Using the Symbol Sprayer and Shifter in Adobe Illustrator


The Symbol tools in Illustrator give the program some true artistic ability. Many people, even now, think this is lacking, and that Illustrator is more "tech" where Photoshop is “arty”. But if properly used, Illustrator can do some very arty things. Two of the Symbol tools, in particular, are rather easy to use, and can produce some striking results. One is the Sprayer. It allows us to select a symbol and “scatter” a bunch of repeats in a given area. (A symbol, in Illustrator-ese, is an object we add to the Symbols panel for spraying, shifting, etc. Think of spray paint [...]

Using the Symbol Sprayer and Shifter in Adobe Illustrator2019-09-30T14:02:15-04:00

How to Use the Transform Features in Adobe Illustrator


When we want to transform, or make specific changes to, an object in Illustrator, we can use the Transform panel. We can also use a couple of the tools in the Tools panel, depending on our preference. For certain kinds of diagrams and precise illustrations,  we may need an accurate angle, or exact amount of change. So knowing how to use the various transform abilities can be critical. (Note: It’s a good idea to make a copy of the object, layer, or document you’re working on, for practice.) The Transform panel can handle several basic kinds of change—size, rotation, and shear. [...]

How to Use the Transform Features in Adobe Illustrator2019-09-30T14:03:22-04:00

How to Use Warp Type in Adobe Illustrator


Illustrator is capable of treating text as a graphic element much as anything we draw with any of the tools, so the ability to warp type shouldn’t come as a surprise. Type on a path is another feature in the same ballpark (check my previous post). The basic starting point is the same. We use the Type tool, usually, to create the piece of text we need. We then have to tell the program to treat it as a graphic element rather than a text box per se. (This allows the Warp Type control to show.) We do this by switching [...]

How to Use Warp Type in Adobe Illustrator2019-09-30T14:33:01-04:00

Use Type on a Path in Adobe Illustrator


The use of type on a path is an interesting cross between text and graphics, and allows text to be more than just a means of conveying information in Illustrator. But in order to use the feature correctly, one has to understand a couple of things about how it behaves. First, we usually need to create the shape which we’ll use as a baseline, in the sense that typography uses the term—the line on which the text sits. Then, we select the Type on a Path tool (in the same flyout as the regular Type tool). Position the cursor on the [...]

Use Type on a Path in Adobe Illustrator2019-09-30T14:34:38-04:00

How to Create a Gradient in Adobe Illustrator


The recent post on meshes in Illustrator kind of leads into a related subject, namely the gradient. Sometimes meshes aren’t necessary, or a little too complicated to set up, but there’s still a need for (at least simulated) shading, and gradients can provide some of this. They take a few steps, but they’re worth it. (I will mention before I start that the process is a little different than in Photoshop; the nature of the use of gradients is different in each program.) Once the file is open, we select the shape we want to put the gradient in, bring up [...]

How to Create a Gradient in Adobe Illustrator2019-09-30T15:55:24-04:00

Using the Mesh Tool in Illustrator-Basics


The Mesh tool gives the Illustrator artist a capability that some people think doesn’t exist in this program—the ability to shade an object, for example if one wants to make something look three-dimensional, solid, curved, etc. This is fairly easy in Photoshop; what a lot of people don’t know is it’s only a little more work in Illustrator, and has easier adjustability to boot. ? The first thing is to create the outline of the object. I’ve laid out a simple vase-ish kind of shape for demonstration. It’s supposed to narrow down at the neck and bulge out a bit near [...]

Using the Mesh Tool in Illustrator-Basics2019-09-30T16:26:24-04:00

How to Select Precise Colors with Pickers and Libraries


More than ever in today’s business world, having one’s company stand out from the competition is important; product branding, and the use of color in particular, is integral to this. Product branding is the term we normally use to describe a distinctive scheme of hue/shade/etc. choices, font choices, logo, etc. which give a company a unique “look”. Coca-Cola, John Deere, Five Guys (a burger chain), Panera—any company at all. So how can a company select—and use consistently—any of these, particularly color?      There are at least two methods we can use, at least in a majority of programs. One, which is [...]

