Discovering Lesser Known Adobe Illustrator Tools
I love Adobe Illustrator. I get to know it better every day I use it, and today I wanted to share a few lesser known Adobe Illustrator tools that I’ve gotten to know recently.
1. The blob brush tool
Listen. You can use the pencil tool or the brush tool all day when your goal is to draw something by hand. But when it comes to filling in that shape, what do you do? Like, seriously, what is your go-to? Do you make the brush bigger and scribble? Heaven forbid you try the same thing with the pencil tool.
Here’s what happens when you fill something in with the brush tool:
Introducing: The blob brush tool. This lesser known Adobe Illustrator tool is a game-changer for anyone who likes neat endings and hates stray anchor points. Just do shift+b instead of b, and this is what you’ll get:
This tool draws shapes instead of strokes, and it automatically connects shapes to each other when they overlap. This is all one shape, instead of several strokes!
2. The pattern brush tool
Go to Window>Brushes or go to your little icon that looks like this:
This is your brushes pallete. Did you know that you can add anything – any shape or combination of shapes – to your brushes and then use it as a brush? Just make a shape, drag it to the brushes pallete, and then click “ok” on the boxes that pop up.
More than that, you can choose how you want the stroke to change on curves, corners, and ends by adding your custom shapes to the brush!
Once you have your pattern brush created, you can apply it as a stroke to shapes, pencil strokes, pen strokes, and anything that has a stroke. This lesser known Adobe Illustrator tool can lead to some really cool designs, and save you a LOT of time and trouble!
3. The blend tool
Object>Blend>Make or Command+Alt+B
This takes two objects and blends them. Above is a simple “smooth color” blend, where it took the two objects (text that was converted to shapes) and created a new object with a color tone right in the middle.
This is what the above picture looked like originally:
And then the blend tool gave the middle shape.
But this lesser known Adobe Illustrator Tool can do more than that. Object>Blend>Blend Options gives you more tools:
You can choose a number of steps between your two objects and it will give you a transition. This works for two completely different shapes, too, and the middle shapes will be some combination of the two shapes.
4. The symbol sprayer tool
This can be super handy when you’ve created a logo. Once you’ve created something and you have it selected, you can open up the symbols palette (Windows>Symbols) and add it to your symbols. Then you can go to your symbol sprayer tool, click on your icon, and click where you want the logo to go. You don’t have to place or import or copy or drag a .png that you’ve made and saved – this lesser known Adobe Illustrator tool will change the way you do things!
For example, I wish I’d known about this tool when I was adding my logo to all of these photos.
For more lesser-known tools that will enhance your creativity, see Bittbox’s article.