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Using the Appearance Panel

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Another incredibly powerful feature in Illustrator is the Appearance panel. The Appearance panel allows you to modify and add to the visual appearance of an object. For example, using the Appearance panel you can add multiple fills and multiple strokes, as well as various effects to a single object or path. In this example, we’re going to make the streets look as if they have a stroke with a border, but in reality we’re going to apply two strokes on top of each other.

  1. For simplicity, we’ll start by ungrouping the objects from the previous section. Select the streets and choose Object > Ungroup. Now choose Object > Ungroup once again to ungroup the lower-level groups as well.

  2. Using the Selection tool, select one of the streets (paths) on the map. Open the Appearance panel by choosing Window > Appearance.

    The Appearance panel will show Path at the top of the panel, indicating that a path is currently targeted, and the appearance of the targeted path will be indicated below. In this case we see a 5 pt black stroke and a fill of none.

  3. At the bottom of the Appearance panel, click the Add New Stroke button p0070_01.jpg to add a second stroke to the selected path.

    The stacking order of the items in the Appearance panel is the same as the stacking order of objects in a document. The topmost items will appear in front of the items below.

  4. Select the bottom stroke in the Appearance panel and then click the stroke color and change it to cyan; then change the Weight value to 6 pt (Figure 4.6).

    Figure 4.6

    Figure 4.6 Adding another stroke in the Appearance panel (left); the result (right)

Creating a Graphic Style

You should now begin to see the power of the Appearance panel. We’ve added two different strokes of varying sizes to a single path. You can even add more strokes if you wish! Now that we’ve adjusted the appearance of one of the street elements and we’re happy with the way that it looks, we now want to make the other street elements look the same. Although we could individually select all the other streets, we’re going to use another amazing Illustrator feature called graphic styles. Graphic styles are essentially sets of Appearance panel properties that you save so that all of those properties can be reapplied to other objects quickly and easily.

  1. Begin by selecting the object that you applied the appearance attributes to in the previous section.

  2. Open the Graphic Styles panel by choosing Window > Graphic Styles. By default, the Graphic Styles panel contains a few graphic styles that you can apply to objects.

  3. Drag the selected object that contains the appearance attributes and drop it on the Graphic Styles panel (Figure 4.7). You’ll notice a new style has been added to the panel.

    Figure 4.7

    Figure 4.7 Dragging an object into the Graphic Styles panel and dropping it to create a new graphic style

  4. Double-click the new graphic style that you created, and in the Graphic Style Options dialog box, change Style Name to Streets and click OK (Figure 4.8).

    Figure 4.8

    Figure 4.8 Renaming the graphic style in the Graphic Style Options dialog box

With the new graphic style created and the path still selected, you’ll notice that the top of the Appearance panel shows Path:Streets, which indicates that the selected path has the Streets graphic style applied to it. The Appearance panel will always provide a behind-the-scenes view of what is actually applied to the selected object(s).

  1. Choose Select > All to select all of the paths in the document.

  2. In the Graphic Styles panel, click the Streets graphic style to apply the appearance attributes defined within to the selected paths of the streets.

    Notice that all of the streets are now formatted using the same appearance attributes defined in the graphic style (Figure 4.9).

    Figure 4.9

    Figure 4.9 Applying the graphic style to all of the paths on the back of the business card.

Updating a Graphic Style

One of the powerful aspects of a graphic style is that you can adjust the appearance of all objects with a graphic style applied by updating the graphic style. This allows you to make appearance changes to objects in a document with just a couple of clicks!

  1. With the Selection tool, select one of the street paths on the back of the business card.

  2. Open the Swatches panel, and open the Swatch Libraries menu found in the lower-left corner of the Swatches panel (Figure 4.10).

    Figure 4.10

    Figure 4.10 Loading a color library from the Swatches panel Swatch Libraries menu

  3. Choose Other Library and then navigate to the file that you saved for the front of the business card and click Open. All the swatches from that other file will appear in a new panel.

  4. Click the folder icon to the left of all the swatches that you just displayed in the new panel to add those swatches to the Swatches panel of the business card back file. Close the panel that you opened in step 3 since you no longer need it.

  5. Apply the lavender swatch (third from the left) to the top stroke in the Appearance panel, and apply the black swatch to the bottom stroke. Feel free to use any of the colors that you’d like to use for the street colors.

  6. Open the Graphic Styles panel, and while holding Option (macOS) or Alt (Windows), drag the path that contains the new appearance and drop it on top of the graphic style in the Graphic Styles panel (Figure 4.11). You’ll notice a border appear around the graphic style, indicating that you’re updating that graphic style.

    Figure 4.11

    Figure 4.11 Updating a graphic style by Option-dragging (macOS) or Alt-dragging (Windows) an object onto an existing graphic style

Notice that after you update the graphic style, every object with that graphic style updates to match the new appearance of the object being used to update the graphic style. Alternatively, you can also update a graphic style by choosing Redefine Graphic Style “Streets” from the Appearance panel menu.

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