Time-Saving Actions in Adobe Illustrator: Automate Your Workflow to Design Better, Faster | Jon Brommet | Skillshare

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Time-Saving Actions in Adobe Illustrator: Automate Your Workflow to Design Better, Faster

teacher avatar Jon Brommet, Crusoe Design Co.

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

    • 1.

      What's Up Internet?


    • 2.

      Quick Time Saving Actions


    • 3.

      More Impressive Actions


    • 4.

      Thanks & Whatnot


    • 5.

      Bonus - Installing Actions


    • 6.

      A Message From Future Jon


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About This Class

If you use Adobe Illustrator often, you may not realize how much time you are wasting doing basic tasks over and over again. With actions, you can easily teach Illustrator how to do some of these tedious tasks automatically with the click of a button. Then you can sit back and make a coffee while Illustrator does the work for you. Just kidding, it only takes seconds!

This class is a great way to really improve your workflow and speed while doing every day design and illustration work. Whether it is as simple as centering an object vertically and horizontally, or saving a logo in 7 different file formats, you can do these with 1 click of a button. It's a really amazing, and oftern underutilized feature in Adobe Illustrator.

So click play, learn some rad stuff really quick, and save a lot of time to enjoy life!

Meet Your Teacher

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Jon Brommet

Crusoe Design Co.

