Step 6: Graphic Styles

Go back to Step 5: Creating a Color Palette

Here’s where we really set up some timesavers. First of all, let’s look at the default styles that come with an Illustrator standard document.

Nice for beginners, but we have practical work to do. Let’s delete all of these (except the Default, which can’t be deleted). Select the Drop Shadow and hold down your shift key and select the Pompadour_GS. Press delete or click the trash can at the bottom.

Select the Line tool. Draw a line, anywhere. (Up at the top left corner is good.)

Note that our line box (the second square) is filled with Black and the stroke is 1 pt. You’ll find that 1 point rules are too heavy for most graphics, so let’s change that to .5 pt by clicking the drop arrow on the Stroke selection and changing it.

Now let’s turn it into a graphic style. With the line selected, click on the drop down or the Add New Style button on the Graphic Styles palette.

A new style appears, labeled simply “Graphic Style.” Click on it to edit the name and change it to read “.5 pt black line” or “.5 pt. black rule” or whatever suits you. That’s it.

Let’s select that line and change the color to 40% Black. That’s a rule I use a lot (in addition to the black rule). Follow the same procedure as above and call it “.5 pt 40% Black rule” or whatever suits you.

Now, change to the Square tool and draw a square, any size. Fill it with a color that you know you’ll use a lot. We do a lot of maps, and our standard color for those is Espresso 2, so I’m going to fill it with that. I’m also going to set the stroke to None, as I don’t want a stroke on this style.

Go over to the Graphic Styles palette and create a new Style. Call this one “Espresso 2 fill.” You can add anything else that helps you, such as “Land.” (I use Expresso 2/Land.) Repeat this step for as many other colors as you think you’ll need, like blue for water, green for parks, red for highlights, etc. Here’s the one that I use.

Now let’s create something you’ll need, especially on maps: a callout box. First, draw an Expresso 2/Land box. Next, select your .5 pt black line and draw a square. Fill the box with white. Save it as a Graphic Style called “Callout box.” Put some text on it.

That will work okay, but the callout box looks a little bland, don’t you think? Let’s add a drop shadow to spice it up. Go to Effect>Stylize>Drop Shadow …

The default values are on the left. That’s a bit strong. Let’s change them to the values I’ve input on the right side.

Here’s the result. Much more defined and professional-looking. Save this as Callout box w/ drop shadow. I’d keep both Styles, as you never know when you will need a box without the drop shadow.

Here’s a recent map I did for the Express-News. Note how well the callout box works. I’ll show you how to do that pointer thing in a future lesson.

Notice the lines used for the different roads. Let’s set those up. I’ll be following the E-N style for creating roads. Draw a line and change the stroke to 60% Black and 4 pt. Save that style as “Major Road, 4 pt. Black.”

With the line selected, press Ctrl-C (Cmd-C on the Mac) to copy the line. Press Ctrl-F (Cmd-F) to paste the line in place. Now you have a duplicate of that line right on top of the first one. Change the color to White and the stroke to 2.5 pt. Save as “Major Road, 2.5 White.” Deselect the line by clicking anywhere on the page. See what you did there? You have an interstate highway.

Now let’s draw major thoroughfares. Draw another line, and change the color to 60% Black, with a stroke of 2 pt. Save it as “Secondary Road, 2 pt. Black.” Copy and paste the line like you did in the earlier example. Change the color to White, with a stroke of 1 pt. Save as “Secondary Road, 1 pt. White.” Deselect the line. You now have a major thoroughfare, such as a town or city main street.

Here’s the specs for the other thoroughfares:

  • Minor road: 60% Black, .5 line
  • Background streets: 30% Black, .35 line
  • County line: 50% Black, .5 line, then go to the Stroke Panel. Click on “Dashed Line,” then set the dash and gap at 1.5 pt. each.
  • Railroad track bottom: 100% Black, .25 line.
  • Railroad track top:100% Black, 1.25 line. In the Stroke Panel, set to “Dashed Line,” then set the dash at .25 pt and the gap at 2 pt.

As you make more graphics, you’ll find yourself creating other types of shapes and designs over and over again. Save them as Graphic Styles and you’ll save a lot of time.

Go to Step 7: Symbols

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