Using Graphic Styles in Illustrator (Part 1)

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Introducing Graphic Styles

Introducing Graphic Styles
© Copyright Sara Froehlich

Adobe Illustrator has a feature called graphic styles that is similar to Photoshop's layer styles. With Illustrator's graphic styles, you can save a collection of effects as a style so it can be used over and over again. 

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About Graphic Styles

About Graphic Styles
© Copyright Sara Froehlich

A graphic style is a one-click special effect for your artwork. Some graphic styles are for text, some are for any kind of object, and some are additive, meaning they are to be applied to an object that already has a graphic style. In the example, the first apple is the original drawing; the next three have graphic styles applied. 

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Accessing Graphic Styles

Accessing Graphic Styles
© Copyright Sara Froehlich

To access the Graphic Styles panel in Illustrator, go to Window > Graphic Styles. By default, the Graphic Styles panel is grouped with the Appearance panel. If the Graphic Styles panel is not active, click its tab to bring it to the front. The Graphic Styles panel opens with a small set of default styles.

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Applying Graphic Styles

Applying Graphic Styles
© Copyright Sara Froehlich

Apply a graphic style by first selecting an object or objects and then clicking the chosen style in the Graphic Styles panel. You can apply a style by dragging the style from the panel to the object and dropping it. To replace the graphic style on an object with another style, just drag the new style from the Graphic Styles panel and drop it on the object, or with the object selected, click on the new style in the panel. The new style replaces the first style on the object.

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Loading Graphic Styles

Loading Graphic Styles
© Copyright Sara Froehlich

To load a set of graphic styles, open the panel menu and choose Open Graphic Style Library. Choose any library from the pop-up menu except the Additive Styles library. A new palette opens with the new library. Apply any style from the new library you just opened to add it to the Graphic Styles panel.

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Additive Styles

Additive Styles
© Copyright Sara Froehlich

Additive styles are a bit different from the rest of the styles in the panel. If you add an additive style, most of the time it looks like your object disappeared. That's because these styles are made to be added to other styles already applied to the graphic.

Open the Additive Style library by clicking on the Graphics Style Library menu at the bottom of the Graphic Style panel. Choose Additive from the list.

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What Are Additive Styles?

What are Additive Styles?
© Copyright Sara Froehlich

Additive styles have several interesting effects, such as copying the graphic into a ring or a vertical or horizontal line, reflecting objects, adding shadows, or even placing the object on a grid. Hover the mouse over the style thumbnails in the panel to see what they do.

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Applying Additive Styles

Applying Additive Styles
© Copyright Sara Froehlich

The example shows a star that has one of the neon styles applied. To use one of the additive styles, select the object to which you want to apply the additive style, then hold the OPT key on a Mac or the ALT key on a PC as you click on the style to apply it. The Grid for Small Objects style was used to duplicate the selected object 10 across and 10 down.

Continued in Graphic Styles Tutorial Part 2