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Creating custom tools panels

To conserve space on your screen and for more efficient editing, you can create separate, custom tools panels in which you store just the tools that you use for specific kinds of tasks. For example, you could create separate panels for drawing tools, reshaping tools, or tools for creating gradients and blends. You can open any custom tools panel from the Window > Tools submenu.

To create a custom tools panel:

  1. Choose Window > Tools > New Custom Tools Panel.
  2. In the dialog, enter a name for your tools panel, Athen click OK. A new panel appears onscreen. BNote: All custom tools panels contain a Fill square and a Stroke square, which cannot be deleted.
  3. To add tools to your custom panel, drag any tool individually from the standard Tools panel into the tools (top) area of your panel (plus sign pointer).C

    • To copy a tool that is in a group but isn’t currently visible on the Tools panel, select the tool first to make it the topmost tool. To quickly cycle through the tools within the current group, hold down Option/Alt and click the topmost tool. Or if you prefer to display all the tools in a group on a separate tearoff toolbar, press and hold on the arrowhead for a tool to open its menu, release, then click the vertical tearoff bar on the right edge of the menu.
  4. To delete a tool from the custom panel, drag it out of the panel (a minus sign appears in the pointer).
  5. To relocate a tool within a custom panel, drag it to the desired slot, then release it when the vertical drop zone bar appears.


    A We’re entering a name for a new custom tools panel.


    B A new blank tools panel appears.


    C We’re adding tools to the panel one at a time.


    D Use the Manage Tools Panel dialog to rename, duplicate, or delete a custom tools panel.

To rename, copy, or delete a custom tools panel:

  1. Choose Window > Manage Tools Panel.
  2. The Manage Tools Panel dialog opens. D Click the name of the panel that you want to rename, copy, or delete.
  3. Do one of the following:

    To rename the panel, change the name in the field, then click OK.

    To duplicate the panel, click the New Custom Tools panel button, p0006_01.jpg type the desired name, then click OK.

    To delete the panel, click Delete.

The Control panel

The Control panel houses many frequently used controls conveniently under one roof, and changes contextually depending on what tool and kind of object are selected. Two of the many variations are shown below. For example, you can use this panel to apply fill and stroke colors; change an object’s variable width profile, brush stroke definition, or opacity; apply basic type attributes, such as the font family and point size; align and distribute multiple objects; access controls for editing symbols, Image Trace, and Live Paint objects; and embed or edit linked images.

When no objects are selected, you can use this panel to choose default fill, stroke, brush, style, and opacity settings for the current document and quickly access the Document Setup or Preferences dialog by clicking the button with that name.

To move the Control panel to the top or bottom, respectively, of the Application frame, choose Dock to Top or Dock to bottom from the menu at the right end of the panel. Or if you prefer to make the panel free-floating, drag the gripper bar on the far left side. To control which options display on the panel, uncheck or check any of the items on the panel menu.


Click to view larger image

These options are available on the Control panel when a whole path, group, compound path, or symbol set is selected in a document.


Click to view larger image

These options are available on the Control panel when an anchor point is selected on an object. Clicking the X, Y, W, or H opens a temporary Transform panel.

Artboards panel p0007_01.jpg

In addition to listing all the artboards in the current document, the Artboards panel lets you display, create, rename, and duplicate artboards; change their order; rearrange them in the document; choose options for them; change their orientation; and delete them. The Artboard Options dialog opens when you double-click the artboard orientation icon, which is located to the right of the artboard name. See pages 7–12 and 28.


Align panel p0008_01.jpg

The buttons on the top two rows of the Align panel align and/or distribute two or more objects along their centers or along their top, left, right, or bottom edges. Objects can be aligned to a selection, an artboard, or a key object (one of the selected objects). buttons in the lower part of the panel redistribute (equalize) the spacing among three or more objects. See pages 107–108. This panel can also be used to align anchor points (see page 174). Align buttons also appear on the Control panel when two or more objects are selected.

