Ok, so I've been getting some questions recently from readers and have decided to begin a new section of my blog, called "ASK MORDY" where I attempt to answer those very same questions.
Today's question comes from Michael Phillips:
Your "What if... you apply the convert to shape effect to text" tip in Real World Illustrator is extremely useful for much of the work that I do. It would be even more useful if I could save boxed text as a style but I cannot find a way of doing it. (At present I'm setting up a sample in a template and then using copy/paste attributes). I suppose, because it's a combined text/graphic style, it's not possible... unless you know otherwise?
Michael is referring to a technique on page 261 of my book which details how to create text that has a background of color behind it. First of all, I think one of the things that is throwing Michael off is an odd behavior with text objects and graphic styles.
After you've completed the steps in the book, you should be able to drag the entire text object right into the Graphic Styles palette. However, in doing so, the black appearance of the characters is lost and the character color is actually set to none (see below). I don't know why this happens, and maybe the Goddess of the Appearance Palette (Teri) can offer some insight here.
To get around this "problem", you have to add another fill to your object (and color it black) -- and set the fill to appear above the characters (see below). Dragging this object into the Graphic Styles palette will create a style that can then be used.
Now the reality is that Graphic Styles only store the settings that are found in the Appearance palette, and so font information (family, size, leading, etc.) is not preserved using just the Graphic Style. So you'll notice that in my screenshots above, I also created a Paragraph Style that contains the correct text settings for my Dynamic button. Basically, it's two clicks to get my text to look right. Once on the Graphic Style, and once on the Paragraph style.
So here's an added bonus: I noticed that Michael also posted the following question to the Illustrator User to User forum earlier today:
Why are there separate graphic, character and paragraph style palettes? Wouldn't it be more sensible to have only one?
And I have to agree with Michael on this one. Why have different palettes if all of these do basically the same thing (albeit for different reasons and in different ways). Well, I can see it would be difficult to create or define all these different styles from a single palette. Especially since text can have graphic styles applied to it as well. However, one shouldn't have to dance between all of these palettes to apply these styles.
In fact, InDesign CS2 does just that, with a feature called QuickApply. When you have text or an object selected, you press Command-Return (Ctrl-Enter) on your keyboard and a window pops up in the upper left corner of your screen.
The windows constains a list of every style in your document. Little icons indicate the type of style that each one is (paragraph, character, object) and you can even type in the first few letters of a style to jump right to the one you need. This allows you to apply styles right from the keyboard in a quick fashion (hence the name of the feature). Might be nice to see Illustrator adopt a similar behavior.