Quick tips for Illustrator

Following up on yesterday’s InDesign tips, here are a few of my favorite Adobe Illustrator tips, for your weekend reading pleasure:

Flipping and selecting colors

You can set the fill or stroke to “None” simply by hitting the slash (‘/’) key. And finally, you can open the Adobe Color Picker easily by double-clicking either the fill or stroke icon in the Tools panel.

Global color swatches

The advantage of using Global colors is that when you change its attributes, all instances of that color in your document are updated automatically. This can be a huge time-saver if your document uses the same color on many different objects—especially if that color is contained in a gradient, or on locked layers. Additionally, you can specify a “tint” of a Global process color, something you would have to do manually without the Global Color feature.

Global colors in the Color Panel are indicated by the white triangle in the lower right corner of the swatch.

Color on the spot

Spot colors in the color pane are indicated by the dot inside the white triangle in the lower right corner of the swatch.

Saving your colors

Checking color mode and resolution of placed images

Illustrator linked file

All you have to do is select the image in your Illustrator document and look up in the Control panel across the top of the screen. Along the left side you’ll see the name of the placed image, the color mode and the effective resolution of the file - in the screenshot above you’ll see that the image has a color mode of CMYK and a resolution of 300 dpi, perfect for commercial printing. However, if the resolution is too low, you can scale the image down which will make the resolution higher.

You’ll also notice that you can click the button just to the right of the resolution to embed the image. This can be quite handy for those designers who are confident in their file structure and knowledge of printing technology. However I generally recommend you avoid embedding images in Illustrator, it takes away any flexibility your printer might have in color correcting the image, and it bloats the file size, sometimes to astronomical proportions.

[James Dempsey runs the Creative Guy blog, which offers tips, tricks and opinion on a variety of design topics.]

Shop Tech Products at Amazon