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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.
One of the benefits about working with a computer is that you can be precise. Instead of just eyeballing something, and making sure that something looks okay, you can use certain features that allow you to make sure that something is perfect and exact. One way to do that is to use rulers and guides inside of your document. The easiest way to turn rulers on is to use the keyboard shortcut Command+R or Ctrl+R on Windows. That activates the rulers. You'll see the rules appear on the top of your window, and on the left side of your document window as well. Unfortunately, there is no way to control what you see as far as tick marks, but as you zoom in, or zoom out, you'll see that the tick marks become more granular. I'll zoom back out again here, and I want to show you that you could also work with something called guides. Guides allow you to basically create some kind of an object inside of Illustrator that you can use to align other objects too, and again, just to use as a way to make sure that your design conforms or aligned the way that you wanted to.
The concept of working with guides is pretty common amongst the Graphics applications. The way that you create a guide, you simply go to your ruler itself, click and drag from the ruler, and drag outwards towards your document. When you release the mouse, the guide then appears. You can add additional guides by going back to the ruler and dragging out again. A few keyboard shortcuts that are helpful when creating guides: holding on the Shift key as you drag out a guide will cause the guide to snap to the rule of tick marks. That way you're insured, for example, in this case here, and our ruler snaps exactly to 16 inches.
There are two types of guides inside of Illustrator. There are vertical guides and horizontal guides. When you drag out a guide from any of the rulers, you can hold down the Option key, to basically switch the guides from one to the other. In this case now I could choose a vertical guide. Same thing applies when you drag out a guide from the vertical ruler. Hold on the Option key allows you to toggle it to be a horizontal guide. Now let's say you drop a guide and you want even to move that guide. Well, guides by default are actually locked. What you can do though, is right click with your mouse to bring up the contextual menu, just click on any blank area whatsoever. If you are on a Macintosh and only have a one-button mouse, you can hold down the Ctrl key on your keyboard, and then click with your mouse, that brings up the contextual menu.
You'll see that there is an option here called Lock Guides, with the check mark next to it, it means that you cannot select those guides. I would now unlock the guides, and now I have the ability to either reposition those guides I want to, or simply delete them. Guides are just like objects inside of Illustrator, and in fact, you can turn any object whatsoever into a guide; we'll learn later how to draw shapes, but I can for example, take the Ellipse tool, for example, click and drag to create this, and then go to the View menu, go down to where it says Guides, and choose to make guides. That now converts that artwork into a guide itself. If I have the Lock Guides selection turned on, that mean I can no longer select this. What's great about guides itself is that guides act like magnets. So when I go ahead and I create other shapes, and I want to be able to move certain shapes around, those shapes snap to those guides.
So for example, if I take this little surfboard that's right here, and I start to move it, as I get closer to guide here, I see that object kind of snaps to the guide. By the way what I'm showing you right now is also new behavior in CS4. If you've used Illustrator before, and this is your first time in CS4, in the past, Illustrator only allowed you to snap that cursor to the actual guide itself, but now Illustrator also snaps the object to that particular guide as well. And you see that you can now align your objects to the guides as well. See how, by the way, my cursor touches it, it changes color as well. That identifies a snap that's there. I'm going to press Command+Z just to undo that, or Ctrl+Z to undo that right now.
So that's how guides can be helpful when I'm working with my layouts inside of Illustrator. If I want to temporarily just turn off my guides, because sometimes they do get in the way as I'm working with them. I can go to the View menu, go down to where it says Guides and choose Hide Guides. The guides are still in my document, but they're temporarily hidden from view. If I want to show them again, I can use the keyboard shortcut, Command+:. Again, if you're on a PC, that would be Ctrl+:. That will allow you to simply toggle those guides from being visible or not visible. One of the things that actually applies to multiple artboards, and again, this wasn't really important in previous versions of Illustrator, but certainly now you may have a document that contains many, many different artboards, and when you create these guides, these guides kind of go across all the artboards.
But let's say you want to create a guide that's only important for some of the artboards. For example, maybe I'm working on this label right now, and I want to have some kind of alignment set up for just this label, and not really getting in the way of anything else. Well, Illustrator does allow you to create guides that are specific for artboards; here's how you do it. You go basically to the artboard tool, and turn on artboard Edit mode. Then you specify, which artboard you want to use, or that you want to create a guide for, by making it the active artboard. Once that's done, whenever you draw a guide out, that guide will only appear within that particular artboard. Notice now I can create some horizontal and vertical guides, and they don't go across the entire document; they're only visible within this active artboard. Likewise, if I turn this Envelope now to be the active artboard, any guide that I do create now again only applies to this particular active artboard.
When I exit out of artboard Edit mode, I can see now that those guides are strictly for this artboard, and this artboard only. So before we move on to Grids, I'll just leave you with one cute little tip: if you go over to the rule itself, and you right click or Ctrl+ Click, to bring up the contextual menu of the rulers itself, you could quickly change the rulers to switch between points, picas, inches, millimeters, centimeters or pixels. This means that you can quickly change the measurements without having to go into the Preferences panel.
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