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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.

Working with drawing modes

f0106-03.jpg

Illustrator has three different drawing modes available that are found at the bottom of the toolbar: Draw Normal, Draw Behind, and Draw Inside. Drawing modes allow you to draw shapes in different ways. The three drawing modes are as follows:

  • Draw Normal mode: You start every document by drawing shapes in Normal mode, which stacks shapes on top of each other.

  • Draw Behind mode: This mode allows you to draw behind all artwork on a selected layer if no artwork is selected. If artwork is selected, the new object is drawn directly beneath the selected object.

  • Draw Inside mode: This mode lets you draw objects or place images inside other objects, including live text, automatically creating a clipping mask of the selected object. You’ll learn more about masks in Lesson 15.

Placing artwork

Next you’ll place artwork from another Illustrator document that contains text shapes and artwork you will use to create another piece of fruit.

  1. Choose File > Open. In the Open dialog box, select the artwork.ai file in the Lessons > Lesson03 folder on your hard disk, and click Open.

  2. Select the Selection tool (sp_selectiontool_lg_n.jpg) in the toolbar. To select all of the content, choose Select > All On Active Artboard. Choose Edit > Copy.

  3. Click the Postcard.ai tab to return to the postcard document.

  4. Choose View > Fit Artboard In Window.

    f0107-01.jpg
  5. Choose Edit > Paste to paste the “FARM FRESH” text and part of the artwork for an orange.

  6. Choose Select > Deselect.

Using Draw Inside mode

Now you’ll add the artwork of the orange you copied from the artwork.ai file to the inside of the red half-circle using the Draw Inside drawing mode. This can be useful if you want to hide (mask) part of the artwork.

  1. Click the red half-circle copy you made earlier when creating the apple.

  2. Click the Fill color box in the Properties panel on the right. In the panel that opens, make sure that the Swatches option (swatches_option.jpg) is selected at the top. Select an orange color to fill the shape. I chose the color with the tool tip “C=0, M=50, Y=100, K=0.”

    f0107-02.jpg
  3. With the orange half-circle selected, choose Draw Inside from the Drawing Modes menu (draw_normal.jpg), near the bottom of the toolbar.

    This button is active when a single object is selected (path, compound path, or text), and it allows you to draw within the selected object only. Notice that the orange shape has a dotted open rectangle around it, indicating that if you draw, paste, or place content, it will be inside the shape.

  4. Choose Select > Deselect.

    Notice that the orange shape still has the dotted open rectangle around it, indicating that Draw Inside mode is still active. You can draw, place, or paste content into a shape with Draw Inside mode active. The shape you are about to add content inside of does not need to be selected.

  5. Select the Selection tool (sp_selectiontool_lg_n.jpg), and click the artwork that is the inside of the orange you pasted to select it. Choose Edit > Cut to cut the selected artwork from the artboard.

    f0108-01.jpg
  6. Choose Edit > Paste.

    The artwork is pasted within the orange shape.

  7. Click the Drawing Modes button (draw_inside.jpg) toward the bottom of the toolbar. Choose Draw Normal.

    When you are finished adding content inside a shape, you can choose Draw Normal so that any new content you create will be drawn normally (stacked rather than drawn inside).

    f0108-02.jpg
  8. Choose Select > Deselect.

Editing content drawn inside

Next you’ll edit the orange artwork inside of the shape to see how you can later edit content inside.

  1. With the Selection tool (sp_selectiontool_lg_n.jpg) selected, click to select the orange artwork you pasted. Notice that it selects the half-circle shape instead.

    f0108-03.jpg

    The half-circle shape is now a mask, also called a clipping path. The half-circle shape and the orange pasted artwork together make a clip group and are now treated as a single object. If you look at the top of the Properties panel, you will see Clip Group. As with other groups, if you would like to edit the clipping path (the object that contains the content drawn inside of it) or the content inside, you can double-click the Clip Group object.

  2. With the Clip Group selected, click the Isolate Mask button in the Properties panel to enter isolation mode and be able to select the clipping path (half-circle shape) or the orange pasted artwork within.

