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In this installment of the Illustrator Insider Training series, Mordy Golding shows how to draw vector artwork quickly, precisely, and efficiently—without having to think about technical concepts like anchor points or control handles. The course highlights intuitive drawing techniques using the Pathfinder functions, Live Paint groups, Shape Builder tool, and variable-width strokes. It also describes the sketching workflow and features in Illustrator that use pressure-sensitive drawing tablets, allowing designers to focus more on their creativity.
In this movie, we are going to specifically focus on these top four functions here at the top part of the Pathfinder panel, under this section header called the Shape Modes. In reality, what we are going to discuss in this movie are not going to be Shape Modes at all. That's something we are actually going to the discuss little bit later inside this chapter. But for now let's focus on what these four buttons here actually do. As I have said before, the whole concept of Pathfinder is drawing with math, meaning we take very basic shapes and that we combine those shapes using mathematical functions like Add, Subtract and something called Intersect and Exclude.
In fact, these have some different words that also describe their use, for example, instead of add, we could also say the word Unite, meaning it brings multiple objects together or we could say Minus Front, meaning take the front object and subtract it from the bottom object. In fact, when we mouse over these buttons right here we can see little tooltip will pop-up and this one we will say it Unite. But then it says use Option+Click to create a compound shape and add to the shape area. Again, we are going to focus on that specific functionality a little bit later inside of this chapter, but for now let's just focus on Unite, Minus Front, Intersect and Exclude.
So let's see what these four options do and then we will actually apply it to some of the artwork that we've already drawn here for Mister Zee. Now I am going to focus on these two circles here. I am working on this file called stripes.ai and I have two very basic circles here. They both have a black stroke on them. One is filled yellow and one is filled red and the circle that has the red fill is currently at the top of the stacking order and again this is going to be important as we discussed exactly what each of the Shape Modes or these Pathfinder functions do. So I am going to start off by first selecting artwork, because in order for any of these pathfinders to work you must first make a selection to let Illustrator know, which pieces of art you want to include in this mathematical function.
So I am going to select these two circles here and it's important to note at this point here that there are sometimes when we can apply math to multiple objects, but some of these mathematical functions only work when you have two objects selected. So right now, I have just two circles selected, but if I had maybe four or five I would be able to apply some of these functions. And I am going to take a look right now at this first option here called Unite. And as we discussed Unite or Add takes all the objects that I currently have selected and unites them or adds them to each other, so they now result in one unified object.
Now, before I do this let's first with look at the artwork that we are faced with. I have two circles. Both have the same weight of a black stroke and also both of them have fill but they have different fill colors. So if I were to now combine this into one new shape, I can have a single shape that has two different fills taking up different portions of it. We already know that we do have the ability using appearances to have multiple fills in a single object, but those fills are always taking up the entire area of the object and are stacked on top of each other in a Z order.
However, I can have maybe one half of the object with one fill and one half of the object with a different fill. Which would be the case here because I can see both yellow and red. So when I combine these, something is going to have to happen with the attributes that are applied to this shape. We will find out that when we actually started working with different Pathfinder functions or different shape modes, that depending on the stacking order and depending on a function that I choose, I will see different behavior. But now let's focus on just this one here called Unite. I am going to click on Unite and you will see that right now I have a single red object, so and now the yellow is gone, but instead of having two circles I now have one path that's been fused together to give me the total area of those objects together.
Now, the reason why it's colored red is because when I had my objects selected, the red circle was at the top of my stacking order. So whenever I apply the Add or the Unite shape mode inside of Illustrator, Illustrator will take the topmost object and use that object to style the rest of the objects when it unites them altogether. You press Undo for a moment here. Let's focus on the next one here called Minus Front. Another term for this is also going to be Subtract as we will see. Now this is going to take my topmost object, which right now is the red circle, and it's going to remove any area that overlaps it from the yellow circle beneath it. In other words what I really want to remain here in my artwork is the yellow circle, not the red one. I want to use the red circle to basically chip away or subtract or remove any parts of the circle that appear beneath it.
So in this case here, I really don't care about the red color. I care a lot about the yellow color because that's the shape that I want to end up with. So when I'm using Minus Front, Illustrator will take the topmost object and by the way, this is one of the functions that would require me to have just two object selected. I can't use this when I had three objects selected. But if I choose now Minus Front, Illustrator will leave me with the yellow circle which was the bottommost object in my stacking order, but it got rid of the red circle and it basically chopped away the part of yellow circle that was being covered by the red circle.
So that's what Minus Front does when I'm working inside of Illustrator. Once again let's press Command+Z and let's with press Undo. Let's take a look now at the remaining two Shape Mode functions here called Intersect and Exclude. Now Intersect would allow me to basically focus on just the areas were my objects actually overlap each other. So right now, I have two circles. The circles overlap in this area right here. Now again, the red circle is my topmost object, so I would probably want my object to stay red because I can see that overlapping area right now.
So if I were to choose now this option called Intersect I am going to get this result, an object that right now no longer has the yellow or the other red parts, but I am left now with just the center area where these two circles had overlapped and it's colored red. I am going to press Undo. The exact reverse applies, when I am using the Exclude option. Exclude will leave me with objects that are anything other than the overlapping areas, meaning I care more about the areas over here and over here and I don't care about the area in the center, but if I choose that option, you'll notice now again that everything turns red, which is similar to what we had before when using the Add.
