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Old Feb 16, 2013, 08:58 AM   #1
MacBoobsPro
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Illustrator help... before I kill myself!

Why is Illustrator so damn infuriating and over complex? It takes about 40 steps to do something where as in Freehand (an ancient app) can do it in 3!

As Freehand is no longer supported I'm stuck with Illustrator and at times I think I've cracked it but then some days Illustrator just does whatever the hell it wants.

So my problem to day is simple. I want to make a clipping path/mask of a group of items... thats it! Why the **** does Illustrator refuse to do it and/or change the outcome of the process?

Below is a logo I'm working on. Its poo I know but its what the client wants anyhow... underneath it are the circles representing bubbles and the black mask I want to use. Once masked the bubbles will be moved on top of the logo above.

I know the mask has to be on top when executing the path I've shown it underneath here so you can see what Im clipping. When I try to create the mask I get two kinds of result. One is an invisible mask and no bubbles inside it OR I get bubbles in just the H at the beginning. I tried grouping and uniting the bubbles AND the mask but I get the same results. The stupid thing is, I did it about 30 minutes earlier with the same exact object in the same damn file.

Please can someone explain to me why Illustrator gives different results and is there a stupid sequence or dance I need to do before it will work.

In Freehand all I would need to do is cut one object, select the other and click past inside. Job done!

I've been at this for ages now and I"m charging by the hour and I can't start charging 100s for a ****ing clipping mask!

Why Adobe keep insisting on creating ever complex apps when it is clearly not needed I dont know. I've been in the graphics industry a long time and the only other app more complex and ridiculous than Illustrator is Microsoft Word.

Hope someone can help and apologies for the attitude I'm just pissed off!
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Old Feb 16, 2013, 10:31 AM   #2
lucasberg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MacBoobsPro View Post
Why is Illustrator so damn infuriating and over complex? It takes about 40 steps to do something where as in Freehand (an ancient app) can do it in 3!

As Freehand is no longer supported I'm stuck with Illustrator and at times I think I've cracked it but then some days Illustrator just does whatever the hell it wants.

So my problem to day is simple. I want to make a clipping path/mask of a group of items... thats it! Why the **** does Illustrator refuse to do it and/or change the outcome of the process?

Below is a logo I'm working on. Its poo I know but its what the client wants anyhow... underneath it are the circles representing bubbles and the black mask I want to use. Once masked the bubbles will be moved on top of the logo above.

I know the mask has to be on top when executing the path I've shown it underneath here so you can see what Im clipping. When I try to create the mask I get two kinds of result. One is an invisible mask and no bubbles inside it OR I get bubbles in just the H at the beginning. I tried grouping and uniting the bubbles AND the mask but I get the same results. The stupid thing is, I did it about 30 minutes earlier with the same exact object in the same damn file.

Please can someone explain to me why Illustrator gives different results and is there a stupid sequence or dance I need to do before it will work.

In Freehand all I would need to do is cut one object, select the other and click past inside. Job done!

I've been at this for ages now and I"m charging by the hour and I can't start charging 100s for a ****ing clipping mask!

Why Adobe keep insisting on creating ever complex apps when it is clearly not needed I dont know. I've been in the graphics industry a long time and the only other app more complex and ridiculous than Illustrator is Microsoft Word.

Hope someone can help and apologies for the attitude I'm just pissed off!
1. Mark (both) the group of objects.
2. Object > compound path > make.
4. Make a clipping mask.

Edit: Alternative:
1. Make a compound path
2. Draw inside (bottom of the tools)
3. Copy the rings (or whatever) and paste inside the compound path.

Last edited by lucasberg; Feb 16, 2013 at 10:47 AM.
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Old Feb 16, 2013, 10:35 AM   #3
dma550
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Yeah, the clipping mask is key. I am also an old FH user, I never thought I would say it, but I miss its simplicity.