Appearance panelp0008_02.jpg

The appearance attributes of an object consist of its fill and stroke color, Stroke panel settings, effects, and Transparency panel settings. The Appearance panel lists the specific appearance attributes and settings for whichever layer, group, or object is currently targeted on the Layers panel. You can use the panel to add extra fill or stroke attributes, edit or remove attributes, apply and edit effects, and edit individual attributes within an applied graphic style.

Using convenient in-panel features, you can edit attributes quickly. For example, you can click a link (blue underlined word) to open a dialog or a temporary panel: Click Stroke to open the Stroke panel, Opacity to open the Transparency panel, or the name of an effect to open its dialog. To open a temporary Swatches panel, click the Stroke or Fill color square, then click the thumbnail or arrowhead (or Shift-click the latter to open a temporary Color panel). See Chapter 14.


Attributes panelp0008_03.jpg

The Attributes panel lets you choose overprint options for an object (see page 431), show or hide an object’s center point (see page 105), switch the fill between color and transparency in a compound path (see page 361), or change an object’s fill rule.

You can also use this panel to create a hotspot for Web output. Assign an image map shape and a URL to a selected object, then to verify the URL in the Web browser that is currently installed on your system, click the browser button.


Brushes panelp0009_01.jpg

There are five varieties of decorative brushes that you can apply to paths: Calligraphic, Scatter, Art, bristle, and Pattern. You can apply a brush either by choosing the Paintbrush tool and a brush and then drawing a shape, or by applying a brush to an existing path.

To personalize your brush strokes, you can create and edit custom brushes. If you modify a brush that’s being used in a document, you’ll be given the option via an alert dialog to update the paths with the revised brush. brushes on the brushes panel save with the current document. See Chapter 23.

To open a temporary brushes panel, click the brush Definition thumbnail on the Control panel, or for a selected Stroke listing on the Appearance panel, click the brush Definition thumbnail.


Character panelp0009_02.jpg

You will use the Character panel to apply type attributes: font family, font style, font size, leading, kerning, tracking, hori zontal scale, vertical scale, base line shift, character rotation, and special glyphs. You can also use this panel to access the Touch Type tool, choose a language for hyphenation, and set the anti-aliasing method. See pages 267–272, 286, and 287.

When a type tool or a type object is selected, the Control panel also provides some basic type controls. To open a temporary Character panel, click Character on the Control panel.

Character Styles panelp0010_01.jpg

A character style is a collection of settings for type characters, including a font family, font style, font size, leading, tracking, and kerning. Unlike paragraph styles, which apply to whole paragraphs, character styles are used to quickly format small amounts of type (such as bullets, boldfaced words, italicized words, or large initial caps) to distinguish them from the main text. When you edit a character style, any text in which it is being used updates accordingly.

Using the Character Styles panel, you can create, apply, edit, duplicate, and delete styles. See pages 284–287. (Compare this panel with the Paragraph Styles panel, which is shown on page 51.)


Color panelp0010_02.jpg

In Illustrator, colors are applied to an object’s fill (interior) or stroke (edge). Use the Color panel to mix a global process color, enter a hexadecimal code, or set a tint percentage for a spot or global color. Choose a color model for the panel, such as RGb or CMYK, from the panel menu. quick-select a color by clicking in the spectrum bar at the bottom of the panel, or click the black, white, or None button. You can expand the bar by dragging the bottom edge downward. See page 117.

To open a temporary Color panel, Shift-click the Fill or Stroke square or arrowhead on the Control panel or the Appearance panel. Expandable color spectrum bar


Color Guide panelp0010_03.jpg

Use the Color Guide panel to generate color schemes from a base color by choosing a harmony rule and/or a variation type (Tints/Shades, Warm/Cool, or Vivid/Muted). You can click any variation swatch to apply it as a fill or stroke color to one or more selected objects. You can also save variations from the Color Guide panel as a group to the Swatches panel, or edit the current color group via the Edit Colors dialog. See pages 115 and 128–130.