Basically, Illustrator will force all the objects now that had the same fill and it will take the topmost object and use that fill as the fill for all other objects that are created now, by applying this Exclude Pathfinder function. So now we have a better understanding of what each of these Shape Modes do. We have the Unite function, we have the Subtract function of the Minus Front function, we have the Intersect function, and we have the Exclude function. Now there is a button over here called Expand, which is grayed out, but again ignore that for now because we are going to cover that later on this chapter.
But let's take a look now at applying what we have just learned to some of the artwork that we have been creating here for Mister Zee. So I am going to come over here for a minute, I am just going to zoom in on this part of Mister Zee over here. And we overlapped these oval shapes in order to start creating the stripes for Mister Zee. So let's see how we might just to start use Pathfinder functions to get at the final shapes that we want, because right now, we have a whole bunch of overlapping ovals and we don't have stripes. Sure, when we created these ovals, we knew that there were going to be parts of these, in this case right over here an area that would be a stripe and this area that would be a stripe.
But let's see if we can start use Pathfinder to start to build those actual shapes that we are going to use. Now remember, when we are using the Pathfinder functions we need to first select the artwork that we want to use. So I am going to start by selecting these two ovals right here, which are going to make up this part of the stripe right here. Now, what I really care about is this area right over here. So what I would want to use in this point here is the Exclude function because I don't care about the overlapping area. I care about the parts where they don't overlap.
So I am going to choose over here by the Shape Modes, to click on this option called Exclude. Now when I do that, it doesn't really look like anything has happened, but let's actually double-click on this to isolate it. Remember this now has become a group. This is actually something to be aware of. Whenever you apply a Pathfinder function the results could be multiple shapes. Illustrator will always group those shapes together. So whenever you apply a Pathfinder, you are also going to find that those objects are now grouped together. Since we're aware of what groups can do-- and again, this is something that we covered in detail way back in Illustrator Insider Training:: Rethinking the Essentials-- we know that we can now take advantage of other things like applying appearances to groups and using something called Isolation mode which we did right here.
We just double-clicked on it and now we are inside the group. Now that I am inside the group I am using my regular Selection tool here, I am actually going to click and drag to select this section. And you will notice that the rest of this part does not become selected because when we applied that Exclude Pathfinder, Illustrator kind of chopped this up into three overlapping pieces. So I am going to hit Delete now to get rid of that object and I will select this part here also and delete that and all I am left with right now is just this part. So we have gotten rid of the ovals, at least the parts of the ovals that we don't really care about, and all we are left right now with something that's looking a lot closer to what our final shape is going to be which is the stripe for Mister Zee.
I am going to double-click just do it exit Isolation mode. I am going to select now these two ovals right here. I'm once again going to click Exclude. Now I am going to double-click to isolate this group and I will select this area and delete it and I will select this area and I will see that oh, you know what, this area wasn't overlapping at all. I actually only had a result of two shapes here in this case and I don't want to delete this because I still need this and again a little bit later we will see that we can easily remove those parts. But I'm just going to leave this right now as it is. I am going to hit Escape, another way to exit Isolation mode.
And then I am going to select these two ovals and once again, instead of clicking on this option over here called Exclude, which can be quite tedious, I'm going to use a keyboard shortcut. It's actually something that's a little bit difficult to find because you can only see it inside of the fly-out menu of the Pathfinder panel. It's called Repeat Exclude or Repeat Pathfinder. Now what's interesting is that Illustrator doesn't tell me that there's a keyboard shortcut for this, but there is. In fact, let me show that to you. I am going to go over here to the Edit menu. I am going to scroll down to the bottom where it says keyboard shortcuts.
Now right now, I am looking at keyboard shortcuts for all the tools inside of Illustrator, but I could also choose to view and set all the keyboard shortcuts for all the menu commands that appear inside of Illustrator. So I am going to scroll down here to the bottom, where I see a section here called Other Object. Now these aren't menu commands that are found up on top of here like File and Edit and Object. I am going to click over here on this little triangle to reveal the settings and I'll see keyboard shortcuts here and one here called Repeat Pathfinder. The keyboard shortcut of this is Command+4, I am on a Mac, but if you are on Windows that would be the Ctrl+4, and if I click OK and I have these two objects selected and I now press Command+4 on my keyboard, it will now repeat the last Pathfinder that I did which was Exclude.
So now if I go ahead and I double- click on this to isolate it and I select this area, I can see right now that this has been chopped up into pieces as well and I could even select this area and see that there are other overlapping areas as well. In fact, let's go ahead and click over here and see that those are actually their own shapes as well. So now I am left with just the parts of the stripes that I am really interested in. So we were able to use Exclude in these cases to narrow our objects down. I am actually going to hit Escape to exit by Isolation mode here. And I've gotten my striped sections into something that's far more manageable and it's a lot closer to what I am eventually going to get to.
Now, there are also some other pathfinders we will need to use in order to complete our shapes here, but by using the Exclude function, we have been able to take those ovals and turn them into some that looks a lot closer to the final stripes we are going to use.
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