Vectors are images that are suitable for illustrations that contain precise measurements. A vector is different from a bitmap image (jpg) because its information is much simpler, and it is scalable to any size and can be edited freely. Vectors are not as useful for displaying photo-realistic images like photographs because those types of images generally do not contain well-defined shapes and curves.
In this tutorial, you will learn how to work with a vector to make it easily editable for you. You will change the color of individual shapes, color many shapes together, and edit a path, which is what defines a shape in Illustrator.
Let’s use this vector from contributor Fixer00.
1. Find your vector image. To narrow your search down to vector images only, make sure the “Vectors” checkbox is clicked. Once you find your image, download it, making sure you click the “vector” option. You’ll then download an .eps file.
2. Open your vector image in Illustrator. To edit a vector image, you must have
Adobe Illustrator. Once downloaded, open your .eps image in Illustrator. Once opened, your vector will appear on an artboard, which is the white working space in your file.
3. Zoom. To zoom in and out of your workspace, use the zoom tool. Hold down the “Option” button to zoom out. For a keyboard short cut, use command-plus(+) or command-minus(-) on the mac and alt-plus(+) and alt–minus(-) on the pc.
4. Take a look at the layers palette. If the layers palette is not visible, open it by going to Window>Layers. Here you can see that you can select individual shapes, change the order of the shapes, toggle visibility, and perform other actions, all from the layers palette. If you click on the arrow next to a group, you will see what shapes are contained within a group. A group is two or more shapes that can be selected, moved, re-sized, colored together as though they are one shape. This also helps to organize objects and shapes and make them more manageable.
5. Select Tool. In your tool bar, the first tool, which is a black arrow, is the “Select” tool. Use this to select shapes and paths of your vector. Click on your vector to select. As you can see from the layers palette, the entire vector is grouped, so now everything is selected. To ungroup your selection, go to Object ungroup, or command-shift-G on a Mac or control-shift-G on a PC. Now you will be able to select more specific elements of your vector.
Now, we will click on one of the light pink shapes. This is a compound path, which is a group of paths that act as one path, so all of the light pink brain matter will be selected. – This is will be labelled in your layers palette. You can release this compound path by going to Object>Compound Path>Release
6. Color Palette. Now select one of the light pink brain matter shapes by clicking on it. On the right side of your screen, you can toggle the color palette. If it’s not there, go to Window>Color>Color. Make sure your desired color mode appears by clicking on the pull down menu on the upper right hand corner of the color palette and selecting a color mode.
In this case, I am using CMYK. To adjust the color, use the sliders, click on the color bar at the bottom, or double click on the fill swatch in the upper left corner. I chose to increase the Y value and make this shape yellow. You can give the shape a stroke, or an outline, by clicking on the stroke swatch (behind the fill swatch) and giving it a color.
7. Direct Select. The direct select tool is the white arrow in your tool bar below the select tool. You can use this tool to select shapes that are part of a group, or edit points on a path. Click on the direct select tool and click on the edge of one of the light pink brain matter shapes. The shapes are contained by a path. You will see the points of the path appear. They are white because they are unselected.
Continuing to use the direct select tool, click on one of the points. You can move the point around by clicking and dragging. You can also move the points a little at a time (nudge) by using the arrow keys. You will also see that once the point is selected, its curve handles will appear. Still using the direct Select tool, you can click and drag the ends of the curve handles.
8. Select Same. Use your Select tool to select one of the light pink brain matter shapes. Go to Object>Same>Fill and Stroke. This will select everything in the document that is the same Fill and Stroke as what you have selected, so all of your light pink brain matter shapes will be selected.
8. Eye Dropper. An eye dropper will change the color of a selected shape by sampling a color that exists on your artboard. With all of your light pink brain matter selected, click on your Eye Dropper tool which is near the bottom of your tool bar on the left side of your screen. With all of your light pink brain matter selected, click on the yellow brain matter that you adjusted earlier, or on any shape of another color. Now, all of your light pink brain matter should match the shape that you eye-dropped.
This is only the beginning of the amazing things you can do in Illustrator with a vector file. The great thing about vectors is that they are extremely editable and flexible, so if you learn these techniques, you’ll be able to download a Bigstock vector and customize it for any project. Good luck!