20+ Good Habits in Illustrator that Everyone Should Know
There are many functions and techniques that speed up the workflow in Adobe Illustrator. In today's article we have put together the most efficient ones. Hopefully here you will find tricks that will be useful and help make your work easier.
Create Custom Workspaces
Adobe Illustrator has many panels and tools. The amount can be further increased if you use plug-ins in your work. A workspace is a complex of open panels, windows, bars and their arrangement. If you do not use order here, then you will spend a lot of time looking for the desired element of control. There are 9 types of workspaces, designed to solve common problems. You can select one of them in the Workspace switcher menu.
An experienced user needs his own combination of elements of workspace. Think about how to conveniently group up panels that you use frequently and save your own workspace by selecting New Workspace in the switcher menu.
Customize the Tool Panel
It is unlikely that you use all 87 native tools from the Tools panel every day. Therefore you can create a custom tools panel (Window > Tools > New Tools Panel). Drag a tool from an existing tools panel into a new tools panel.
Now the standard Tools panel can be closed. Note that the current workspace will remember this configuration of the Tools panel.
Create keyboard shortcuts for your most used tools, menu commands and panel buttons
Keyboard shortcuts significantly speed up our actions in Illustrator. But some tools and menu commands do not have keyboard shortcuts by default. If a tool or command is frequently used, you can assign a keyboard shortcut to them (Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts).
You can define your own sets of shortcuts, change individual shortcuts within a set, and switch between sets of shortcuts. For example, you can create separate sets for different workspaces.
In addition there is one trick that allows you to assign keyboard shortcuts to commands from panels, for example Pathfinder or Align. You need to select the objects that we will work on, create New Action in the Actions panel, assign a Function Key in the New Action dialog box, for example F2 + Shift.
Now press the Record button and perform the required action, for example, click 'Minus Front' in the Pathfinder panel, then click the Stop button.
Now F2 + Shift will execute the command you recorded
Create actions for repetitive tasks
Quite complex actions of the same type that are time-consuming, can become automated using the Actions panel. For example, you can automate the process of creating isometric objects. For more information, see 'Create an Isometric Icon Action'.
Now scripts in the Actions panel are preserved when you relaunch Illustrator CC (version 22.0). Many designers have been waiting for this for many years, so I think it necessary to mention about this here.
Use scripts and plug-ins
Adobe Illustrator has plenty of tools and features, but advanced users will always need more. Therefore developers create scripts and plug-ins to help solve various problems and accelerate time-consuming processes. You can learn about the most popular scripts on the market in the article '30+ Must-Have Free Illustrator Scripts'. Plug-ins are usually more complex programs than scripts and can be represented as tools and functions. Plug-ins are designed for actions that cannot be performed with native tools. For example, the Smart Remove Brush Tool of the VectorScribe plug-in allows you to delete extra points using the brush. This will help to simplify your artwork and improve the editability of the paths.
Remove excess points with VectorFirstAid
Designers who use auto-tracing of bitmap images while creating often end up with very large size of AI file. The reason for this is the presence of too many extra points. In addition, this problem can lead to a significant slowdown in the workflow. You can delete extra points on all the paths at the same time with the help of VectorFirstAid by clicking on the 'Super Smart Remove Points' button in its panel.
In this case the paths will retain their shapes within the specified limit.
Schedule VectorFirstAid to clean up your file at regular intervals
The VectorFirstAid plug-in is designed to clean up files and improve the organization and editability of vector objects in Adobe Illustrator. You can check up a document manually ('Check Document' panel button) or automatically ('Schedule …' panel button).
You can set the time interval or the number of operations after which the automatic check begins.
Next, select one of the profiles from the drop-down menu according to the type of the current document.
You also have the option to create a custom profile from the available validation operations.
Create an understandable and convenient object structure
Group up or place in one layer, all objects that form one element. For example, the head of the character is in the same group as the eyes and mouth. Rename the layers according to the parts of the artwork in them – for example, text, landscape, sky. This structure will allow you to easily edit without wasting time on searching and selecting of the ungrouped objects of one element. This also means you can simply take care of your customer, who may need to change something.
Use template documents
You probably have some settings that are often used in daily work. It may be colors, symbols, sets of brushes, graphic styles and path settings. There is no need to add all these resources to each document; you can simply create a template with all the necessary settings and graphics. You can read more about this in the article 'How to Create a Template Document with Default Path Settings'. You can also use the ready-made free templates from Adobe Stock, which are available in the New Document dialog box.
Restore Ai Prefs file
Numerous program settings are stored in the Adobe Illustrator Prefs file, including general display options, file-saving options, performance options, type options, and options for plug-ins and scratch disks. If you suspect damage to preferences, restore preferences to their default settings. To restore preferences press and hold Opt/Alt + Cmd/Ctrl + Shift as you start Illustrator. The new preferences files are created the next time you start Illustrator.
