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Seven Helpful Techniques That Every Adobe Illustrator Artist Should Know

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Read Time: 4 min
This post is part of a series called Guides to Illustrator Tools.
5 Ways to Customize Adobe Illustrator
A Comprehensive Guide to the Pathfinder Panel

Let's look at seven useful Illustrator techniques to accomplish easily. These may seem tedious to resolve issues for the beginning Illustrator user. While many of these techniques are rudimentary, even advanced artists may learn a tip or two they didn't know.

1: How To Make All Strokes and Effects Scale Proportionately

Ever drew an object and decided you needed to change the size; but as soon as you do that you notice that the stroke or pattern in your object changes size when you wanted it to remain the same, or vice-versa? The solution is simple. You need to change your Scale Strokes & Effects Options. To access this option go to the top of the screen and select Illustrator > Preferences > General. Simply check or uncheck the box depending on what effect you are trying to achieve.

2: How To Make Guidelines On An Angle

If you've ever wanted to draw a guideline on an angle, but couldn't figure it out, here's a quick technique. Grab the Pen Tool, and draw the angle in which you'd like your guideline to be at. Then go to the top of the screen and select View > Guides > Make Guides. The object will instantly turn into a guideline. This will work on irregular shapes and objects too!

3: Reset The Box Around An Object That's Been Rotated Back To Normal

When you rotate an object the bounding box around it rotates with it, as seen in the top graphic. What happens when you want to vertically or horizontally stretch the box (to make a diamond for example)? The box enlarges, shrinks, or stretches disproportionately.

This is where resetting the bounding box comes into play. To reset an objects bounding box go to the top and select Object > Transform > Reset Bounding Box. The graphic on the bottom shows the same object with its bounding box reset. The bottom graphic can be easily stretched and made into a perfectly symmetrical diamond.

4: Stretch a Box With Rounded Corners Without Distorting the Box or Selecting Individual Points

We've all been there, you draw a box with rounded corners. The you decide to stretch it out a little, only to discover that the rounded corners stretch too. The remedy is simple. First, draw a box with square corners and add rounded corners to it by going to the top and selecting Effects > Stylize > Rounded Corners, as seen in the first graphic.

The second graphic was drawn using the Rounded Rectangle Tool. It's OK to use the Rounded Rectangle Tool if you know you're not going to need to stretch the shape. The other benefit of using the stylize filter is that you can remove the rounded corners altogether if you decide you no longer want them.

5: One Document, Multiple Views (Up-Close and Far-Away), and Work In Either View

This handy little technique will save you time from zooming-in and out all the time. You can work on a single document while having multiple views of it. In the example below, I show a close-up and far-away view.

If I make changes on one view, it's reflected in the other view too! To have multiple views of one document, go to the top and select Window > New Window. In your new window you can zoom-in to work on a detailed area while still seeing how it effects the overall design. You can safely close either document window when you're done. For further information on this technique, see the article Moving Through Infinite Vision over at AiBURN.

6: Change Your Document's Background From White To Your Own Custom Color

Ever wanted to change the boring white background of your document to another color? This technique eliminates the hassle of drawing a box, putting it on its own layer and locking the layer. All you have to do is go to the top and select File > Document Setup. Select Transparency from the drop down menu, check Simulate Colored Paper, click on the white square to change the color and press OK. Presto! Your background is now the color of your choice.

Keep in mind that this simulates colored paper. So, the darker the color you choose, the darker your artwork will appear. For example, if you choose black as a paper color, your artwork will disappear, because you wouldn't be able to see artwork that was printed on black paper.

7: Quickly Hide All Unnecessary Palettes So You Can See What You're Doing

This last technique makes it easy to temporarily get rid of all the palettes you may have surrounding your artwork. Simply press Tab to hide all palettes or press Shift+Tab to hide all the palettes except the Tools Palette. The image below shows all other palettes besides the Tools Palette have been hidden.


There you have it. Seven beginner techniques that every Adobe Illustrator artist should know. Now work on putting these techniques into practice. If you have any Adobe Illustrator tips you'd like to share, leave a comment, as we'd love to hear them.

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