Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Adjusting a few key Preferences settings, part of Illustrator CC 2013 One-on-One: Advanced.
In this movie, I'll show you how to adjust a few advanced preference settings so that you can work inside of Illustrator more efficiently and with less frustration, especially as you begin to assemble more complex documents. Now, we're going to be doing all of our work inside the Preferences dialogue box, which you can get by pressing Ctrl+K on the PC, or Cmd+K on the Mac. And that not only brings up the preferences, but it highlights the first and what I consider to be the most important option, which is Keyboard Increment.
So as you know, pressing an arrow key nudges a selected object inside of Illustrator and it does so by this increment right here, which by default is one point. That is to say, one-seventy second of an inch. And then you can nudge objects by ten times that amount, or ten points, by pressing hift along with an arrow key. But you can't nudge it by a finer amount by pressing still more keys the way you can, for example, in InDesign. And if you're like me, you're going to find over time that you want more control, which is why I usually go with 0.2 points, which is the same thing as one-three hundred and sixtieth of an inch, which gives you essentially resolution-level control.
In other words, you're working at the resolution of a fairly capable printer. Next, you want your Constrain Angle to generally be zero degrees so that you have upright rectangles and tags. Corner Radius really doesn't make that much difference these days. We've seen a lot of these check boxes in previous chapters and we'll see still more in future chapters. But for now, I want to call your attention to this guy right there, Use Preview Bounce. I'll leave it off because that's the default and I'll click OK in order to accept my new keyboard increment.
And then, I'll go ahead and turn on this layer, the rectangles layer here inside the Layers panel, which makes visible these three rectangles in the lower left corner of the document. Now, I'll go ahead and marquee these three rectangles and notice that they all have different stroke weights. So we've got a line weight of 80 points over here on the right-hand side, down to ten points over here on the left-hand side. Now, click on the word Align on the far right side of the Control Panel. And by the way, if you have more room to work, you might actually see your Align icons up here.
Also notice that Align Two is set to Align to Selection, which is very important. And now, notice if I go ahead and distribute the spacing by clicking on Horizontal Distribute Space, I move the central rectangle closer to the right one than to the left one. And that's because I'm distributing the space not between the strokes, but between the path outlines themselves. The same holds true if I click on Vertical Align Top. We align the path outlines, but not the strokes. If you want to reverse that behavior, than click on the fly-out menu icon and turn on Use Preview Bounds.
That turns on that same check box inside the Preferences dialogue box as well. And now notice if I click on Vertical Align Top, I align the tops of the strokes and the path outlines fall where they will. The same happens if I click on Horizontal Distribute Space. I end up distributing the space according to the line weights. All right, now I'll press the Enter key, or the Return key on the Mac, and I'll go ahead and switch over to this document here, which is a kind of alternative for installing dekeKeys specifically on Windows 7, which includes a colorful start menu.
Now let's say I want to edit this icon. I'll go ahead and press the Control and space bar keys, that's Cmd+space bar on the Mac, in order to get the Zoom tool and then I'll marquee around that object like so. And I'll zoom a little bit further in. Now, if I were to press Ctrl+Y, or Cmd+Y on the Mac, to switch to the Outline mode, I could see that there's an ellipse right there at this location. It's part of a blend, so if I click on it, I'll end up selecting the entire blend, like so, because I am using the black arrow key as opposed to the white arrow key.
So, everything works the way you think it would work inside the Outline mode, but if I switch back to the Preview mode and I click on that ellipse. I can see it right there. I'll go ahead and click at this location. Then I end up selecting the colorful waving rectangles and that's because I went and clicked on the shape's drop shadow, so I'd have to move farther out to select that ellipse. Things become more troubling in my opinion when you switch to the white Arrow tool, which you can get by pressing the A key. And what I should be able to just do is select this ellipse or one of its anchor points independently of the rest of the blend, but as soon as I click right there, I end up selecting the waving rectangles once again because, again, I clicked on the drop shadow.