  3. Click the orange pasted artwork within the map boundaries, and drag it to be more centered in the half-circle.

    f0109-01.jpg
  4. Press the Escape key to exit isolation mode.

  5. Choose Select > Deselect and then choose File > Save.

Working with Draw Behind mode

Throughout this lesson, you’ve been working in the default Draw Normal mode. Next, you’ll draw a rectangle that will cover the artboard and go behind the rest of the content using Draw Behind mode.

f0109-02.jpg
  1. Click the Drawing Modes button (draw_behind.jpg) at the bottom of the toolbar, and choose Draw Behind.

    As long as this drawing mode is selected, every shape you create using the different methods you’ve learned will be created behind the other shapes on the page. The Draw Behind mode also affects placed content (File > Place).

  2. Press and hold down the mouse button on the Line Segment tool (sp_linesegmenttool_lg_n.jpg) in the toolbar, and select the Rectangle tool (sp_rectangletool_lg_n.jpg).

    f0109-03.jpg
  3. Move the pointer off the upper-left corner of the artboard where the red bleed guides meet. Press and drag to the lower-right corner of the red bleed guides.

    f0109-04.jpg
  4. With the new rectangle selected, click the Fill color box in the Properties panel. Make sure that the Swatches option (swatches_option.jpg) is selected and then change the fill color to a gray color with the tool tip “C=0, M=0, Y=0, K=20.”

  5. Press the Escape key to hide the panel.

  6. Choose Object > Lock > Selection to lock the rectangle so it can’t be accidentally moved.

Finishing up

To finish the postcard, you’ll move the artwork into position on the artboard, rotate some, and make copies.

  1. Choose View > Fit Artboard In Window to see the entire artboard, if necessary.

    f0110-01.jpg
  2. Select the Selection tool (sp_selectiontool_lg_n.jpg) and click one of the red shapes in the apple. Press the Shift key and click the remaining two shapes, then release the key. Click the Group button in the Properties panel to group the apple shapes together.

    f0110-02.jpg
  3. Drag each piece of fruit and the text into position.

    f0110-03.jpg
  4. Make copies of the fruit and leaf artwork. To do so, click each piece of artwork and choose Edit > Copy and then Edit > Paste.

  5. To rotate a group, you can move the pointer just off a corner of the selected artwork and drag when you see the rotate arrows (rotate_arrow_text.jpg).

    f0110-04.jpg
  6. To bring artwork in front of other artwork, click the artwork to select it. Click the Arrange button in the Properties panel and choose Bring To Front.

    Artwork that is behind other artwork was created first.

  7. Choose File > Save.

  8. To close all open files, choose File > Close a few times.

Review questions

  • 1. When creating a new document, what is a document category?

  • 2. What are the basic tools for creating shapes?

  • 3. What is a live shape?

  • 4. Describe what Draw Inside mode does.

  • 5. How can you convert a raster image into editable vector shapes?

Review answers

  • 1. 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 design document.

  • 2. There are five shape tools in the Essentials workspace: Rectangle, Ellipse, Polygon, Star, and Line Segment (the Rounded Rectangle and Flare tools are not in the toolbar in the Essentials workspace). As explained in Lesson 1, “Getting to Know the Work Area,” to tear off a group of tools from the toolbar, move the pointer over the tool that appears in the toolbar, and hold down the mouse button until the group of tools appears. Without releasing the mouse button, drag to the triangle on the right side of the group and then release the mouse button to tear off the group.

  • 3. After you draw a rectangle, ellipse, or polygon (or rounded rectangle, which wasn’t covered) using the shape tool, you can continue to modify its properties such as width, height, rounded corners, corner types, and radii (individually or collectively). This is what is known as a Live Shape. The shape properties, such as corner radius, are editable later in the Transform panel, in the Properties panel, or directly on the art.

  • 4. Draw Inside mode lets you draw objects or place images inside other objects, including live text, automatically creating a clipping mask of the selected object.

  • 5. You can convert a raster image into editable vector shapes by selecting it and then clicking the Image Trace button in the Properties panel. To convert the tracing to paths, click Expand in the Properties panel, or choose Object > Image Trace > Expand. Use this method if you want to work with the components of the traced artwork as individual objects. The resulting paths are grouped.

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