Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Adding to a compound shape, part of Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced.
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In this exercise I'm going to show you how to add a subpath to an existing Compound Shape. And in case you're wondering what in the world this gobbledygook that I'm spewing means, well, if you look here inside the Layers palette, we have now this Compound Shape item that's here inside the Up above layer and it contains two subpaths, Ringo and Submarine. We are going to add another subpath, which is going to be this guy right there Fin, and you'll see how in just a moment. Now I've gone ahead and saved my progress so far as The walrus played bass.ai. So called by the way because the walrus did indeed play bass for this band here, the guitarist said so. And in case you're wondering, what in the world I'm talking about? Ask somebody 20 years older than you, and they will know.
What I want to do is I want to take this Fin right here, this Fin item inside the Layers palette, also represented by this object here inside the illustration window. I want to grab it and I want to use it cut a swath between this sort of steering apparatus, whatever it's called, I don't really know the names of submarine elements, from the larger submarine itself so that the group Ringo and the Walrus and everybody else inside the submarine can maneuver their ship around. So the first thing I'm going to do is bring it to front by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Right Bracket or Command+ Shift+Right Bracket on a Mac and then I'm going to go ahead and Shift-click in the submarine to add it to the selection.
So both Fin and Submarine are selected. I want you to notice the name of this item right there is Fin. So I have named that object in advance. Now I'm going to go over to the Pathfinder palette. We want the Fin item, this Fin path right there to cut a hole in the larger submarine shape. So I'll click on this icon, Minus Front, because we are subtracting the front item from the back item. And when I click it, nothing happens. We see a refresh in the Layers palette. And I also notice up here in the Edit menu that the first command is now called Undo Subtract. So something happened, but it wasn't anything that made in any difference in terms of the fundamental appearance of my illustration. The only thing I succeeded in doing here was to change the name Fin to Path. So I just eradicated its name. That's all I managed to do.
So let's press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to undo that operation. Here is the deal. If you want to combine one path with an existing Compound Shape, you have to keep things dynamic. So you have to stick with Compound Shape operations, which means you have to have the Alt or Option key down. So check this out. If I press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and then click on Minus Front, then I'll go ahead and successfully subtract this fin shape from the other paths inside of this larger Compound Shape. Now notice over here in the Layers palette, I want you to see something. If I twirl open Compound Shape I see Fin right there at the top of the stack, but then I see a nested Compound Shape, so we have a Compound Shape inside of another Compound Shape and that one contains Ringo and Submarine.
So that's a perfectly acceptable way to work, if you want. However, there is a more elegant solution in my mind and that's to actually insert the subpath into the existing Compound Shape, and I'll show you two different ways to do that in the next exercise.
Recommended prerequisite: Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Illustrator from the Exercise Files tab.
- Working with compound shapes in the Pathfinder palette
- Ghosting shapes with Fill Opacity
- Understanding gradients and the gradient tools
- Cloning and coloring a blended path
- Saving tile patterns and applying them to a shape
- Importing and linking images from other applications