As I’ve been working on my “vector graphics basics” article, I’ve been thinking about more functions in Illustrator that make my life easier. Here are a few more, once again, in no particular order…

Outlining Text: Ever wanted to tweak some of the curves and lines in text? Make a copy of the text (just in case you decide you want to edit it later), select the original, and hit Ctrl-Shift-O (PC) or Command-Shift-O (Mac). (You can also go to Type > Create Outlines.) This converts the text to paths so that you can actually manipulate them.

Pathfinder: I really, really like the different pathfinder options (Window > Show Pathfinder). You can merge objects together into one, or take two objects, overlap them, and “divide” them so that the overlapping part is its own object, as well.

Locking or hiding objects: This is useful when you have a complicated document with lots of objects. Select the object(s) you want to temporarily “lock” (you can see it but can’t select it) and hit Ctrl-2 (PC) or Command-2 (Mac). To completely hide objects, hit Ctrl-3 (PC) or Command-3 (Mac). On the other hand, let’s say your document is complicated enough where you’d end up spending just as much time selecting all the objects and locking/hiding them as you would just trying to work around it. For a greater focused effort, just select the objects you want to work with and hit Shift-Ctrl-Alt-2 or 3 (PC) or Shift-Command-Option-2 or 3 (Mac). This locks or hides all other objects that weren’t selected. Finally, to unlock or show all the objects, hit Ctrl-Alt-2 or 3 (PC) or Command-Option-2 or 3 (Mac).

Whew! I hope that wasn’t too confusing.

Corrie Haffly
Corrie is the lead designer and developer for PixelMill and their in-house brand, jgtemplates. This would-be triathlete has a mathematics degree but wishes she had double-majored in computer science and art instead. Maybe next time...

  • http://www.bluenimbus.com 00.ZoMbiE

    Great tips! I hope to see more of this since I’m starting out with Illustrator and am really enjoying using this tool!

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