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Adobe Illustrator has long been the most popular and viable vector-drawing program on the market but, for many, the learning curve is steep. In Illustrator CS3 One-on-One: The Essentials , author and leading industry expert Deke McClelland teaches the key features of Illustrator in a way that anyone can understand. He also goes beyond that, showing users how to get into the Illustrator "mindset" to make mastering Illustrator simple and easy. The training covers how to use the core drawing and shape tools, the transformation and reshaping features, text and gradients, and color management and printing features. Even if learning Illustrator has been a struggle in the past, this time it is going to make sense. Exercise files accompany the training.
In this exercise we're going to trace another rectangle, but this time we're going to trace a rectangle at an angle. This guy right here, remember our rectangles? Remember our rectangles tracing layer that is, these two guys right here. We traced this rectangle, the upright rectangle in the previous exercise, so it's done. Now we're going to trace this rectangle right here, along with the rectangles inside of it actually, and we're going to draw them at an angle in the first place. So I'm going to turn that rectangles layer back off and I'm going to zoom in here a little bit. Now, you might say, Well why do that? Why not just draw an upright rectangle and then rotate it into place? Because we're trying to trace a template here and how would we know how big a rectangle should be if we just drew them, you know upright and then rotate them? We wouldn't. Much more effective to be able to draw our rectangles at an angle in the first place, and this is a very forward-thinking function inside of Illustrator and I'll tell you why. Because you've been able to do this inside of Illustrator since version 1.0 and most graphics programs to this day, lo 20 years later still don't allow you to do this. And yet Illustrator did.
And bear in mind, Illustrator 1.0 is basically the Pen Tool and the Type Tool and that's it. It was a very limited program and it still allowed you to draw rectangles at an angle. Go figure. And other shapes, by the way. This is not limited to rectangles, what we're about to see. So what we're about to do, I should just tell you what it's called. We're going to rotate the constraint axis. That's what we're going to do, and by rotating the constrain axis everything then gets drawn rotated, even text would get drawn at an angle, would get created an angle. So it's a big deal as you'll see. But before we experience the big deal here, I want you to note your Appearance palette. If you've been working along with me, if you worked along with me in the previous exercise and you fooled around with that live effect that allowed you to round off rectangles, why then it's very possible that you'll see no selection, if nothing's selected on screen, you'll see no selection and still you'll see, here inside your Appearance palette, you'll see a rounded rectangle effect assigned, which means that very possibly the next object you draw will get this rounded rectangle effect on it. You don't want that, so go ahead and throw that little effect away. So drag it down to this little trashcan icon here just to make sure things are all cleared up.
And then I'm going to go ahead and hide my Appearance palette again by clicking in the gray area above it. So that I can focus on my Layers palette. So how do we go about setting up a rotated constraint axis? Well, you press Control+K or Command+K on the Mac, that universal keyboard shortcut for bringing up Preferences across all of the Adobe applications. There's our keyboard increment that I had you reduced to 0.2 back in a previous chapter. Tab, check it out, second option, the second option in Preferences is Constrain Angle.
And this is our guide, this value here, whatever we change it to will rotate the entire constraint axis and I'm going to rotate it to 60 degrees and then I'm going to click OK. Now check it out. Got the Rectangle Tool selected, you should too. Draw yourself a rectangle. It's at an angle. The entire world now, Illustrator's universe is now at an angle. So all your primitive tools, your Rectangle Tool, your Ellipse Tool, your Text Tool. They're all going to create objects at an angle now, at this constraint angle and your constraints, when you Shift drag something, it'll be at an angle too, as I'll demonstrate in just a moment. Let's draw some of the other rectangles. I'll draw this guy here.
And I get it into place, and then I'll draw this rectangle right here. Might as well trace all the rectangles. And how about let's make a rectangle right there, why don't we? Press the spacebar in order to get it into place. Now at this point I want to duplicate this rectangle to this position right here, because they're both identical to each other right? And I'm going to do that by grabbing my black arrow tool. Then I'm going to drag my rectangle like so and notice the cursor is right now just a little black arrowhead. If I press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, I want you to do this along with me, if you're working along with me in the first place, and notice my cursor now, with the Alt or Option key down I get a little double arrowhead cursor and that means that I'm going to clone the shape on the fly. Now this is really cool.
I'm going to also press, keep that Alt or Option key down, I'm going to also press the Shift key and check this out my constraint is at an angle because I've rotated the constraint axis. Now when I have the Shift key down I'm dragging this at some 60 degree increment, who knows what, but you know still, it's in keeping with everything else that I'm drawing inside of this little rectangular ornamental cluster here. So I've got Shift and Alt down, or Shift and Option down on the Mac, now I release my mouse button and now I release the keys. Is that not awesome? Illustrator 1.0 feature available 20 years now, that's how awesome it is.
I'm going to Shift-click on some of these other items right here. This rectangle and this rectangle here. So these three rectangles are selected and the reason I'm doing this is their strokes are little thinner than the other guys and so I just want to make sure that they're stroked properly, so we can get at least a vague sense of what we're doing inside this illustration is we're tracing it. And there you have it. Now it's very important, once you get done drawing your various rotated shapes that you rotate the constraint axis back into place. Very important, or otherwise you're going to grab your Type Tool, you're going to click someplace, you're going to enter some type and it's going to be a crazy angle and you're going to go, What in the world happened to Illustrator? Oh, better throw it away.
Done with that program. Not really but you know. Let's go ahead and make sure that we don't run into that trouble in the future. So that our future selves are not bothered by the behavior of our past selves, at least in this regard. All right, so press Control+K or Command+K on the Mac to revisit the Preferences dialog box. Change to Constrain Angles value back to 0 degrees. Click OK. All is well again. So you're back to normal world where if you start clicking and typing everything would be hunky Dory. All right so that's that. In the next exercise we're going to take this cluster of rectangles right here, and we're going to flip it down here, and then we're going to take those two and we're going to flip them over here.
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