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How symbols and instances work

From: Illustrator CC One-on-One: Mastery

Video: How symbols and instances work

In this movie, I'll show you how you work with symbols, and I'll also show you why they are such remarkable time savers. I'm looking at a kind of dimmed out map of Yellowstone National Park. And you can see that I have a handful of these picnic areas that are represented by these picnic table icons. Now, as opposed to collecting these paths into a group, for example, and then duplicating the group to new locations, what we're seeing is repeated instances of a single symbol. And to confirm that's the case, I'll go up to the Window menu and choose the Symbols command.

How symbols and instances work

In this movie, I'll show you how you work with symbols, and I'll also show you why they are such remarkable time savers. I'm looking at a kind of dimmed out map of Yellowstone National Park. And you can see that I have a handful of these picnic areas that are represented by these picnic table icons. Now, as opposed to collecting these paths into a group, for example, and then duplicating the group to new locations, what we're seeing is repeated instances of a single symbol. And to confirm that's the case, I'll go up to the Window menu and choose the Symbols command.

Or you can just click on this little clover icon over here in the panel column. And notice that we do indeed see the picnic area icon here inside the panel. If you're working along with me, go ahead and click on that symbol and then go to the symbols panel fly out menu and choose select all instances. And that goes ahead and selects every one of the picnic table icons here inside the document window. Alright, now let's say you want to make a modification to the table icon. There's two different ways to work. One of which I consider the wrong way.

I'll show you that up front because it's very convenient, but it offers some down sides. And then I'll show you my preferred way of working. I'll start things off by clicking off the picnic tables to deselect them. Then I'll double click on any one of them. And notice that that brings up an alert message telling you that you are about to edit this symbol. And any modifications you apply will affect every single instance in the document. Now, if you don't want to see this alert in the future, you can turn on the don't show again check box. But I'm going to leave it off just to make a point here.

And now, I'll click okay. And notice that you enter this symbol isolation mode. So you only have access to the picnic area symbol, and nothing more. Now, what I find confusing about this mode, is that you're seeing the symbol in the context of the rest of the artwork. So you might be tempted to look at it, and say. Well, obviously, the picnic table's too big, and it's in the wrong location. So I've gotta fix that first. So you might just go ahead and marquee all the paths, because there's many independent paths at work here. And then switch to say the scale tool, and go ahead and drag while pressing the shift key in order to scale the picnic table proportionally.

And then I might press the arrow keys a few times in order to nudge the table into a better location. Now at this point, if you're satisfied with your changes, then you want to exit the symbol isolation mode and save your changes just by tapping the escape key. But you can see because everyone of the instances has been independently scaled, as a result, all of the tables end up getting smaller. And it's quite the chore to undo this, by the way, because you've gotta press Control Z or Command Z on a Mac several times in a row. The first time you press Control Z, or Command Z on the Mac, you don't actually undo your changes, you just go back to the symbol isolation mode.

Then you've got to press Ctrl > Z or Cmd > Z repeatedly until you get back to the original version of the table. And then if you're lucky, you'll be able to press Ctrl > Z or Cmd > Z on a Mac to return to the actual unmodified version of the illustration. Or, you may find that the keystroke doesn't work and you have to press the escape key in order to escape the symbol isolation mode once again. Either way, it's a pretty laborious process. Compare that with merely double clicking on the actual symbol definition, here inside the symbols panel.

In which case, you'll see the symbol independently of the rest of the artwork. So, it's not out of kilter in context, in other words. And notice that we don't get an alert message either, which saves a step. Alright, I'm going to go ahead and zoom in on my artwork and make an authentic change this time around. For starters, I'm going to change the color of the background, so I'll press the v key to switch back to my black arrow tool. And I'll go ahead and marquee around these shapes right here, because this background comprises two independent shapes. And then, I'll go up to the fill panel flyout menu here.

And I'll change the fill color to this swatch right here, C85 M10 Y100 K10. In order to produce this brighter background. I'm also going to adjust the position of these benches, just by selecting each one, and pressing the left arrow key in the case of this guy, and the right arrow key in the case of this one. And by the way, I've set my keyboard increment to one point, which we can see now that I've pressed Control K or Command K on a Mac, to bring up the preferences dialog box. So as a result I've scooted each bench out one point.

Alright, now that I've spruced up the artwork, I'll go ahead and press the escape key in order to exit the symbol isolation mode and return to the document. Now I can't really see what I'm doing here because I'm so far zoomed in and that's a function of having zoomed in inside the isolation mode. So I'll just go ahead and zoom out a few clicks here by pressing Control minus or Command minus on a Mac. And we end up with this effect right there. So I've been able to modify several icons at a time just by editing the definition of a single symbol.

