Keyboard shortcuts save so much time and repetitive action. Rather than wasting clicks adjusting the kerning/tracking in the Type panel in Adobe Illustrator, try using the keyboard shortcuts: Option + Left or Right Arrow Keys = Increase or decrease kerning/tracking Command + Option + Q = Resets both kerning and tracking to zero
Most-everyone knows you can hide all the panels in Adobe Creative Suite apps like Illustrator simply by hitting the Tab key. But this leaves you hitting the Tab key over and over if you want to select different tools and don’t know the keyboard shortcuts Instead, try hitting Shift + Tab to hide all panels EXCEPT the tools panel. This will leave you with a mostly clean artboard to fill the screen with, yet still leave quick and easy access to the Tools you use most!
If you build extremely complex files in Adobe Illustrator, you’re most likely smart enough to build your files carefully using the layers feature. Building your file using layers not only helps you stay organized, but it makes it so much easier to edit your files later. It’s not out of the ordinary for me to have 5 to 10 different layers in an Illustrator file, so this tip comes in very handy. To select all the objects on any layer, simply Option + Click on the layer name (not the layer icon) in the Layers panel.
Adobe Illustrator CS3 offers users a convenient way to edit grouped objects called Isolation Mode. In previous versions, in order to work on an object that was grouped with other objects, you would have to switch to the Direct Selection tool (white arrow), and then contend with trying to see just the path of the object you want to work on mixed among all the other paths. Isolation Mode allows you to double click an object you wish to work on which is grouped with other objects, and edit it as if it were no longer grouped. The advantage is that Illustrator doesn’t actually ungroup the objects, it just isolates them for you. It also offers the added advantage of fading out the other objects in the document to make it easier on the eyes. To exit Isolation Mode, simply right click (Control click) on the page and select Exit Isolated Group.
If your preferences are set to show the ruler units in Inches in Adobe Illustrator and you happen to be working on a Web graphic, you can quickly change them to pixels (or several other measurement units) by right-clicking (Control + Click for one-button mouse users) on the ruler and selecting Pixels from the drop-down menu. I can see the use for Points, but does anyone actually use Picas anymore?
If you’re looking for something a little different for a background in Adobe Illustrator, try holding down the Tilde (~) key while dragging out a shape using one of Illustrator’s shape drawing tools such as line, circle, square, etc. Holding the Tilde key forces Illustrator to repeat the shapes in rapid fashion as you drag your mouse around the artboard. For fun, I set all the shapes to the same color, then went back and randomly chose a few dozen shapes and made them a different color, then set all shapes to Multiply in the Transparency panel. Try it and you may find yourself busy for an hour or so. Thanks to BittBox for the tip.
For longtime users of Adobe Illustrator, you may not have even noticed that back in Illustrator CS2, Adobe finally added a simple way of underlining text – rather than drawing a vector line with the pen tool and grouping it with your text. CS2 and CS3 users can use text underline and strikethrough by opening your Character Panel, click on the Options flyout menu and choose Show Options. Two new buttons should appear near the bottom of the Character Panel. Much easier for us old-timers!
First let me start out by saying that Global process colors in Adobe Illustrator are mostly useful only if you’re doing a complex illustration or layout that uses a lot of the same color or tints of the same color. Global process colors are easily identified in Illustrator’s swatches palette by their empty white triangle in the lower right corner of the swatch. Spot colors use the same triangle, but put a small dot inside it, and process colors have no triangle at all. Global process colors allow you to create a single color swatch that you can update and have it apply, of course, globally. For instance, if you apply the same global color to many objects in your Illustrator document, then you decide you want to change the color, it only takes a click or two to update all the objects. You simply alter the global color to your liking, and everything on the page updates. You can create a Global process color by clicking the Global check box in the New Swatch dialog or the Swatch Options dialog box. Global colors are disabled by default.
When you’re working with spot colors like Pantones in Adobe Illustrator, overprint settings can dramatically affect the output results. For this reason, it’s best to periodically go to your Illustrator menubar and select View>Output Preview>Overprint Preview and view your document for undesired overprint settings. This will give you a more accurate idea of what your file will look like when printed.
Chris over at Blog.SpoonGraphics has posted a great little tutorial on how to create a rotatable globe in Illustrator using the 3D tools Adobe built-in to Illustrator. The tutorial yields great results. But let’s face it, how often do you need to create a globe? OK, you’re right, not often. But take what you learn and apply it to other objects that fit within your design ideas.