There’s more than one way to skin a cat, as the old saying goes. There’s also more than one way to create rounded corner rectangles in Adobe Illustrator. The Rounded Rectangle Tool in Illustrator is handy, but it’s limited in that once you create the rectangle, you can’t go back and alter the amount of the rounded corners later on if you need to. Fortunately, Illustrator offers another, more flexible method to accomplish the task. To get around this limitation, create a normal squared-edge rectangle. With the rectangle selected, go to Effect>Stylize>Round Corners… in the menubar. The Round Corners dialog box allows you to set a custom Radius to your rectangle, and tick the Preview box so you can see what your rectangle will look like. But here’s where the handy part comes into play. When you create the round corners this way, you can go back and adjust the radius amount at any time later on in your design process because the round corners are a live effect, just like fill, stroke, opacity, etc. To do that, select the rectangle and simply visit the Appearance Panel. You’ll see the Round Corners effect listed in the panel along with any other attributes applied to the rectangle. Double-click the effect and you can edit the radius of your rounded corners.
With simple shapes and gradients, this Adobe Illustrator tutorial will show you how to create an alarm clock icon. We’ll be using Illustrator CS4 for this tutorial, but those of you with older versions of Illustrator should be able to follow along as well. VectorTuts is a great site for Illustrator users to explore. Be sure to check out the community links section as well!
Logo, Web and print designers, as well as Adobe Illustrator users in general, will find the following free vector art sites to be a great resource, and a huge time-saver. Before you start squacking about “real designers don’t use clip-art,” consider that you don’t have to use the artwork as a whole. I often times use small pieces of the artwork found on these sites as logo elements, highlight graphics in brochures, etc. Because they’re vector, they’re easily manipulated and customized. None of these sites actually create the vector art. Instead they simply do the searching for you and put it all into one easy place. Because of that, you’re likely to notice that many of these sites feature the same artwork. Don’t let that fool you into thinking they’re all the same. Most of them feature artwork not found on the other sites listed. Bookmark the sites and check back often, as they’re constantly updated with free vector art. As always, check for a license or other stipulations before using commercially – though most allow it. (more…)
You may have noticed that some of the functions in the Control panel in Adobe Illustrator are blue with a dotted line underneath – they’ve actually been around since at least Illustrator CS2. Those blue words with the dotted underline mean that particular function is clickable. When you click on the function name, the appropriate panel for that function opens on the fly (see screenshot above). The panel will close when you click anywhere in the document, or select a different tool. The Control panel is already context-sensitive, meaning it changes depending on which tool you have active, but this clickable function feature makes it even more handy because you don’t have to keep as many panels open to have them readily available, nor do you have to use a keyboard shortcut.
Layers Magazine has posted a great little tutorial for Adobe Illustrator users, showing you one way to create eye-catching text in a comic book style. The technique is simple and uses little more than the Free Transform tool, some strokes and the Pen tool.
If you’ve ever had to convert a logo or piece of artwork in Adobe Illustrator CS3 from color to grayscale (or even Pantones to CMYK), you’ve undoubtedly seen the “gradients and patterns will not be converted” warning message. The auto-convert function in Illustrator CS3 doesn’t work on gradients. You could go through the trouble of adjusting the gradient manually, but if you have a lot of different gradients, that can be time-consuming. Instead, select all the objects containing gradients (or just hit Command + A to grab everything) and go to the menu bar and select Object>Expand and hit OK. Your gradient is now converted into many objects with different shades of solid colors, rather than a single object with a gradient, so they can easily be converted to grayscale. In most cases, just hitting OK will do the job just fine. But if you find the results not to your liking, you might try adjusting the number of objects created to simulate the gradient at the bottom of the Expand dialog box first. The more objects you create, the smoother the gradient will appear when converted to individual objects. Because you have expanded the gradient to multiple objects, going back and editing the gradient is a royal pain, so be sure to save a copy of the original before you expand it.
What about Illustrator CS4 users?
If you’ve upgraded to Illustrator CS4, rejoice! The ban on gradient conversions has been lifted. We can now convert the colors in gradients to color, grayscale, or RGB by going to the menubar and selecting Edit>Edit Colors and choosing the appropriate option.
Everyone knows you can move an object in Adobe Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator by selecting it and hitting one of the arrow keys. This typically results in the object moving one point at a time. But if you hold down the Shift key while hitting the arrow keys, the object will move by 10 points. Not a huge time saver, but every little bit helps.
Adobe Illustrator CS4 brings those two huge features and a whole lot of existing feature enhancements to Illustrator users who’ve been patiently waiting. Multiple Artboards: Think of multiple Artboards as essentially multi-page documents, much like a page layout program, except that it allows you to have different size artboards within your document. So what’s the big deal you ask? Read on… (more…)
Yesterday, you resized an Illustrator text frame and the text reflowed, staying the same size. Today, you enlarged an Illustrator text frame and the text grew right along with it. How do you force Illustrator to act the way you want it to? Mordy Golding, Illustrator guru and author of several books on Illustrator, often gets questions about scaling text in Illustrator CS, CS2, and CS3. For example, someone scales his text frame only to find that the text within the frame becomes scaled as well. He wants to simply resize the frame, allowing the text within to reflow without changing size. Sometimes it works as he wants it to, while other times, it doesn’t — which leads to frustration and acts of computer violence. Why this seemingly inconsistent behavior? Mordy covers the differences between Illustrator’s two text options: Point Type and Area Type, as well as how to properly scale text in Illustrator in this article at CreativePro.