And that, friends, is your first taste for the power of working with symbols here inside Illustrator.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CC One-on-One: Mastery
Illustrator CC One-on-One: Mastery

85 video lessons · 9927 viewers

Deke McClelland
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 58s
    1. Welcome to One-on-One
      1m 58s
  2. 45m 11s
    1. The smartest of guides
      1m 36s
    2. Setting up angular construction guides
      4m 59s
    3. Shaving off miter joins and projecting caps
      4m 53s
    4. Precisely aligning angled logo artwork
      5m 52s
    5. Covering up gaps and seams in your logo
      7m 9s
    6. Creating ornaments based on miter joins
      5m 9s
    7. Hand-drawing letters as stroked paths
      9m 34s
    8. Kerning and clipping hand-drawn type
      5m 59s
  3. 49m 33s
    1. The benefits of using symbols
      1m 3s
    2. How symbols and instances work
      4m 54s
    3. Creating and naming symbols
      6m 42s
    4. Introducing 9-slice scaling
      4m 31s
    5. Customizing the effects of 9-slice scaling
      7m 5s
    6. Acquiring, trading, and previewing symbols
      6m 5s
    7. Duplicating and replacing symbol instances
      5m 45s
    8. Using symbols to simulate master pages
      6m 54s
    9. Advanced symbol modifications
      6m 34s
  4. 1h 12m
    1. Shading objects with Gradient Mesh
      1m 18s
    2. Creating a gradient mesh
      4m 23s
    3. Adding and deleting lines with the Mesh tool
      4m 27s
    4. Assigning colors to mesh points UPDATED
      6m 39s
    5. Finessing colors to add depth and shading
      6m 10s
    6. Creating a gradient with the Mesh tool
      8m 27s
    7. Wrapping gradients around circles
      4m 15s
    8. Working with slender, bending shapes
      8m 48s
    9. Creating soft and sharp transitions
      6m 17s
    10. Converting a linear gradient to a mesh
      7m 44s
    11. Converting a radial gradient to a mesh
      9m 16s
    12. Using gradients to cast shadows
      5m 10s
  5. 24m 23s
    1. Black conceals, white reveals
      1m 8s
    2. Introducing opacity masks
      6m 24s
    3. Assigning an empty opacity mask to a layer
      4m 45s
    4. Drawing inside an opacity mask
      4m 57s
    5. Fading artwork with a gradient opacity mask
      3m 3s
    6. Nesting one opacity mask inside another
      4m 6s
  6. 1h 6m
    1. Two ways to apply free-form distortions
      1m 6s
    2. Introducing the Warp tool
      7m 50s
    3. Brush size, Detail, and Simplify
      8m 20s
    4. Liquifying an isolated portion of a path
      9m 49s
    5. The Twirl, Pucker, and Bloat tools
      8m 37s
    6. The Scallop, Crystallize, and Wrinkle tools
      7m 6s
    7. Simplifying a path; creating a custom starburst
      6m 26s
    8. Applying an envelope-style distortion
      4m 34s
    9. Editing the contents of an envelope
      7m 40s
    10. Masking the contents of an entire layer
      5m 0s
  7. 30m 15s
    1. Transforming live and on the fly
      1m 44s
    2. Using the Free Transform tool
      4m 49s
    3. Transforming with respect to the center
      2m 24s
    4. Applying free-form and perspective distortions
      4m 16s
    5. Resetting the bounding box
      4m 37s
    6. Free transforming tile patterns
      3m 53s
    7. Using the Touch Type tool
      5m 12s
    8. Tweaking transformations numerically
      3m 20s
  8. 1h 14m
    1. Up to five tiles per pattern brush
      1m 12s
    2. Creating a basic pattern brush
      6m 29s
    3. Correcting a repeating pattern brush
      4m 6s
    4. Adjusting a pattern brush to match its path
      3m 21s
    5. Automating and designing a corner tile
      8m 52s
    6. Adding an angled loop to a corner design
      3m 44s
    7. Creating end tiles and tile perimeters
      6m 28s
    8. Cropping your designs inside your tiles
      4m 22s
    9. Assembling a seamless pattern brush
      5m 35s
    10. Adding a white buffer zone to a pattern brush
      6m 35s
    11. Reconciling very acute corners in a path
      8m 25s
    12. Creating a pixel-based-image pattern brush
      6m 20s
    13. Spacing and orienting pattern brushes
      8m 47s
  9. 43m 37s
    1. The pleasures and pitfalls of graphs
      1m 44s
    2. Importing and graphing numerical data
      7m 48s
    3. Modifying data to create a category axis
      4m 6s
    4. Reformatting text and values in a graph
      5m 40s
    5. Changing the Graph Type settings
      5m 27s
    6. Creating and applying a graph design
      8m 14s
    7. Repairing a broken pictograph
      2m 53s
    8. Re-creating a graph at the proper size
      7m 45s
  10. 37m 45s
    1. The five advantages of Illustrator in 3D
      1m 39s
    2. Introducing Illustrator's three kinds of 3D
      5m 6s
    3. Working in 3D space: Pitch, yaw, and roll
      5m 13s
    4. Lighting and shading a 3D object
      4m 13s
    5. Beveling the edges of a 3D extrusion
      4m 23s
    6. Creating live, editable 3D type
      4m 30s
    7. Adding cast shadows to 3D type
      3m 59s
    8. Assigning and editing a 3D Revolve effect
      4m 58s
    9. Mapping artwork onto a 3D object
      3m 44s
  11. 1m 10s
    1. See ya
      1m 10s

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