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Using Shapes to Create Artwork for a Postcard

Chapter Description

In this sample chapter from Adobe Illustrator Classroom in a Book (2020 release), author Brian Wood will teach you how to use shapes to create artwork. You'll learn the tools and commands needed to create a variety of shapes, understand live shapes, and work with drawing modes.

Creating a new document

To start, you’ll create a new document for the postcard that you’ll add artwork to.

  1. Choose Window > Workspace > Essentials (if it’s not already selected). Choose Window > Workspace > Reset Essentials to reset the Essentials workspace.

  2. Choose File > New to create a new, untitled document. In the New Document dialog box, change the following options:

    • Select the Print category at the top of the dialog box.

    You can set up a document for different kinds of output, such as print, web, video, and more, by choosing a category. For example, if you are designing a web page mock-up, you can select the Web category and select a document preset (size). The document will be set with the units in pixels, the color mode as RGB, and the raster effects to Screen (72 ppi)—all optimal settings for a web document.

    • Select the Letter document preset, if it isn’t already selected.

    On the right, in the Preset Details area, change the following:

    • Name: Change it from Untitled-1 to Postcard.

    The name will become the name of the Illustrator file when you save it later.

    • Units: Choose Inches from the units menu to the right of the Width field.

    • Width: Click in the Width field and type 6.

    • Height: Click in the Height field and type 4.25.

    • Orientation: Landscape (landscape.jpg).

    • Artboards: 1 (the default setting).

    You’ll learn about the Bleed option shortly. At the bottom of the Preset Details section on the right side of the New Document dialog box, you will also see Advanced Options and More Settings (you may need to scroll to see it). They contain more settings for document creation that you can explore on your own.

  3. Click Create to create a new document.

    With the document open in Illustrator, now you’ll save it.

  4. Choose File > Save As. In the Save As dialog box, ensure that the name of the file is Postcard.ai, and save it in the Lessons > Lesson03 folder. Leave Adobe Illustrator (ai) chosen from the Format menu (macOS) or Adobe Illustrator (*.AI) chosen from the Save As Type menu (Windows), and click Save.

    Adobe Illustrator (.ai) is called a native format. That means it preserves all Illustrator data so you can edit everything later.

  5. In the Illustrator Options dialog box that appears, leave the options at their default settings, and click OK.

    The Illustrator Options dialog box is full of options for saving the Illustrator document, from specifying a version for saving to embedding any files that are linked to the document.

  6. Click the Document Setup button in the Properties panel (Window > Properties).

    The Document Setup dialog box is where you can change document options like units, bleeds, and more after a document is created. You will typically add bleed to artboards for printed artwork that needs to be printed all the way to the edge of the paper. Bleed is the term used for the area that extends beyond the edge of the printed page, and it ensures that no white edges show up on the final trimmed page.

  7. In the Bleed section of the Document Setup dialog box, change the value in the Top field to 0.125 in, either by clicking the Up Arrow button to the left of the field once or by typing the value, which should make all four fields change. Click OK.

    The red line that appears around the artboard indicates the bleed area.

  8. Choose View > Fit Artboard In Window to fit the artboard (page) in the Document window.

3. Working with basic shapes | Next Section Previous Section

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