"No updates to FreeHand have been made for over four years, and Adobe has no plans to initiate development to add new features or to support Intel-based Macs and Windows Vista. "
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Old Feb 16, 2013, 10:50 AM   #4
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One of the things I've found helpful when dealing with Illustrator is to remove Groupings and Compound Paths when they get in the way of what I'm trying to do. One way to do this is to select a single element (White Arrow with Plus) and then Cut and Paste in Front (so it maintains its position).

I'm a little obsessive, so I'l usually do it twice ...

Select + Command X + Command F + Command X + Command F

What this does is is makes the individual letter (or shape) independent from any previous Groupings or Compounds.

Now, just click the individual letter and the circles you want masked by that letter and create a mask. Do that to the individual letters and group them (if you want) when you're all done.
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Old Feb 16, 2013, 11:07 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucasberg View Post
1. Mark (both) the group of objects.
2. Object > compound path > make.
4. Make a clipping mask.

Edit: Alternative:
1. Make a compound path
2. Draw inside (bottom of the tools)
3. Copy the rings (or whatever) and paste inside the compound path.
What do you mean by 'mark'?

Why do I have to make a 'compound path' (and what exactly is a compound path?) I thought making a clipping mask would create a 'compound' path of rings/bubbles inside the mask?


EDIT: Just tried selecting both groups. Chose make compound path and it changes the mask shape to an outline the same as the bubbles and then when I choose create mask i get a message saying i cant do that?!

EDIT2: I've figured it out. And this is what i mean about Illustrator being over complicated. As I'm using text converted to outlines as the mask I first need to make those items unified. Then, for some unknown reason, I need to make a compound path so the bowls and counters etc are punched out - even though there are none (Freehand did this automatically as obviously thats what 99% of people would want/expect anyway) then once I've done that I select both the newly formed mask and the rings making sure to layer them correctly first before clicking make clipping mask.

The term compound path is ambiguous as depending on the complexity of the selection a compound path could be made anywhere.

Thanks for the input guys. I can work 10 times faster in Freehand than Illustrator. Just selecting an anchor point is a pain in the ass.
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Last edited by MacBoobsPro; Feb 16, 2013 at 11:40 AM.
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Old Feb 16, 2013, 06:45 PM   #6
Jim Campbell
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Sorry, but this is just an example of liking what you know and disliking what you don't. I was trained initially in Illustrator and over many years of moving between Illustrator and Freehand based shops, always found Freehand so clunky it made me bleed from the eyes.

I knew many designers who loved Freehand, so I absolutely accept that this was about my workflow, and it's the same in reverse for you. I'm sorry, but it's something you're going to have to get used to.

It's different. It's not necessarily worse, just different.

Last edited by Jim Campbell; Feb 17, 2013 at 03:45 AM. Reason: Added end of missing sentence!
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Old Feb 16, 2013, 08:51 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Campbell View Post
Sorry, but this is just an example of liking what you know and disliking what you don't.
I essentially agree.

However, I have over twenty years of experience with Adobe's products. And for whatever reason, after twenty years those programs are just as hard to learn if not harder. I pity the poor fool who has to crack into them the first time.

I really wish they had spent more time trying to make these programs simpler and more intuitive. But perhaps I'm asking for too much.
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Old Feb 17, 2013, 03:51 AM   #8
Jim Campbell
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Originally Posted by citizenzen View Post
I essentially agree.
I really wish they had spent more time trying to make these programs simpler and more intuitive. But perhaps I'm asking for too much.
At the end of the day, Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign are pro-level design tools. I would rather have the feature set and have to work to understand how to use the software, than not have 'obscure' features and have the software be easier to use. There are cheaper and/or (ostensibly) easier applications available to those not requiring a pro-level workflow.

(By which I'm not being snotty or elitist -- there are lots of people who don't need a closely colour-managed workflow, or tight control of trapping, or even direct manipulation of tracking and kerning, for example. That's fine -- there's other software available!)

Cheers

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Old Feb 17, 2013, 04:49 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by citizenzen View Post
I essentially agree.

However, I have over twenty years of experience with Adobe's products. And for whatever reason, after twenty years those programs are just as hard to learn if not harder. I pity the poor fool who has to crack into them the first time.

