Tutorial: Illustrator CC Basics – Appearance Panel

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APPEARANCE PANEL

In this tutorial I will be teaching you how to use the Appearance Panel in Illustrator.

The Appearance Panel allows you to make changes to various properties as well as the different effects that you apply to objects.

Open up the Appearance Panel and let’s take a look at what it has to offer. (If you do not see the Appearance Panel icon go to Window and click on Appearance.)

At the top you will see a section that lets you know if you have anything selected. Right now I do not have anything selected so it says “No Selection.” If I click on either of the texts you will see that the Appearance Panel shows that I currently have “Type” selected.

If I click on the coffee cup you will notice that it now says “Group” and if I double-click on the body of the coffee cup and go into Isolation Mode it will now say “No Selection” even though I do have something selected. This is because I am within a grouped object in Isolation Mode. If I double-click on the body of the coffee cup again you will notice that it now says “Path.”

Underneath this title area you will see the attributes assigned to this particular path. In this case I have a 1 point stroke with a color (#9b6f3b) and a fill with the same color. The opacity for both the stroke and fill is 100%. I can change the color of either the stroke or fill and I can also change the opacity within the Appearance Panel.

For example, let’s say you want to make the stroke black. All you need to do is double-click on the color for the stroke and choose black from the swatches panel. You can change to thickness of the stroke if you wish but let’s keep it at 1 point. Next, let’s change the fill opacity to 50%. Click on the word “Opacity” under the Fill property and then change the fill to 50%.

Since I do not want these changes I will reset the opacity and color back to their original properties. And then double-click to get out of Isolation Mode.

There is a lot more that you can do with the Appearance Panel which makes it a powerful part of Illustrator.

Just like in the Layers Panel you have the ability to change the visibility of any property in the Appearance Panel. For example, let’s say that I want to hide this inside stroke around the circle. All I need to do is select the circle and then click on the eyeball next to Stroke and you can now see that the stroke is hidden. To bring the stroke back just click in the box to the far-left.

You can also rearrange the stacking order of objects in the Appearance Panel. For example, let’s move the red fill above the gradient fill. Make sure the circle is selected and then click and hold the red fill while dragging it above the gradient fill. Now you will notice that the red fill is much more prominent because it is on top of the gradient fill. To move the fills back to their original positions simply click and drag the gradient fill back on top of the red fill.

At the bottom of the Appearance Panel you have the option to: add a new stroke, add a new fill, add a new effect, clear the appearance of an object, duplicate an item, or delete an item.

In the drop-down menu in the upper-right of the Appearance Panel you have even more options. You can: add a new fill, add a new stroke, duplicate and item, remove and item, clear the appearance, reduce to basic appearance, hide the thumbnail, redefine a graphic style, or show all hidden attribute.

MULTIPLE FILL AND STROKES

Now that we know how to use the Appearance Panel let’s learn about multiple fills and strokes.

Adding multiple fills and strokes to an object creates depth and texture. Let’s work on this Vikings text to make it look more complete and rich.

Select the Vikings text and open up the Appearance Panel.

Let’s begin by adding a stroke. Click on the Add Stroke at the bottom of the panel. Using the drop-down menu for the color choose a light gray stroke (R 179, G 179, B 179) and leave the stroke size at 1.

Now let’s add a second stroke. Make sure your stroke is selected and then click on the Duplicate Selected Item icon at the bottom of the panel. Using the drop-down menu for the stroke color change the stroke to a medium gray (R 77, G 77, B 77) and increase the stroke weight to 2. Then drag this stroke below the first stroke in the panel. Now if you zoom in you can see the two strokes.

LIVE EFFECTS

Now that we know how add multiple fills and strokes let’s learn how to add effects to a project.

First, let’s select the Baseball text and open up the Appearance Panel.

If you click on the Add New Effect drop-down menu you will notice that the effects are broken up into two sections – Illustrator and Photoshop. While you can use Photoshop effects within Illustrator it is not recommended simply because they are not going to be as scalable or reproducible as vector artwork.

In this case, let’s add a drop shadow to the text. In order to add a drop shadow go to Stylize >> Drop Shadow. In the Drop Shadow window turn on Preview so you can see what the drop shadow looks like on the artboard.

Let’s increase the X Offset to 10 which pushes the drop shadow to the right. Let’s decrease the Y Offset to -5 in order to move the drop shadow up. Finally, let’s increase the blur to 7 and decrease the opacity to 45%. When you hit Ok the effect is automatically applied to the text.

Let’s add another effect to this text. Go back to the Add New Effect drop-down menu and choose Warp >> Flag. Make sure the Preview box is checked and decrease the Bend to 30%.

SAVING GRAPHIC STYLES

Now that we know how add effects to a project let’s learn how to save graphic styles.

If you create a graphic style that you think you will want to use again in the future it is a good idea to save the graphic style. In this case we are going to save the style of the circle.

Click on the tab title Graphic Styles to open it up. Now select the circle and then click on the New Graphic Style icon at the bottom of the panel. You will notice that the style is automatically populated in the Graphic Styles Panel. If you want to rename the style all you need to do is double-click on the thumbnail and change the Style Name. In this case, I will rename it Red-Gradient.

In order to use this new Graphic Style click on an object – in this case, a square and then click on the Red-Gradient graphic style. The graphic style is now applied to this square.

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