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Level: Intermediate

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1. What's Up Internet?: [MUSIC]. What's up, dudes? [MUSIC]. Okay. What's up Skill share and welcome to my new class actions. My name is Jon Brommet. I' m a Graphic Designer & illustrator in Barry Ontario, Canada, and this class is quite obviously about actions. You may not know what those are, and what they are is a really cool way to automate your workflow. Say, you're doing something as simple as you want to center an object vertically and horizontally, normally, I'd click a couple buttons here to find all those things. Now, you set up an action, you press one button, it's done. That's something really simple. It will shade a couple seconds off your workflow or you can do things that are more complicated, say that you have a logo file that you want to give to a client, but they want it in EPS PDF, PNG, AI, jpeg, all those different file formats. But what you have to do is set up a simple automation. You click a button, it does it all for you. Something that might have taken you around ten minutes, five minutes is now literally going to take 2-3 seconds using an awesome action. I'm going to show you how to create your own so you can do custom things that maybe are going to be useful just to you, or you can use the ones that I'm using and you might find them useful immediately in your workflow. Also, if you don't have time to actually create your own, I'm going to sell them on Etsy for a couple bucks. It's really easy and I think you're going to find it immediately useful. If you're a Photoshop user, don't worry. I got a class coming in the next couple of months, but this class is going to focus on illustrator. Like I said, I think you're going to find that immediately useful and I hope you check it out. I see you in a second. [MUSIC] 2. Quick Time Saving Actions: Welcome to the class. I've made this quick guide here to show you exactly what each key does that I've set up my actions to. You don't have to use these exact same ones, you can change the order, you can only use some of the actions that you find useful, and you can add things like, a command or a shift just in case your F keys are already set to something. If you're using a MacBook Pro like I am, you may have "F11" and "F12" that are already mapped to your operating system. They do things like, show your desktop and show the dashboard. In case you have those, I'll quickly want to show you how to turn those off. We're going to go up here to click the Apple and then System Preferences. From there, we're going to go to keyboard and then we're going to go over to shortcuts. Make sure that you have these two options deselected, that Show Desktop, Show Dashboard. As you can see, those were using "F11" and "F12". That's it, you just have to turn those off. That should help ensure that all of your F keys are now freed up to use for your actions in Adobe Illustrator. Of course, you want to open up the actions panel. I've got it here. It's a little play button, but what you want to do in case it's not open is, go to Window, go down to Actions, and if there's no check mark, just click it and it should pop up somewhere on your screen. By default, you're going to have some default actions already preloaded with Illustrator. In my case, I have a couple of actions that I have purchased, that I find really useful and, of course, my own actions, which I've created. To start with your own actions, I suggest that you make a folder first. What you want to do is, just click this little folder button, you can name it whatever you'd like, and then from there, that's where we're going to record all of our actions. Now, I'm going to open up a new document just to show you a little easier. The document size doesn't matter, I am going to go with the standard letter sheet size. If I'm here, I'm just going to go ahead and drag in my logo. It doesn't really matter what object to use, I want to get the rough idea of how each action is going to work. The first one which is signed to "F1", as you saw here on my guide, is centered vertically and horizontally. That's not a really complicated procedure, it's only a couple mouse clicks, but I find it really useful because I use it so many times during my regular day. Now, I can just hit "F1". I've usually always got my left hand on the keyboard anyways to use different shortcuts. It just increases my workflow a little bit better. Let's go ahead and just move this over here. Now, the only caveat to using a center with alignment is, you need to make sure that this little box is set to Align to Artboard. As you can see, it's set to Align to Selection and you won't be able to change your alignment horizontally or vertically, so just go ahead and make sure you have Align to Artboard selected. As long as that's selected, now, we can hit "F1" and our artwork is automatically going to be centered to a page. That's a super useful action. I think it's really cool. I'll show you quickly how to create it. Let's go ahead and move our artwork off to the center again. I'm going to go ahead and delete this. We're going to go here and click a new icon. We're going to name the action Center. It's under the set John's Actions, and I going to put the function key to one. This is the way you can add a Shift or a command, so you would hit Command Shift "F1" just in case it's already mapped to something else. I'd like to try and keep it as simple as I can, so just "F1". You can change the color of it if you have a lot of actions. You can color code them, but I don't need to do that, so I'm going to leave it at none. Go ahead and click Record and select your artwork. From there, you just want to again, make sure that this is set to Align to Artboard and we're going to click this one, which is horizontal aligned center and vertical aligned center. That's it. Now, you just need to hit stop and Illustrator's automatically recorded those movements and it knows that's what you want it to do. Let's go ahead. I'm just going to move that to the top to keep these all organized and in an order. Let's move artwork over on the board. What you can do to use an action as long as it's selected, you go down to this set play button and it'll do it for you. The beauty of having a click here assigned to it is, now, if is over I here and again, I like to keep my hand on my keyboard, I can simply press "F1" and it'll automatically move it here, even if I didn't have this window open. 3. More Impressive Actions: Okay, so now that I've shown you the more basic actions I'm going to get into a little more complicated ones that take a few more steps, and I'm going to start to really show you the kind of the power of what an action can do and how it