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In this installment of the Illustrator Insider Training series, Mordy Golding shows how to draw vector artwork quickly, precisely, and efficiently—without having to think about technical concepts like anchor points or control handles. The course highlights intuitive drawing techniques using the Pathfinder functions, Live Paint groups, Shape Builder tool, and variable-width strokes. It also describes the sketching workflow and features in Illustrator that use pressure-sensitive drawing tablets, allowing designers to focus more on their creativity.
So we've been talking about this concept of building artwork inside of Illustrator instead of drawing artwork inside of Illustrator. And in the previous chapter we learned about something called Pathfinder, a group of functions that allow us to create these mathematical types of functions on the paths that we created inside of Illustrator to turn basic shapes like ovals and circles and rectangles into far more complex shapes. However, as Adobe continued to do more research and find out how people were using Illustrator and in their effort to make things easier for people who are new to Illustrator, they found that many designers never even came across the Pathfinder functions.
In fact, many classes kind of jump right in and teach how to use the Pen tool and they don't really go into a discussion about how to take basic shapes and use Pathfinder functions to combine them into more complex ones. And even if you were tinkering within Illustrator, you might not know that Pathfinder would actually be used to build artwork. So Adobe set out to create a new type of function inside of Illustrator and they created something called Live Paint. Now let's talk about what Live Paint is. It happens to add a tremendous amount of benefits and gives us a level of freedom inside of Illustrator that maybe we have only dreamed about before.
So let's first understand exactly what the problem was inside of Illustrator that Adobe set out to solve with Live Paint. Then we'll dive right into the feature and we'll find that how to explore all of its power for our own needs. So let me start out here in this blank document, I'm just going to take two rectangles right here. I'm going to click and drag right over here. I'm going to actually going to fill this rectangle with None. But I'll leave it with a Black stroke and I'll draw another rectangle that overlaps this rectangle right here. So now I have two shapes that overlap each other. And if I were a new user to Adobe Illustrator and I've just drawn these two shapes here, I may decide that I want to fill some color into these shapes and I may want to put one color in this region over here, another color in this region, but a third color in this region over here where these two shapes overlap each other.
We've already learned inside of Illustrator and we've established that we have the ability to apply attributes like fills and strokes to objects. However, we can't apply fills and strokes to arbitrary areas on our screen. They have to be applied to distinct objects. So what I have right now inside of my document are two paths. If I look in my Layers panel here, I see I have Layer 1 and I have two paths that I've created. I can now apply two fill attributes and two stroke attributes because I have two objects.
However, if I wanted to now add a third fill attribute to this area right over here, I would need to create a distinct shape that matches this size right over here. In other words, I would really need to have three objects inside of my document in order to accomplish that. But for a moment, if you imagine you're inside of a program like Photoshop, a pixel-based application, and you were to create some kind of pixels on your screen that looked just like this right here, you would be able to use like a Paint Bucket tool to fill color inside of this region, inside of this region, and inside of this region because they all appear to be closed by these black borders.
The Paint Bucket tool allows you to flood fill an area with pixels and a person might assume that they can do the same thing here inside of Illustrator. However because we're in an object- based workflow, we can only apply these fill attributes to objects and I only have two objects in my file here, not three. Now we have just spent an entire chapter learning about something called Pathfinder. Pathfinder has a function called Divide. So really if I were a person using Illustrator and I wanted to fill these three different areas with color, what I would do is I would select my two shapes right here, I would go to Pathfinder, and choose my Divide option.
Now that creates a group, but inside of that group I now have three paths, not two. I have one path here, one path here, and one path in the middle. And this allows me now to apply a fill color to these three distinct objects, not regions, but objects. I'm going to hit undo over here, Command+Z, just to go back to what we were working with before, and I'll introduce you to this world of Live Paint. The whole concept of Live Paint is to allow us to focus on the appearance of artwork instead of the structure of the artwork.
If we think back to another title that you have here in the Lynda.com Online Training Library called Adobe Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials, we spent a lot of time talking about something inside of Illustrator called the structure of my artwork, which are the actual anchor points and paths versus the appearance of our artwork, which is the fills and the strokes, what we see when we actually print out our document. Well, if we're focused so much on the anchor points and the paths, we're focusing a lot on the structure.
