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Illustrator can be used to accomplish many different design tasks. For this reason, Illustrator CS4 Essential Training teaches core concepts and techniques that can be applied to any workflow for print, the web, or assets that will find their way into other applications. Mordy Golding explains the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of Illustrator's drawing tools. He demonstrates how to combine and clean up paths, and organize them into groups and layers. Mordy also covers text editing, working with color, expressive brush drawing, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
A feature that's been around in Illustrator for quite some time is called Smart Guides. However, now in Illustrator CS4 the feature has gotten a pretty significant upgrade. In fact, that's also prompted the Illustrator team to turn Smart Guides on by default. So first just take a look at where the setting is and then we will talk about how it's used. Under the View menu there is an option here called Smart Guides. The keyboard shortcut for that is Command+U, or Ctrl+U on Windows. With that particular setting turned on, which is the case by default, as you move around your document and you mouse around objects they highlight. They are also identified by words. For example, this is a path and this is anchor point, so and so forth.
As if we needed that information. But it can be helpful when you have very complex documents and you are mousing around trying to identify certain areas of your file. Now as you master with these particular areas, you see that they highlight, which makes it easy for you to identify, which objects will be selected when you click. This prevents the trial of error for clicking on something and realizing, oh, I didn't mean to click on that, I meant to click on something else. But Smart Guides also help when you are working on particular piece of artwork and you want to align objects together. In fact, there are many different aspects or parts of Smart Guides. Let's take a look at some of them. For example, I'm going to take this orange surfboard right here and click on it.
I'm going to start to drag it. Notice that as soon as I drag it over here, a little Smart Guide pops up. That's a line that connects the middle of this surfboard, with the middle of the surfboard that had the word GROUNDSWELL on it. That's letting me know that right now the centers of these objects are currently aligned. As I move this object around, those guides appear to help me identify where these are aligning up to. For example, if I go out just right and I drag it here this way, I can see that they are aligning up in a certain way where they intersect. So now those particular surfboards are aligned up with each other in that way.
You press undo for a second here. I can take this entire one and move this down as well, and see that right now this intersects over here this line right now, with the top of that surfboard, and that way I know they are both aligned. So, I don't need specific alignment or even Draw Guides, as I'm moving objects and drawing them on my screen in order to quickly align them. For example, when it comes to drawing, I can see that as well. I'm going to click on my regular rectangle tool, and I'm going to start to click, but before I do so, notice that as I move my cursor around, it's identifying to me where these particular path may intersect. So if I wanted to draw a rectangle that was lined up at the top of this particular piece of artwork right here, I know that I can basically click and drag here, an now this rectangle matches from the top to the bottom of that particular surfboard.
So it's very easy for me to do that without having to worry about measuring it, so on and so forth. So Smart Guides just help me as I work inside of Illustrator. Now you will also notice one of the other things, as I'm drawing a rectangle here, you can see that a little gray box appears with a width and height. Again, that's also a part of Smart Guides. Smart Guides is again letting me know the dimensions of my shape as I'm drawing it. I'm going to press Delete here to get rid of that rectangle for a second. You can control the settings for what does, or does not appear with Smart Guides in Preferences. Again, I'll go to the Preferences button here in the Control panel, and I'll go from the pop up menu to choose Smart Guides. And you have many different options here. Aligning guides, those are the guides that popped up as I was dragging objects that help me identify whether objects were in align with each other. The Anchor/ Path Labels are those little words that are called anchor and path had highlighted, and that appeared as I moved over the anchor points or the paths.
Measurement Labels. That's the little gray box that identifies the size of the rectangle, or other shape as I'm drawing it. Objects highlighting is basically what allows us path to light up as I mouse over them. Transform tools allow me to basically as I am, maybe scaling or rotating an object to identify what angle I'm rotating an object on, or how big, or the change that has been occurring when I perform transformation for example. Instruction Guides also identify to me when objects are within the certain alignment, or a certain plain of other objects. For examples, 90 and 45 degree angles, or 135 degree angles. I can either choose from this pop up list a different types of angles, or I can specify up to six angles that I want, which could be very helpful if you create artwork that is maybe isometric, or suppose we can dial certain things in, to make it happen automatically.
Most importantly the Snapping Tolerance setting is what identifies, obviously what defines how close I have to get to an object in order for me to see that guide. Anything within four points will now basically allow me to snap to that particular guide, and make that particular Smart Guide visible. Now you turn some of these off. For example, I don't find it useful to identify anchor or paths for labels. I think the object highlighting in my opinion just gives me a little bit of headache, because things are flashing all over the screen as you are mousing around. The Transform tools is actually pretty cool.
Alignment guides are incredibly helpful as our Measurement Labels. So that's how I leave things with Smart Guides my preferences. The beautiful thing is, as I'm working inside of Illustrator, at any time I could use that keyboard Command+U to just simply disable the Smart Guides. Now I don't see them at all. Press Command +U, and now when I drag them I do see them. So it's something that I can control. It's a great feature when you need it, and it's great that you can turn it off when you don't.
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