If you'd rather work differently, if you'd rather know what it is you're going to select from one click to the next, then press Ctrl+K, or Cmd+K on a Mac, to bring up the Preferences dialogue box. Might as well turn off Use Preview Bounds for now. And then I am going to click on Selection & Anchor Display in the left-hand list and turn on this check box right there, Object Selection by Path Only. And now, if you click OK and you click with the white arrow tool at that same location, you're not going to select anything because there's not really anything there.
The drop shadow is not a direct portion of any path outline. So you may wonder well, gosh, you just clicked on the ellipse, so how in the world do you know where that path outline is? Well, just move your cursor until you see a black square next to it and that tells you that there's a path outline at that location. And as soon as I click, you can see that I'm selecting the segment independently of the rest of the blend. The other signal to keep an eye out for, I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Shift+A, or Cmd+Shift+A on the Mac, to deselect that object.
The other thing you'll see is a hollow square next to the cursor and that tells you that you're clicking directly on an anchor point. So, in other words, what we have here is a finely honed option designed specifically for an advanced user such as yourself. The same occurs with text. We'll go ahead and switch over to this final document. Let's say I want to select this text that says done dirt cheap. If I click on the top of the h, I end up selecting the word design instead.
And that's because it's in front, for one thing, and its theoretical descenders overlap the real ascender of the h. Now, this can be very confusing, especially when you're working with point tags. If you'd rather have more control, press Ctrl+K or Cmd+K once again and then click on the Type option over here in the left-hand side. And turn on this check box, Type Object Selection by Path Only and then click OK. And now, if I click on the top of that h, I don't select anything because, again, there's nothing there insofar as Illustrator is concerned.
What I want you to do now is move your cursor over the baseline of point text and notice I now see a black square next to my arrow, at which point if I click, I will go ahead and select on dirt cheap. If I move my cursor to the baseline of the text above and click, I will select it instead. Now there's one more setting I want to draw your attention to. We already saw back in chapter three and it's only available to those of you who are working under Windows, but it bears repeating.
The first thing I'm going to do is press Ctrl+plus, or Cmd+plus on the Mac, to zoom in slightly to the 200% zoom ratio. You could see that in the lower left corner of the window. And now, I'm going to click on the little rocket ship. Again, it's only available under Windows. I'll click on that rocket ship to bring up the Preferences dialogue box. And notice that GPU Performance is currently turned off. And again, that's something I did back in chapter three of the fundamentals course. I'll go ahead and turn it back on, and the idea, of course, is that now Illustrator can accelerate some graphics functions by offloading the operations to the video card, which is theoretically a good thing.
So I'll click OK, but here's the problem. What I want you to notice is everything's looking pretty good right now. We've got some problems showing up in the upper left-hand corner of this frame. Notice that the shadows are looking fine. They're light blue. But if I click in the Zoom option here and press Shift+down arrow to reduce it to 190% or to 180%, this time is the way things are working, notice that I lose a ton of the frame and I end up with the purple drop shadow as well.
If you encounter problems like that, specifically on the PC, one way to solve the problem is to go to the View menu and choose Preview on CPU so that we're bypassing the video card's GPU. Or even better still in my opinion, go ahead and click on the rocket ship and then turn off GPU Performance because after all, this is an experimental feature and it often goes wrong. And then click OK to accept that change. And that, friends, is how you take advantage of a very few, but advanced preference settings here inside Illustrator.
- Installing dekeKeys, Deke's free custom keyboard shortcuts
- Understanding the color-managed workflow
- Creating a multicolor blend
- Establishing a clipping mask
- Blending different levels of opacity
- Combining a letterform with a path outline
- Warping logo type around a circle
- Adding neon blur and bokeh in Photoshop
- Mixing and matching color harmonies
- Recoloring artwork
- Working with the Calligraphic, Scatter, and Art Brushes
- Creating translucency
- Editing attributes in the Appearance panel
- Adjusting and updating dynamic effects
Skill Level Advanced
Q: This course was updated on 09/26/2014. What changed?
A: Deke updated 7 movies to reflect changes in the 2014 version of Illustrator CC. The movies cover Illustrator preferences, updates to blends, and more. Make sure to watch the revised movies (marked "UPDATED") to stay up to date.