Category Archives: Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator topics

Increase/decrease transparency with this Adobe Illustrator keyboard shortcut

Illustrator transparency shortcut

For some odd reason Adobe removed the slider for the Transparency panel some time ago, and replaced it with a mostly useless drop-down menu of 10% increments. While many users certainly aren’t happy about this, they probably don’t know that you can adjust transparency more precisely than the drop-down menu allows using keyboard shortcuts.

With the object(s) you want to adjust selected, click in the Transparency panel’s amount input box and use the following keyboard shortcuts:

  • Increase/Decrease Transparency by 1% = Up or Down Arrow Keys
  • Increase/Decrease Transparency by 2% = Option + Up or Down Arrow Key
  • Increase/Decrease Transparency by 10% = Shift + Up or Down Arrow Key

Common myths about Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud

I get a lot of emails about Adobe Creative Cloud and whether it’s right for people. A lot of the questions have been answered by Adobe, but they’re hard to find.

I came across The 10 Most Common Myths About Creative Cloud at ProDesignTools that answers many of the most common questions. By far, the most asked concern seems to be about having a constant Internet connection in order to use the Creative Suite applications. This simply isn’t true. In fact, you only have to be connected once per month for the software to ping the Adobe license server in order to verify your subscription.

Other than the way you pay for the Creative Suite Master Collection, there is no difference between Creative Cloud and the standard perpetual license versions we’ve been buying for decades. Well, other than Adobe will send black helicopters to your office to remove the software from your computer if you stop paying for it.

Disclaimer: I don’t know if Adobe owns any black helicopters, but I’m pretty sure I made that part up about coming to your office.

Another question I get is why Adobe has chosen to offer freebies to Creative Cloud subscribers that aren’t available to standard license users. The answer isn’t as simple as you might think. Of course it’s a great way to entice users to subscribe to the Creative Cloud, but the reality is that the accounting methods used by software companies to claim income don’t allow Adobe to “add value features” to standard license users. You can read more about the situation here.

As for my take on Adobe Creative Cloud; I think it’s the future. Adobe wasn’t the first company to offer software on a subscription basis, but it was probably the first (and certainly the largest) in the design industry to do so. Microsoft has since announced Office 365, a subscription-based Office Suite. It won’t be long before all major software is offered as subscription only.

Got an opinion about Creative Cloud? Share it in the comments below.

Fixing the grid alignment bug in Adobe Illustrator

Illustrator alignment bug

Have you come across this little gem of a bug when using Adobe Illustrator? You draw a box and apply a stroke to the inside of the frame, and the stroke appears to “float” off of the frame itself. As you can see in the image above, the actual frame object is the blue line, and my 1-pixel black stroke is way off. The bug has been around for a few years, and I’m not sure why Adobe hasn’t fixed it yet. Fortunately, the solution below fixes the problem.

When creating your document, click the Advanced tab at the bottom of the New Document dialog box. Untick the Align New Objects to Pixel Grid checkbox.

The iMac 27″ for graphic designers: part 2

27" Apple iMac

In part one of The iMac 27″ for graphic designers, I covered the reasons for choosing the late 2012 iMac 27” to replace my 2006 Mac Pro. As a graphic designer who works in Adobe Creative Suite apps all day long, with file sizes pushing the 1GB range, power is important. But as I found out with my MacBook Air, the Mac Pro just isn’t necessary anymore. Not only does the iMac have all the power you need, but it’s a much more elegant hardware solution, and significantly easier on the pocketbook. I also listed some of the pros and cons of the iMac.

Now I’m going to talk a bit about my experience actually using the iMac for the last two months. Continue reading

Easily create vector-based word cloud with this handy service

Word Cloud Generator

Every once in a while I have the need to create a word cloud for a project. The problem with most web services that create them is that the resulting artwork is rendered as a raster image. Not very customizable.

JasonDavies.com has a fantastic Word Cloud Generator that offers the ability to not only customize the appearance of your word cloud, but download it as a SVG file which you can open and further customize in Adobe Illustrator.

You can use keywords found on Twitter, Wikipedia, or enter your own custom keywords to create the word cloud. Customization includes setting angles of words, font, and number of words. To download your word cloud in vector format, right click on the SVG Download link and choose to Save Linked File As (making sure to add the .svg extension if necessary).

Astute Graphics updates two popular Adobe Illustrator plugins

DrawScribeAstute Graphics has update two of their popular Adobe Illustrator plugins to work with CreativeSuite 6.

DrawScribe features two handy tools: InkScribe and Dynamic Sketch.

Use Inkscribe to replace the Pen and its related tools, and it will revolutionise the way you draw precise and calculated shapes. If you’re a fan of drawing more naturally in vector, but you’d like to speed things up, you’ll love the Dynamic Sketch tool. Whether you sketch with a Wacom tablet or a mouse, this tool provides even more power to produce dynamic vector forms from scratch, to modify existing shapes, and to go back at a later date to adjust the level of detail to your work.

VectorScribe is the ultimate vector toolkit for all designers and users of Adobe Illustrator CS3 and above. It allows you to edit and create vector artwork faster, smarter and dynamically through the use of tools such as PathScribe, Dynamic Measure, and Protractor. The Studio version of VectorScribe also includes Dynamic Shapes and Dynamic Corners tools.

Prices vary for the tools (see the individual web pages), and both offer downloadable trial versions to see if they’re right for you.

SubScribe Designer for Adobe Illustrator CS3-CS6 FREE!

SubScribeSubScribe Designer is a creative workflow enhancement tool for all designers working in Adobe Illustrator. It provides simple access to common drawing tasks such as lines to/from curve tangents or perpendiculars and circles and arcs defined by 2 or 3 points.

Another key function is the Orient tool which allows users to rotate or straighten objects intuitively, precisely and easily.

SubScribe Designer tools:

  • Circle by 2 or 3 points
  • Tangent Circle
  • Curvature Circle
  • Connect
  • Straighten
  • Arc by three point
  • Arc start-end-direction
  • Orient
  • Line tangent to two paths
  • Line tangent to path
  • Line tangent from path
  • Line perpendicular to two paths
  • Line perpendicular to path
  • Line perpendicular from path

SubScribe Designer for Adobe Illustrator is completely free. Illustrator CS6 installation requires Adobe Exchange.