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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.
While the Shape modes in the Path Finder panel are the functions that you use most often, there's also a second row that appears beneath it called Path Finders. In fact, this one on the far left over here called Divide is used many times inside of Illustrator. So let's explore what some of these particular functions do. I'm actually going to go ahead and select all these right now and you'll see that these are four distinct shapes that we've created, think of them as four surfboard stuck in this end. So I have them here and maybe I want to be able to apply colors to the inside parts where they overlap. But of course right now I only have four distinct shapes, you cannot fill these areas that are here.
So what you can do is, basically, use this Path Finder Divide function that basically splits up all objects, however they overlap, into their own separate distinct shapes. So when I click on this right now, you'll see basically that I end up with a shape like this, and a shape like this so on and so forth for all these shapes. And because now these shapes are all distinct objects, I have the ability to go ahead and fill these areas differently then some of the other areas as well. And again, depending on what my design needs' are and how I'm working, basically the thing is divide filters away that, just chops up all the overlapping pieces that they all become their own pieces of their own and you could fill them and treat them as such.
I'm going to press Undo a few times to get back to my original here. Now let's explore the next option here. This one here is called Trim. What Trim does when I click on this, is that, you'll see that basically all of the overlapping areas are removed completely. As you can see now the parts that were behind of this other surfboard here are now no longer here. Then press Undo to get all those back again, and you also notice that when I use the Trim command, the stroke disappears on the particular object. The other function here called Merge, basically, puts them all together into one shape. It's very similar in some levels to the Path Finder Unite command over here. However, it also kind of trashes the stroke command here as well. So that's another difference that you have there. Then you are going to see this one over here called Crop. What Crop does, it allows you to define any other shape and then have all these shapes basically fit in within that shape.
So just as an example, if I were to take, let's say, this Rectangle tool and draw a shape, just like this. Since that's not the topmost object, if I would now select all these and then choose the Crop command, I'm basically only left with the shapes that would appear inside of that particular rectangle. Anything on the outside is gone and the shapes that are here are the same thing that I would get if I had done the same command over here, which is the Trim command. So I'm going to go ahead here and press undo one more time just to get rid of that rectangle. There's another function here if I choose to select all of these here, which is called the Outline command. When I choose Outline, it's actually pretty interesting. Right now, I'm going to have to press the D key for Default. It's actually a pretty important key inside of Illustrator, to know. It sets you all of your objects through a white fill and a black fill.
But take a look what happened here? It looks like that it does something almost similar to what I had before, when I used the Divide command. When I click on these, you'll see that these are actually all now just strokes themselves and you see how it kind of did more than just divide, it actually kind of broke them all to distinct paths on their own. It does add a lot of anchor points that are there, which I think are little bit too much that -- although we'll see later on, in this chapter, how to actually reduce the number of points on a path. I'm going to press Undo to go back again to my original. I love the fact, we have unlimited Undo's inside of Illustrator. Just keep stepping back as you need to. So the last one over here is called Minus Back, so remember this one over here with the Minus Front. So if I took these two shapes right now, so what happen is, is that the front one, would get subtracted from that, well it did the add one. I would do the Minus Front there and then the front object disappears and it basically chops away the one behind it.
But if I wanted that this piece now should remove this part from over here from this particular overlapping area, doing Minus Back would have that particular function. So I mean, it just says we start normally. If I wanted that, I'll have to take this object, bring that to the front and I use the keyboard shortcut for that, by the way it's Command+Shift, and then use the Open or Close bracket keys into the back or the front. If you're on a PC, that will be Ctrl+Shift and again you can bring objects to the front and back that way. So instead of you having to manually bring it to the front and then do the subtract or a Minus Front, that you simply chose to do Minus Back, and again that's another function that's there. So just one thing to point out as you are using Path Finder. This is more of an advanced kind of thing, but you may chip upon this at sometime. If you go to the flyout menu over the Path Finder panel, there's a setting here called Path Finder Options and there's a value for precision. Imagine you have very, very complex artwork with lots of points.
Well, Path Finder commands could actually result in taking a long time to figure that out. So, what Illustrator does, it has a little precision level and if you find sometimes where you're using Path Finder for some commands and you are not really happy with the results of the past, don't look as perfect or as clean, maybe come here and adjust the precision a little bit and you may near a little bit of hit in performance but at least you will get better result but I find for the most part though, you can leave this alone by just pointing out in case anything like that happens. By the way, I mentioned before that there were some extra points. There is a setting here called Remove Redundant Points. It doesn't actually reduce the number of points that Path Finder uses. Only if for some reason there are two shapes that overlap and those shapes have paths that overlap each other or anchor points that overlap each other, it will remove those redundant points because obviously you don't need two anchor points stacked on top of each other. So it will do that. So say, you are not going to save even extra few steps if you wanted to do that. Other than that, that is basically the level of functionality you have for the Path Finders that appear inside of the Path Finder panel.
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