Those who have either read my book or who know me are familiar with my love and affection for the Appearance palette. No Illustrator workspace should be left without it.
I recently received an email from a friend who was seeing some odd behavior and I thought it would be good idea to talk about it here, as it involves a setting which few people are aware of, and of which can be confusing.
First of all, let's discuss one of Illustrator's behaviors when drawing objects. In Illustrator, when you draw a new shape, the attributes for that shape mimick the attributes of the last object it was that you had selected. For example, if you click on an object with a blue fill and a black stroke, and then you draw a new shape, that new shape will also have a blue fill and a black stroke.
Because of this behavior, some people have gotten into the habit is setting up a "palette" of sorts that mimics painting in the real world. Say you are creating a drawing that uses one of 4 different colors. You could create four squares at the top of your artboard and assign a specific color to each square. Then, pick up your favorite drawing tool of choice. Using the Command (Ctrl on Windows) key to quickly toggle to the Selection tool, you could "touch" a colored square, and then draw with that color. Each time you wanted to draw with a different color, you'd touch the colored square you needed. As I mentioned before, this is akin to dipping your paintbrush into paint before you paint with it.
Now let's expand our discussion and talk about mroe than just fills and strokes. Let's talk about effects like drop shadows and feathers. Let's talk about objects with complex appearances that contain multiple fill and stroke attributes. How does that play into this? If you select an object that has a drop shadow applied to it, does the next object you draw have a drop shadow applied to it?
I'll tell you that in Illustrator 9 and Illustrator 10, by default, it does.
I'll also tell you that in Illustrator CS and Illustrator CS2, by default, it doesn't.
What changed was a setting in the Appearance palette. At the bottom left of the palette is an icon that's really a toggle and not a function itself (like most other buttons that are found at the bottom of palettes are). The icon controls a setting called New Art Has Basic Appearance. With this toggle turned on, all new shapes only pick up the basic appearance of previously selected objects (a single fill and a single stroke, and no effects). With Illustrator CS and CS2, this setting was turned on by default because of the amount of people who complained to Adobe that "Illustrator was always drawing new objects with drop shadows on them".
Turn this toggle off though, and you're back to Illustrator 9 and 10 behavior -- where all newly drawn objects pick up the full appearance of previously selected objects.