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Creating the Back of a Business Card

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In this sample chapter from Learn Adobe Illustrator CC for Graphic Design and Illustration: Adobe Certified Associate Exam Preparation, 2nd Edition, explore the Appearance panel in Adobe Illustrator CC and work through a project scenario to learn techniques for drawing and manipulating paths.

This chapter is from the book

In this chapter, we’ll create a new document for the back of the Session Skate Shop business card. Normally, however, it would make sense to add an additional artboard to the document containing the front of the card that we created in Chapter 3. If you’d like, you can follow along with the exercises in this chapter but do your work in an artboard that you add to the front of the card. That will give you a completed file. Or you can create a new file, as shown in the video. Throughout the chapter, we’ll be creating a map of the area where the skate shop is located, and you’ll learn techniques for drawing and manipulating paths and changing their appearance. The Appearance panel in Adobe Illustrator CC is incredibly powerful and allows you to create complex appearances from simple, basic paths.

Drawing the Streets of the Map

star.jpg ACA Objective 4.1b

star.jpg ACA Objective 4.5a

star.jpg ACA Objective 4.5b

To get started, you can create a new document based on one of the presets in the Print category of the New Document dialog box. Set the width to 3.5 in and the height to 2 in with a .125 in bleed. This is the size of a standard business card with bleed. Conversely, you can save a copy of the front of the business card that you created in Chapter 3 and simply add another artboard to the document using the same specifications. Normally we’d put both the front and the back of the business card in the same file, but for clarity in this book, and in the accompanying videos, we chose to create a new file.

With the file created or the artboard added, you can begin to draw the streets of the area where the skate shop is located. Feel free to follow along with the streets that are drawn in the video, or be creative and come up with your own street configuration for the business card. Keep in mind, however, that the streets that were drawn in the video were done in a way so that other techniques can be learned later in the chapter. So have fun and enjoy learning how to manipulate paths in Illustrator!

Drawing and Modifying Paths for the Streets

The first thing we’ll do is draw a circle in the upper-left corner of the business card. This circle will represent a traffic circle on the map.

  1. Using the Ellipse tool, Shift-drag to draw a perfect circle on the artboard.

  2. Set the stroke color to black and the stroke weight to 5 pt.

Note that the traffic circle itself is not a complete circle. It’s more like three quarters of a circle, so we’ll need to cut the path to achieve the desired result. Illustrator has two powerful tools for splitting paths: the Knife tool p0064_01.jpg and the Scissors tool p0064_02.jpg. You can find both of these tools by pressing and holding the Eraser tool p0064_03.jpg (Figure 4.1).

Figure 4.1

Figure 4.1 Selecting the Scissors tool by clicking and holding the Eraser tool

The Knife tool affects only closed paths; drag across the object to cut the path. The result is two new closed paths. The Scissors tool, by comparison, can be used on both open and closed paths. Click the spot on the path where you want to cut it. If you clicked an open path, the result is two new open paths. If you use the Scissors tool on a closed path, the result is an open path.

  1. Using the Scissors tool, click the ellipse in the lower-left portion of the circle to cut the path at that location.

  2. Click again on the far right of the ellipse with the Scissors tool to cut the path at that location as well.

  3. Press Delete (macOS) or Backspace (Windows) twice to delete the lower-right portion of the path (Figure 4.2). If you delete the wrong portion of the ellipse, choose Edit > Undo and then select the Direct Selection tool, click the correct portion of the path, and press Delete/Backspace.

    Figure 4.2

    Figure 4.2 After deleting a portion of the ellipse

The Line tool is ideal for drawing straight open paths in any direction. We’ll add some streets extending from the ends of the traffic circle now by drawing a few paths with the Line tool.

  1. Using the Line tool p0064_04.jpg, drag from the lower-left open end of the ellipse down and to the left, extending the path past the bleed guide on the artboard.

  2. Draw another line from the right open end of the ellipse and Shift-drag to the right, extending the line again past the bleed guide. Feel free to drag the line considerably past the bleed guide as we’ll clip all the extra artwork later in this chapter.

Joining Paths

We want to join our straight street lines to the traffic circle shape (the ellipse). Illustrator offers several ways to join two ends of open paths together. One method is the Join command. To use the Join command, simply select the Direct Selection tool, select the anchor points on the ends of each path, and choose Object > Path > Join. For basic connections, the Join command is usually sufficient, but it’s not particularly intelligent as it simply connects the two dots, not taking into account how two endpoints should join naturally based on their existing path shapes.

The Join tool is another method of joining two paths together, which you’ll use to join the straight paths to the ellipse. The Join tool takes into account the shape of the paths being joined and attempts to create a more natural connection between the paths.

  1. Select the Join tool p0065_01.jpg from the Tools panel by clicking and holding on the Shaper tool.

  2. Scrub with the mouse over the endpoints of two line segments where the ellipse and line meet. When you release the mouse, the two endpoints will be joined together (Figure 4.3).

    Figure 4.3

    Figure 4.3 Scrubbing over two endpoints with the Join tool (left); the result (right)

  3. Repeat step 2 for the other endpoints where the line segment and ellipse meet.

Using the Line tool, continue drawing more straight lines to represent the cross streets as well as a diagonal street in the upper-right corner. Once again, you can follow along with Video 4.1, mimicking the streets drawn there, or you can get creative and draw your own streets.

Drawing Curved Streets

There are many ways to draw curved paths in Illustrator. You can use the Pen tool, but until you have some practice, using it can be a bit challenging. The Pencil tool p0066_01.jpg is easy to use, because it allows you to use the natural movements of the mouse to generate a path. You can then further refine the path by using the Smooth tool p0066_02.jpg.

  1. Using the Pencil tool, draw a curved snake-like line that goes from the top left of the artboard down to the lower right of the artboard, as shown in the video (Figure 4.4).

    Figure 4.4

    Figure 4.4 Drawing a curved line using the Pencil tool

    It can be difficult to draw smoothly using the mouse, so if you’re not happy with the line that you’ve drawn, you can use the Smooth tool to smooth out the rough edges.

  2. Using the Smooth tool, trace over the curved line that you drew in step 1 to remove extra anchor points and to smooth out the path. Feel free to do it more than once. Each time you drag over the path, it’ll reshape and smooth the path accordingly.

  3. Go ahead and draw another curved line extending from the angled path in the upper-right corner of the card down to the bottom middle of the card.

  4. Draw two more curved lines that extend out from the traffic circle: one from the top of the circle to the upper-left corner of the card and another from the left side of the circle, down and to the left.

There are some areas of the card where the lines overlap other lines and extend too far into other areas. Follow along in the video and use the Eraser tool to remove those areas that extend too far and to tidy up the map in order to achieve the appearance you want.

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