CSS Properties panelp0011_01.jpg

The CSS Properties panel lists all the character and graphic styles that are being used in the current Illustrator document, as well as the CSS code for the currently selected object(s). If you’re designing a Web page and you want to ensure that it is styled correctly, you or a Web developer can copy the CSS code from this panel, and then paste the code into the HTML file. See pages 452–454.


Flattener Preview panelp0011_02.jpg

Artwork that contains semitransparent objects must be flattened before it is printed. Using the Highlight menu options in the Flattener Preview panel, you can preview which objects in your document will be affected by flattening, adjust the flattening settings, then click Refresh to preview the effect of the new settings in your artwork. See page 436.

Glyphs panelp0011_03.jpg

Using the Glyphs panel, you can find out which character variations (alternate glyphs) are available for any given character in a specific OpenType font, and insert specific glyphs from that font into your document (including glyphs that can’t be entered via the keyboard). See page 279.

For the Document Info panel, see page 447.

Gradient panelp0012_01.jpg

The Gradient panel lets you create, apply, and edit gradients, which are soft, gradual blends between two or more colors. You can use the panel to apply a gradient to an object’s fill or stroke, adjust the amount of a color by dragging its stop, choose a different color or opacity value for a selected stop, click below the gradient slider to add new colors, move a midpoint diamond to change the location where two adjacent colors are mixed equally, reverse the gradient colors, change the overall gradient type or angle, or change the alignment of a gradient in an object’s stroke. See Chapter 24.

Graphic Styles panelp0012_02.jpg

The Graphic Styles panel enables you to store and apply collections of appearance attributes, such as multiple solid-color fills or strokes, transparency and overprint settings, blending modes, brush strokes, and effects. Using graphic styles, you can apply attributes quickly and create a cohesive look among multiple objects or documents (similar to how paragraph styles are used with type). See Chapter 16. To open a temporary Graphic Styles panel, click the Style thumbnail or arrowhead on the Control panel.


Info panalp0012_03.jpg

If no objects are selected in the current document, depending on the current tool, the Info panel lists the x/y (horizontal and vertical) location of the pointer. If an object is selected, the panel lists the location of the object, its width and height, and data about its fill and stroke colors (the color components; or the name of a pattern or gradient; or a color name or number, such as a PANTONE PLUS number). While an object is being transformed via a transform tool, the panel lists pertinent information, such as a percentage value for a scale transformation or an angle of rotation. When a type tool and type object are selected, the panel displays type specifications. When the Measure tool is used, the Info panel opens automatically and lists the distance and angle the tool has just calculated.


Image Trace panelp0013_01.jpg

The Image Trace feature detects and traces areas of color and shade in a raster image that is opened or placed into Illustrator, such as a Photoshop, TIFF, or JPEG image or scanned artwork, and converts those areas to Illustrator paths.

You can choose from a wide array of tracing options on the Image Trace panel prior to the tracing — and because a tracing is “live,” you can also use the panel to fine-tune the results. You can use a built-in tracing preset (predefined settings) as a starting point, or create and apply custom presets. Among the numerous settings that you can specify are a mode (black and white, grayscale, or color), a color palette, the number of resulting colors, whether fill and/or stroke colors are produced, and the precision with which the image is traced. See Chapter 17.

Kuler panelp0013_02.jpg

Kuler (pronounced “cooler”) is a free, Web-hosted Adobe application that lets users create, upload, and comment on color groups, called color themes. The Kuler panel in Illustrator displays the themes that you have created or designated as favorites on or that you have created using the Adobe Kuler app on an iPhone. Via the panel, you can apply colors directly to objects, or you can add colors to the Swatches panel for later use. To show the panel, choose Window > Kuler. See pages 133–135.


Layers panelp0014_01.jpg

The indispensable Layers panel lets you add and delete layers and sublayers in a document, and create layer groups. You can also use this panel to select, target, restack, duplicate, delete, hide, show, lock, unlock, merge, change the view for, or create a clipping set for a layer, sublayer, group, or individual object. When your artwork is finished, you can use a command on the panel menu to flatten the document into one layer or release all the objects to separate layers for export as a Flash animation. See Chapter 13.