How to Select Precise Colors with Pickers and Libraries2019-09-30T16:34:03-04:00

Using the Direct Selection Tool in Adobe Illustrator


Of all the tools in Illustrator, among the most critical are the selection tools. And even though the Group Selection tool is a little more complicated in its function, the Direct Selection tool is used more frequently. So understanding its use is at least as important. The Direct Selection tool’s job is to allow the user to work with individual anchor points and control handles. As opposed to the “main” Selection tool, which works with an object as a whole. The basic technique is simple enough. Once we create an object, we can switch to the Direct Selection tool. We click [...]

Using the Direct Selection Tool in Adobe Illustrator2019-10-02T16:24:12-04:00

Using the Appearance Panel in Illustrator CC


If I didn’t know better, I’d think someone who worked on Illustrator had a crush on layers. They appear not only in the Layers panel, but in the Appearance panel. There are no less than three places where the idea of layering, stacking, or something similar appears in this program. It's the Layers panel itself, the idea of Sub-layers, and Appearance. The latter uses the concept a little differently. This panel shows data only for the object (or group) selected, and it’s things like fills, strokes, effects (such as drop shadows), and so on. If you have an object selected, you [...]

Using the Appearance Panel in Illustrator CC2019-10-17T11:43:42-04:00

Creating Custom Tools Panels in Illustrator CC


I’ve gotten used to the Tools panel (or Toolbox) in Illustrator as it has been for years. Although we can go from single- to double-column for convenience on smaller screens, I hardly ever think about it otherwise. But one feature in Illustrator CC which is both novel and very much a help is the ability to create one’s own Tools panels. That is, to create custom collections of tools as one needs. We could do something like this with the panels themselves for quite some time, separating and recombining them as we like. This made possible the idea of the workspace, [...]

Creating Custom Tools Panels in Illustrator CC2019-10-02T15:46:10-04:00

The Layers Panel in Illustrator–Tips and Tricks


In my last post, I mentioned that the Layers panel serves a more vital function in Photoshop than it does in Illustrator. No offense to Illustrator, of course! But there is a reason I said this. In Illustrator, unless the user makes it happen, objects cannot “smear” together as if they were oil paint that doesn’t dry. So the need to separate things by layer for Photoshop-ish reasons does not exist. But the Layers panel in Illustrator does serve another, equally useful, function—that of organizer. In fact, there are two levels of organization we can see in a typical Illustrator document: [...]

The Layers Panel in Illustrator–Tips and Tricks2019-10-17T11:59:34-04:00

How to Use the Selection Tools in Illustrator


Occasionally, new users of Illustrator have trouble understanding the selection tools; there are three, and each does something different. So knowing which to use for what is important. It’s not that hard to get the hang, with a little practice. The main Selection tool, usually referred to as just that, allows the user to select the entire object. For doing anything to the object as a whole, like changing fill color, edge color, etc., this is good. Furthermore, if one wants to change the object’s dimensions or position, it has to be selected as a whole object. So the Selection tool [...]

How to Use the Selection Tools in Illustrator2019-10-17T14:38:00-04:00

The Anchor Point Tool in Illustrator


When working in Illustrator, drawing with the Pen tool (producing Bezier curves) is a mainstay of many documents. (And in a couple other graphics programs, too.) But sometimes the tools that go with the Pen take a little time to get comfortable with. And the one I've been told is frankly a little confusing is the Anchor Point tool (which used to be known as the Convert Anchor Point tool, describing what it does). You may know there are three main kinds of anchor points: Curve points, that have a smooth curve going in and coming out; Corner points, which have [...]

The Anchor Point Tool in Illustrator2019-10-17T15:44:52-04:00