Adobe Illustrator Secrets | Tools They Don't Teach You | Joshua Butts | Skillshare

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Adobe Illustrator Secrets | Tools They Don't Teach You

teacher avatar Joshua Butts, Graphic Designer and Photographer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (37m)
    • 1. Illustrator Secrets Intro

    • 2. Pathfinder and Compound Paths

    • 3. Gradient Mesh Warp and Envelope Distortions

    • 4. Scaling Corners & Creating Dynamic Halftone Patterns

    • 5. Magic Wand/Lasso and Making Specific Selections

    • 6. The Incredible Symbol Sprayer

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About This Class

This class will go over some of the less known secrets about adobe illustrator to increase productivity in the software to help you tackle some of those problems that may be giving you trouble. I will go over some shortcuts, hidden gems and tricks that will truly refine your adobe illustrator skills and give you access to a new world of tools.

While going through the course, I will provide some examples of real life scenarios where these tricks and tools could be applicable but while going through the course, be sure to think of ways you could implement these things in your own work.

The course is part of a series that will be available. Here is a link to Part II in the series. Be sure to keep updated on when new secrets are published!

If you like the class, please review it when finished!

Meet Your Teacher

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Joshua Butts

Graphic Designer and Photographer


Josh Butts is a Graphic Designer and Photographer. He currently works for a creative agency in Provo, Utah. He's worked with many people doing creative work usually involving illustration, logo, and web design. The classes on this channel cover mostly vector illustration but there are also many other valuable skills that can be learned from the other classes on the channel. Join some of his classes to gain from valuable experience and get better at design and photography yourself!

