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Working with Pathfinder

From: Illustrator for Web Design

Video: Working with Pathfinder

In the previous movie we talked about utilizing basic shapes inside of Illustrator to mock up things like web banners and things like that. In this movie I'm going to be exploring how to take those basic shapes even a step further to create some more complex shapes utilizing something called the Pathfinder panel. Now this is something that a lot of people don't really understand, and I think it's very highly underused. So let's take a look at it now and see how we can turn these basic shapes, and that's all they are-- it's just shapes, you can see-- and we're going to take these shapes and turn them into a robot.

Working with Pathfinder

In the previous movie we talked about utilizing basic shapes inside of Illustrator to mock up things like web banners and things like that. In this movie I'm going to be exploring how to take those basic shapes even a step further to create some more complex shapes utilizing something called the Pathfinder panel. Now this is something that a lot of people don't really understand, and I think it's very highly underused. So let's take a look at it now and see how we can turn these basic shapes, and that's all they are-- it's just shapes, you can see-- and we're going to take these shapes and turn them into a robot.

So I'm going to go to the Window menu and I'm going to bring up Pathfinder and Pathfinder comes up here. and I think what gets people a little thrown off is the fact that the path finder has all of these different buttons associated with it, and really no descriptors as to what these buttons do, and the little icons don't make a whole lot of sense when it comes to exactly what's going to happen. But if we take a look at the shape modes up at the top, when you hover over them, they do give you somewhat of an idea of what's going to happen. So Unite, it's going to create a compound shape and add to shape area.

You can minus the front. That means whatever object is in front of the object that you have currently selected, as long as you have both of them selected at the same time, it's going to be subtracted, or cut out, from the back object. Then you can also intersect, which means it's going to keep the intersected area of the shapes. And then of course we have the Exclude option, which means wherever they overlap, exclude that area please. And basically the ones that I use most often are Unite and Minus Front. We also have Pathfinder operations underneath here which can divide things into separate pieces, trim them, merge them together, crop them, outline them, and also minus the back.

So we have Minus Front. Here we have Minus Back down here. So totally up to you which one you use, but in this case I'm going to be utilizing Unite and Minus Front. So the first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to start building the basic shapes of the robot. And so the shapes that aren't going to change necessarily are going to be the body, and I have to make the decision on if I want the body and the neck to be the same color. In this case I don't, so what I'm going to do is just keep the body as its own separate piece, and then I'm going to select the neck pieces by just click and dragging the selection around them, like so.

Once I do that, I can then unite those into one single shape by clicking the Unite button, and when I do that, they turn into one single shape, just like so. I'm then going to select the head, I'll hold down Shift, and I'll select the ears on either side. I'm also going to select this circle up top, the stem of the antenna, the little ball on top of the antenna, and I'm going to unite those as well. Now, it's going to appear that these come forward, and they do, in the stacking order. That's okay.

You can right-click, choose Arrange, and you can say Send to Back and they'll go right back where they came from, just like so. Then I'm going to select the mouth, and I'll select the head. I want the mouth to be a cutout from the head, so I'm going to choose Minus Front. Now, again, this is going to look like it jumped forward, and it did. If you want to easily send this backwards, just hold down the Command key on Mac, the Ctrl key on PC, and press the left square bracket key until it goes all the way back, just like so.

Now we'll take the eyes. And I'm going to do these individually, so I'm going to select the eyes like this, and I'll choose Minus Front. That's just going to leave a hole right there. Do the same thing over here, Shift+Click. Minus Front. Here we go. And so now I've got just the rings of the eyes, got the mouth, got that and the body all ready to go. So let's add some color to this and see exactly what we've come up with. So I'm going to click the body down here at the bottom and I'll give it an orange color.

Turn the Stroke off. Here we go. The neck, I'm going to give it sort of a dark gray. And you can pick whatever colors you want. The top, the head piece, I'm going to give this no stroke, and sort of light gray, like this. You can see kind of how it's come together. And now the last piece is the eyes. Give those no stroke, and maybe we could fill those with a darker gray like so.