I really wish they had spent more time trying to make these programs simpler and more intuitive. But perhaps I'm asking for too much.
Even Mr. T would "Pity the Fool".

I don't think they even give you a PDF of a manual anymore, it's all "Help", which is useless if you don't know the terms. I used to read the manual front to back with every new version.

Maybe everyone wants to watch videos of techniques these days, but showing someone how to do something isn't as useful as showing them the underlying concepts.

I started with Illustrator 88, and there's been on a steady descent into unuseability since version 8, I feel the OP's pain with the way clipping paths are handled, big step into the dumpster since CS3. Mix it with compound paths and you get a lot of blank stares from Noobs.

Once in a while I run 8 on my old G5 and it flies compared to the newer CS versions (5 still draws better). No transparency? So what, go run Photoshop, it does transparency better than a vector drawing program could ever hope to.

As for Freehand, sorry, I never liked it's pathetic screen display, reminded me of MacDraw, and it never had the elegant control of bezier's that earlier versions of illustrator had. There were a few features I liked, but Adobe wasn't ambitious enough to steal them while they had the product, I guess Altsys still owned the code.

I knew a designer who literally had every piece of artwork she had ever produced in one Freehand file. She started every new job by covering up the old artwork with a white rectangle. She had never looked at the art in wireframe view or she would have seen it was black with overlapping lines.

I do wish Freehand was still around, though. Without competition, Illustrator is circling the drain. I can hardly wait for the next bloated, sluggish, buggy version Adobe will be asking me for more money for, before they've fixed CS6.
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Old Feb 17, 2013, 05:17 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Campbell View Post
Sorry, but this is just an example of liking what you know and disliking what you don't.
Its got nothing to do with liking what I know my point is why is Illustrator far more complex than it needs to be?

At the time when Freehand and Illustrator were fighting it out Freehand was a much better app. Then Adobe bought Macromedia and simply stopped supporting Freehand. They didnt take any of the good things about it and add them to Illustrator they just made Illustrator more and more complex to achieve relatively simple things.

All im saying is its more complex than it needs to be.

In this instance I had to make a compound path i.e. a path inside another path before it would accept my command to make it a clipping path - even though making a compound path achieved nothing as there were not paths to be compounded. That why I didnt do it in the first place! Now tell me that is not complicated?

I agree with Larry-K that the underlying concepts are simply not explained. Its just do this do that and boom. Well I like to know why I need to 'do this and do that' so I can push the boundaries and improve.

Larry-K if youre referring to the un antialiased display in Freehand you had to press command+shift+G or something to get anitaliased then it was great and in the last two updates I think they added the option to the menu item at the bottom for wireframe etc.

Last edited by MacBoobsPro; Feb 17, 2013 at 05:38 AM.
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Old Feb 17, 2013, 06:39 AM   #11
Jim Campbell
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Originally Posted by MacBoobsPro View Post

All im saying is its more complex than it needs to be.
And all I'm saying is that I had exactly the same problem going from Illustrator to Freehand.

I've never known two pieces of software that do basically the same thing be so incompatible at a conceptual level with each other -- over the years I've happily played with multiple 3D packages, bitmap image editors, painting programmes… and I've never encountered the level of mental resistance that occurs when Freehand users move to Illustrator and vice versa.

Your specific example about the compound path, however, does sound like flaky behaviour and is likely the result of Adobe's general neglect of AI* rather than some conscious decision to make things more complicated.

TBH, wherever I have multiple paths (particularly with outlined text) I always, always ungroup and then unite with Pathfinder -- objects of this type have always behaved more reliably.

Yes, it's a bit flaky and a bit idiosyncratic, but my point is that so was Freehand but just in different ways.

Cheers

Jim

*CS6 is, honestly, a disgrace. I've personally filed half-a-dozen bug reports --including the not-insignificant one where exported TIFFs do not have the specified colour profile actually embedded, and the maddening one whereby actions played via F-key play twice-- and not a one of them has been fixed.
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Last edited by Jim Campbell; Feb 17, 2013 at 07:59 AM. Reason: Removing the errant asterisk this forum insists on inserting after an ellipsis.
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