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1. Illustrator Secrets Intro: hi and welcome to my class on Adobe Illustrator. Adobe Illustrator is such an amazing tool with so many intricacies and I've notice most of the classes on the Web, they only skim the surface. They don't really go in depth on those secrets that really give you the power that Adobe illustrator has to offer. I have crave this class kind of aimed at advanced users, but it can really benefit anyone from beginner to advance. As you can see, some of these different projects that I've worked on, all these tools and secrets that I'm going to teach you are so vital to all these different projects that I've done. They've saved me so much time, maybe incredibly efficient and really just made my work that much better. I created this class is part of a series, and in this course I'm going to teach you a few of the different secrets and going to other ones in different courses. And so I'm excited for your be able to follow along and really be able to learn and grasp all that illustrator can offer you. And I'm excited to follow along with your projects and really enjoy this time in this class with you. So let's get started 2. Pathfinder and Compound Paths: Hi. So in this video, I'm going to start with one of the last secret of tools and go deeper into other tools. Is the videos progress? The Pathfinder is an amazing set of tools for combining and subtracting shapes. I use it in almost everything I dio when I'm using Illustrator to start, you can see the logo I have created in the center of the screen. And here's a sketch on the side that I started with is this first leg on the M was created using the merge and subtract buttons. After creating the leg, I wanted shapes, toe, add a bit more interest to the M. I made a few shapes where I wanted to cut out the swirl at the bottom of the leg. One thing I was trying to dio is keep things nondestructive When editing in the Pathfinder panel, I have three different options for combining shapes. Unite, and you can see if I option on America or Alter click this. It creates a compound path. Um, I also have emerge option, and so you have unite, unite as a compound path and merge, and so unite will merge all the shapes in tow one single shape, and one way you can recognize the shape modes. And Pathfinder's is shape. Mo's generally cause ah, holding shape to be created, whereas Pathfinders generally cut things apart or are more of a modifying shapes. And so, when I used the Unite option, it combines all the shapes into one shape. But you know it is a compound path. When I hold option and clicking it or all the click, it will keep things as a compound path, but it will still unite them. So it's nondestructive way of combining them s so I can click these shapes and combine them . But in this case, I have three shapes right here that I've created that I want to cut out of the M So I can you select all three shapes and combine them non destructively if I want. By holding all and clicking the unite button, I can then make sure that they are all in the front by bringing them to the front, um, and clicking on the background layer and then hitting Ault and subtract and what's can do. It's gonna outline these as part of its process. All just switch the foreground in the background color to bring it back. And so now, if I drag it around, you can see that that shape has been cut out of the bottom of the M. And the nice thing about doing this non destructively, as I can still go back into these shapes and move them around, say, I want that a little bigger and it's still cut out. No, once you see your shape and if you're happy with it, then if you've done things, not destructively, this expand button will be available. And if I just hit that, then that creates everything as one solid shape. But you can't go back from this unless you have the undo button. And so you always want. Make sure that either you have a copy of it or you definitely want to keep the shape as you've expanded it. Now, the minus front tool is also very handy for other problems when I'm often faced with is creating glares or reflections on surfaces or shapes. If I have a circle right here and then I need a reflection on it, then I could use the same a circle shape and copy it twice and use the contours to get a shape that matches the outer circle perfectly. So I have to do is click the two different shapes and make sure the shape I want cut out is in front and hit the minus front tool. And now I have the shape that if I discolor it the way I want to, and then I can erase all the parts I don't want. And now I have a perfect reflection if I want a more perfect trim than I can create some straight lines from from the Centre one of these circles and select all these and use the divide tool, which will cut all the different pieces apart. And now and what? What it also does is it groups all of these shapes, and so I can use a direct selection tool. Grab the two pieces that I want cut him out and there you go. These are now perfectly cut out and round and straight path, and so those are really useful ways of using those tools for additional options on nondestructive uses. For the Pathfinder, you can use apply Pathfinder effects under the effects menu. So in this case, let's say I'm going to make a rocket ship. We'll create two ovals and combine them. Copy that across. And now where I want these intersect. One thing that you always have to make sure when applying effects for the Pathfinder is grouping things. So command G or controlled G on Windows and go to the effects. And now that these both earn a group, I can go the Pathfinder and intersect these two shapes. Where the Intersect, you'll say that rocket that is left but you can see if I select them. It's still non destructive because I can always go back to those original shapes that I had . If you're happy with the result, then you can go to object and expand appearance, and that does the same thing is in the shape modes where you can expand. It is. It is destructive editing now, and aliens on Lee the rocket shape. If you're looking for a more complex kind of