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Adobe Illustrator has long been a popular vector–based drawing program, but for many the learning curve is steep. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals, author and leading industry expert Deke McClelland shows users how to get in to the Illustrator mindset and overcome this learning curve. He covers the application's key features in a new way, making it simple and easy to master Illustrator. Deke teaches viewers how to use the core drawing and shape tools, the transformation and reshaping features, text, and the Pen tool. He also explains how to export and print. Even if learning Illustrator has been a struggle in the past, this training can help make sense of it. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this exercise we are going to talk about constraint axes, which allows us to draw and modify objects at an angle, which you will see. So normally this constraint axes which effects the angle of everything, every constraint inside of Illustrator is set to zero degrees, which is the mean horizontal, right, the horizon line. And then everything sits basically on that horizon line, but you can pivot the horizon if you want to, in order to draw and multiple objects at an angle at a time.
For example, let's go and zoom in on this portion of the illustration, and I'm still at work, by the way, inside of the now for the rectangles.ai files that I opened in the previous exercise. Let's say we want to trace not only this big blue shape, but the other guys too, this guy, and these two little guys, and this guy right there. And we are going to do that using the Rectangle tool, of course. So I'll go get the Rectangle tool, but I want to draw these things at an angle in the first place. So I'm going to go up to the Edit menu, I'm going to choose the Preferences command, and I'm going to choose General. This would be end of the Illustrator menu, Preferences > General on the Mac, Ctrl+K or Command+K is the keyboard shortcut. And we are going to check out this guy right there, constraint angle, this is one of the oldest features, this takes us back to Illustrator 1.0. This feature goes back to 1987, as I'm filming, thus making it 21 years old.
But anyway, let's go ahead and click on it, to make it active, and I want to rotate it 60 degrees, all right. So it's actually going 60 degrees that away. All right, now I'll click OK in order to apply that modification, and now watch what happens if I draw a rectangle, I'll draw it at this angle, matches the angle of that blue rectangle right there. And now I'll release, and I have got my shape. Now I don't want this rectangle's layer anymore. This has just two rectangles there. Otherwise I'm going to be tracing the ones from the Calendar layer, so I'm going to turn that guy off. And then I'm going to draw another one right there, from this corner to let's say about this corner, it's hidden, but that is where I'm going to draw it to. And it comes in an angle as well. So this feature is really useful when you are drawing or modifying multiple shapes at an angle at a time.
And I'm going to change its stroke from two point to one point, so it's a little thinner, and then I'll drag this guy here at an angle as well. All those other tricks work for the spacebar, the Shift key, the Alt or Option key, all those guys still worked at an angle. I don't need any of them. I'm just drawing from corner to corner. And then I'm going to try to see if I can match this guy. I am a little off, so I'll use the spacebar, I do need the trick after all. And I'm going to move it right there. Drag it to this position let's say and then this just blows me away, quite frankly, not only does it effect the angle of the rectangles as you draw them, but now I'll go get the black arrow tool, because I don't need to draw this other rectangle. It's the exact same rectangle like this one right here. It's just duplicated.
So I'll get the black arrow tool, and then I'm going to drag the shape over like this and I'll press the Shift key, as I'm dragging, notice that it constrains the angle of the Shift drag to that 60 degree angle right there. Fantabulous! And I'll move it into position right there, and then I'll press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, in order to get that on-the-fly clone, so I have got both Shift+Option or Shift+Alt down. And then I'll go ahead and release the mouse button, and I'll release the keys, and I have drawn everything at an angle. Now this affects everything that you are about to do. So if I get the Ellipse tool and I start dragging with it, it's at an angle. Crazy man! And its points are at an angle, and everything.
Backspace/Delete to get rid of it. This is what's going to throw you, you get down using the constraint axes, and you think fine, fine, You use a bunch of other tools that doesn't seem to affect them. You know it's not going to affect some of the more sophisticated tools, because you are placing points on a point-by-point basis in different places. But then you come to something like the Text tool right here, and it's wanting to create some area text. That's why we are getting that little sort of dotted parenthesis around it. If I go ahead and click here, we should be able to create a new text block, once I get the dotted rectangle going. But notice the blinking insertion markers is at an angle, and if I say you know, hello, it's going to come at an angle that will throw you one day if you use the constraint axes, if you modify that constraint angle value. You are going to find yourself going, what did I do to the software? Or maybe hey, do it to a friend. That will throw him.
All right, then I'm going to press the Escape key in order to return to the black arrow tool, and I'll press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac to get rid of that guy. All right, so what do you do? When you are done, you press the Ctrl+K or Command+K on the Mac, and you restore the constraint angle value to zero. Then you click OK, and you are done folks, all right, this is great. I'm going to do one other thing, I'm going to get this guy right there, click on him, and I'm going to change its fill to white, let's say. And that didn't do anything, because these shapes are sitting on top of it. So then I'll right click, and then I'll choose Range, and I'll choose Bring to Front, to bring it to the front of those guys right there. I can also press Ctrl+Shift+Right bracket. That will be Command+Shift+Right bracket on the Mac.
This guy should probably be filled with white, both of these guys should. And so I'll go ahead and give them white fills like so. All right, so we are in pretty good shape here. We are ready to take this little block of rectangles here and duplicate it, notice that they have to go into the other positions. We have got four of them. That's why in the next exercise I'm going to show you a couple of other really old features inside of Illustrator. Grouping and Flipping.
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