While it’s hard to remember the days of doing paste up and layout with X-Acto Knives for most people under 40, there are still a few industry professionals who DO remember them, and there are graphic artists who have to do something comparable with mat cutters for framing artwork. As much of an improvement as Adobe Illustrator is over the old ways of doing a lot of artwork, many people barely even touch the tip of the ice berg in the ways this software can speed up their art and design process. There are two broad categories of ways that Illustrator can speed up your art flow and approvals processes: The blazingly obvious ways, and the not so obvious mechanisms.adobe illustrator how to
The obvious mechanisms stem from being able to undo and re-do various elements of your graphic design process. When you can drag and drop a line segment, or use the Bezier curve tools to adjust elements, you save time. The non-obvious extension of this is that many of these exploration tools can be automated, for example, use of the pathfinder and align tools can save a lot of nitpicky work in laying out design elements. Likewise, Adobe Illustrator has excellent ‘snap to grid’ and ‘snap to baseline’ tools, and allows you to create guides that are, for a lack of a better term, ‘magnetic’.
If you drag an element near a magnetic guide, the element is pulled towards the guide – snapping it in place. This allows a lot of the ‘fiddly stuff’ that used to be done by hand to take a fraction of the time. Likewise, by using the Ctrl-M command, after selecting an element, you can specify how many points (or fractions of a point) something moves, including rotations, copying and more, by entering the numbers in – anyone who’s ever had to ‘move that element 7 inches that away…” where the element is a multiple object mess can see the benefit of this, and it’s one of the most commonly used Illustrator time saving tricks.
Another area where Illustrator can save you a great deal of time is through careful and creative use of layers. For example, in complex, technical illustrations, you can make the line work a separate layer from the color work, and have the line work ‘overhead’ – the easy way to do this is to do the artwork as you normally would, then copy and paste to a new layer, using Ctrl-C, shift to the new layer, and hitting Ctrl F. This lets you paste in place – now, on the topmost layer, turn the fill to ‘transparent’, but keep the lines, and on the next layer down, turn the stroke to transparent. By separating each color onto a separate layer and doing this, you can rapidly change colors on, say, a company logo, or put in effects on a specific layer and see how they work.