pathfinder, uh, said cutting then One thing you may want to think about is using compound pants, and I am always using compound pads for different reasons. That's why, under the shape modes, you can use compound pads as nondestructive editing is because Compound Path is read by illustrator as one single path without using a compound path. Illustrator recognizes things as groups. For example, If I, uh, bring out to these shapes and I emerged them with Unite, then it still sees them as two different shapes because I can group them and move them around. What I need to do is create them as a compound path. I can hit control eight on windows or on a Mac. It's command eight. Or I can go down to object and compound path and it make. And now Illustrator sees these two shapes as one single path. And now, if I have a shape underneath that I want to cut those out of, I'll just make sure that these air in front and then I can click, subtract front, and now those will be cut out of that. Any time you have to separate shapes that you're trying to cut out of another shape, you're gonna have problems unless you, uh, convert them to a compound path. And that's all I have for this video in the Pathfinder. And I'll see you in the next video 3. Gradient Mesh Warp and Envelope Distortions: So one of the most unique tools and illustrator is a greedy int mash. It allows me to create very specific ingredients within a shape using a grid rather than just using the grating tool so I can create a rectangle and apply a great Aunt Mesh going to object and create Grady and much. Then I'm giving a dialogue. If I set to default to customize a few things, I can change the rows and columns and you see, when I change that, then they'll automatically update it. Previews checked. It had changed Collins five columns. And this is the mash of the grid that I have on my object. And I'll add my own colors in a minute. But if you see the appearance, you can click on to center. And this is the highlight right here. And so this will automatically apply ingredient. If you select something like that, Um, Salem s, I only want to rows and two columns. And if I select okay, then the mess will apply to the shape and I can give different anchor points their own color by selecting them. So if I use a direct selection tool, I slipped these anchor points that I can give them their own color so you shouldn't see just like that. But we added a color, but this center anchor points beginning in white color. I can change it to black or saying this case. I want it like a blue, and so you can really have a lot of flexibility and give any of anchor points whatever color you want. So I selected these and I can make them say one of these red on that side. And so it's really fun. Some of the different things that you can dio now. You can use this for any shape you want, However, since is based on a square grid, it's easiest to use. Use it with square shapes because you can see Ah, here I have a shape right here that I made. And if I apply a Grady INT mess to that, then illustrator will just guess where to kind of fit the mash of the great and so I'm gonna have three rows right there, say, um, and I'm going to just make it flat. And then when I'm changing his anchor points, I can give them a different color and it's gonna automatically kind of guess, based on the different anchor points in the shape that I have. So it's still really fun. But what I generally do in situations like that is I I generally want more specific shape. And so I'm going to use the transparency, tool and transparency masks. So what these are is like a clipping mask in photo shop. If you've used that, um, all I need to dio is grab the artwork that I want to use as the base color and going to the transparency panel, or you can go toe window and at the Transparency panel. So once it shows up, then I can click, make mask, and what you can see is it created a layer mask to the side of it, and by default, it's hidden. And so if I want to show something, I can grab that logo I had before. I'm gonna make that just a little bit smaller, and then I remember that shapers right here, and what you need to do is go into the mask by clicking on the layer mask right here, and then you can paste that shape in and what you want to do is make sure the shape is white, where you want and to show up. And so now, as long as I If I go to control or command why I can go to outlying view and see where everything is. So that's where that is. And then you can create different Grady INTs within a shape. And then I'll click on the opposite shape toe exit from the transparency mode. And there you have. It is your Grady and mess with a shape built over it. And now if I create something else in the background, you can see that it bleeds through and it's transparent in the background. And so I really love using meshes also for distorting shapes and usually use this for text or illustrations. But even for something like this, I can go into object and then in the envelope, Distort is where you can ah distort different ways. And so all usually had, like, make with mash, and then it will create a new set of mess. It's all had to on E. R. Three on each one, and as long as they had preview, I was gonna show me new MASH and This is where I can distort to this. And it doesn't matter what shape you have for something like this, because it's always gonna base it around a square grid around it, and then I'll have to do is select the anchors, and I can move them anyway. I want Teoh, which is going to distort the mess, as you can see, and it's always going to constrain it to these different anchor points, which I have said, and you can twist it around. So it's really kind of funny. The things you can do with that. And once you're happy with what you have with this, you can see it's always edit herbal. I can double click it and go to the original shape, so you wanna change some of these colors around? There were orange on that side. One, this whole side orange. Then you can still change it. And if I double click out of the isolation mode, then I still have my great aunt Mesh that I can ah, one way you can switch