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Up and Running with Illustrator
Illustration by

Setting up artboards


From:

Up and Running with Illustrator

with Deke McClelland

Video: Setting up artboards

In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to change the size, quantity, and position of artboards inside of an existing illustration. Currently, I have a single artboard that contains all four of my assets, and by assets I mean pieces of a larger project. So I've got two shirts and two shorts. Let's say I want to relegate each piece of clothing to its own artboard, so that I can print them separately and export them separately as well. The first step would be to figure out how big this artboard is by going up to the View menu choosing Rulers and choosing Show Rulers.

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Up and Running with Illustrator
2h 52m Appropriate for all Jul 19, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

This course is a streamlined introduction to Adobe's popular vector drawing application. Expert Deke McClelland shows how to create professional-quality illustrations for print and electronic output, in the shortest time possible. The course covers the basics of setting up artboards, formatting type, drawing and combing path outlines, and applying dynamic effects.

Topics include:
  • Getting around an illustration
  • Drawing shapes and brushstrokes
  • Applying fills and strokes
  • Designing custom gradients
  • Creating type on a path
  • Working with the Layers panel
  • Scaling and rotating artwork
  • Drawing with the pen tool
  • Saving and exporting artwork
Subject:
Design
Software:
Illustrator
Author:
Deke McClelland

Setting up artboards

In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to change the size, quantity, and position of artboards inside of an existing illustration. Currently, I have a single artboard that contains all four of my assets, and by assets I mean pieces of a larger project. So I've got two shirts and two shorts. Let's say I want to relegate each piece of clothing to its own artboard, so that I can print them separately and export them separately as well. The first step would be to figure out how big this artboard is by going up to the View menu choosing Rulers and choosing Show Rulers.

Notice that my rulers are set to Points as by default. Points are great for measuring very small items like text and strokes and so forth, not so great when trying to measure the size of an entire artboard. So I'm going to switch over to a different unit of measure and I'll right-click inside either ruler, doesn't matter which one then choose your desired unit of measure, could be Millimeters or Centimeters. I'm going to work with inches, and I see that my artboard measure is 10 inches wide by 8 inches tall. Now if this were a typical Adobe application, I would change the size and quality of these artboards using the Document Setup command which I can get from the file menu or just by clicking on this Document Setup button here in the control panel.

And that would bring up those settings that we saw in the new dialog box back in the previous exercise. However, that's not the way it works inside of Illustrator. In Illustrator you switch to a completely different tool that tool is located toward the bottom of the toolbox it's the Artboard tool which you can also get by pressing Shift+O. I'm just going to click on that tool and notice the great thing about switching to this artboard mode is that I can now edit the size of the artboard not only numerically, but just by dragging handles. For example, I'm going to drag this right-hand edge here until that W value, see it there inside that Gray box to the right of my cursor.

The W value now reads 5 inches that's exactly what I want. I'll go ahead and release, and then I'll drag the bottom handle up and I'm hoping that I can get the H value of course height to read 4.5 inches, but I keep snapping to various elements of these beige shorts. If you want to modify the size of an artboard numerically you go up here to the Control panel and the first thing we need to do is change that Reference Point. It shouldn't be set to the center; it should be set to the top instead. So I'll click on the top of that Reference Point matrix there and what that will do is it will make sure that the top of my artboard remains fixed in place and just the bottom moves upward.

Now I'll change my H value from 4.58 inches in my case to 4.5, press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to accept that change. Now I could go ahead and draw a new artboard just by dragging with this artboard tool. However, it's going to be easier if I duplicate my existing artboard, because I want both of the artboards for the shirts to be the same size. I'll press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to undo that modification. What I want to do is duplicate this artboard, which you do by pressing the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and dragging the artboard to a different location, but before I do that I want to show you what's going to happen.

If I were to just drag this artboard, whether the Alt or Option key is down or not, I would go ahead and move all objects that are even slightly associated with this artboard. The same thing would happen if I were to duplicate the artboard, I would go ahead and copy these objects as well, which is not something I want. So I'll press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac to undo that change, then I'll go up to the Control panel and I'll turn off this icon, the one that says Move/Copy Artwork with Artboard. Click on it to turn it off and now you can move the artboard independently of the shirt and shorts, like so.

All right, I'll press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac to undo that movement. Now I'll go ahead and drag this artboard to the right and I'll make sure I see that horizontal green intersect line, so I've aligned both artboards horizontally. And now I'll press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, and I'll drop that artboard in the place, and then, I'll release the Alt or Option key. Now then here is a weird thing notice that the artboard is called Artboard 1 copy. That's no good, but up here in the control panel it's called Artboard 2. All you need to confirm that's the new name of the artboard by actually selecting it and then pressing the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac, because otherwise it doesn't actually take.

All right, now I want to scoot this artboard over to the right a little bit and I'm going to press Shift+Right Arrow, which will nudge the artboard in 10 point increments five times in a row 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. And the reason I counted that out is because I want to make sure the vertical gutter measures the same distance. Let's return artboard 1 by clicking on it, and then I'll drag it down, make sure that I see a green vertical line this time, which tells me that I have vertical alignment. Snap the top of the new artboard to the bottom of the existing one, press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and then release.

And that artboard comes in at the proper location, I'll go ahead and press Shift+Down Arrow 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 times, this time around. I also want to drag up on the bottom of this artboard until I see that its H value, the height of the artboard is exactly 3.5 inches. There it is. Now I need to rename this artboard, up here in the control panel I'll call it Artboard 3. And then I'll go ahead and drag this guy over to the right, until I see two Green lines, both the vertical one and a horizontal one, as well as the word intersect right there in the center, which shows me that I'm aligning to both artboards 2 and 3, and I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and release that artboard as well.

And let's go ahead and just confirm that its name is Artboard 4, by selecting that 4, reentering it, and pressing the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac. All right that takes care of the artboards. In order to return to the standard illustration mode, you press the Escape key and that not only returns you to your illustration, but it goes ahead and selects that Black Selection Arrow as well. Now I'll go ahead and scroll my illustration downward, and in doing that, by the way, by pressing the spacebar and dragging, that gives me the H and tool on the fly. I'm going to show you how that works along with a bunch of other navigation tricks in the next exercise, but for now what I want to do is align these objects to their artboards.

I'm going to click on the blue shirt. It's all one big group, so a single click selects the whole thing. Now I'll go up here to the Control panel and I'll switch from Align to Selection. Go ahead and click that icon and then choose Align to Artboard. Now you can click Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center to exactly align that artwork. I'm going to do the same thing for the Pink shirt. I'll try to do the same thing with these Khaki shorts, I don't know if it will work. I'll try Horizontal Align Center, sure enough for some reason it has in his mind that's part of artboard 2 or 4, I don't know what, so I'll go ahead and drag it.

So it knows that it's part of artboard 3 there, and then I'll select Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center. And now I'll grab these black shorts and I actually know what it thinks it's align to; because as soon as I select the black shorts artboard 3 is still highlighted it has a black outline. Illustrator is going to try to align it to that artboard, unless I drag it into artboard 4. Now I'm seeing a black outline around that artboard, that's a good thing and I'll click on Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center, and the deed is done.

I now have each asset relegated to an independent artboard, so that I can print them separately and export them separately here inside Illustrator.

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