Adobe Illustrator can seem a bit daunting at first. Have no fear, it’s not a complicated as it seems. Try out these 5 Beginner tips and get on your road to becoming a master.
#1 The Appearance Panel
To get a quick overview of your strokes and fills at any time (along with any effects you’ve applied) use the Appearance panel. You can also quickly change the stroke and fill type and colour from here, including opacity. If you’ve applied an effect, you can quickly click the name of it to go back and tweak it. Incredibly useful.
#2 Symbolism tools
Similarly, Symbols are a great way of creating complex artwork quickly. Say you want a flock of birds. Simply draw one bird, then select it and using the Symbols panel arrow menu, you can turn it into a symbol. Next, select the Symbol Sprayer from the tool panel and spray it around your page.
You can then use the other Symbolism tools to resize, colour and rotate only certain instances of the symbol, giving a more natural effect. Try it, it’s very easy!
#3 Create Outlines
One of the great things about Illustrator is its fantastic type tools. It’s great for laying out type as part of an illustration, but better for editing type. Type out a font, make it larger using the Character panel or Tool Options bar. Then select the box the type is in (not the text itself) and go to Type>Create Outlines.
You can now edit the letters as you see fit by adjusting the Bézier points. It’s great for experimenting with new variations on standard fonts. And there’s some even better stuff coming with Illustrator CC.
#4 Easy Blends
There are a few ways to create gradients in Illustrator (the Gradient panel and Gradient Mesh tools are worth experimenting with and getting your head around) but a great way is to use the Blend tool.
Simply create two shapes with different colour fills (for a gradient effect choose no stroke) and then, with the Blend tool selected, click on the first object and then the second. If you double-click the Blend tool in the Tool Panel before doing this you can change the type of blend it applies (and if you keep your blend objects selected it will apply the changes to that blend).
#5 Presets and the new pencil tool.
If you’re using Illustrator as part of the Creative Cloud then the Pencil Tool now lets you use quick presets to create a smooth, fluid path with fewer points, or a path that more closely matches your drawing intent.
As well as curves, you can now use the Pencil Tool to easily draw straight lines too, which you can constrain to 0, 45 and 90 degree angles if you choose. Adobe’s also added the ability to continue drawing from the end points of an existing path, and you can now close your paths with a curved or straight line. These two videos show how: