An example of when we would implement Illustrator’s Join lines command would be when we wish to join two halves of an object into a single shape. An example of the use of this technique would be in the creation of garment designs, as illustrated here. The first step of the process would be to create a new document within Illustrator, of a certain page size, for example A3 for presentation diagrams.
We would then place a photograph of the garment making sure to tick the Template check box. This will allow us to more easily draw around half of the desired shape. Note that ticking the Template box results in the creation of two layers, one of which will be the image within a locked layer and a blank layer on top to be used for tracing around the image. If the imported image needs to be adjusted we would unlock the bottom layer, make the necessary move, scale and rotate adjustments, then re lock the layer.
The next step in the process is to draw one half of the garment outline using either the Pen or Pencil tool. To assist in a precise drawing of the half garment it’s a good idea to create a vertical non-printing guide line which will bisect the garment. This will allow us to see the precise top and bottom of the shape halves. We would draw only the outline of the garment, and draw the details later. We could adjust our line work using a variety of tools, for example the Add Anchor Point tool or the Delete Anchor Point tool will add or subtract details. The Anchor Point tool will convert corners to smooth curves and vice versa. We could also use the Smooth tool to simplify our vector lines. In recent releases the Pencil tool’s Smooth options have been improved allowing for easier freehand drawing.
We would then use Illustrator’s Reflect tool to mirror this drawn shape across. We select the garment half with the Selection tool, before double-clicking on the Reflect tool (which is located behind the Rotate tool). At this point the dialog box for reflecting (or mirroring) appears. Tick the Preview button on the bottom left to see the changes update on the screen as you make them. Experiment with the Horizontal and Vertical reflections before choosing Copy (rather than OK). This results in the appearance of the mirrored half of the garment.
We now need to join the two separate shapes together at the top and bottom points to make the garment into one single shape. The purpose of this is to make the addition of colours or textures or patterns easier. We first need to zoom in to the top two anchor points which need to be joined together. We then may select both points using the Direct Selection tool (the white arrow), then right-clicking to choose Average. We then right-click again and select Join. The Average command will bring the two points together, whereas the Join command will weld them together into one point.
Whilst the Join command may appear to be a minor player within Adobe Illustrator’s wide range of tools and features, and can be easily overlooked, it is an essential function to perform when operating within a precise and efficient workflow.
Tom Gillan has taught corporate clients how to use In design for over seven years. Visit Design Workshop Sydney Illustrator Courses webpage for more information.