Adobe Illustrator Tips & Shortcuts

In a commercial printing enviornment, it is imperative to be productive and to work quickly getting jobs from entry to completion. One way that can help speed up production in Electronic Prepress is knowing the applications you work with. Using keyboard shortcuts for repetitive actions saves time from having to search the multitudes of panels within the application to find the right tool.

Click here to download a handy Illustrator Keyboard Shortcut guide.

Here are a few common Illustrator keyboard shortcuts for you to learn:

Undo Ctrl + Z (Command + Z) Undo multiple actions - the amount of undos can be set in the preferences

Redo Shift + Command + Z (Shift + Ctrl + Z) Redo actions

Cut Command + X (Ctrl + X)

Copy Command + C (Ctrl + C)

Paste Command + V (Ctrl + V)

Paste in front Command + F (Ctrl + F) Paste in front of the copied graphic

Paste in back Command + B (Ctrl + B) Paste behind the copied graphic

Check spelling Command + I (Ctrl + I)

Open the Preferences dialog box Command + K (Ctrl + K)

Open the Save For Web dialog box Option + Shift + Command + S (Alt + Shift + Ctrl + S)

Package the document Option + Shift + Command + P (Alt + Shift + Ctrl + P)

Add Anchor Point tool + (plus) + (plus)

Delete Anchor Point tool - (minus) - (minus)

Switch to Anchor Point tool Shift + C Shift + C

Toggle between screen modesF F

Magnify 100% Double-click Zoom tool or press Command + 1 (Double-click Zoom tool or press Ctrl + 1)

Switch to Hand tool (when not in text-edit mode) Spacebar (Spacebar)

Hide bounding box Shift + Control + B (Shift + Ctrl + B)

View all artboards in window Command + Option + 0 (zero) (Ctrl + Alt + 0 (zero))

Zoom in Command + = (Ctrl + =)

Zoom out Command + - (Ctrl + -)

Hide guides Command + ; (Ctrl + ;)

Group the selected artwork Command + G (Ctrl + G)

Ungroup the selected artwork Shift + Command + G (Shift + Ctrl + G)

Lock a selection Command + 2 (Ctrl + 2)

Unlock a selection Option + Command + 2 (Alt + Ctrl + 2)

Make a clipping mask Command + 7 (Ctrl + 7)

Release a clipping mask Option + Command + 7 (Alt + Ctrl + 7)

These are the default keyboard shortcuts for Illustrator, but you can always change the key by going to Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts and choosing your own key. If you want to revert back to the default settings, choose the Illustrator Defaults in the set drop down menu.

Adobe Illustrator Tips
Expanding Strokes When creating a shape or object that has a stroke on it, it’s best to expand the appearance of the shape and convert the stroke to a shape. This is helpful if you want to keep a proportional width of the stroke as you enlarge or reduce in Illustrator. If your file is sent to a service company and they have scale strokes and effects unselected in their preferences, then the stroke on your object will not scale proportionally.

Eyedropper Use the eyedropper when you want to duplicate the look and style of shapes and graphics. Select the item you want to modify, then choose the eyedropper and click on a previously made shape. This will copy the style of the previously made item. You can also do the same with text.

Graphics Styles If you have an object that you are using the eyedropper to copy the style of and applying to other objects over and over, create a graphic style and save some time. Open the Graphic Styles panel by going to Window > Graphic Styles. Once open, select the object you want to copy the style of and drag it into the Graphic Styles window. To apply the style, select an unstyled object and click the desired style in the Graphic Styles window.

Copy and Paste Working with Illustrator and Photoshop is easy with the newest versions of the applications. Instead of saving your art from Illustrator then opening in Photoshop, just copy your art to the clipboard and paste into Photoshop. When doing this, you have a few options: Paste as smart object (this is the best option as it allows you to reduce and enlarge without losing the clarity of the object); Pixels (this will place your object as a rasterized layer and is not good for scaling); Paths (will paste as an editable path in the paths layer); and Shape Layer.

Select Same Many times we will receive a logo or support file that should be in spot color but the client has missed a few vectors or the file is in RGB color mode. Using Illustrator, it is very easy to convert the vectors into spot colors even if there are many shapes with different colors. If the object is grouped, use the Direct Selection Tool (A) and select a color to change. Once selected, choose Object > Same > Fill color (or stroke). This will select every instance where the selected color is applied. Now you can assign a spot PMS color. Repeat as necessary.

When working in Illustrator for a project that will be sent to a commercial printer, always work in CMYK mode. Be sure to include your fonts when you package the file unless you have converted them to paths. Understand the difference between saving your files as ai or eps files. Ai files will clip to the artboard size and eps files will clip to the object or objects in the file (this includes objects outside of the artboard settings.)

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