11 Adobe Illustrator Hacks Every Design Pro Should Know
If you’re a designer, you know that Adobe Illustrator is a powerful tool. But did you know that there are hidden shortcuts and tricks that can make your design process easier? In this article, we’ll share some of the best Adobe Illustrator hacks every design pro should know. From creating pattern swatches to drawing shapes with a single click, you’ll be glad you took the time to learn these tips and expand your design skills. Let’s dive in!
1. Change the Direction of a Path
If you ever need to draw a line or shape in the opposite direction of what it is by default, you can do so by changing the direction of its path. To do this, select the Pen tool then click a point on the shape or line path. Hold down Command or Ctrl and click off the shape. This will reverse the path of the shape or line.
2. Use a Tiled View to Keep Tabs on Your Design Workflow
One of the best Adobe Illustrator hacks for making the most of this software is to create a tiled view. This feature allows you to view multiple artboards side by side, so you can easily compare and make sure everything lines up correctly. To enable this, just add a new window then go to Arrange > Tile.
This way, you can have both a zoomed in view and a zoomed out view of your work at the same time. Make a change on the zoomed out version and you can see its effects to the zoomed in version — and vice versa. Often, when working on a design, it’s easy to get caught up in the details and lose sight of the big picture. Setting up this arrangement ensures you’ll always know the context of your work.
3. Create Your Own Pattern Swatches
Creating a custom pattern swatch is one of the most useful Adobe Illustrator hacks. With this trick, you can quickly fill an area with a repeating pattern without having to draw and select multiple objects.
To make your own custom pattern swatch, just draw the basic shape, create a new artboard that’s larger than the shape, and then drag the shape into the artboard. Select the object, go to Object > Pattern > Make, and adjust the settings until you get the pattern you want. Then, click Done and your pattern swatch will appear in the Swatches panel.
4. Draw Shapes With a Single Click
This Adobe Illustrator hack is a time-saver. Instead of clicking and dragging to draw a shape, you can use the shape tools to quickly draw perfect circles, squares, or other shapes with just one click.
To use this trick, first select the shape tool you want to use. Then, hold down the Shift key while clicking and dragging on the artboard to draw a perfectly proportioned shape. You can also hold down the Alt key to draw from the center out, or use both keys together for an even more precise drawing.
5. Make Grids in Seconds
Grids are an essential part of almost every design, especially UI design and logo design. If you’re looking for an easy, fast way to make them in Adobe Illustrator, try this hack. Go to Object > Path > Split to Grid and then input the settings you want for your grid (columns, rows, etc).
This is useful for getting a sense of the spacing of your design and how each of its parts work together as a cohesive whole. But if you want the grid to be even more helpful and make it so your designs snap to the grid, all you have to do is select the grid, right click on the artboard and click Make Guides.
This converts the grid you make into Guides, which anyone who’s used Illustrator knows, is incredibly helpful.
6. Limit Design to Set Number of Colors
For some design projects, you may want to limit the number of colors used. This is especially useful for screen printing jobs. Thankfully, this Adobe Illustrator hack makes it easy to do this without having to count colors manually.
To begin, open the design you’re working on then go to Edit Colors > Recolor Artwork. Simply toggle through the colors shown to select those you’d like to keep in your design. You can also insert a number of colors that you want the design to be restricted to.
Once you’ve selected the colors, click OK and your design will be limited to the number of colors you specified.
7. Always Set Up Your Interface for Optimum Workflow
One of the best Adobe Illustrator hacks is to make sure your interface is set up for maximum efficiency. This means creating custom keyboard shortcuts and organizing your workspace with only the windows you want to see at any given time.
To do this, go to Window > Workspace then click each option you’d like to appear as its own module on your workspace screen. You can opt to choose Essentials or Essentials Classic to see a standard set of windows or you can select individual options to create exactly the sort of workspace that functions best for you.
8. Use the Pathfinder for Precision
Pathfinder is a powerful tool that allows you to combine and manipulate paths to create complex shapes with total accuracy. To use Pathfinder, select the objects you want to manipulate then go to Window > Pathfinder.
Here, you’ll find some awesome options such as Merge, Minus Front, and Divide that allow you to combine paths in ways you wouldn’t be able to do without it.
You can also use Pathfinder to break an image down into shapes for more precise vector design.
9. Get Creative With Gradients and Textures
Gradients are one of the most powerful ways to add dimension, color, and texture to your designs. Adobe Illustrator has a variety of gradient and texture tools that allow you to get creative with your designs.
To add gradients, go to the Gradient menu and then select the type of gradient you want to use. From there, simply drag and drop it onto any object you’d like to add a gradient to. To add texture, go to the Texture menu and then select the type of texture you’d like. You can also add a mask to your textures for even more interesting designs.
10. Make Use of the Eyedropper Tool
The Eyedropper tool is a great way to quickly apply color or effects from one object to another. To use it, simply select the object you want to copy color or effects from then click on the target object you’d like to apply the same color or effects to.
The Eyedropper tool is definitely a time-saver and it’s especially useful for quickly creating cohesive designs.
11. Experiment With Effects
Adobe Illustrator has a variety of effects that can help you get creative with your designs. To access these effects, go to Effects > Stylize or Effects > Distort & Transform.
Here, you’ll find options such as Drop Shadow, Gaussian Blur, and Transform. Feel free to experiment with these effects to see what cool designs you can come up with.
Put These Adobe Illustrator Hacks and Tips to Work Now
By mastering these Adobe Illustrator hacks, you’ll be able to create stunning designs with ease. Whether it’s creating grids quickly, limiting design to a set number of colors, or getting creative with gradients and textures, these hacks are sure to save you time and help you create amazing designs.
So, get creative and have fun with Adobe Illustrator!