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Paths and Vector Art

Illustrator is a vector art program. Although it allows you to do some rather advanced work with raster images and rasterized artwork, it is at heart a vector art program. Vector art is based on the concept of paths. Each item is a path, and the path is stroked and/or filled to produce artwork. Without the path, there's nothing to stroke or fill, so the artwork cannot appear on the page. Likewise, without a stroke or fill, the path may be there, but it is invisible. (Invisible paths are used in Illustrator. They are discussed later in this chapter.) The path defines the basic shape of an object, whereas the stroke and fill (and other characteristics) determine the appearance of the object.

The concepts vector and raster are very important in a discussion of computer graphics. To clarify, vector artwork is path based. It consists of paths that determine the shape of objects and the colors that are applied to the path (stroke) and within the path (fill). Raster artwork consists of a series of small colored squares, called pixels. Raster artwork can be an object in an Illustrator document, but the raster art itself does not have objects within it. It may appear as a circle or a square, but the raster art is actually just those small, color pixels.



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