Join Mordy Golding for an in-depth discussion in this video Using Live Paint with open paths, part of Illustrator CS4 Beyond the Basics.
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It can be easy to conceptualize what Live Paint is doing when using two overlapping rectangles. But it's yet another level when you think about what you can do with Open Paths inside of Illustrator with Live Paint as well. So let's take a look at another example. I'm going to use the Line Segment tool to draw four paths inside of Illustrator. These are four independent paths but they all crisscross each other. Now again because the way that I have drawn the paths, I do see visually an area here in the middle that appears as if it's a closed area but because I haven't created a filled object I can't apply the fill attribute. However, with Live Paint I can and that's because you want to think about a general rule. Live Paint allows you to apply a fill attribute to a region or an area on your page that looks like it's an actual object. It doesn't necessarily have to be one. The only thing that I need to do is to turn that into a Live Paint group.
So I'll go over here, take my regular Selection tool. I'll select all four paths and the keyboard shortcut to create a Live Paint group is Command+Option+X on the Mac or Ctrl+Alt +X on Windows. Notice by the way that whenever you select a Live Paint group, the handles that appear on the corners here have little stars inside of them, Indicating this is something special. And indeed it is because the way the Live Paint works. Just to show you where that command lives inside of the menu, you can go over here to the Object menu, choose Live Paint and then you would choose the Make option. But now that I have created my Live Paint group, I'm simply going to go ahead and select the Live Paint Bucket tool again by tapping the K on my keyboard. I'll select Yellow for my Swatches panel because it's my favorite color and I'll fill this middle area here with Yellow.
Remember I didn't have to physically create an object here. I have these four paths that created what looks like a closed area. In fact if I use my direct Selection tool, I'll be able to see that each of these are individual paths, nothing has changed there and because this is a Live Paint group, as I move or change the boundaries of these paths the filled area automatically updates. In fact, if you look at my Layers panel you will see that if I twirl down the contents of Layer 1, I see that I now have a Live Paint group and if I twirl down the contents of that I can see the four paths that appear inside of that Live Paint group.
So now we are really starting to see some of the benefits of working with Live Paint groups. You don't need to actually connect paths in order to fill them. Think about what this means when you are creating quick sketches inside of Illustrator, or when you are working with artwork that other people may have created, the key concept to always keep in mind when working with Live Paint is that as long as the area looks like its enclosed you can apply a fill attribute to it, even if they are made up of separate paths as long as they are on encompassed within a single Live Paint group.
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