back and forth is up here is you can edit the envelope on this is gonna edit your original shape, so I gotta add at the envelope, and I can still change it around now, oftentimes with the envelope distort with a mash, it's kind of difficult to be accurate with your shapes and things like that. Sometimes you have a specific shape in mind. Safer text Oftentimes, Um and so what I'll do is say, I've got some text I've made, and so I want to make this a little bit wavy. What I'll do is I'm gonna create a path or an object. I want it to constrain, to say I have this path. And generally I wanted to be about the same size of the text so it doesn't get distorted in an unusual way. That's once I feel like I've got it to the point where I like it. I'll match it up, make sure it's about the same size, and I think that is. And then I'm going to expand this shape. And so now it's a perfect shape that I want. I'll bring it to the front, and then you select both objects and make sure this was on the front, the object and vote the start and make with top object. And now it's gonna wrap that object in this case, the text to that box, but it still keeps it nondestructive. So if I double click into this, I can still change the text around. And then if I go up here to edit the envelope, then I can still change it around. Now, I do also want to mention as room within the Pathfinder tool Um se I could create a square . You can use the effects menu and also creates a distortion effects and just still keeps things non destructive. So I like to use a free distort a lot of time because I can easily, uh, at set things into perspective. And this is going to give me an idea of well, look like they want to make it a little bit. The story right there hit. Okay. And what's gonna dio is put that shape into a distorted object. And with all these things, if I like how they are, well, I have to do is hit, object, expand, and it gives me my options. And then it's gonna expand those as a solid object. But as I have mentioned with other things, you can't go back once you've done something like that once you've expanded it, and so that is destructive. So I really love these tools. You can do so much with them, and there's a lot of flexibility and fun you can have with doing things like this. 4. Scaling Corners & Creating Dynamic Halftone Patterns: in this video, we're going to go over some cool options for scaling corners and strokes. When I first found out about this option, I was able to save tons of time and get way better results. So whenever I create icons, I want to keep the line. Thickness is equal on all of them. But when I'm scaling entire objects, I generally want the lines to scale with them. So in this example, I will go into the polygon tool, and I'm gonna start with a triangle because I'm going to create an alert icon. And so I'll open up the corner widget, and I'm going to round out these corners a little bit and create an exclamation mark which place inside. Now, if I scale this right now, it's gonna make a little bit of a mess. You can see it doesn't scale right. Part of that is because it's not scaling these corners. It's keeping them at that same radius that I set them in. But what I can dio is go to the Transform panel on Windows transform, and then I can roll out the show. There's a show options in the panel menu, and I could not scale corners. And what this does has allows me to scale this in the corners will scale right with it. But as you can see, there's another problem I'm having. Where the stroke. It's not scaling, it's the same with it. And that's not something I want say in this case, I want the stroke to be three points the thickness. And if I wanted to stay Proportional, I'll just check the scale, strokes and effects. And then I can scale it down completely proportionally, so they're going to stay the same. So there are a lot of things that you can do with this that make it a lot easier to work with. The other thing I'm going to show you in this video is how to create dynamic half tone patterns. So I'm gonna select these do like those, and I'm often creating a lot of T shirt artwork, and that's a great way for me to create shades and things when I'm creating single color artwork for T shirts because I can add, um, some different shadows and things with the radiance. So I'm gonna start with is a shape, and I don't want straight black because that's going to be sold black. But I'm just gonna create a mid grey and then go in their effects. And in the pics late menu. I'm gonna go to color half tone, you know, make sure all the colors in the channels, all the channels are different colors. Channel four is black and white, and so that's the only one that I want. I want probably 45 degrees, so it will be angled diagonally and then check the radius. That's the size radius for the largest circles they're gonna be. And now you hit OK, and you can see what it does is it creates this half tone pattern. And when I changed the color of the box, it's gonna thin the dots out or when I make it darker, it's gonna come closer together. What I can also do is use a Grady in pattern and it's gonna change the size of these depending on the radiant, which is really nice for creating nice Smith Grady INTs on T shirt record, things like that. Once I have it the way I want you can Ah, and you can always go up. It's all non destructive you can go into the appearance and always change the side. So you want, uh, some bigger dots, you can increase the radios, and now some. Those dots are going to be bigger and say, I like that how it is. I can go to object and expand appearance and that rast arises it. And so you use image trace, and sometimes you have to mess with the settings on Imus. Trace a little bit, but generally ill. Tracy's out as perfect circles. If you, uh, you can see how they get a little bit distorted up here, and so all generally go to the options for my image tracing and increased somebody's to get better circles. And then once you expand that you have a nice set of half tone dots that can be easily used for a lot of different applications or uses 5. Magic Wand/Lasso and Making Specific Selections: