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Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials is the first installment in a series of courses designed to show experienced Illustrator users to how master core features and build art more efficiently. Adobe Illustrator has evolved dramatically over the years, and many creative professionals may be missing out on features that have been added to the latest versions. This course takes a fresh approach to core concepts, such as paths, attributes, object hierarchy, groups, and layers. Advanced techniques such as combining multiple effects and customizing textures are also included. Exercise files and a free worksheet are included with the course.
Before we dive deeper into the world of appearances and effects, I thought it might be a good idea to kind of freeze things for just a moment and actually apply some of the concepts and the things that we have learned until this point. For example, here I have a congratulations card. I am working on a file called congrats_1, and while the design is really nice, the border for this is pretty lame. So I kind of want to wake it up a little bit, and I want to use some of the things that I've learned until now-- meaning I want to be able apply multiple strokes to create an interesting border for this design. I am going to start up by first selecting the actual border itself, and in the Appearance panel, I will set the stroke weight to about 12 point.
Since black has really no place at all inside of this design, I am actually going to change the stroke color to this purple color that exists already inside of my document. Great! So I have this nice thick purple border. I am now going to create a new stroke. I am going to add a new stroke here through the Appearance panel, and I'll change the stroke color to white. I am also going to change the stroke weight to 1 point, so it's a nice thin stroke. If I go ahead and if I deselect my artwork now, you can actually see that I have this nice little thin white line that kind of separates that heavy thick purple border.
It's certainly nicer than it was before, but I really want to kick it up a notch and add that "congratulations!" type of feel to this. So once again, I'll select the object--remember this is just a single rectangle right now that has two strokes applied to it--and I am going to add yet another stroke. Let's add a third stroke to this object. I am going to leave this one still colored white, but I am going to change the stroke weight to 6 points. Now, this thick stroke, which is colored white, completely obscures the stroke that appears directly beneath it. That stroke is filled white but is only 1 point in weight.
However, we are going to make some changes here to do Dash setting for the stroke. So I am going to click on the word "stroke" to bring up the Stroke panel. I am going to turn on the Dashed Line setting. Now, I am going to set my dash to 0. The Dash setting is the part of the stroke that's visible, that I can see. I'm setting it to zero, which in theory it mean that it's not visible at all, but in a minute you'll see why I am doing it this way. I am going to set my gap here to 8 points. That's the amount of space that appears in between each visible part of the dash. Now, if I move up over here to the Cap setting, I will see that right now Illustrator is using the Butt Cap setting, which is a default setting.
But I am going to change it here to the Round Cap setting, and this is an important thing to note about working with strokes inside of Illustrator. If you want to get perfectly round dots as your stroke setting--meaning you want to have some kind of a dotted pattern-- set your Cap to the Round Cap setting, but set your Dash to 0. That gives you a perfect circle. Now I also want to make sure that this setting is on as well, Aligns dashes to corners and path ends, adjusting the length to fit. This is a new setting that was added to Illustrator CS5. If you are on CS4 or other versions, the default setting would be this one right here, and that would mean that the circles themselves would not necessarily line up on the corners, which doesn't really what that pretty.
So this is one of the great new settings inside of CS5 that allows all of my dashes to align perfectly, no matter where they appear along the path. Great! I am going to click off of that Stroke panel right now, and now I have started to add yet another element to this border design. If I quickly jumped in to Outline mode-- Command+Y or Ctrl+Y on a PC--you can see that those circles or other things don't exist. All I've done right now is taken that original single path, I have not changed the structure at all of my document, but I have started adding multiple attributes, or I have modified the presentation of that single path that I had existing in the document.
I am going to press Command+Y to go back into Preview mode, and let's add one more stroke to this to really turn this into something special. Once again, I'll choose to add a new stroke. This one I am going to turn back into purple, and I am going to change its stroke weight down to 4 points. Now, I am going to open up the Stroke panel once again by clicking on the word "stroke" for this new purple stroke, and I want to ensure that this setting over here is also on. That will align all the elements perfectly along the path. And if I click I over here to deselect and to see what my path looks like, I actually see a beautiful border.
It looks like I have a line that's connected with these little rings. Remember, all I did is basically applied multiple stroke attributes to the same path, but I changed the settings for each of those stroke attributes to arrive at a design that I really think looks very nice. So until this point, if you may have been wondering why it might be useful to add multiple strokes to single object, here is a great example: you can create really cool and nice-looking borders while only using a single object and a couple of stroke settings.
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