Veerle has a great tutorial on how to create a ribbon in Adobe Illustrator. This is one of the most difficult techniques to master for many beginners to Illustrator, but Veerle’s tutorial makes it easy with clear instructions.
In case you haven’t noticed, strokes, drop shadows and other effects don’t count toward the measurement of an object in Adobe Illustrator. If you draw a one-inch by one-inch box and add a 25pt stroke to the box, the measurement palette still shows the object as one-inch by one-inch (regardless if you have strokes set to “Inside” in the stroke palette) – even though you know it’s wider… that is unless you have the “Use Preview Bounds” box checked in the Preferences under the General section. Then any measurements you take will include strokes, drop shadows and other effects.
Did you know that you can specify what items appear in the Control Bar of Adobe Illustrator? Some items you may never use, so you can turn them off by clicking on the fly-out menu in the far right of the Control Bar next to the Go to Bridge icon and selecting which items you want to appear. While I think this is a handy thing for Adobe to include in Illustrator, I would love it if they would allow a little more control over it such as the actual placement of the items in the Control Bar itself. Who knows what Adobe Creative Suite 3 will bring, perhaps more control over the UI of all their apps is in the works. In any case, it’s nice to be able to have the customization option available to you.
You may not know this, but when you use raster-based effects or filters such as drop shadows, etc. in Adobe Illustrator, the default for the output of those effects is a low-res 72 dpi. When using Filters, you must change the raster settings BEFORE you apply the filter. When using Effects, you don’t have to adjust the raster settings until you’re ready to save the file for output. You can access the Document Raster Effects Settings under the Effects menu.
Envelopes are what Adobe Illustrator calls the shapes you use to distort objects. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go to the Effects>Warp menu when you have an object selected. You can create your own Envelopes and use them on virtually any object in Illustrator other than graphs or guides. Here’s how: Select one or more objects on your page. Now go to the Object>Envelope Distort menu and select a method for distortion from the menu. Once applied, you can continue to the edit the original object, and you can edit, expand or delete the Envelope at any time you desire. The only thing you can’t do is edit an Envelope shape and the object in the Envelope at the same time.
One of the most confusing things to do with Illustrator for new users is working with Compound Paths, which are responsible for taking two solid objects and combining them to make one of the objects a “hole” in the other. Let’s say you want to make a donut. You first draw a larger circle, then draw a second smaller circle over the first one which will be the hole. Now, simply select the objects and go to Object>Compound Path>Make. That’s it.
When you’re working in Illustrator and you want a little “rougher/hand-drawn look” to your type, try converting the type to outlines then convert your stroke to an outline as well. First, make sure your type has a stroke applied. Then select your type with the Arrow tool, go to Type>Create Outlines (or Command + Shift + O). Then, go to Object>Path>Outline Stroke. This will essentially make the stroke of the type a different object completely. Now comes the fun part. Use the Direct Select tool (the white arrow tool) to select the stroke outlines and move them however you wish. You can achieve even better effects by grabbing the bezier handles and stretching them. For even more effect, you can go to Filter>Distort>Roughen and use very small amounts in the dialog input boxes to achieve greater “hand drawn” appearance.
Symbols are simply stored objects created or placed in Adobe Illustrator that you can retrieve easily from the Symbol palette. This includes mesh objects, raster images, text, regular and compound paths or groups of objects. (You cannot, however, create a symbol from a linked piece of art or graphs) To create a symbol, select the object you want to make a symbol and either drag the object to the Symbols palette or click the New Symbol button in the Symbol palette. Symbols are especially useful for designers who do their layout in Illustrator, as you can store frequently used Logos and text as a symbol for easy retrieval.