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Chapter 1. Meet Illustrator 10 > The Lowdown on Illustrator 10

The Lowdown on Illustrator 10

If you're familiar with previous versions of Illustrator, then you probably already know the stuff I've told you so far (although it never hurts to revisit the basics every now and then). What you may not know is what the new Illustrator 10 has to offer that its predecessors did not. For you, I provide the following quick but riveting list, designed to get you up and running with little pain and lots of potential. Note that I also indicate which corresponding chapter spells out the new feature in detail, so you know where to turn when you need more information.

  • Live distortion (Chapters 9 and 19): Using Illustrator's new warp effects and envelopes, you can quickly create a wide variety of live distortion effects. Because the effects are live, the content of the object can be altered even after the distortion has been applied. For example, you can resize a rectangle or edit text even while the distortion is applied. Warp effects let you arc, bulge, wave, and otherwise distort artwork and are useful for simulating nonflat surfaces and creating unusual perspective effects. With envelopes, any path created in Illustrator can be used as the basis for distorting an object. Envelopes are perfect for giving drawings three-dimensional perspective and can be especially fun when used with text, as Figure 1.4 demonstrates. In the figure, I used the circle as an envelope to distort the text, creating a 3D effect.

    Figure 1.4. Using a circle to distort text, editing the circle, then editing the text.

  • Liquify tools (Chapter 9): A new set of seven liquify tools—Warp, Twirl, Pucker, Bloat, Scallop, Crystalize, and Wrinkle—allow you to distort paths interactively by dragging over them. While live distortions affect entire objects, the liquify tools lets you distort parts of objects. These distortions can be minor adjustments or wild alterations. If you want to alter the path only slightly, one pass with a liquify tool will do. If you pass over the path repeatedly, the effect becomes more exaggerated and pronounced, as you can see in Figure 1.5. With the liquify tools you can apply everything from familiar pucker and bloat distortions to new crystallize and wrinkle effects.

    Figure 1.5. The Wrinkle liquify tool distorts the area you drag over.

  • Symbols palette and symbolism tools (Chapter 12): In the past, creating an illustration composed of many similar elements—like leaves on a tree, for example—was a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. Each object had to be copied, pasted, and then transformed into place. And if you wanted to change the basic object everywhere, you had to start all over from the beginning. But not anymore. Using the new Symbols palette, you can define any object as a symbol and then add instances of the symbol to your illustrations as many times as you want. In addition to being convenient, using symbols in an illustration reduces file size because all the instances of a symbol are linked to the original object stored in the Symbols palette. This can save quite a bit of precious memory in larger illustrations. This also means that if you need to change every instance of the symbol, you have to redefine the symbol only once—what a timesaver! But Illustrator goes beyond a basic implementation of symbols with the strange but wonderful idea of having a number of symbols behave as a single object. You can spray a number of symbols onto the artwork, then alter the sprayed instances of symbols using the new symbolism tools. You can see an example of this in Figure 1.6. You can shift, scrunch, resize, spin, tone, or style the symbols, and each symbol in the set will react independently and uniquely, and the changes remain applied even if you redefine the symbol.

    Figure 1.6. A school of fish built up from a single fish symbol (left) with the symbol sprayer tool (center) and shaded with the toning tool (right).

  • Updated Pathfinder palette with new compound shape options (Chapter 7): Combining shapes is easier than ever before with Illustrator 10's new, more powerful Pathfinder palette. Offering more intuitive controls than in previous versions, the Pathfinder palette makes it easier to combine shapes and more accurately choose the appropriate compound option. Compound shapes are also now live objects and can still be transformed and edited once compounded.

  • Line, arc, grid, and polar grid tools (Chapter 5): Illustrator 10 adds several new drawing tools that users have been requesting for years. Now you can quickly draw lines and arcs without having to use the pen tool. Use the grid tool to create rectangular grids with up to 999 horizontal or vertical dividers. Useful primarily for map-type illustrations, the polar grid tool renders grids with concentric circles and as many dividers as you specify.