can really save you time. Admittedly, even some of these aren't quite as complex as well, you can make actions. But I figure for this class is an introduction to them, we keep things a little bit more simple. I'm going to go over here back to my other document, and again, if we just look here, I've got the first one saved under F7, so there is cut line with no offset. What that means, is that I often find myself making stickers and I need to put a cut line on them so that the printer knows where to cut the sticker too. I'm using my less complicated logo without all the little pieces because using the standard one, it would be hard for the cutters definitely if the stickers are real small, in this case, which it would be, then it would have a hard time cutting those out, so I would make an outline around it like a border, and that's the next action, so we're going to use this one for the more simple action. If I just go ahead and click my Cut Line here, which of course is F7, and I click that. You'll see it's automatically going to run through some steps for me, and if I select here, I've got this nice little Cut Line that I've made, which is a 100 percent magenta. That's a good color to use for your Cut Line, and then normally what you want to do is go ahead and make that a spot color, and you can ask the printer what they're going to want to name that. That's something that you can check out more about in my class stickers. Let's go ahead and recreate this Cut Line action. I'm going ahead and click Delete, add a new word, I'll call it Cutline dash No Offset. It'll make this F7, click Record. Now what I want to do, is I want to copy this design, so that's command C, and then I want to paste it in front, which is command F, again, control is just a replacement for command on a PC, so now that I've pasted in front, I'm going to make the color a bright pink, which is a 100 percent magenta, and I'm going to invert it, which is right over here where you can swap the fill and the stroke, it's also acts on your keyboard, and usually, I like the point size to be half a point, it'll depend on the printer that you use most regularly. That's the basic step for it, so we'll go ahead and click Stop, if I delete that now, and then we'll go ahead and click F7, you should see that it'll nicely repeat it. Definitely keep in mind that Illustrator can be a bit finicky, so sometimes you need to recreate an action, do it a couple times just to make sure you're following the steps exactly in order of what illustrator can understand. Will go ahead and delete both of these and I'll show you a little bit of a more complicated cutline. In a case like this, as I mentioned, I'm not going to cut out all these little bits, so I want to put a border around this. If I select it, I'm going to center it, of course, and if I hit F8 on my keyboard, it's going to do all that work for me. As you can see, I'm stuck with a couple little pieces, the only thing is I want to use this cut line for a lot of different designs, so it may not work perfectly for each one. That's still going to save me a lot of time, and with my direct selection tool, I can grab those little points, double-click Delete to delete them and they go, I have a ready to print sticker, so of course, I'll show you how to create that. Let's go ahead and delete this, and we'll delete this. Now we'll make the new action, we'll call it, Cutline dash 0.125 Offset, that's the amount I use most frequently, and go ahead and change it to F8. I'll show you how you can change this amount each time if you wanted to. We'll click Record, and this one's a little bit different than the last, so we're going to select our work, and we're going to go to Object, go down to Path, Offset Path, and here we can change, I use the inches, so we're going to go to 0.125 inches, it's a good amount for smaller stickers. You can leave your limit to four, and you can choose whether you want a bevel around or miter. I find that the miter obviously often add sharp edges that I don't want, so I'm going to go ahead and click Round, go Okay, so you can see that it's created this. Now what we want to do, is we're going to select Merge, and what that will actually do is get rid of these little pieces. Now we're going to go to unite, it's going to make it all one big piece, will change it to the magenta that we used last time, we're going to swap the fill on the stroke, we're going to change it to 0.5 points, and there you go, so now that, that's done, go ahead and click Stop. I actually improve my action over last time, because I didn't use the Merge Filter first, I went straight to Unite. That's a good example of recreating an action using a bunch of times and figuring out the best way to use it. I'm going to delete this again, my little Cutline file, select that, click F8, and let Illustrator do all of those steps for me in a matter of less than two seconds. We'll delete these, and we'll show you the next couple. These ones are a little easier, so I'm going to go ahead and just show you the example of them. For this next one, I'm going to draw a bunch of little circles here, and we're going to go with some green ones with a yellow outline, and then we're going to make some blue ones also with the yellow line. This is just mimicking let's just pretend, you add some really complicate out work. We'll do some black without an outline, and some red without an outline. Something that's useful, especially, if you have hundreds of these little pieces, is if you select one piece of the color that you want, and click F9, it's automatically going to select all of the same pieces on your art board with that same color. As you can see I can repeat that with just the blue, repeat that with the red, repeat that with the green. That was a pretty straightforward one. All you would have to do, rather than show you how to create the action, because I think you get the hang of it at this point, what you would do is select your artwork here, go to select Same, Fill Color. There's not even a quickie for this, so it's a useful one, again, just save you a couple of seconds. The same idea will happen for the next one, which is your stroke color. Let's just say I've mapped that to F2, as you can see, the green and the blue both have a yellow outline even though they're a different color, so a nice way to select both of those, is to just hit F10, and now I have all of them because they have the same stroke color, pretty easy, pretty straightforward. Now we're going to get in to another fairly simple one that won't show easily on a circle, so bring the logo back in. That is our second last action which is rotate, again, always check the guide, it's really easy, you can print it out, so right there, F11, and by clicking that, of course it