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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.
Once you have created a Symbol Set inside of Illustrator, the fun really begins, because underneath the Symbol Sprayer tool in the tool bar, you will find a whole collection of tools, which are referred as the Symbolism tools. I'm actually going to come over here to the far right and choose to tear this off, so that we see all the tools up here and these tools will each allow us to change the appearance or a look of this particular symbol set. For example, right now all these particular flowers look very nice, but they all look exactly the same. So let's see how these tools are going to help us change the appearance. The first one here is called the Symbol Shifter tool. I can use this tool to shift around the symbols inside of the symbol set. It's important to realize that with my regular Selection tool I cannot select one individual instance here and make an adjustment. All I have is one over all object called the symbol set. However I can use a Symbol Shifter tool to go ahead and shift these symbols around inside of this symbol set. This is where I got that saying called my area of influence, which is what I call this circle that I see around my cursor as I move it around.
If I make my area of influence much smaller then I can affect just smaller amounts of symbols, whereas if I make a very large area of influence, then I could shift or adjust many, many of these symbols instances all at the same time. I'm going to go ahead to make it somewhere around the middle over here, so I can adjust them. I'll go ahead and shift these around a little bit and I'll choose the next tool over here, which is referred to as the Symbol Scruncher tool. This allows me to click and then see how the symbols themselves, the instances are kind of attracted or drawn towards my cursor as I move it. The result is they become more dense or closer to each other. As I click and drag, I can see how they affect all the symbols that way.
If I hold down the Option key on my keyboard -- I'm on a Mac but if you are on the Windows machine, you can hold on the Alt key and you can see that basically that spreads the symbols apart. It reverses the effect. I'll let go the Alt key right now and I'll start to bring them closer together and I can quickly start to adjust these little bit by opening it up just a little bit. Again you can use a pressure-sensitive tablet to control how fast or how quickly these move when use this particular tool. I'm going to switch to this one here, which is called the Symbol Sizer tool. That allows me to click and drag and adjust the size of these. Let me go ahead and undo that for a second here because I went ahead a little bit too much. I can go ahead and make them a little bit bigger. I can hold down the Option key or the Alt key again to make them smaller.
Now you can start to see that I had a symbol set before, that I had a whole bunch of flowers, they are all exactly the same. But now I have shifted some of them around and I have made some of them bigger and some of them smaller. The next tool here is called the Symbol Spinner tool, which allows me to apply Rotation attribute to each of these and as I go ahead and click and drag you see little arrows pop up on the screen, which allow me to rotate them. What's really interesting and what's kind of important to note about the Symbolism tools, is I'm not clicking on one particular symbol and they are also all not rotating at the exact same rate. You can see that things that are closer to the center of my area of influence rotate much faster than things that are more towards the edge or the outside areas of my areas of influence. In this way I get a very natural and organic feel to the kinds of transformations that I'm applying. One of my favorites is the next one here; it's called the Symbol Stainer tool. I can choose this particular tool, then I go to my Color panel and choose a color, for example I'll choose Yellow and then as I click and drag on this, I start to change or tint to the colors that are there. If I click very lightly, I start to see that I can still introduce that color on to that. Again the Option key reverses that effect and I start to bring back the original color. I can add other colors by simply clicking over here. For example, something that's more closer to red and add a few of those there as well.
The beauty of this is that these are all still symbols. All I'm doing is I'm making certain changes to the instance of the symbols. For example, this tool here called the Symbol Screener tool allows me to play with transparency. I can use again the Option key to slowly bring back the Opacity level of those as well. So now I have created a very nice looking design. The last one here called the Symbol Style tool allows me to play with graphic styles. I won't go into that right now, it's more of an advance feature. If also requires a lot of memory, so it does takes some time for Illustrator to make those calculations. But again the basic premise of this particular design concept is, that I could use a single symbol instance but yet come up with a very, very nice organic feel and design.
Of course, these are all still instances of a single symbol that appears inside of my Symbols panel and anytime you know that I could also replace symbols because symbol instances on the artboard, are simply placeholders for graphics that appear inside the Symbols panel. So for example should I right now highlight the Highway Surf symbol I could choose from the flyout menu to replace the symbol and now anywhere where I have used that flower, now actually changes to that Highway Surf symbol and our Highway Surf symbol has lot of different elements inside of it including text and even a drop shadow but all of the settings such as the colorized settings that I have, the sizes, the rotation, the opacity levels, all will take effect and then everything will remain the same but my design will update just with this one here.
So the way that I look it, working with symbols has two main benefits, first of all you get repeating graphics, which are easy to manage, second of all you can have whole lot of fun with them.
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