with a black fill, let's say then that makes for a thicker object right there, more in keeping with the blue hand inside the big unite layer.
However, the problem with this approach is we don't really have our points where we want them. It's a little less Flexible as you will see as we work through this series. It's nice when possible not to use strokes in order to thicken shapes, just to use them to outline shapes and nothing more. Anyway, I'm going to undo those last couple of modifications. Ctrl+Z, Ctrl+Z here on the PC, Command+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. Then I'm going to go up to the Object menu in order to not stroke the shape but rather move the edges outward as if you would stroke them and then outline those strokes. You go to the Path command right here and then you choose Offset Path or if you changed your keyboard shortcut, you can press Ctrl+Shift+\, Command+Shift+\ on the Mac.
Now I'll go ahead and change that Offset value to the same thing, 6 points, and then click Preview. Now that's a way bigger movement than we saw before when we assigned the stroke. Reason being, recall that a stroke moves half out and half in by default. So a 6-point stroke really only provides an additional 3 points of thickness. So let's go ahead and change that Offset value to 3, instead press the Tab key and that looks exactly right. Now we want to stick with Miter Join, so that we have some nice sharp joins here in this case and otherwise, we are just here. A Miter limit 4, by the way, is saying that we won't let any one of these corners break away more than four times the Offset value. So we will break away more than 12 points away. If it did go any farther, it's going to get a beveled. You would see it happen on screen, it's a little bit of a technicality, but then you would just go ahead and raise the Miter limit value or switch your Join to something else. I'll click OK in order to apply that modification.
Now notice that the Offset Path command actually offsets and duplicates the path. So it creates a duplicate version of the original. That's great, especially, in our case because we need to create another version of this path with a beveled edge. We are always better off working from the original. So I'll click on that original shape. Now I want you to go up to the Object menu, choose that command again, or better yet, if you have the keyboard shortcut, give it a try. Ctrl+Shift+\, Command+Shift+\ on the Mac. We want to preview our settings, so go ahead and turn on Preview once again, raise the offset value to 8, press the Tab key. That's what we want. Now go ahead and click OK. We actually don't need this inner shape any longer, so you can go ahead and get rid of it. That was just useful for creating the two offset versions of the path. Select it now the innermost shape, now press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac, and now in order to achieve the beveled edge; if I were to turn this layer off and turn this one on for a moment, we need to move that larger shape down and to the right, so that the top-left edge is thin and the bottom- right edge is thick, as you see it here.
All right, so I'll turn off that layer, turn on this layer once again, and then I'll click on this outside shape and assuming that your keyboard increments are set to 0.2 point, as I directed you to do ever so long ago, you can press Shift+Right Arrow, Shift+Down Arrow in order to get the exact effect that you see here on my screen. That is the final version of the hand. In the next exercise, we are going to go ahead and finish off this illustration by styling and eyedrop-ing. You will see if you stay tuned.
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