is going to rotate our artwork for us, 90 degrees. Pretty simple, pretty straightforward. I'll show you how to create that and delete it. Create another one, rotate 90 degrees, change it to function F11, click Record, and we're going to go over here again to that little circle with the arrow, click it, hit Enter and we're going to move at 90. I like to use it minus 90, that way it's going clockwise, and you can just put normal 90, whatever you want to do, so we'll click Okay, again, super straightforward and easy one, but I find it really useful. You could also make another action that goes the reverse way if you wanted to. Now we're getting it into the most impressive action, which is saving multiple file formats. A lot of the times that you're designing logos for clients, they're going to want the same file and AI, PF, EPS, they might want a transparent PNG, they might want a JPEG, a bunch of different file formats, so we can make illustrator do that automatically for us, this'll actually, saves a good few minutes every time we do it, and the more complicate, the more different file formats you need, the more time it's going to save you. I'm going to go ahead and show you my desktop here, I've got this untitled file which I've been using, so I'm actually, going to go ahead and delete that. Now if we go back, so all I had here is my guide, which I've been showing you all along. All I need to do, is run this action here, so it's F12. Now one thing I haven't shown you yet is this little box beside it. This little box means it's something that you can, it's Dialog box that will open, and I can actually change the settings each time. I'll show you how that works with it and without it. Click F12, and as you can see, it stopped at this Dialog box, that way I can name the file whatever I want, in this case, I will name it JB_logo. Once I click Save, it's automatically going to do this, so I'm going to click Okay here, it's automatically going to do that as a PDF and an EPS for me. But I've told it with the two boxes that you saw on the action panel to stop in the next dialog box in case I want to change the image size here, or maybe change whether it's transparent or not. If I don't, I can click Enter, Enter again, and it's the same idea with the JPEG, Enter, Enter again. Then I've also set it up to actually close the original file, so if we want to go ahead and close it, you can choose whether you save it or just click Delete or Don't Save, so I'll go ahead and save it, so there you go. Now, I'll show you how to do that without those little dialog boxes, if they weren't there. Let's open that original AI, and I'll go here, delete it, just to show you that I will create it for you, and I'm going to get rid of these little check boxes. The main thing is you're going to need a name for your file, which it automatically has. But you can see now that since there's no boxes there, it's not going to stop and ask me any questions. I can just hit F12, just wait a second, maybe taken a sip of the coffee, go ahead and click Don't Save or Save if you wanted to, and now, all of those files are there, and it's done all the work for me. It's pretty easy, pretty amazing, and it's definitely going to save you a lot of time. Let's go ahead and delete all these, open the AI file again, and show you obviously, how to recreate this, delete that, or make a new one called Save Multiple File Formats. You want to go to the function, F12 and click Record. The first thing we're going to do, is go to File, Save As and call it JB_logo, in this case, I'm going to go ahead and replace it. Click Okay here, again, this is pretty straightforward, I would imagine that most of you know to do this kind of stuff. That's our AI, save it as an EPS, we're leaving all the dialogue the same, save as PDF, save again, the analysis dialogue all the same. But you can choose whether you want to change those, I'm going to save for web, first line idea was PNG with transparency checked, Save, Okay, and then do it again for a JPEG, I'm going to go with maximum quality, Save, Okay. Once that's done, I like to add the Close, so I'm going to click this, click Don't Save, and now the action is complete. One last time just to really drive this home, sorry if it's been a little repetitive, but I just want to make it easy to follow so for some of you that may not get it quite as quickly, so hopefully the rest of you can be patient. Again, I'm going to delete that little dialog box, I don't need it, hit F12, Save, Don't Save, and then there I go, and my files are ready. Pretty easy, pretty awesome, I hope you that you find actions really cool, I'm most excited to see what you guys come up with, I think that there's a lot of different little things that you might use in your day to day workflow that I use too that I just haven't thought about, and hopefully you guys will come up with some ideas that I can use or that you can inspire each other to use actions, and we could share them potentially if you want to, and also if you don't want to recreate all these actions yourself, I'm actually going to save these actions and I am going to put them on my Etsy for a few $. There will be pretty inexpensive, I'm going to put the link in my shop, and then I'm going to add it to the skill share class. It's going to be pretty easy to do, and again, it might save you some time if you don't want to go through and recreate these, at least by watching this class, you have an idea of how to create each one. Again, leave any questions, comments, things like that, let me know what you think of the class, and I'm just going to go on and quick thank you and I'll also make a little quick video that shows you how to load these actions if you did purchase them. We'll see you in a second, but the bulk of the class is done, Congratulations. See you in a second. 