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What You"ll Be Creating

AdobeIllustrator is today by far the most popular vector software outthere. As complex & elaborate as it might seem at first, it doesn’t take youlong khổng lồ tinker with it & figure out what most of its buttons và options vày.

Still, somefunctions and settings are usually overlooked by those who are just starting tograsp it, which is why I’m going to lớn chia sẻ with you something that I wish somebodyhad showed me when I first started out using it.

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Yes, I’m talkingabout the Grid system.

What Is theGrid?

As with anylearning curve sầu, the first thing we need to ask ourselves is what is the actualmeaning of the word?

According to lớn theMerriam-Webster online dictionary, a grid is defined as “a network of uniformlyspaced horizontal and perpendicular lines (as for locating points on a map)” .

An even morerefined definition can be found over at Wikipedia,where the grid is explained in the context of graphic neftekumsk.com:“a grid is a structure (usually two-dimensional) made up of aseries of intersecting straight (vertical, horizontal, and angular) or curvedguide lines used to lớn structure nội dung. The grid serves as an armature on whicha neftekumsk.comer can organize graphic elements(images, glyphs, paragraphs) in a rational, easy lớn absorb manner. Agrid can be used khổng lồ organize graphic elements in relation lớn a page, inrelation to lớn other graphic elements on the page, or relation khổng lồ other parts ofthe same graphic element or shape.”

It’s worth mentioning that Illustrator’s Grid ismade up of only straight vertical and horizontal lines. If you want to set upcurved or more complex grids, you will have sầu to rely on creating them usingguidelines, which are fairly easy khổng lồ use.


Why Is the Grid Important?

Probably at this point you have sầu a basic idea of what a grid is. But whyshould you care or even use it? Well, if you want to lớn create something that hasbalance in terms of the way the visual elements complete one another throughtheir positioning, grids are the way khổng lồ go. They offer you guidance on how torelate one object to lớn another, and most importantly how khổng lồ structure elements onthe artboard.

Beyond that, the Grid helps neftekumsk.comers create pixel perfect artwork fordigital devices (which in my opinion is a must), but more on that in a coupleof moments.

Before I can expand on the importance of usingthe Grid lớn create sharp artwork, I need to talk briefly about some key aspectsof the way images are constructed on the two different truyền thông (screen andprint).

Digital vs. Print

As you probably already know, the digital medium differs a lot from theprinted one. Each of them has different color modes (RGB vs. CMYK), and each onecan output different resolutions (screen resolution vs. print resolution). Whatmakes them even more different is the way they render images, và mostimportantly the way they handle curved lines.

A computer monitor is px grid dependent(squared pixels tiled to one another), meaning it will handle curvatures byadding transparent pixels (alpha channels) on the sides, a process called anti-aliasing,which in the end mimics the natural straight line one would draw on a piece ofpaper for example.


A printer is dependent only on the paper sizeand the dpi (dots per inch) you phối the image khổng lồ, meaning it will print out thecurvatures perfectly (with the condition that you mix the dpi to lớn a high value).This is because printing is based on layering color dots one by one without theneed for adding the semitransparent values that screen devices use khổng lồ create the illusion of a smooth curve.

To Snap or Notto lớn Snap?

Well, this isprobably the best question one might ask. Through the process of snapping, youinstruct Illustrator to lớn align each object on the artboard to the grid / pixelgrid.

Remember I toldyou a few lines ago that the Grid helps us create px perfect illustrations? Now that you know how digital handles images compared lớn print, it’s time toelaborate more on the most important role that I think the Grid has.

I am almostcertain that you’ve seen some illustrations on Dribbble or Behance with super-sharp lines, and always wondered how the neftekumsk.comer pulled that off. Well wonderno more: he or she simply made sure lớn align everything to lớn the pixel grid, creatingevery element with whole values.

By whole values I mean values that do not have sầu decimal places, so for example we have a rectangle with a 200 px width anda height of 100 px, và not something lượt thích 200.84 px by 99.80 px.

The GridExtended

Because Ibelieve that examples speak more than words, I will explain all you need khổng lồ doin order to get the Grid right by showing you a step by step preparing processthat you can rely on every time you create something in Illustrator.

Step 1

As with any new project, the first thing we alwaysset up is the document. Open up Illustrator and create a chạy thử document with thefollowing values:

Number of Artboards: 1Width:800 pxHeight:800 pxUnits:pixels

And from the Advanced tab:

màu sắc Mode:RGBRaster Effects:300 ppiAlign New Objects toPixel Grid: checked

Quichồng note:you might have noticed I mix the Raster Effects lớn 300 ppi, when the document isintended for screen use. Well, setting the Rasters lớn higher ppi values willhave no visible effect on the screen, but if for some reason you need khổng lồ printout what you neftekumsk.comed (even though you created it using RGB color values) any dropshadows, inner shadows, và other effects will get messed up if they areprinted at a lower ppi value than 300.

You can always modify the ppi of a document, nomatter the initial setting, by going to Effect> Document Raster Effects Settings and giving it the desired value.

Step 2

Once you have the document mix up, create a 100 x 100 px blaông xã square and positionit towards the top left corner of the Artboardusing the Align panel.


Step 3

In order khổng lồ understand how the Grid works youmust first see it. Go khổng lồ View > ShowGrid (Control-") andimmediately you should see the mặc định 1000 x 4 Grid that Illustrator comes thiết đặt with.