Links panelp0014_02.jpg

When you place an image from another application, such as Photoshop, into an Illustrator document, you can opt to have Illustrator embed a copy of the image into the file (and thereby increase the file size but allow the program to color-manage it) or merely link the image to your document (and minimize the file size but require the original file to be available for print output). Using the Links panel, you can monitor the status of linked images, convert a linked image to an embedded one (or vice versa), open a linked image in its original application for editing, update an edited image, restore the link to an image that is missing or modified, and view image data. See pages 314–317.


Magic Wand panelp0014_03.jpg

The Magic Wand tool selects objects that have the same or a similar fill color, stroke color, stroke weight, opacity, or blending mode as the currently selected object. Using the Magic Wand panel, you specify which attributes the tool may select and set a tolerance value for each attribute. For example, if you were to check Opacity, choose an opacity Tolerance of 10%, then click an object that has an opacity of 50%, the tool would find and select objects in the document that have an opacity between 40% and 60%. See page 99.


Navigator panel p0014_04.jpg

The Navigator panel has two main functions. To use it to move the current document in its window, drag or click in the proxy preview area (red outlined box). To change the document zoom level, use the zoom controls at the bottom of the panel. To both zoom to, and bring a specific area of, a document into view, Cmd-drag/Ctrl-drag in the proxy preview area.


OpenType panelp0015_01.jpg

Among the Roman OpenType font families that ship with Illustrator, the fonts that contain an expanded character set and a large assortment of alternate glyphs are labeled with the word “Pro.” by clicking a button on the OpenType panel, you can specify which alternate characters (glyphs) will appear in your text when you type the requisite key or keys. The special characters for a given font may include ligatures, swashes, titling characters, stylistic alternates, ordinals, and fractions. You can also use the panel to specify options for numerals, such as a style (e.g., tabular lining or oldstyle) and a position (e.g., numerator, denominator, superscript, or subscript). See page 280.


Paragraph panelp0015_02.jpg

Use the Paragraph panel to apply settings that affect entire paragraphs, such as horizontal alignment, indentation, spacing before or after, and automatic hyphenation. Via the panel menu, you can choose hanging punctuation and composer options and open a dialog for choosing justification or hyphenation options. See pages 273, 277–279, and 284.

The Align Left, Align Center, and Align Right buttons are also available on the Control panel when a type object is selected. To open a temporary Paragraph panel, click Paragraph on the Control panel.

Paragraph style panelp0015_03.jpg

A paragraph style is a collection of paragraph specifications (including horizontal alignment, indentation, spacing before or after, word spacing, letter spacing, hyphenation, and hanging punctuation), as well as character attributes, such as the font family, font style, and font size. When you apply a paragraph style to one or more selected paragraphs, the type is reformatted with the specifications in that style. When you edit a paragraph style, the type in which it is being used updates accordingly. With paragraph (and character) styles, you can typeset text quickly and ensure that the formatting is consistent. Use the Paragraph Styles panel to create, store, apply, edit, duplicate, and delete paragraph styles for the current document. See pages 284–287.


Pathfinder panelp0016_01.jpg

Depending on how they are applied, the Shape Mode commands on the top row of the Pathfinder panel combine selected, overlapping objects into one or more standard paths or into a compound shape. The Expand button converts a compound shape into either a path or a compound path (the latter if the command originally produced a cutout shape). The Pathfinder buttons on the bottom row of the panel produce flattened, cut-up shapes from multiple selected objects. See pages 362–364.


Pattern Options panelp0016_02.jpg

Via the Pattern Options panel, along with some intuitive on-image controls, you can create and edit seamless patterns. When you create a pattern, it appears automatically on the Swatches panel for the current document. You can apply any pattern swatch in the Swatches panel to an object’s fill (interior) or stroke (edge).

