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Convert to Shape

Select any one of the blocks to check its dimensions. Since 840 divided by 60 is 14, it's no surprise that a single block is also 14 pixels in height and width. Select All, and then apply Effects, Convert to Shape, Ellipse. Using these dimensions as a reference, I set the Absolute height and width for the ellipses in Figure 7 to 12, which gives some space between each circle. Experiment with height and width settings to get the result you're after—just make sure the Preview check box is selected so you can see your changes.

Figure 7Figure 7 The Shape Options dialog box with appropriate settings.

I used Select, Same, Fill Color to cut the United States (including Alaska) out of the image and paste it back into its own layer. Again, this will help when working on the file in Photoshop. That's really all there is to the Illustrator portion of our show. Remember to play with the settings and colors—maybe try a 3D effect to highlight the United States or Canada, or export a copy of the map to PDF.

Speaking of exporting, there's one step left: to export the file to Photoshop PSD format. Simply select File, Export and choose Photoshop (*.PSD) from the Save As type drop-down list. Make sure Write Layers is on so that the United States is on a separate layer from Canada and Central America (which I threw in to spice up the layout). Give your file a name, and open it up in Photoshop.

Figure 8Figure 8 The map in Illustrator, with the United States extruded in 3D for emphasis.

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