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Illustrator Tips, Finally

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Okay, I had to take some time out and do it, sorry for the long delay.

-This is more of a guide/good strategies to do your linework in illustrator nicely so you can use it for presentations or for photoshop renderings.

-I couldn't really come up with a nice way of presenting them like the photoshop tutorial so I've made lists of rules or suggestions that I live by that make me work fast and easy.

-I have some screenshots of what I'm talking about with some stuff, but the biggest thing is to just practice. Learning the key commands and shortcuts I point out will make you really fast.

-The main thing is just to know how to make good quality lines, seeing what those look like so you don't end up with funky looking "wavy" drawings, the kind you get from using too many points or putting them in the wrong places.


Maybe this one will work better as a back and forth thing, I might be able to make this easier if you post a question pertaining to a strategy or pen tool use and I can point out where things might be going wonky. I'll post what I have and if you have a question as to why I said something or the reasoning behind it, then I can respond.


Once again sorry for the long delay and for the long lists that have to be read. I recommend that you do the key commands and shortcuts as you read them and make sure you only do them that way so it'll "stick" and you'll be able to do them without thinking. After a week you should have the main ones memorized pretty easily since you'll use them so much during one drawing. Good luck.


Key commands:

command-2: lock, shift-2:unlock

command-3: hide, shift-3: show all

command-7: mask, shift-7: release mask

command-shift-o: create outlines (text)

command-g: group, shift-g: ungroup

command-f: paste in front

command-u: construction guides

command-]: Move up one level, shift-]: move to the top

command-[: move down one level, shift-[: move all the way to bottom

d: default colors: black 1pt stroke, white fill

x: shifts focus between stroke and fill for when you're selecting swatches

shift-x: switches fill and stroke colors

command-k: preferences

spacebar: hand to pan around

command-spacebar: zoom in

option-command-spacebar: zoom out

command-zero: fit in window

command-h: hide edges

tab: hides or shows palettes

command-shift-,: moves text down 2 pts, shift-.: moves it up 2 points,

either one with option pressed changes by 10 pts

command-option-drag: drags a copy of something, add shift to constrain the movement straight

command-d: repeats the last transformation you just did, move, copy/drag, rotate, or scale.




a: open arrow selection tool

p: pen tool

m: rectangle tool (think marquee like in old photoshop), option draws it from center

L: ellipse tool (think loop), option draws it from center

t: text tool

i: eyedropper tool, also works on text too.



Other stuff:

o-return: reflect (mirror), option-return: makes a copy

r-return: rotate, option-return: makes a cop



1- Keep your thumb parked on the command key, that's it's new home!

Why: most tools and commands you use use that key and that position

gives you easy access to those commands along with panning and

zooming when you slide over to the space bar. Also nothing happens just

pressing the command button, so it's a safe place to locate your hand for reference:


2- No need to ever go to the selection tool, you can always get back to it from

any other tool by pressing the command button (another good reason to park your thumb there)


3- Selecting with the open arrow lets you choose a part of something. What if you want to select the

whole thing, do you go to the closed arrow? Better not!, just hold down option and you'll get

the open arrow with a plus beside it. That will let you select the whole object.


4- Use the combination of grouping and locking to replace "layers" (the bad word in illustrator).


5- Work with a white fill. You can dramatically decrease your drawing time making whole shapes and

using their position and overlapping to get the desired looks.


My general procedure:

1- command-k to get to prefs. Use "object selection by path only" and make sure "scale

stroke and effects" is OFF.

2- Right after opening, press "a" to get to open arrow tool

3- Set my line stroke, generally .5 as a standard, .25 for details, .75 or 1 for darker line needs.

Strokes lower than .25 can get lost depending on your print settings. If just for screen

viewing, using a variety of strokes can give GOOD effects.

4- Bring in any scans or underlays if you're using them

5- Press "p" to get to the pen tool and prepare to burn rubber!

















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I also tend to draw shapes from the back to the front. That way you can put things on top the way they would be in real life. It'll make your work easier and if you need to have a "clear" version, it's easy to just put it into photoshop and delete the white instead of drawing "clear".


Don't waste time using the layers palette. You can do all of it with the group/ungroup, lock/unlock, hide/unhide, and bring forward/backward key commands.


I'll post some examples of the layer eliminator commands in progress tomorrow.

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Good one skinny! Always great to hear tips on how to improve the workflow.



This topic should probably get pinned.. most of all those commands are the same in photoshop.


Does anyone know a command to zoom to 100% in IL/PS?

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