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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.
Illustrator offers a variety of different settings for the ways that different people work. In truth, there was a time when I used Illustrator where I felt that I had to get everything set in one way. And then I always work in that way. But I'm finding now that more and more as I work inside of Illustrator, I am turning these settings on and off because sometimes some methods work better than others. One example of this is something in Illustrator called the bounding box. I'm going to zoom in this artwork right here. And I'm going to focus on some of the elements here to see how this bounding box works, how it can help you, and when you might want to turn it off? First, let me explain what a bounding box is.
When I click on some artwork, for example I'm going to click on the logo here for hansel & petal, I'm using the black arrow or the Selection tool to this, you can see that the actual artwork is selected. The actual anchor points are highlighted in doing so. But there's also an overall box that appears around the perimeter of that artwork. The bounding box is basically a rectangle that is drawn to encompass the entire piece of artwork. At various points on this rectangle or this bounding box are handles. They appear as little hollow squares, which you can see over here for example or here.
These handles allow you to do different things to your artwork. For example, you can scale or rotate your artwork very quickly using the bounding box. Clicking and dragging on this handle, for example, lets me stretch my artwork down and to the right,while keeping the upper left-hand corner stationery. Let me press Command+Z or Ctrl+Z to undo that. Likewise if I grab it from the upper left-hand corner and I click and drag, the lower right-hand corner remains stationary but I stretch my artwork in this direction. Holding down the Shift key as I drag will ensure that the proportions are maintained.
And once again I am going to press Undo. By grabbing on the handles on the side, I can stretch it either horizontally or vertically. Let me press Undo twice to go back to my original artwork. And if you want to rotate your artwork, position your cursor just outside any of these corner handles. Your cursor changes to a bent arrow. When you click and drag Illustrator defines the center of your artwork, as we call an origin point, and I can now rotate my artwork around that center point.
Once again, I'll press Undo to go back to my original artwork. We'll talk more about Selection tools later in another chapter. But you'll notice that this bounding box only appears when you select artwork using the black arrow or the Selection tool. If you use the Direct Selection tool or the white arrow, you'll only see the artwork itself selected. You will not see at the bounding box. Sometimes, when you're working with complex artwork, the bounding box can almost get in the way of your artwork. More importantly, sometimes you want to grab a piece of artwork by a specific area so that it will snap to something.
Let me give you an example. If I use my regular Selection tool to select this flower right here, I may want to grab it from this point so that I can now position it to snap to something else. But if I click now and drag, I'm going to get the handle and I'm going to go to stretch my artwork instead. Let me press Command+Z. In such a case what I may want to do is go to the View menu and hide the bounding box. I can either choose this option here or I can use the keyboard shortcut Command+Shift+B or Ctrl+Shift+B on Windows. By hiding the bounding box, even with my black arrow selected, the regular Selection tool, I'm able to grab it from any specific point on the artwork that I like and move that artwork around.
Rather than force yourself to choose the bounding box should be on or off, I constantly toggle between those modes by using the keyboard shortcut. Command+Shift+B, turns on the bounding box when I need it. Command+Shift+B hides it when I don't.
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