Illustrator Resources

Illustrator: Pen Tool Basics

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InDesign is a layout and design program, Illustrator is a drawing program. Illustrator, like Photoshop, is vector based.

When opening a new document in Illustrator, it will not ask for columns, margins, etc. Select “New Print Document,” this causes the color palette to work in CMYK (print) instead of RGB (web).

Usually your new document opens up with the workspace “Essentials” in the upper right corner of the screen. Change this to Topography or Design. . . it will give you more options.

As you noticed in class and through your work so far, the toolbar in Illustrator shares a lot of similarities with InDesign. However, remember that the Direct Selection tool (white arrow) will be used much more in Illustrator.

Show Grid: View – Grid

Add Rulers: View – Rulers

Change Ruler Measurements: Illustrator – Preferences – Units – General (inches)

If you click on a tool and continue to hold the button down, you can see all the choices, tear them off and keep them visible on the screen.

You can fill a shape, define its stroke color and stroke weight using the options bar (above your document) or the menu’s on the right side of your screen. . . just like in InDesign. If a menu isn’t visible, go to “Window” and find them in the dropdown menu.

Pull out the pen tool so that all options are visible. Use the “Add Anchor Points” arrow to add an anchor point anywhere on the outline of your shape. Once this is done, select the Direct Selection tool (white arrow) and you can grab your newly created anchor points and distort the image. In the options palette at the top left of the screen, you can convert selected anchor points to corner (sharp edges) or smooth (rounded edges).

Just like in InDesign, you can create a textbox and adjust the kerning, tracking, leading, etc. Once you’ve finished adjusting your type, click the Selection Tool (black arrow) and then go to Object – Expand, then click OK. Then, go back to Object and select Envelope Distort – Make With Warp. . . play with options here. You can also go to Object – Envelope Distort – Make With Mesh. Once you have done either of these, use your Direct Selection Tool (white arrow) to click on certain anchor points and distort your text.

You can also play with your text letter by letter using different tools that you can pull out from behind the Width tool. As above, you go Object-Expand with your text (or Type-Convert Outlines) and then use the Direct Selection tool (white arrow) to select the individual letters. Then you can use “Warp” or any of the other tools to mess with the text.

Live Trace was another option we covered in class. You can use this on any image from the web, any photo you’ve taken or any image you scanned. Once you’ve placed the image on your page, select the image with your Selection Tool (black arrow) and then go up to Object – Live Trace – Tracing Options. Move the menu that pops up off of your image, and make sure the preview button on the lower right-hand side is selected. Now you can play with the options to get different views of your image. Once you’ve found one you like, select Trace. Then go back up to Object – Expand, and you can view all the paths you’ve created. Once an object is Live Traced, it can then be Live Painted. Use your Direct Selection Tool to select parts to paint, fill, move or delete.

The final thing we covered in class was the Shape Builder tool. If you create two (or more) shapes, you can join them together by using the Shape Builder tool. You can also use the Shape Builder tool on text. Below is the link to the video we watched in class that explained how to use this tool.


Illustrator: Pen Tool Basics, Part Two

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Illustrator: Live Trace

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