Step 4

Now that we seeit, how does it actually work? First I want you to lớn select & move the littlesquare with the help of your keyboard’s directional arrows and see howit behaves.

You might noticethat our little object jumped a few pixels here và there but nothing easilyobservable. This is because we haven’t enabled the Snap lớn Grid option.

Position the square to lớn its original location,và then go lớn View > Snap khổng lồ Grid(Shift-Control-Y), & again, try khổng lồ move sầu the object lớn the right.

Now clearly wecan see a difference. If you move it one more time khổng lồ the right you startobserving a pattern. Each time the square jumps, it does so by snapping to oneof the sides of the little squares created by the horizontal và vertical linesthat khung our Grid.

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Let’s see why Illustrator behaves thatwhy, by explaining how Illustrator creates the Grid itself. As I’ve sầu alreadymentioned, the mặc định settings that are configured in the software are:

Gridline every:1000 pxSubdivisions: 4

But what dothese settings actually mean?

It’s quite simple. At each 1000 px, Illustrator will draw four delimiting lines (twohorizontal và two vertical) creating a 1000x 1000 px square which will be further divided inkhổng lồ sixteen smaller 250 x 250 px squares ( 1000 / 4 = 250).


Because our Artboard has only 800 x 800 px ( three 250 px squares plus another smaller 50 px section highlighted with green) it will snap towards the left and topside of one of the Grid’s 1000 x 1000 pxsquares, leaving the right and lower sections of the Grid space unoccupied (200 px highlighted with red).

Now going bachồng lớn our little blaông xã square, thereason why it jumps all the way to lớn the sides of the 250 x 250 px square is because it has only 100 x 100 px, and as it did with the Artboard, Illustrator forces itto snap to lớn the delimiting lines. If the black object had been exactly 250 x 250 px, it would have sầu occupied theentire surface of one of the Grid’s square, & would have sầu jumped exactly oneout of the sixteen inner positions.


Adjusting theGrid Settings

I hope that the last step managed to lớn shed light on how the Grid works, but you must understvà thateach project you create might require setting up different Grids depending onthe kích thước of your Artboard, and the accuracy with which you want lớn positionyour elements onto it.

I’ve found that using the smallest possiblesettings will give me the most accurate results, và by combining the power ofthe Grid with Pathfinder I am ableto position my elements quickly và intuitively.

My Grid settings:

Gridline every:1 pxSubdivisions: 1

If you want to lớn experiment or simply use thesettings I have sầu you, all you need to bởi vì is go lớn Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and modify them as youdesire.


RapidPrototyping Using the Grid

Let’s try ashort exercise and see how we can create a quiông xã website wireframe using a Gridwith Gridlines every 800 px and asubdivision of 4, on the same 800 x 800 px Artboard.

Yes I know the default width of today’s basicwebsite is 960 px, but I wanted to show you a quiông chồng example of how easy it islớn position things using custom Grid settings.

Step 1

Create an 800x 200 px rectangle & position it towards the top of our Artboard, coloringit using #191919. Grab the Type Tool andlabel this section as our website’s Header.


Quichồng tip: ifyou have sầu elements that are smaller và don’t actually need to be snapped to lớn theGrid, in our case the section labels, simply select those elements & then golớn the View menu & deselect Snap khổng lồ Grid.

Step 2

Create a smaller 600 x 400 px rectangle, color it using a darker tint (#3D3D3D) andthen position it using the directional keys to the left of the Artboard, justunder the header. Make sure khổng lồ label this section of the website as theContent.


Step 3

Create an even smaller 200 x 400 px object, color it using #B24747, và then position it tothe right side of the nội dung, making sure khổng lồ label it as the Sidebar.


Step 4

Finish up our little wireframe by adding another800 x 200 px rectangle (#191919) tothe bottom of our Artboard, labeling it as our Footer.


In a manner ofjust a few seconds we managed khổng lồ create a rudimentary trang web. Imagine ifwe had spent more time playing with it.

The Snap toDuality

Before I let youexperiment with custom Grids on your own, I wanted khổng lồ talk khổng lồ you about themain differences between the Snap toGrid Snap to Pixel options.

By default, whenyou set up a New Document, the Pnhận xét Mode is usually phối on Default. Thatmeans that what you kiến thiết is basically what you see (you see the vector as itis and not in pixel format). In this case the Snap lớn option will be mix lớn the Grid, và depending on the values you assign khổng lồ it, it will snap toone of the little squares that size it.

If you enable Pixel PReview (View > PixelPreview) & zoom in on the Artboard,Illustrator will reveal the actual pixels that khung your vector elements.Once the snapping is phối to Pixel, eachmovement made on the Artboard will be by exactly the number of pixels you’vephối your Keyboard Increment to, inthe direction you pushed it khổng lồ.

Quick tip: Yes you can phối a defaultIncrement for the precision with which you move sầu objects around your Artboard.The option can be found going khổng lồ Edit> Preferences > General > Keyboard Increment.


The keydifference between these two snapping methods is that if you’ve sầu somehow createdan object that has pixels with decimal places, for example a rectangle of 200.9 x 60.40 px, snapping it to lớn the Pixel Grid will force it to change itsdimensions lớn whole values, thus creating a sharper object.

I recommkết thúc that once you’ve created somethingusing the Snap to Grid option, youshould always switch lớn Pixel PĐánh Giá modevà see if they align correctly to the Pixel Grid so that you can make sure yourartwork will over up looking as crisp as possible.