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In Illustrator CS5 Essential Training, author Mordy Golding explains the core concepts and techniques that apply to any workflow in Illustrator, whether designing for print, the web, or assets for other applications. This course includes a detailed explanation of the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of the Illustrator drawing tools. Also demonstrated are techniques for combining and cleaning up paths, organizing paths into groups and layers, text editing, working with color, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
We know that when working with symbols, there is really no consequence to how many of these instances we can add to a document. After all, they don't really add to my file size. They're all just simply copies of the original piece of art that's sitting inside of the Symbols panel. Well, say you wanted to create some kind of a background of a whole bunch of flowers. I have here two symbols that I've already created, this Poppy Symbol and this Daisy Symbol, and if I wanted to add a whole bunch of daisies to my artboard, I could start to drag them out, resize them, adjust them somewhat, and get a really nice background.
However, it's obviously going to take me a lot of work to do that. So I'm going to press Command+A and just delete all these right now. I'm going to use a tool inside of Illustrator. If you come over to my Tools panel here, there is a tool here called Symbol Sprayer tool. The keyboard shortcut for that is Shift+S. What this allows me to do is it allows me to select a symbol inside of my Symbols panel, and spray them out like spray paint all over my artboard. It's an incredibly fun feature to use, and if you have a pressure-sensitive Wacom Tablet, this feature can also be pressure-sensitive.
But for now, I'm going to use my mouse, and I'm going to ahead in the Symbols panel, and choose the Daisy symbol. Now you can see that a large circle appears at my artboard. It's kind of like a brush size inside of Photoshop. However, here inside of Illustrator, I like to refer to this circle as my Area of Influence. In a moment, when we start learning about additional tools that work with this sprayer, you'll understand why I give it that name. But for now, if you want to, you can use the Bracket Keys, that's the Square Bracket keys on your keyboard, to both decrease or increase the size of that area of influence.
I'm going to a leave it right now at its basic setting, and I'm going to click and drag with the mouse to start spraying these daisies out, on to my artboard. What happens, basically, when I release the mouse is that Illustrator creates something called a Symbol Set. Now before, when I dragged out individual symbol instances, those were one at a time, but now I have an entire set of symbol instances. This object or this Symbol Set is actually interactive in nature. Right now, that it's selected, if I continue to start clicking and now dragging to add more symbols, those symbols get added to the Symbol Set.
If I hold down the Option Key or the Alt Key on my keyboard, and I click and drag, it removes symbols from the Symbol Set. Well, now that I've added these onto the artboard, I want to start making some adjustments to them. Well, I'm going to come back over to the Tools panel, and I'm going to click and hold my mouse button down on the Symbol Sprayer tool, and I'll see that there are many other tools here, something called a Symbol Shifter tool, the Scruncher, the Sizer, the Spinner. Let's take a look at what these tools do. Just to make it easier to work with, I'm going to move my mouse all the way to the far right here, where the Tearoff icon appears.
When I release the mouse now, Illustrator turns this into a miniature Tools panel that I can put wherever I'd like. I'm going to start by selecting this tool right here called the Symbol Shifter tool. Here, I can click and drag and adjust the position or kind of shift around, the way the symbols move inside of this Symbol Set. This is why I like to refer to that circle as my Area of Influence, because all of these symbol instances are not really moving at the exact same rate. The ones that are closest to the center of my Area of Influence, move much more quickly than the ones that appear towards the outside of my Area of Influence.
Symbol instances that appear outside the Area of Influence are not moving at all. I'm now going to switch to this one, which is called the Symbol Scruncher tool. Now when I click and drag, I can see that as a move my cursor around, the symbols are attracted to my cursor and they scrunch closer together. If I hold down the Option key and I click and drag, it reverses that effect. It lets me spread out the symbols, as I click and drag. The next tool here is called the Symbol Sizer tool. As I click and drag, it allows me to actually adjust the size of these symbol instances, so I can have some really big ones by clicking and dragging, or I can hold down my Option key and perform the reverse.
I can actually shrink the size of these instances as well. So as you can start to see, I'm getting something that appears a lot more organic in nature, as I start to work with these tools inside of Illustrator. I'm not really selecting individual symbol instances here and moving them, Rather, I'm treating them as one whole, as a set, and making changes, as I move across them. The next tool here is called the Symbol Spinner tool. That allows me to click and drag and rotate these symbols in different directions. You'll see that the arrows will actually appear, and again, the symbol instances that appear towards the middle of my Area of Influence are rotating more than the ones that are on the outer edge of my Area of Influence.
Now I get to choose my favorite tool. It's called the Symbol Stainer tool. If I click on this, the first thing that I'm going to do is switch to my Swatches panel and choose a color. I'm going to choose Yellow. We all know why. It happens to be my favorite color. Well, if I click and drag now, Illustrator starts to tint those pieces of art, those instances, with a yellow color. Now I'll switch to Red, and I'll kind of drag that over certain areas. What Illustrator is doing is it's slowly adding that color to the artwork itself.
So now I get a beautiful range of different colors and textures inside of my art. The two remaining tools, this one is called the Symbol Screener tool, lets me paint with Opacity, and the last one here called the Symbol Styler tool, lets me choose a graphic style and then gradually apply graphic styles on top of these symbol instances. While we're having a lot of fun here, it's important to realize that all of these are really just one symbol, one piece of artwork, inside of my Symbols panel. In fact, if I go up back to my Symbols panel and I double-click on this piece of artwork, in order to edit it, any change that I make now is going to appear across all of the symbols that I just added to my Symbol Set.
I'm going to press Esc. I go back to my artwork here, and remember, that I also have the ability to completely swap out one piece of art for another, when I'm using symbols. So say I create this lovely design, but I want to use a completely different flower, but keep the design. Well, I'm going to switch to my regular Selection tool, and I'll select this Symbol Set. Next, I'll come to my Symbols panel, and I'll click on the Poppy flower. From the flyout menu of the Symbols panel, I'm going to choose Replace Symbol, meaning take whatever symbols are currently there and replace them with the new one that I've just selected.
Now, I can see that the artwork has updated, but my design, the rotation, the scaling, the tinting of the colors, all remains. There's no question that when you're using symbols, you can do some incredibly powerful things, but the great thing about the Symbol Sprayer tool is that you can have fun doing it as well.
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