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Live Paint in Illustrator CS2

Part 1: Creating complex shapes quickly By Dave Nagel
One of the two significant new creative features introduced in Adobe Illustrator CS2 is a feature called called Live Paint. Designed primarily for scanning and converting sketches and other line art, Live Paint has, nevertheless, proved a versatile tool, one that can be especially useful in the creation of complex, segmented shapes. It can be used to cut down the time spent on the creation of original graphics and also add special effects to text and other objects.

What makes Live Paint useful for this purpose is its ability to "compartmentalize" regions that are created by overlapping paths. In other words, you can take any kind of path, and, where portions of the path overlap, those areas are treated as individual objects. It's something that really hasn't been possible in Illustrator before--not on a practical level, anyway--but something that holds immense creative potential, as it allows you to create in just a few steps what might have taken a full day of meticulous work before, using Pathfinder commands to combine or intersect elements or drawing the elements individually.

In this first installment in our tutorial series on Live Paint, we'll explore the basic creation of single-path Live Paint objects, including how to fill them, change fills and modify Live paint regions in the midst of the process. In Part 2, we'll get into more detail, covering strokes and other fill methods, as well as the use of multiple paths and vector objects. Then, in subsequent installments, we'll look at this feature's intended purpose: converting scanned artwork to vectors in conjunction with Live Trace and using gap detection to fill regions that aren't completely closed.


Single-path objects
On the most simple level, you can use Live Paint to generate complex shapes from a single path. To begin, use Illustrator's Pencil tool to draw a path that overlaps itself. For my example, I'll use just a squiggly path, but you can create any kind of shape you want.



When you're done drawing the path, choose Object > Live Paint > Make or type Option-Command-X (Mac) or Control-Alt-X (Windows). This converts your path into a Live paint object. The fact that it's a Live Paint object will be indicated by a bounding box (when the object is selected) whose handles contain asterisks.



Basic fills
Now go to the Tools palette and choose the Live Paint Bucket tool (K).



When you move the cursor over the object, any closed segment will be indicated with a thick, red outline.




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Related Keywords:adobe illustrator cs2, live paint, livepaint, path intersection, fill regions

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