making accurate selections, and Illustrator is so important for me when it comes to saving time and getting artwork done right. The lasso tool, the magic wand and the selection menu are my go to areas for doing this type of stuff. So I have this illustration open that I created, and often with things like this, I need to select things like the highlights on the mountains and for this will use the magic wand tool. And if I select that and double click it, the Magic one panel will open and I can click any of the attributes that I want to use for this. And I want to set the tolerance to zero because I only want to select one specific color. If I select all the highlights, then I can come in to my color panel or the swatches and brighten it or select a different color. So let's say I like that color. But if I want make all of the mountains and entirely different color, what I can do is change the tolerance to something like 40. And now if I select the mountains, it's gonna select all of the mountain areas and then I can change the color for everything they want all the mountains that bright brown or dark around something like that. If I want to flatten everything, say I want to select all the highlights again and I want a different way of doing it. I can use my direct selection tool, select one of the shapes on it and go up to select and go to the same bill color. And now it's going to slick just these elements. They're all that same fill color, and again I can write in it or dark in it. You may have noticed that I use the lasso selection tool in some previous videos. I love this tool because I can select just banker points that I want and I can create a great and machin use it for just the points. So, for example, if I create a shape and going to the great Aunt Mash like we did before, I can use a lasso tool, and the short cut is Q, which I use so much for this. So I just want these points right there. Now it's on Lee selecting those anchor points, I can change those toe orange and it's only going to select those ones. I that I did example say I want just these two right here, and I can make those a different color, too. So the last until it gives a lot of really nice flexibility for that. For example, in this say want it's like just the mountain peaks. I would definitely use that for something like this, where the direct selection tool might be just a little bit tricky. And when I'm selecting multiple things, I just hold down shift and that will add to the selection no matter where I select and what I can also do. Just go arounds like all the top of these mountains just like that, and say for something like this. This is when ideas saved selections because that took me a minute to go in, select all those. So what I can do is go up to the select menu and save the selection. I'm gonna say it mountain. And so say you accidentally clicked off. You don't want to have to go in and select all those mountain peaks again. I can go to select and you can see very made a selection of that click on mountain picks, and now it's gonna save where I select all those and I congrats those and move them around just like that. Now, the last thing I'm going to show you in this video is how to select text. This is one of most common things I use the select menu, for. I am often sending things to print. Generally, printers don't like fonts and artwork unless there outlined or expanded. Now, if I have a document like this with lots of texts on it, it can be annoying to try to slight all of it individually and thats why he's a select many , for I can go up to select an object and I want to select all the text objects. And now what I can do to expand it is object expand, or I generally use a shortcut shift command O or shift control O on a PC or Windows computer, and then I can expand it all to outline. So if I go into outlined mode, everything has been totally expanded, and I can very easily send it to the printer and the file. Whoa, work out very well. So I hope you enjoyed learning about selections and I'll see you in the next video 6. The Incredible Symbol Sprayer: again, you guys. So this class, I'm going to be teaching about symbols, symbols. They're some of the most under used objects. An illustrator. They're so cool. They're so useful for creating many instances of the same object if you want. As you can see, I have in these annotations and you can make slight variations in the same object to make it look very natural and realistic. In this example, I'm gonna show you how to create these leaves using just a few objects and the symbol sprayer. And as you can see here, I have all my simple tools rolled out. You can use a pressure sensitive tablet for hands control in these things. But in this example, I'm going to show you how you can still get quite a lot of control just by using a mouse and a few different options that I'll show you. So first, I'm going to take some of these objects which I have prepared right here, and convert them to symbols. And so what I can do is open up the symbol panel or you can go up to the window and make sure you have symbols open and what I could do. See they click on each object and I can click on the menu, drop down on the symbols and create a new symbol on just okay. Or I could just drag them directly into the symbol panel, which is much easier. Make sure that you only do one time. If you click two among you can see it creates both of them as a single symbol which you don't want to dio, Uh, at least in this case, So now one after you have all the symbols, then you can use a symbol sprayer. Do ladies, and you can start placing these. So I have my symbol sprayer. And first select the symbol that you want to you. So I'm going to use this leaf right here this 1st 1 the first time you regulate all these other leaves air here. So I know right where I want toe adds new leaves. You click on the symbol I want, and then you can start dragging them and you can see it goes a little bit slow. But if I wanna make it go faster, it can. This double click on this and go into the options is the density. This is the intensity. So I say I want to go eight. That's gonna see