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Illustrator Notes & Problem Solvers

I love Illustrator. It’s admittedly not that easy to use at first, and if you haven’t worked with Adobe’s programs before, it can take a little while to get the hang of the different tools. Once you learn though, it is so much fun, and you can get really creative with your own designs. It is not the easiest program to teach yourself, so I would advise taking at least one basic Illustrator course, which you can find in lots of places (adult education centers, photo and design schools, etc.)

Below are a few tips and problem solvers that may come in handy. I plan to build on this list, so keep checking back.

  • Always work in layers. It will save you tons of time later if you want to make changes, or just use a few layers for a new document. You can turn layer visibility on and off by clicking the little eye next to the layer name in the palette. You can lock and unlock one or several layers by clicking the box next to the eye.layersflyout
  • It’s a good idea to name the layers. This is especially helpful if you are working on a huge document with tons of layers, or if you are two or more people all working on the same document. Or if you want to go back and make changes to one particular layer say a year after you created the document. To change the layer name, click on the flyout menu on the layers palette, click on Options for “Layer 1” and type in your new layer name.
  • If you can’t see the palette you need (transparency, color, align etc.), go to the Window menu and click on the one you need – a small window of your selection will pop up
  • If you add photos or other images to your design, make sure you embed them in the linkspflyoutmenuhighlightdocument. Otherwise, if you move those images on your drive, or put them on a different drive, Illustrator will not be able to find them. You embed a photo (or image) by opening the Links Palette (in the Window menu). You will see thumbnails of all the photos in the document. Make sure the photo you want to embed is selected, and click on the flyout menu and go down about halfway and select Embed Image. That’s it!
  • If you want to save a color you created in the color palette, just click and drag on the little square filled with your new color (it’s right underneath the ikons for frame and fill) and pull it to the swatches menu. There, you can name it if you want.
  • There are always more ways than one to do pretty much everything in Illustrator: you can go to a menu and make your choice, use shortcut keys (Apple+Key on a Mac and Cntrl+Key on a PC), or right click and make your choice from the menu. Once you get comfortable using Illustrator, you’ll find the method that best fits your work flow.

If things are not doing what you expect them to, or an area you want to change is grayed out, there are a few things you can check:

  • make sure you have selected the appropriate tool (your current tool will be shaded in the tools palette
  • check so that you’re in the right layer (the layer you’re on will be shaded in the layers palette)
  • make sure the layer you need isn’t locked (if it is, just unlock it by pressing the lock symbol next to the layer name)
  • If the toolbox and all the palettes suddenly disappear, you probably hit TAB by mistake. Just hit TAB once again, and they will reappear

If you want to try your hand at Illustrator, check out one of my step-by-step tutorials:

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