The Pattern Options panel lets you change the pattern tiling configuration (Grid, brick, or Hex); adjust the spacing between tiles; and for objects that straddle the tile boundary and overlap one another, control which objects are in front. You can also choose preview options for pattern-editing mode, including the number of copies that display, to what extent the copies are dimmed, and whether the tile and/or swatch boundaries display. See pages 137–144.

Separations Preview panelp0016_03.jpg

The Separations Preview panel gives you an idea of how the individual C, M, Y, and K color components in a CMYK document will separate to individual plates during the commercial printing process. You can use the panel to check that a color is properly set to knock out colors beneath it in your artwork, or to check whether a color is properly set to overprint on top of the other colors. Other uses for the panel are to monitor the use of spot colors in the artwork, to verify that any spot color is set to knock out colors beneath it, and to determine whether a specific black is a rich black (a mixture of C, M, Y, and K inks) or a simple black that contains only the K component. See pages 432–433.


Stroke panelp0017_01.jpg

Stroke settings control the appearance of an object’s path (edge). by using the Stroke panel, you can specify a stroke weight (thickness), cap (end) style, and corner (join) style, and an alignment option to control the position of the stroke on the path. You can also use the panel to create a dashed (or dotted) line or border, apply an arrowhead and/or tail style, and change the stroke width profile. See pages 122–124 and 166. To open a temporary Stroke panel, click Stroke on the Control or Appearance panel.


Swatches panelp0017_02.jpg

Use the Swatches panel to choose, store, and apply solid colors, patterns, gradients, and color groups. If you click a swatch, it becomes the current fill or stroke color (depending on whether the Fill or Stroke square is active on the Tools panel and Color panel), and it is applied to all currently selected objects.

Double-clicking a swatch opens the Swatch Options dialog, in which you can change the swatch name or change its type to global process, nonglobal process, or spot. See pages 116, 118, 120, 126–129, and 136. To open a temporary Swatches panel, click the Fill or Stroke square or arrowhead on the Control or Appearance panel.

Symbols panelp0017_02.jpg

Symbols are Illustrator objects that are stored on the Symbols panel and save with the current document. Using symbols, you can quickly and easily create a complex collection of objects, such as a bank of trees or clouds. To create one instance of a symbol, you simply drag from the Symbols panel onto the artboard; to assemble multiple instances quickly into what is called a symbol set, you use the Symbol Sprayer tool.

The other symbolism tools let you change the position, stacking order, proximity, size, rotation angle, or transparency of multiple instances in a set, or gradually apply a color tint or graphic style — while maintaining the link to the original symbol on the panel. If you edit the original symbol, all instances of that symbol in the document update automatically. See Chapter 28.


Transparency panelp0018_01.jpg

You can use the Transparency panel to change the blending mode or opacity of a layer, group, or individual object. The Make Mask button applies the opacity value and grayscale equivalent of a color (or colors), gradient, or pattern in the topmost object to underlying selected objects, and optionally hides sections of those objects that extend beyond its edges. See Chapter 27.

To open a temporary Transparency panel, click the Opacity link on the Control or Appearance panel. You can also change the opacity of an object directly via the Control panel.


Tabs panelp0018_02.jpg

The only way to align columns of text precisely is by using tabs and the Tabs panel. Using the panel, you can insert, move, and change the alignment of custom tab markers, specify a leader (such as a period character, to produce a dotted line), and specify a character for your text to align to (such as a decimal point). See page 288.

Transform panel p0018_03.jpg

The Transform panel lists the location, width, height, rotation angle, and shear angle of the currently selected object, and can be used to change those values. by clicking a reference point, you can control what part of the object the transformations are calculated from. The panel can also be used to align selected objects to the pixel grid. Via commands on the panel menu, you can control whether just the object, the object and a fill pattern, or just the fill pattern is transformed. See pages 152–153.

A reference point icon and X, Y, W, and H fields also appear on the Control panel when one or more paths are selected. To open a temporary Transform panel, click the X, Y, W, or H link (or if those fields aren’t showing, click the word “Transform”).

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