I posted an article recently about the 10 Illustrator goodies I felt designers were missing out on. I got an overwhelming positive response on how helpful the article was for people new to Illustrator and for some people that have been using it as long as I have. So I am so excited to bring you even more tips, tools and tricks from Illustrator, you may not know about. Also if you want to read my first article you can check it out here: 10 Illustrator Tips, Tricks & Tools
1) Greyscale: First of all, why would you need your vector art to be greyscale? Well this is great for logos if you want to see how they will look without color. It’s also helpful for clients to see how their branding would appear in a newspaper ad or article. The other way I use this is if I am creating a wireframe for a client’s website. It’s always a nice touch to include their logo but make it grey to match the rest of the wireframe. Now there are a few ways you can make your vector art greyscale but this is by far the easiest one. Go to Edit>Edit Colors> Convert to Greyscale. The cool things is that it only converts the selected artwork and not your whole document.
2) Select Same: When you are designing you will always be experimenting with other colors or the client will want a certain color darker or changed altogether. Sometimes this is easy to do and sometimes it can be a pain to replace a specific color (especially if you have artwork on multiple artboards). Go to Select>Same>Fill Color and this will make a selection for the same color anywhere on your document. You also have more options like selecting the same stroke color, fill and stroke color, opacity and even stroke weight. A great way of changing your artwork quickly.
3) Spell Check: That’s right Illustrator has spell check. Many designers are truly surprised by this. But this means you no longer have any excuse for typo’s in your designs. Edit>Check Spelling.
4) Equal Spacing: Most designers who use Illustrator are familiar with the Align palette. It easily allows you to align your objects to each other or the artboard itself. But there are a few other options on the Align panel that get overlooked. These can be super helpful and huge time savers. If you are creating a design with multiple objects this will ensure that they have the equal amount of spacing between them. This is great for wireframes, web mockups and traditional print design. Go to Window> Align to pull up the Align palette. Then select your group of objects you want spaced equally> Choose Distribute Spacing> Choose Horizontal or Vertical Spacing. Perfect every time!
5) Align your Anchors: So we are going to stay with our friend the Align panel for one more cool and helpful trick. We’ve already established you can align objects but did you know you can align your anchor points as well? This is great when you are creating complex artwork and can be a helpful when creating a logo. Bring your Align palette up and instead of selecting the whole object or objects, use the direct selection tool to select a group of anchor points you want aligned. Once selected choose how you want them to line up. The great thing about the Align panel is they give you visuals to help you pick the alignment method. Your anchor points are now aligned without needing guides!
6) Glyphs: Glyphs are any added characters that appear in a font. Some fonts have a large amount of glyphs available, some might have no glyphs at all. Some glyphs are very helpful when it comes to providing special characters you might need when creating a project. Glyphs can also be fun illustrations or characters that follow a fonts theme. Either way it’s always a good idea when you are choosing a particular font to see what glyphs are available for you. Also this is usually where popular symbols can be found, such as: ©, ?, ¶,™,¾ and Ã. Select Type>Glyphs and you will have access to all the glyphs available in that particular font. To use a glyph select your text tool and double click on the glyph you wish to use. TIP: You will also notice when you scroll over the glyphs each is given a keyboard shortcut. If you plan on using one on a consistent basis it may be a time saver to write down or memorize the shortcut.
7) Moving Artboards: Creating work on multiple Artboards can be very helpful when working in web or creating multiple pages of a print document. A little known tool allows you to easily organize and move your Artboards and all the artwork on that Artboard. Choose the Artboard tool from your tool bar> Select the button on your control bar that has a picture of a circle and square and is surrounded with arrows. When this button is selected you can move all artwork within that Artboard and the Artboard together.
8) Rounded Corners: Illustrator makes creating artwork for the web easy. One of the most used design elements is creating rounded corners. For this designers usually resort to the rounded rectangle tool or use pre-made buttons from their symbols panels. These are both good but offer little chance to change once created. Also you may only need to slightly round the corners. For this I create a regular rectangle and then choose Effect>Stylize>Round Corners. This allows you to not only enter in a custom number but you can also preview what the outcome is going to look like.
9) Text Wrap. If you are working with large amounts of type and images your best bet is to create the layout in InDesign. But sometimes you need to do this in Illustrator. Designers rarely know there is a way to easily create a text wrap using Adobe Illustrator. It will work with artwork, shapes and images. Select your text and the object you want it to wrap around. Then choose Object>Text Wrap>Make. The great thing about this is you can adjust the settings and release the text wrap at any time.
10) Drawing Modes: Those of you who used Flash will be familiar with drawing modes. Illustrators are very similar and allow you to have better control over artwork you are creating. The only problem is no one knows they exist and therefore this great tool never gets used as often as it should. Located right under your stroke and fill are three drawing modes to choose from. You have your Draw Normal, Draw Inside and Draw Behind. Draw Normal is the default and lets you draw like you usually would in Illustrator. Draw Behind allows you to just add your artwork to the back of whatever artwork you are currently working with. This is a great way to create backgrounds without having to constantly send things to the back. The Draw Inside mode takes an extra step but is the one I use most often. With this mode you have to select an object you want to draw inside of. Once it is selected you get to be able to draw inside that object with having it neatly framed inside. This might be your new favorite tool in Illustrator especially when creating complex artwork.
Well what do you think? Did I leave any out? Eager for you to share your thought with me about this article.
8 thoughts on “10 MORE Illustrator Tips, Tricks & Tools”
Nicely done! Not only useful but easy to remember, going to check out the original 10 now….
I’m just getting into web design. Your site is great with all of the examples and little tricks. When I first opened up photoshop and illustrator I didn’t know what the hell I was looking at with all the tools and options but I’m understanding it a lot better thanks to sites like yours thanks!
Thank you for your kind words, Brad – and you are very welcome.
Crazy tips mate. I really like the idea of using Equal Spacing. Thanks a ton for sharing these tips.
Thanks for all of the great tips and information you share. You keep us entertained and informed and you are just awesome! Joy
Thanks for this! Very helpful!… I was wondering, is there a way to change the order number of art boards? Up until now I have had to delete and recreate art boards, in the desired order, if I happen to realize they are not in the order I would prefer. It would be amazing if I could just assign different order without altering the actual art boards. I run into this when saving a PDF or image sequence for a logo presentation or something similar. thanks again.
If you bring up your artboard palette you can drag them to reorder them. The sequence and numbers will change automatically after you have dragged them in the order you want! Hope this was helpful.