Keyboard shortcuts form the natural reflexes of pro designers. Join the elite by learning these key shortcuts found in both our free and commercial plug-ins for Adobe Illustrator, as well as for all Illustrator users!
Astute Graphics plug-in shortcuts
Option + Double Click= Straighten Raster Image
This is my favourite Astute Graphics shortcut because it’s so simple and it’s something that you just can’t do native in Adobe Illustrator.
If you have a pixel based image that needs to be straightened, just Opt/Alt and double-click and you’re set! SubScribe will analyse the pixels and assure that they are nice and straight for you.
Shift + Click & Drag = Gesture Trim
Awesome way to get clean corners by flicking away the extra bits.
When you’re drawing with DynamicSketch and have overlapping open paths, you can shift-click-and-drag to not only remove the extraneous portion but also join these two paths.
VectorScribe: Dynamic Shapes Tool
1 Square, 2 Circle, 3 Rectangle, 4 Ellipse, 5 Polygon, 6 Star, 7 Doughnut
I love having 7 tools in 1 location!
When you have DynamicShapes activated, just click-and-drag and while you have the mouse click pressed, you can cycle through the different shape types. Once you have the right shape, you’re good to go.
While drawing, this will end the process.
Sometimes you just want the rubber band to let go and this is the quickest way to do that.
Option/Alt Temporarily switch between Radial Gradient and Linear Gradient
If you’re using Radial Gradient mode, just hold down the Option/Alt key to temporarily switch to Linear Gradient mode. The opposite is true too.
Right or Left Brackets to increase or decrease number of axes
The first time you activate MirrorMe, you might be surprised when you see the your cursor being chased by a bunch of axes.
Just use “[“ to reduce the number of axes…
VectorScribe: PathScribe Tool
“]” Smart Remove
I’ll admit, this one was hard for me to get used to but once you get it… game changer.
When using PathScribe, you can Smart Remove your selected anchor points. Again, very exciting for me because we’re leveraging the power of the Smart Remove technology that can’t be found native in Ai and no need to run back to the panel to access.
VectorScribe: Extend Path Tool
“E” Cycle through extension modes
Great time saver for people experimenting with flourishes and other decorative elements.
When you click-and-drag to extend your path, you’re given a preview of your new path. Before you release your mouse, hit the “E” key to cycle to the next extension mode. Here are the 4 modes available: Single Bezier, Constant Radius, Straight and Spiral.
VectorScribe: Smart Remove Brush Tool
Option/Alt switch between Ignore Tolerance and Use Tolerance
In my workflow, I set my Smart Remove Brush to use a tolerance for some quick clean-up action.
If I hold down Option/Alt while brushing away points, I will then “Ignore Tolerance” and I’ll see an annotation to prove it. If my tolerance is off to begin with, holding down Option/Alt will turn it on.
VectorScribe: Smart Remove Brush Tool
Up/Down Arrow Increases/Decreases the tolerance value
I recently learnt of this one! I always try to bring more keyboard shortcuts into my workflow.
“Tab” Switch between straight and curved segments
This one I learned out of necessity… Plus I like that it’s a big button!
When you’re drawing an open path, you can easily switch between straight and curved segments.
Adobe Illustrator (native)
CMD + S = Save
I wanted to start off with the essential keyboard shortcuts that every creative professional should know.
No need to dig in the File Menu, just CMD+S to save your document. Remember to save often!
CMD + Z = Undo
“Oops I made a mistake.” Awesome!
In Adobe Illustrator you can “Undo” all the way back to the beginning of your current session. So if you make a mistake, just hit “CMD+Z” until you get to a familiar place and continue creating.
CMD + Shift + Option + P = Package Document
This is a vital keyboard shortcut for students, archiving and designers that work in teams. I find that a lot of Ai users are unfamiliar with this tip so this will be our little secret.
Packaging your document will bring in all linked files, fonts and other assets that make up your project. That way the next person to view the file will see it as intended.
CMD + Shift + O = Create Outlines
In some cases packaging your document can be over-kill but don’t forget to outline your text if used.
Ever deal with a missing font problem? Select your text then “Create Outlines” to expand it from a “live” state and you end up with vectors. This will ensure that your text can not be modified and will be seen as intended.
CMD + Shift + C = Align Center
This is one of the first things I do when I’m laying out text in Adobe Illustrator.
Select your text and use this shortcut to make it centre justified. Once you have this one remembered, the other text justifications are easy to guess and incorporate.
CMD + Shift + < or > = Text Decrease or Increase Size
I’m definitely a “text” guy.
Once you have your text typed out, you can decrease the size with “<” or increase the size with “>”
Shift + O = Artboard Tool
I bring this one up because I use it often and I’ve seen users create a new document just to change the size of their artboard.
Instead of doing all that, just hold down the Shift key and press “O”. You’ll see your document change appearance a bit and you’ll have access to a transformation box for your artboard. I find the latest version very intuitive.
CMD + Shift + H = Hide/Show Artboard
This is great if you just want a large area of white to work with.
Keep in mind that just because you see it on screen, doesn’t mean it will print. Before exporting you will need to bring back your artboards to make sure the artwork is in the correct area.
CMD + Shift + A = Deselect All
There are times when you have some much artwork on your screen that you can not simply click on your artboard to deselect.
This has gotten me out of some tight situations.
Return/Enter = Tool Options
Hidden gem for many users!
When you have a tool activated, such as Blob Brush, Pencil Tool, Paint Brush, Eraser Tool etc, just hit Return/Enter on your keyboard and the options for that tool will appear. Make adjustments needed for your particular workflow.