Create backups with Autosaviour
The Autosaviour plug-in is designed to automatically save your artwork and create backups in Adobe Illustrator at regular time intervals. It helps to avoid the loss of entire or part of the work as a result of the unexpected closing of the application.
Using symbols for duplicated items can significantly reduce the file size. In addition, editing a symbol will instantly change all of its copies, which greatly accelerates the workflow.
Create several color and composition variants of artwork
You can duplicate (Cmd/Ctrl + C, Cmd/Ctrl + F) artwork or individual elements directly in the current document. A copy is needed to create an alternative color or for another combination of elements while looking for the best composition. Disabling and enabling the visibility of a copy in the Layers panel makes it possible to quickly compare the two options. To create color variants it is very convenient to use the features of Phantasm, such as Levels, Hue/ Saturation, Curves and so on.
Use global colors
A global color is automatically updated throughout your artwork when you edit it. All spot colors are global; however process colors can be either global or local. You can identify the global color swatches by the triangle in the lower corner (when the panel is in the thumbnail view). A new swatch is now Global swatch by default in Adobe Illustrator CC2018.
This works not only with solid fills, but with colors in gradients and gradient meshes.
Check and set the resolution of your images with Rasterino
With Rasterino you can precisely determine the resolution of the selected linked and Embedded images with up to two decimal places, compared to native feature which sets the resolution rounding it to a whole number.
Edit embedded images with Rasterino
To edit a bitmap image, click the 'Edit' button in the Rasterino panel. This will open the image in Photoshop (or your currently set photo editing software set to open .PSD Photoshop files automatically). Now you can make your edit, making sure to save the file once you have finished. Back in Illustrator, click the 'Update' button in the Rasterino panel to replace the image with your adjusted file.
Use non-destructive shape building
When you use the Pathfinder Panel or Shape Builder Tool to create new shapes, the original shapes are destroyed. In the event of a positioning mistake, you will need to use the Undo command to change the position of objects. This is not always convenient. There are several ways of non-destructive shape building:
- Creating a Compound Shape (Opt / Alt click on Pathfinder button);
- Using Opacity and Clipping mask;
- Using Dynamic Shapes such as Donut, Cloud, Crescent and so on. These shapes need to be built-in if you do not use VectorScribe.
Calculate values in a panel or dialog box
You can type a simple mathematical expression in a text box that accepts numerical values using a single mathematical operator, such as + (plus), – (minus), x (multiplication), / (division), or% (percent).
Use Select menu
You can quickly select many objects with similar properties using commands from the Select menu. So Select > Same > Appearance Attribute allows you to select the same attribute that is highlighted in the Appearance panel. For example, we can select all objects with Transform effect in active document. If you use the Astute Graphics plug-ins, then it will be useful for you to know that the following commands: Dynamic Shapes, Texture , Stipplism , Phantasm and InkQuest effects exist in the Select menu.
Use 'Save Selection' and 'New View' commands
You can select a group of objects and save this selection Save > Save Selection …, if you have to work with these objects in the future. Then you can reload a saved selection by choosing the selection from the bottom of the Select menu.
Set up the view as you want, and then choose View > New View …, enter a name for the new view, and click OK. To switch between views select a view from the bottom of the View menu.
Both these functions greatly accelerate the process when working on complex artwork.
Use isolation mode
You can use the isolation mode for a group and even for a single object. This will prevent you from accidentally moving or selecting nearby objects. And in this case there is no need to lock the neighboring objects in the Layers panel.
Use Drawn Behind and Drawn Inside modes
If you need to draw an object that is below other objects, turn on the Drawn Behind in the Tools panel. In this case, you will not have to move a new object with the help of shortcuts or in the Layers panel.
Select an object that will later act as a clipping path, select Draw Inside mode in the Tools panel and draw inside. These actions will lead to the automatic creation of the clipping mask.
Quick and clear control of vital Illustrator preferences with free DirectPrefs
You can get quick access to frequently used preferences in the DirectPrefs panel. Here you will find constrain angle, keyboard increment and options to control the guides and grid.
Update Illustrator and plug-ins regularly
Each release of Adobe Illustrator pleases us with new features. Something that we had only dreamed of before becomes reality. Current Illustrator CC2018 received Puppet Warp. This tool lets you twist and distort parts of your artwork, such that the transformations appear natural. You can add, move, and rotate pins to seamlessly transform your artwork into different variations. I think this is very useful for designers who create characters.
Another useful innovation is the Properties panel, which lets you view settings and controls in the context of your current task or workflow. This new panel has been designed with ease of use in mind, ensuring that you have access to the right controls when you need them.
In addition, regular updates, even between releases, allow you to get a better-quality application, as developers are working on fixing bugs and adding new convenient features. All of the above applies to the update of plug-ins that you use in your work.Learn more about VectorFirstAid Learn more about VectorScribe Learn more about Phantasm Learn more about Rasterino Learn more about Autosaviour Pro