So if I told you that you need to have three distinct objects in order to fill three different areas, I need to start focusing on anchor points and paths and that's where Pathfinder comes to the play. It's actually modifying the underlying vector objects in my document. However, if I want to focus on just the pure visual aesthetics of my document, I want to look at my document and well, to me, my artwork looks like it has three different regions, I want to be able to paint three different colors within those three different regions.
That's something that I'm focused on my appearance and that's where Live Paint allows me to be. It allows me to live in an environment inside of Illustrator where on one step we moved from my paths and my anchor points and I care much more about the actual visual aspects of my file instead. So let me just show you exactly what I mean by that. I'm going to go to my Tools panel here, I'm going to click on my Shape Builder tool, we'll actually talk a lot about the Shape Builder tool in the next chapter. But here I'm going to see that there's an option here or a tool called the Live Paint Bucket tool.
I'm going to choose that option and because the two rectangles that I had right now are selected in my document, when I mouse over these two rectangles right now, you see that they get highlighted in red. And in addition to that, a little sentence appears here that says Click to make a Live Paint Group. We'll actually go into extreme detail about how this works in the next movie. But if I just click here once, what I've done is I've now created a new kind of object inside of Illustrator called a Live Paint Group. In fact, if you look over here in my Appearance panel, I now have a Live Paint Group and if I look in my Layers panel here, I see that I now have a Live Paint Group.
But it's important to realize that inside of that group, all I have are two rectangles. I've not chopped up my two rectangles to now three shapes. I still have two intact rectangles, but I've put them into a special kind of a group called a Live Paint Group. Now you'll notice that if I take that same Live Paint Bucket tool and I simply mouse it over my document, you can see that these visual regions start highlighting in red. And those red outlines indicate to me that I'm able to fill those areas with color.
So for example, I'm going to come here right now to my Swatches panel and I'll choose yellow and I'll put a yellow color here, and maybe I'll choose a gradient to put a gradient here in the middle and maybe I'll choose the pattern, I'll put a pattern here. So I have three different fills and I was able to apply those three different fills to my artwork here inside of Illustrator, even though I only have two objects in my document. Now the reason why this is called Live Paint is because if I now switch to my White Arrow or my Direct Selection tool, I'm just going to click over here to deselect my artwork.
But now I'll click just here in this yellow region, you can see that I have my entire rectangle selected, but if I move it around, that overlapping area will adjust itself to now contain the gradients inside of it. So because the fill attribute is updating as I move my artwork, it's kind of in this live editable state. And that's why what I'm dealing with here is something called a Live Paint Group. It's two objects that have been put into a group and I can move them around and I can apply fill colors or really any attribute based on how it looks on the screen, not based on the underlying vector paths themselves.
Because it looks like I have three areas, I can apply three fill attributes even though, I only have two paths from a structure point of view. Now there are a couple of things to note about working with Live Paint. Live Paint first of all requires my use of groups. If I don't create this group to begin with, then this whole magic of Live Paint does not appear. So I need to be working with groups in order to make Live Paint work. Again, many people maybe who are starting out with Illustrator, who may not be familiar with the power of what groups really represent, may have trouble adapting to this kind of feature.
Next, we have to understand that the way that Live Paint works prevents me from using brushes or variable with strokes. So Live Paint itself does not support brushes or strokes with variable widths. And we'll talk more about this as we go through the features within this chapter. But keeping all these things in mind, it's important to realize why Live Paint was created inside of Illustrator. It was created to allow people to work inside of Illustrator without having to use the Pathfinder command.
Instead of worrying about taking my simple objects and then using Divide for example in my Pathfinder panel to create multiple shapes, so I can add different attributes, I could simply take my basic shapes and apply the attributes without having to ever look at Pathfinder. However, as we're going to find out throughout this chapter, what makes this work is really the underlying power for Live Paint because I highly doubt you'll be worried about creating overlapping rectangles and giving them different fill colors. After all you already know how to use Pathfinder to do simple tasks like that.
But soon throughout this chapter, we will find a tremendous amount of power hidden inside of Live Paint that allow to take this to new levels and create very, very complex artwork in a way that even Pathfinder can do for us. In fact, perhaps the most interesting part about Live Paint is because it focuses so much on the visual aspects or the appearance of my artwork rather than the underlying structure. It almost changes the rules for how vector artwork actually is drawn inside of Illustrator at all.
Things like anchor points and paths not only fade into the background, but our ability to focus on the visual aspects of artwork will allow us to take an entirely new approach to how we draw artwork inside of Illustrator.
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