My top-three most-frequently used Illustrator tips, in no particular order:

– shift key: Shift “constrains” the movement along a straight vertical, horizontal, or 45-degree angle. I often use this when trying to create a straight line (click once to make the start point, hold shift, and click again for the end point).

– alt-drag (pc) or option-drag (mac) with arrow (selection) tool: Holding the alt/option key and dragging on an object, point, etc., will copy what you have selected. (Combine this with shift-alt-drag or shift-option-drag, and you can constrain the copied object. Useful for making duplicates of something all in a straight line.)

– keyboard shortcuts for tools: Extremely useful! Get to know the keyboard shortcuts that allow you to switch tools by hovering over the tool in the tool palette until the shortcut “tooltip” pops up. For example, hitting “v” will select the arrow (selection) tool, while hitting “p” switches to the pen tool. Holding shift while hitting “p” will cycle through the pen tools. This is an easy way to switch tools without moving your mouse over to the tool palette.

Pretty basic stuff, but not always intuitive, so maybe some of you learned something.

Have a great weekend!

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...

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  • polvero

    I’ve noticed that these are all pretty basic among fireworks and photoshop as well and not just illustrator.
    Seems to be a common theme for the basic commands.

  • cranial-bore

    indeed useful tips.
    Now what is the easy way to use the point selection tool (whos shortcut is A) and get it to actually select the relevant point for manipulation ?

  • corriehaffly

    Do you mind clarifying your question? For example, what problems are you running into when you try to use the point selection tool? Thanks!

  • whyulil

    my big tip is to use REALLY thick stroke weights then expand the stoke/fill, then go to the layers pallete, hide the stroke path (for use later if you need it) but leave the outline the new group do the same for other strokes then use the pathfinder pallete to add the shape areas together, and then expand it. You can then have loads of controll over the thickness of these strokes and can get some really interesting lines. makes the art work alot more interesting although it can get quite time consuming if yr a perfectionist :)

  • jeremy

    how do you go from the text tool to a different tool using just the keyboard shortcuts?

  • cranial-bore

    Hi, I just find selecting points to be very awkward. The concept is simple enough and I have no trouble in Corel Draw and Freehand, but Illustrator just seems to make things difficult.
    It’s hard to explain without demonstration, so I don’t really expect anyone to be able to type an answer. Basically when I expect a point to be selected it usually isn’t and vice versa.

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