4. Thanks & Whatnot: Okay that's it. Thank you so much for taking the class, I hope you enjoyed it. As always you can find me on all social media @johnbryant. You can also check out my website which is johnbrama.com. If you click shop in the top right corner that'll take you to the etsy page where you can buy the actions if you want to do that if you didn't want to create them yourself. I've also got some really cool things like pens and patches and artwork that you might want to check out. As always I'm always working on some new classes but if you guys have any ideas on classes that you want to see or maybe something you want to learn, just post it in the discussion or send me an email, tweet me, whatever. I would love to know what you're thinking. I also have survey which is just asking you a few questions about how I teach and what you think I can improve on. As always I'm just trying to become the best teacher I can for you and get an idea of what you'd like as far as class length, subjects, different kinds of programs things like that. It's really useful, it'll probably take you less than two minutes to fill out the survey so I'd love if he did that and other than that I've got a really cool class coming up in the future. It may be one or two classes for now. I mean a lot I've got a lot of cool ones but this is going to be a big contest. It's going to a product that you can use. You're going to get a really large quantity in them. You're going to be able to sell them for pretty good money and I think it's going to be really special. It's going to be definitely the biggest contest I've done yet as far as what it's worth. Just as a little bit of a heads up I can't tell you what it's actually going to be about but just start illustrating and come up with some really cool design one that either fits on a square or a long rectangle horizontally. That's the only tip I can give you for this class. Start working on some really cool ideas. You might want to make them camp or adventure theme like outdoor themed and that's all I can tell you. The contest we'll be awesome and other than that we'll see you in the future. I'm going to have some other classes of course coming out and we'll you see soon. Thanks for taking this one, I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks. Bye bye. 5. Bonus - Installing Actions: Like I said, if you're interested in downloading these actions, you can get them for a few cheap dollars. I'm going to put them up at $3 USD, which as you can see, it's showing me in Canadian on my screen because I'm in Canada of course, which is 391. Of course, wherever you are in the world it'll show in your currency. That's really awesome. Of course, if you click here, you'll be able to check out my shop and see all the other different things that I sell. I got lots of buttons, stickers, patches, you name it, and enamel pins have been really popular. But we'll go back and I'm going to add this link to the description of the class so that you can easily find it. It'll show you where all these actions are. Once you download them and save them wherever you want, you can get this file, which is the guide, which you can print, and the actions file. Now I'm going to show you how to install them. It's pretty straight forward. If you have illustrator open, just open a regular file. Let's say that I do not have these actions in here. All you need to do is click this little drop-down bar in the top right corner of the panel, go down to load actions, and select the Actions. From there, you click Open, and that's it. Now you have all the actions saved into Illustrator. Illustrator should automatically keep these actions here for you to easily use at all times, But what I highly suggest you do, is save these files in a safe place somewhere. Then we're also going to show you how to manually add this on a Mac. Open up your Finder, go to Applications, go to your Illustrator file, then go to Presets, click this little folder, go to Actions, and then add it in here. As you can see, I've already got it. I'm going to go Command C, Command V to paste it. We're going to replace it. Now it's always here and really handy just in case you actually somehow lose this file. If it doesn't open in Illustrator, when you go to load, you can find this exact folder in your program, and you'll know exactly where to load your actions forward. That's how you do it on a Mac. If you want to do it on a PC, I'm sure if you just quickly look in YouTube or Google, you'll find out how to easily do it. It's the same idea. You just have to go to your program files and then I think all the folders from they are basically the exact same. Pretty straightforward about as easy as it can can get. For a couple dollars you might find these actions really useful. If you bought them, thanks so much. If you didn't, no problem at all. I really hope you enjoyed the class. See you later. 6. A Message From Future Jon: Wait, one more thing. I'm adding this, this is future Jon Brommet talking to you. I hope you enjoyed the cost that you just watched. Some of these classes have been recorded a few years ago. I just wanted to give a little up to date on what I am doing now. You can see that I've put out a ton of classes potentially from the class that you just watched, as you may have been watching one of my older classes. If you go over to my profile, you can click it somewhere on the Skillshare website or go to skillshare.com/jonbrommet. It's spelled just like that with no H, just Jon. You'll see here I've got things broken down in my newest classes. This may even look slightly different for you because I'm putting out classes once a month right now. I've got my most popular classes, Illustration, Efficiency in Illustrator, Photoshop stuff, and then all of my other classes. Make sure that if it's not already selected, you click see more to see the rest of it. Many different classes, I hope you guys will be inspired to learn lots more and hopefully you'll enjoy my classes and want to see more. If that's not enough, I'm @jonbrommet on Instagram, so you can check out my Instagram as well to know what I'm doing. I post all my new artwork there and of course let you know when I'm doing new Skillshare stuff. I've started a YouTube channel where I put short videos that are instructional. I obviously advertise a little bit of my Skillshare class, but short videos that I can't really put a whole class out, I put here on YouTube. I even do things like have conversations with other teachers, like Tabitha Park, plan to do that stuff more often. If you head over to jonbrommet.com, I've newly updated my website. I have a digital shop where you can grab my procreate brushes or other things like that. On top of seeing my different portfolio elements and things like that. I've also got a Etsy shop, which I'll click here and it would open this. You can buy all of my pins and different art things that I've created. I will ship them to you from me. I've gotten them all produced here in my home and they look awesome and I know that they're cool. I just recently started a threadless shop, which you could click here. Of course, it's about in Skillshare and contact. Everything's linked from my website. This new threadless shop has all my merch that can be printed on demand on a really weirdly wild variety of things like, let's just click one of these things here. It's going to open a t-shirt, but let's just say maybe instead of a t-shirt you wanted a duvet cover or shower curtains? Why wouldn't you want those things? I don't know. Anyway, I've got lots of different things going on. If you like what I'm doing, please check out more of that and I'll keep making more things. Thanks everyone. Bye bye.