There are a number of ways to create a color palette for your Illustrator design projects, but if you’re looking for a harmonious palette based on two colors, the Blend Tool takes the cake! With the Blend tool, you can create two identical shapes filled with two different colors, then blend them with a set number of steps to mix new colors based on the two originals. The result? A harmonious swatch family to complement your next project!
To create new colors with the Blend tool, select the Rectangle or Ellipse tool from the Tools panel. Click and drag on the artboard to create a simple shape. Copy and paste the shape so you have two of the same shape. Fill each shape with one of each of the colors that you want to base the palette. Choose Object > Blend > Blend Options to display the Blend Options dialog box. Select Specified Steps from the Spacing pop-up menu, and then enter a number in the Spacing text box indicating how many different colored shapes you want Illustrator to create. A low number from 3-5 is ideal. Click OK.
Next, select the two shapes, choose Object > Blend > Make, and Illustrator will create the designated number of shapes, each with a different color mixed from the original two you started with! To add the colors to your Swatch panel, select the Eyedropper tool, click one of the swatches to make it the foreground color, click the options menu in the Swatches panel and select New Swatch. Finally, click OK in the New Swatch dialog box to add it to the panel. Repeat for each color.
One of the ways to make text set within an Area Type object more legible is to provide some padding between the text and the shape. Also known as inset spacing, this padding provides a margin of resting space for the viewer's eye. To add space between the text and the Area Type object, first select the Area Type object. Choose Type > Area Type Options to display the Area Type Options dialog box. Select the Preview check box, increase the Inset Spacing until the padding is sufficient for your needs, and click OK.
Making a selection and moving page elements is a pain when you accidentally grab other elements within close proximity, or accidentally move or delete items you want to remain in place. If this sounds familiar, you need to get in the habit of locking your page elements. It’s easy to do, and prevents you from inadvertently selecting, moving or deleting these items.
To lock a page element, select the item and choose Object > Lock > Selection. You can also press [command] ([Ctrl] in Windows). To unlock page items choose Object > Unlock All, or press [command][option]2 ([Ctrl][Alt]2 in Windows).
The Convert Shape command comes in handy when you decide mid-stream to change an existing shape, such as a rectangle, to something else, such as an ellipse. Just select the shape, choose Object > Convert Shape, and select your shape option from the pop-up menu.
If you want to set type in Illustrator, there are benefits to generating the text content in another application, such as Microsoft Word, and then importing the text into your Illustrator file. Word processing applications provide superior spell checkers and the ability to apply paragraph style, character style, and specific fonts. Illustrator will retain this text formatting when you import the text. Bear in mind, if the text document is prepared on a different computer, you’ll need to install the same fonts (or acceptable substitutes) on the computer you use to create your Illustrator design.
Some programs offer a precise Past in Place option. Illustrator has a Paste in Front and Paste in Back, which is a great feature. But there is yet another lesser known way to paste an object in place Illustrator: Use the Rotate tool! First, choose the Selection tool from the Tools panel and then click on the object to select it. Double-click on the Rotate tool in the Tools panel to open the Rotate dialog box. Simply set the angle at 0 degrees and click Copy. Illustrator closes the dialog box and copies and pastes in place a duplicate of your selection!
When you’re designing promotional materials and websites for clients, you’re likely creating content within a particular color scheme. But the Swatches panel is often overrun with excessive swatches, making for a cumbersome task to find just the colors relevant to your project. Illustrator offers a convenient way to organize colors into groups for just this reason. In the Swatches panel, [shift]-click to select multiple contiguous swatches, or [command]-click ([Ctrl]-click in Windows) to select multiple non-contiguous swatches. Then, click on the menu button in the top right corner of the Swatches panel, and select Create New Color Group from the pop-up menu. You can also click the New Color Group button at the base of the Swatches panel. In the resulting dialog box, enter a name for your group in the Name text box, and click OK. Now all of your selected swatches are grouped together and they’re easy to access!
With advancements in customized software, there's something to suit everyone's work style these days! Take for example detachable tools! The Tools panel in Illustrator has so many tools to choose from, many of which you may never use. But you might be working on a project for an extended amount of time and need to keep handy a certain tool—and all of its sub tools. That's why Illustrator offers the option to detach many of the tools along with their sub sets so you can have the tools you need visible, as opposed to cycling through the one tool spot on the panel to access each individual tool. To do this, click and hold on a tool in the Tools panel that you want to detach, such as the Pen tool. Click the long vertical bar with the arrow on the right side of the tool pop-up panel, and Illustrator will detach a smaller panel with just that tool set! (Note: Not all tools carry this functionality.)
Creating seamless patterns is a cumbersome process, but the good news is you don’t have to go through that hassle. Illustrator comes with a number of pre-configured patterns that you can apply directly to an object as a fill. Select Window > Swatches to open the Swatches panel. Click on the options button and choose Open Swatch Library > Patterns, and then choose from one of the resulting libraries. Illustrator will open a new panel with that pattern library, displaying a number of pattern thumbnails. Then, with an object selected, click on one of the thumbnails in the library’s pattern panel to fill it with the pattern. It’s so easy!