Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Illustrator Info: Dotted Lines

Recently, due to wedding message boards and the like, I found myself quickly whipping up things for other brides to be in Adobe Illustrator and InDesign. Working with these programs all day, every day pretty much means I could use them in my sleep, but not everybody can. They're definitely complicated programs, and if you don't know your way around they can be very confusing.

I know many future brides are trying their hand at DIY invites, and have had quite a time with the design aspect, so I decided I'm going to post small tips for Illustrator here on the Bee. These will be how tos on simple things, so hopefully folks with basic knowledge will be able to figure it out.

Today's tip is a easy, but good one: how to make a dotted line in Illustrator. If you've used InDesign (my favorite) at all, you know there's a simple option to click 'dotted line' in your strokes palette, but Illustrator is a little different.

Note: these screen shots come from version CS4. My lazy butt needs to go out and get CS5 all ready. Also, for this post, I'll list the step and put an image right below it (instead of above it).

Step 1) Create a new document. (Key command: Command N).

Step 2) Open your stroke pallet. Typically, this is open by default, but if it isn't, go to 'Window' up at the top and click 'strokes' like the above image.

Step 3) Use the pen tool (key command: P) to draw a stroke or create a shape you wish to add a dotted stroke to or around.

Step 4) Using the black arrow (key command: V), click on the stroke or shape you're using. Double Click the strokes palette to expand it if it doesn't look like the one in the screen shot. Click the check box for dashed line. (Typically, this will make a dashed line, like the kind you see around coupons and the dashes look like little sprinkles you want to eat). Right under the check box, set your dash as 0 pt and your gap as 10. The gap will be the amount of space between your dots, you'll probably have to play with it until you find a spacing you like.

You'll notice I made my stroke weight 5 pt or 5 points, I just did this so it would show up in the screen shot. The weight is how thick (or thin) your stroke appears.
Step 5) This is where the magic happens! Next to the 'Weight' and 'Miter Limit' box, you have some choices for your cap and your joint. You see in the previous step that the boxes are darkened all the way on the left side. Click the center boxes which are 'round cap' and 'round join.' (If you hold your cursor over the buttons, the words 'round cap' will pop up.) Also, try not to laugh at the fact that the default is a butt cap hehehe. . . I mean, grow up, people. (Also: butt cap hehehehe)
And look at that! A dotted line! Hoooooray! You did it; I'm so proud, I knew you could do it!

Anybody celebrating their dotted lines? Anybody confused? Let me know and I'll clarify more if you need it.