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In Illustrator CS5 Essential Training, author Mordy Golding explains the core concepts and techniques that apply to any workflow in Illustrator, whether designing for print, the web, or assets for other applications. This course includes a detailed explanation of the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of Illustrator's drawing tools. Also demonstrated are techniques for combining and cleaning up paths, organizing paths into groups and layers, text editing, working with color, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
Before we jump into learning about the drawing tools inside of Illustrator, I wanted to take a moment to talk about the keyboard. While the actual drawing that you'll be doing will be done with the mouse or with a pen, if you're using a Wacom tablet, the keys in your keyboard play a very important role in how you get your work done. Basically certain keys on the keyboard can make the drawing tools behave differently. For this reason there are certain keys on the keyboard called modifier keys. Across the board in almost every single tool inside of Illustrator, these modifier keys can really make a difference in how you draw.
These modifier keys are the Shift, Option and Command and Spacebar keys on Mac, or the Shift, Ctrl, Alt and Spacebar keys on Windows. There are many different keyboards out there, so what you see here may not match exactly what you have. But one of the nice things that I've seen is that lately keyboards have these keys mirrored on both the left and right sides of the keyboard, providing equal rights to both lefties and righties. Specifically in the case of drawing tools though, there are a few other additional modifier keys. And those are the Arrow keys on the keyboard, the Tilde key, which appears all in the upper left hand corner of your keyboard.
It's the little squiggly character. And for some drawing tools also the X, C, V and F keys. Don't worry yet about committing all these keys to memory. That will come in time. However the most important thing to know about these modifier keys is that you need to use them while your mouse button is down. As we'll see inside of Illustrator, while you're drawing, while you're dragging the mouse and your finger is pressing down the mouse button, these modifier keys can adjust certain behaviors. However, once you release the mouse button your shape is already drawn and you've to that committed to that shape without the ability to change it using any of these modifier keys.
Now that we know about the modifier keys, let's get started drawing in Illustrator.
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