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Knowing the fundamentals of drawing and reshaping paths is only part of the story. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second of the popular One-on-One series, computer graphics expert Deke McClelland covers some of Illustrator's most powerful and least understood features. He shows how to merge simple shapes to create complex ones with the Pathfinder palette, as well as align paths to create schematic illustrations. Deke explains how to paint fluid, multicolor fills with blends, and the new and improved gradient tool. He explores seamlessly repeating tile patterns, blobs and brushes, and imported images. He also dives into one of the deepest features in all of Illustrator, transparency. Exercise files accompany the tutorial.
Recommended prerequisite: Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Illustrator from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise I'm going to introduce you to donuts, which are special varieties of compound paths inside of Illustrator. I'm still working inside the document called Primitives.ai. A donut is any shape in which one path cuts a hole in another path. So one small path cuts a hole in a larger path. And that would be what I'm looking for where these two paths here are concerned. I want to go ahead and create a ring effect essentially where this inner path is not filled with white, but rather filled with transparency, cutting a hole in that sort of pale orange path and back of that salmon colored path.
Go in and click on one, Shift-click on the other to select them both with the Black Arrow and then I'll have you'll have go up to your Shape Mode. And instead of clicking on the Minus Front option, I want you to Alt-click or Option-click on it so that we are creating a Compound Shape, and just to confirm that we have a Compound Shape, let's go ahead and twirl open my pathfinders. And you know what? This guy is some place mired in this huge list of paths. Why don't we go to ahead and bring him to the top of the list here by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Right Bracket or Command+Shift+Right Bracket on the Mac? There is nothing that needs to be in front of it.
So that works out perfectly fine. There it is. There our Compound Shape, which includes of course one big path in back and a smaller path in front of it that's cutting a hole. Now we could of course change the behavior or the relationship between these two paths if we wanted to by clicking on the forward path. When you're trying to change a relationship inside of a Compound Shape, you want to go ahead and click in one of the forward paths, as we have here. So I'm meatballing it so that it and only it is selected here inside the illustration window. Then I'm going to drag it only to a different location so that you can see that it is cutting a hole that's creating a crescent at this point.
Now we could go ahead and Alt-click or Option-click, very important if your going to change Shape Modes here inside of Illustrator CS4, you have to press the Alt or Option key when at clicking one of these top four icons. So if I Alt-clicked or Option- clicked and Unite, I'll create this sort of splitting cell effect right there. If I Alt-click or Option-click on Intersect, then I'll just keep the area in which these two paths intersect each other. So anywhere they don't intersect will be transparent as we are seeing right there. And if I Alt-click or Option-click on Exclude, then I'll get the exact opposite effect of Intersect.
The area where the paths intersect will turn transparent and the areas where the paths do not will become opaque as we are seeing there. I'm going to leave that the way that we are seeing for just a moment so that we can compare that to the behavior of a Compound Path. So I'm going to go ahead and click and Shift-click on these two circles right there. We want another donut out of these guys. I can't bring this one in front. So we are going to actually have to find it in the list. So I'm going to go ahead and drag down the list. I'm looking for a couple of blue squares to indicate that these guys are the selected paths. All right, great! Then as opposed to Alt-clicking or Option-clicking, I'm going to click on Minus Front and I get a Compound Path.
I can twirl it open. We've seen this guy before, but let me show now how a Compound Path behaves. If I go to my White Arrow tool, which I'll need in order to select the inner shape, click off the paths, then Alt- click or Option-click on the innermost path in order to select the entire thing independently of the outer path and drag it to a different location. Notice that I always get that exclusion behavior right there. So it's as if I apply the Exclude Mode, and that's because one path was completely surrounded by another when I applied the Minus Front mode.
Now you might think, well, gosh! You must be able to change the behavior by Alt- clicking or Option-clicking on one these guys. So if I were to Alt-click, for example on Unite or Option-click on the Unite icon on the Mac, I'll create nothing. Actually nothing happened that time. Sometimes what you get instead is you will see that the Compound Path is now inside of a Compound Shape, but in our case nothing happened whatsoever. So go ahead and undo that modification, because it's just a silly modification, nothing occurred at this point. So that's Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on a Mac. And I'll actually press Ctrl+Z or Command +Z again in order to move the path back to its original location.
Let's go and grab this guy too and put him where he belongs. I should get a snap right there where I'm snapping one center point onto the other, because I'm dragging the path by its center point, because it was created as a circle in the first place. That's why it has a default center point. What about these guys? We have rings for the hands too. I just want to show you different ways to create Compound Paths inside Illustrator, and I'll tell you something. Compound Paths do have an advantage over Compound Shapes. I was telling you Compound Shapes, they are very versatile. You keep all of your original path outlines intact.
You can change their behavior by Alt- clicking in one of the Shape Mode icons and so on. The advantage, however, to working with a more simple Compound Path is that Compound Paths are fully compatible with postscript. So you're not going to have any problem with printing errors and that kind of thing. It's rare that you can have problems with Compound Shapes, quite frankly. But that is the advantage of Compound Paths. They are old school. I'm going to go ahead and switch back to my Black Arrow tool by pressing the V key. I click on one of the paths, Shift-click on the other. Now I can go up to the Object menu, this will accomplish the exact same donut effect, and choose Compound Path and then choose Make, like so.
That will make a Compound Path and again the same behavior as before. So if I go ahead and switch to my White Arrow tool, I Alt-click or Option-click on the innermost path, drag it to a different location, we get an Exclusion Effect. You always get an Exclusion Effect out of Compound Paths. Now we only get the Subtract Effect. It's still an Exclusion Effect. The reason it looks like a Subtract Effect is because one path is completely enclosed by the other. So that's why the excluded area falls entirely inside of the larger path and you get of course the donut.
I'm going to go to the over to this other path right here inside of the right hand. His left, I suppose. I'll press the V key to get the Black Arrow tool, click on one path, Shift-click on the other. Here's one more way to work. In case you like keyboard shortcuts, it's Ctrl+8 or Command+8 on the Mac in order to create a Compound Path where one path cuts a hole in the other. Now you may wonder, well, how do you remember 8? Well, this is how you remember 8. Check this out. I'll go ahead and drag this guy over here press Alt key or the Option key on the Mac in order to clone it. Then I'll drag this guy down like so and press Alt or Option again in order to clone it.
Then I'll select these two paths and I'll go over to the Unite icon and click on it, and we've got an 8. An 8 is a classic Compound Path, because it has two holes cut inside of it. So it's actually one donut sitting on top of the other. So that's how you remember that keyboard shortcut Ctrl+8. It goes ahead and creates a Compound Path. Ctrl+Shift+Alt+8 or Command+Shift+Option +8 on a Mac goes ahead and busts up the Compound Path and releases it into, in this case, three separate path outlines. In the next exercise I'll show you how to use the Divide operation here inside of Illustrator.
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