my intensity. Now it's gonna Adam a lot faster. Say, that's good enough right now. Now I can click a different symbol and is gonna add all these different symbols into the same group. You can see that there is this outline and that shows a group of symbols, and that is gonna be your set of symbols that you're going to be using. So I'm gonna click on another one, just a few more so you can see how I have all their symbols laid out. No. Second, I like to start by using the symbol Sizer for style izing the So this is the symbol sizer tool you can see right there. I'll double click on that. And then I can, uh, change. Some of the auctions I always liked have my method when I'm using just a mouse on random because it makes it look a little more natural and works a little better to get a good good luck. And salt sent my intensity to price seven just so it doesn't doesn't go too crazy. I can use the Ryan left brackets to make my size larger, smaller and then just go around and you can see that it's re sizing some of these. One thing that's most important. You'll notice what I'm doing. This is only re sizing this symbol right there. That's when I have selected. But what you need to do is make sure you have all of these symbols. Click on one and shift click the last one. If you have all the symbol selected, then it's gonna go in resize everything that selected. That is one of most important things to remember when, when doing this, because that's gonna affect what happens. Sometimes you may start sizing these, and it's only sizing one. That's because there's only one selected. So say that I like that and I want to make this all generally just a little bit smaller, so I'm gonna scale the whole thing down a bit. Something like that say that's a general generally good area. So then one second to this point, I really liked He is the symbol rotator, the symbol spinner and all use the same options. Ran them because that's gonna make to be believes, look a lot more natural s so they're not all like aiming the same direction. You can see when I click over these, they start spinning around and it starts adjusting which direction they're facing. And it really gives a natural look to these. And you can see this is already looking really nice with the way these leaves are all set out like that. Once I've got these moved Randall that you can see, Then I'll use the symbol, um, the symbol shifter tool. And then I can start, like pushing these around a little bit. And I like he's a symbol scrunch er right here along with a symbol shifter and make sure that the symbol scrunches set to random again. And then it's gonna kind of randomizer it pushes them around. This creates above a natural kind of feeling where they are. And then I can adjust that manually by pushing these around, saying what needs to look like they're being blown by the wind up on this side on blown around out here that it gives you a lot of control over these. Now I'm happy with that. I feel like things are looking really good now. So what I can do to kind of finish up a little bit with ease is used the symbol Stainer, and we're not the symbol shifter. It doesn't have an auction for random because that's where you have controlled. Push, please. The symbol. Stainer. I want to set this at first he user defined, and I'll send it to about five, cause I don't want toe push the color too much on these at first. And what it does is when you said to user defined, it's gonna select a color that you choose and so I can use a swatches panel. Select whatever color that I want. So I want to add some yellow into these. And since I made uh the intensity in about five, in fact, I mean go down before then it's on Lee slightly gonna color these that I may even go less probably, too. And then it just starts adding just a little bit of color. Say I want Teoh make a little more orange, and that really starts making this look like some nice follow leaves right here. And I really like the way this is going. Maybe I can answer red and I'll go back to adding a little bit more yellow. So once I feel like the colors air fairly decent in the way I like, I'm a scale this down a little bit more again, pusher on where I want again just to make it look a little more natural. I'll go back into the symbol Stainer, all 7 10 city in about three, and then I'll go back to random and make sure that you have somebody's symbol stained already because it's mostly going affect those. And while I'm at random, it's just gonna add a little bit of color variation and these leaves you can see as a little bit of green and and purple in there. More I click on that's gonna add a little more variation in that color, and it really just gives a nice tone. Teoh what I'm working on And as as a nice look to these and so there you go. That's all. The symbol, uh, tools that I really love to use. If you want, you can use the symbol screener. All that does is change the opacity to some of these. Maybe some of them you want to be slightly opaque, and some transparent that's going to do that. I don't usually use that, Uh, unless I have a very specific reason for it. They say now, with some of these some maybe overlapping in places I don't like. They want just a little bit more control. Here's where I can go and expand the symbol group. But remember, if I do this, as in other groups, it breaks everything apart. And so this is gonna UN group all the symbols. And if I expand it a second time, then a creates shapes from all of these, but it keeps them in a group. And so now I can double click and go into that group, and I can move somebody's around by hand just to make it just right where I want the symbols to show up. And it gives you so much control over how say that one is too big in that one. Then I can really like house and fund. And maybe I want these two circle right around, uh, initials I'm making these invitations for. And so this is a really nice way to use, assemble, tour and create some nice effects. And there you go. So that is a symbol tool. I've noticed that that was really sped up a lot of my work and, um, giving me some nice options, and I hope that it will really help you to