When you first open up Adobe Illustrator CC it can be a little overwhelming. I had zero clue how to use any of the tools or, frankly, what the tools even did. I knew the software was for illustrating but I had no idea how people were using it to make and draw things. It took a long time for me to truly understand how Adobe Illustrator worked, which is why I’m writing this post today. I am sharing with you a things I wish I knew when I started using Illustrator in hopes that they will help you on your journey to mastering Adobe Illustrator and all the amazing-ness it has to offer!
1. KNOW WHAT THE PEN TOOL DOES
No, the pen tool doesn’t actually draw for you. The pen tool is used to connect different shapes and fills to make objects. It really has nothing to do with writing. The pen tool is one of the most important tools to master when creating any shape, icon, logo, or illustration. The pen tool connects anchor points to each other to make custom objects.
2. MASTER THE SHAPE TOOL
The shape tool is probably one of the most used tools in Illustrator. You can draw rectangles, circles, triangles, and any other shape you need with the click of a button. The amount of rectangles I’ve made as backgrounds for my graphics is insane. Take this blog post image above. That blue background was made with a rectangle with a blue fill. That’s it!
3. THE EYE DROPPER TOOL IS YOUR BFF
This tools is so helpful when choosing color palettes and finding and matching color in general. You can put your eye dropper on a specific photo or color swatch in an image and grab the exact hexadecimal color code. This is super helpful for building brand mood boards, making branded graphics, and keeping your color palette consistent across the board.
4. USE THE WINDOW TAB
In Illustrator you’ll find that some of your tools just like to disappear on the left side of your screen. The easiest way to get to what you need quickly without trying find your tool panel is to go to the window tab on your main toolbar. From there, you can easily grab any tool you need. AND– they are listed in alphabetical order which helps a ton!
5. ALIGN LIKE IT’S YOUR JOB
Align, align, align. If you want an object to be in the center of an artboard, you want to make SURE it is actually in the center. Don’t just drag it to the middle and hope it looks good. Be precise. Use the align tool to align objects perfectly to each other and to the artboard. If you are a symmetry nerd like me, you get what I’m sayin’.
6. TYPE CHARACTERS WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE
Ever been frustrated that your text just doesn’t look right? The font just has the letters too close to each other or maybe the line spacing is just squished. This is where the type character panel comes in. You can adjust the tracking of your letter spacing manually AND you can increase or decrease the space between your lines. Yeah, it’s pretty amazing.
7. UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STROKE & FILL
The stroke is basically the border of an object. You can adjust the stroke to be bigger or smaller depending on the project. The fill is the inside part or the color of the object. Your fill can be any solid color you want it to. But, your fill can only be one color.
8. REALIZE THAT THE TEXT TOOL WAY MORE THAN JUST A TEXT BOX
When adding text to a project make sure you are using the text tool to its fullest potential. There is so much you can do with it. You can convert your type from area type to point. You can align and center your words inside the text box and you can fill it like an object. And these are just scratching the surface!