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Top 10 New Features in Adobe Illustrator CS5

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Brian Wood, contributor to Adobe Illustrator CS5 Classroom in a Book, loves the handy new (and often long-awaited) features in Illustrator CS5. He highlights 10 of his favorites for users who want to know whether CS5 fulfills its promises.

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Shape Builder Tool

Shape Builder Tool

Have you ever wanted to combine shapes or punch one shape from another, only to be faced with the Pathfinder panel and its dizzying array of buttons? Well, no more, thanks to the Shape Builder tool. This interactive tool creates complex shapes by merging and erasing simpler shapes. In other words, after drawing simpler shapes or creating compound paths, you can select the Shape Builder tool, position the pointer over the artwork, and the tool intuitively highlights edges and regions of the selected art that can be merged to form new shapes (see Figure 6).

Figure 6 Whoever thought up the Shape Builder tool should receive an award.

For example, you can draw a stroke across the middle of a circle and quickly create two half-circles, without opening a panel or choosing another tool. The Shape Builder tool can also break overlapping shapes to create distinct objects. It easily adopts art styles when objects are merged, and you can enable the Color Swatch cursor to select colors for your artwork.

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