And so there we have a nice little robot shape that we've created, and now all of this stuff is selectable and able to be moved and scaled individually from each other, and the pieces that needed to be united are united. And it's a very awesome way to crate complex artwork using just the basic shapes. If I hadn't used Pathfinder, I would have known how to draw all of this stuff with either the Pen tool, the Pencil tool, or some other method. And I find it a lot easier just to use basic shapes and then combine them using something like the Pathfinder panel to create even more complex artwork.

It makes it look like I did a lot more work than I actually did.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Illustrator for Web Design
Illustrator for Web Design

67 video lessons · 24983 viewers

Justin Seeley
Author

 
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  1. 1m 13s
    1. Welcome
      50s
    2. Using the exercise files
      23s
  2. 43m 51s
    1. Designing for screens
      1m 57s
    2. Decoding screen size and resolution
      2m 40s
    3. Exploring the Illustrator to HTML workflow
      3m 42s
    4. Setting up Illustrator for web work
      6m 55s
    5. Creating a new document for web
      6m 25s
    6. Creating a new document for mobile
      3m 31s
    7. Using artboards for responsive layouts
      7m 42s
    8. Creating email newsletter documents
      4m 31s
    9. Working with Pixel Preview and anti-aliasing
      6m 28s
  3. 25m 28s
    1. Adjusting color settings
      6m 47s
    2. Understanding web color
      3m 47s
    3. Creating a color palette
      5m 4s
    4. Creating custom swatches
      4m 50s
    5. Working with fills and strokes
      5m 0s
  4. 13m 15s
    1. Exploring the Layers panel
      5m 21s
    2. Renaming and grouping layers
      7m 54s
  5. 24m 5s
    1. Drawing simple shapes
      4m 16s
    2. Working with Pathfinder
      5m 4s
    3. Using the Shape Builder tool
      4m 33s
    4. Creating symbols
      6m 24s
    5. Editing and replacing symbols
      3m 48s
  6. 20m 22s
    1. Planning your project
      2m 56s
    2. Using guides and rulers
      5m 56s
    3. Developing a layout with shapes
      6m 21s
    4. Using a grid system
      5m 9s
  7. 25m 53s
    1. Exploring the rules of typography
      4m 1s
    2. Using text as text vs. using text as an image
      3m 37s
    3. Understanding web-safe fonts
      1m 46s
    4. Creating and using paragraph styles
      5m 16s
    5. Creating and using character styles
      3m 2s
    6. Simulating the CSS box model
      8m 11s
  8. 21m 17s
    1. Understanding object appearance
      4m 43s
    2. Applying and editing live effects
      3m 34s
    3. Creating and using drop shadows
      3m 13s
    4. Creating more flexible rounded rectangles
      3m 17s
    5. Saving appearance as graphic styles
      6m 30s
  9. 35m 57s
    1. Starting with a wireframe
      5m 23s
    2. Adding master elements
      6m 45s
    3. Creating navigation buttons
      13m 34s
    4. Working with photographs
      5m 50s
    5. Simulating pages with artboards
      4m 25s
  10. 54m 45s
    1. Creating video placeholders
      10m 33s
    2. Creating buttons
      13m 1s
    3. Creating form fields
      8m 15s
    4. Creating radio boxes and checkboxes
      5m 11s
    5. Creating progress bars
      10m 12s
    6. Creating tabbed interfaces
      7m 33s
  11. 35m 28s
    1. Understanding slicing
      3m 26s
    2. Slicing up a mockup
      3m 6s
    3. Understanding web file formats
      5m 33s
    4. Exploring the Save for Web dialog
      3m 50s
    5. Optimizing photographs
      4m 29s
    6. Optimizing transparent graphics
      4m 43s
    7. Saving Retina display graphics
      3m 46s
    8. Exporting SVG graphics
      6m 35s
  12. 9m 29s
    1. Understanding image sprites
      3m 4s
    2. Creating a sprite grid
      4m 36s
    3. Optimizing sprites for the web
      1m 49s
  13. 15m 29s
    1. Placing Illustrator Smart Objects
      3m 22s
    2. Sharing color swatches between apps
      2m 9s
    3. Exporting Illustrator artwork as a PSD
      3m 49s
    4. Importing artwork into Fireworks
      2m 41s
    5. Exporting HTML from Illustrator
      3m 28s
  14. 1m 19s
    1. Taking the next step
      1m 1s
    2. Goodbye
      18s

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