  • Select menu (Chapter 6): The selection commands that used to live under the Edit and Object menus have been promoted to a Select menu of their very own. That's quite a promotion!

  • Magic wand (Chapter 6): The magic wand tool has been an essential part of Photoshop for years, and now Illustrator has its own version of the tool. You can use the magic wand to select objects that have a similar fill, stroke, opacity, or blending mode. The Magic Wand palette lets you adjust the tolerance of the tool to specify how similar the objects' colors, strokes, or opacities must be in order to be included in the selection.

  • Object-based slices and manual slicing tools (Chapter 21): After a Web graphic is sliced into several smaller graphics files, it's often difficult to make changes to the image without reslicing it. With the introduction of object-based slices, Illustrator 10 tackles this problem head on by making it easier to edit sliced graphics. Instead of the traditional method of slicing an image into a series of rectangles before being displayed in the browser, object-based slices use each object's bounding box to guide the placement of slices. Since object-based slices are based on each object's bounding box, the position of the slices will update automatically when you modify the graphic. In other words, once you set it up, you don't have to worry about it again. If you want more control over slicing, use the new manual slicing tools, which let you locate slices wherever you like. Manual slices don't update automatically, but they also don't have to be tied to specific objects within the illustration.

  • Slicing options (Chapter 21): Illustrator 10 can optimize each slice of an illustration separately. This allows you to specify the optimal file format and setting for each individual slice. For example, a slice containing only text will download and render fastest if it's saved in straight HTML, while a photograph will most efficiently optimize in the JPEG format. Slices can even be saved in the Macromedia Shockwave (SWF) format. With this amount of control over the slicing and optimization process, you can produce Web images that both load quickly and look great.

  • Support for CSS layers (Chapter 21): Now slices also can be exported as Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) layers. With CSS layers, slices can overlap each other and take advantage of transparency. With a bit of scripting, you can make different layers display in different contexts. For example, you can have one set of layers display on weekdays and another on weekends. Or you can have a layer with English-language text and another with French to match the local browser settings.

  • Data-driven graphics for the Web (Chapter 22): This incredibly powerful feature allows you to automatically feed graphics from a database into Illustrator templates. Let's say you have to design a Web catalog with products, prices, and page headings that don't change. You can draw a template containing the basic design of the page, and designate areas that will contain the parts that change (products, information, etc.). You assign variables to the changeable parts and let a database and a script fill them in as needed. With this feature and a little scripting, you can use a template and a database to dynamically generate Web pages.

  • Improved animation support (Chapter 22): Illustrator 9 allowed you to export files in the SWF format, commonly associated with Flash animations. Illustrator 10 expands on this capability by giving you more control over the animations you export. Now you can select whether your animations play a fixed number of times or constantly loop, and you can automatically generate the HTML code that allows an SWF file to play in the Web browser. To ensure that animations are more compact, symbols and instances are automatically converted to Macromedia Flash style symbols and instances. If a symbol is used many times in a drawing, it is saved only once in the file, with all other instances being based on the original symbol.

  • Native support for Mac OS X: If you're using this radical update to the Mac OS, Illustrator will take advantage of its features, such as vastly improved memory management and Apple's Aqua user interface.

  • Improved SVG support (Chapter 22): Adobe continues to build its support for this open, XML-based vector graphics format for the Web. It's now possible to open and edit SVG files exported from Illustrator, because Illustrator can embed the original file in the SVG file. More excitingly, Illustrator has added a number of live SVG effects. The key thing about SVG effects is that they save network bandwidth by not being rendered until they reach the browser. The filters themselves are rather innovative because they are live (so you can edit the object while the effect is applied) and because they are effects not normally expected for vectors, such as blurs and drop shadows.

  • Flare tool (Chapter 5): The new flare tool can simulate lens flares and add lighting effects to illustrations. Using just the mouse, you can draw a flare and set the location and number of its rays. Double-click a flare to display the Flare Tool Options dialog box, where you can adjust the center, halo, ray, and ring settings.



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