In this Illustrator tutorial, I’ll cover a bunch of my favorite new and old tips and tricks that will help you work faster in Adobe Illustrator. From hidden tricks of text alignment and sizing to changing color quickly and with precision to a free distortion effect that you can see before you apply it, I try to touch a bunch of different bases in this video and I am certain there are at least a few tricks here that you haven’t seen before. I hope you enjoy the video!
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1. Transparency Background
Use the hotkey Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + D to bring up the transparency grid so you can see if an object is the same color as the background, or truly transparent. This will allow white artwork to appear much more easily compared to the white-on-white effect that you normal would get with a regular Illustrator document.
2. Better Tangent Handles with the Pen Tool
Hold down Alt/Opt when you click and drag out a long tangent handle with the Pen Tool to suck it back in on the lead end to prepare for the next segment of path more effectively. Also, use the spacebar to adjust the placement of the anchor point.
3. Cap Height is Sometimes Better
Cap height for font sizing. Open the Character panel and hit the hamburger menu and choose to turn on “Show Font Height Options” choose “X-height” to change the height to the actual size of the type based upon the size of lower case letters from the baseline. I can set the height of my logo’s text to the exact height of the logo mark height.
4. Align to the Actual Type/Glyphs
You can align objects to the actual text and not just the text box with a newer feature of Illustrator. Open the Align panel and hit the hamburger menu and choose the Align to Glyph Bounds option and choose the point text selection. Now when you align text and a graphic object, the graphic object will align to the edges of the actual text, not the bounds of the text box. Also, we can turn on snap to glyph by going View>Snap to Glyph and this will also objects to “click” to the sides and edges of the actual text without having to outline the type.
5. Easier Type on a Path
After you create some type on a path, there are a number of different ways to customize this text beyond what you may be used to doing. Use the Type>Type on a Path>Type on a Path Options to get in and adjust exactly how the type interacts with the path and where it is positioned and oriented depending on the path.
6. The Touch Type Tool
You can use the Touch Type Tool to move characters. Buried under the Type tool in the toolbar is the Touch Type tool. Use the hotkey Shift + T to quickly access this tool. Select any letter in your text field and move, rotate, adjust the width, or resize to tweak and adjust the finer points of your text. You can do crazy stuff with this tool, but usually, you’d probably use it for simple adjustments where something looks optically “off” and you want to nudge something a tiny bit. NOTE: nudge letters with the keyboard, there is no shift hotkey to keep letters on a straight line.
7. Create a Grid of Artwork Fast!
Hold Alt/Opt to drag out a copy of the artwork. Then hit Cmd/Ctrl + D to duplicate that copy and movement as many times as you like to get a row of artwork. Now select the entire row and Alt/Opt click and drag it down to create a second row and hit Cmd/Ctrl + D to duplicate that copy and movement to get a grid of your artwork for rapid copying and adjustment opportunities for your work.
8. Easy Alignment to a Key Object
Align to key object by selecting both shapes and then clicking the shape you want to align TO a second time to choose that as the key object. Now the align functions will align the other artwork against this key object without moving the key object.
9. Smoothing Four Ways
Smoothing tool for easily smoothed paths (double click to open tool options and make the tool perfect for you.) Use the Pencil tool to draw shapes quickly. Open the Pencil tool options to ensure you get no fill and toggle on the option to use the Alt/Opt key as the Smooth tool (check to make sure Keep Selected is ticked on as well.) Draw shapes and quickly smooth them before moving on. You can use the Smooth tool by selecting the path which you wish to smooth out and then grab the Smooth tool and draw along the path roughly where you want the path to be smoothed and Illustrator will do all the work! Additionally, you can select a path and go Object>Path>Simplify and you will be able to do a certain level of smoothing and reduction of anchor points on your artwork. NOTE: Also, the Brush tool has the smoothing tool hidden in it. Use the Brush tool and hold Alt/Opt while painting to smooth paths quickly.
10. Groups of Global Color
Select the artwork and hit the hamburger menu in the Swatches panel. Choose to create a new color group. Tick on the Global color option to ensure all the swatches are global colors. Now we can double-click any swatch in the swatches panel and adjust the color and watch it change across all of our artwork. This includes a color that is used on strokes, fills, gradients, blend modes and opacity, patterns using the color, and even complex shapes that have the color buried within them.
11. Puppet Warp
Puppet Warp to push a bunch of paths around at once in very little time. I generally pin down areas that I know I don’t want moving around and then once I have built a small skeleton, I start adjusting artwork on a global level to tweak, bend, push, and pull it however I want.
12. Distort and Transform You Can See
Use the hotkey “E” to bring up the Free Transform tool. This tool gives you the ability to quickly scale, skew, and distort your artwork in a way that you can see immediately. It is a path-altering tool, so you’ll probably want to create a copy of your artwork before using it, but it can be an absolute gem of a tool when you need just that little bit of transforming on a complex group of shapes and artwork. TIP: You can create a grid and place it behind your artwork and group it in with your artwork to help transform the artwork onto a surface or nail the perspective more accurately if you’re working with a scene that includes perspective.