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Using Smart Guides

From: Illustrator CS5 Essential Training

Video: Using Smart Guides

You already know about something inside of Illustrator called guides. Those are lines that you can basically draw inside of Illustrator. They can take on other shapes as well. But they act as these magnets. So that when you're drawing art or when you're positioning artwork, they snap to these guides to ensure that things are aligned correctly. However, Illustrator also has something called Smart Guides. These are guides that just seem to happen automatically. And they let you know when artwork is aligned. In other words, you don't have to draw the guides first. The guides just seem to automatically activate as you're moving artwork around.

Using Smart Guides

You already know about something inside of Illustrator called guides. Those are lines that you can basically draw inside of Illustrator. They can take on other shapes as well. But they act as these magnets. So that when you're drawing art or when you're positioning artwork, they snap to these guides to ensure that things are aligned correctly. However, Illustrator also has something called Smart Guides. These are guides that just seem to happen automatically. And they let you know when artwork is aligned. In other words, you don't have to draw the guides first. The guides just seem to automatically activate as you're moving artwork around.

Let me give you an example in this document. If I move this piece of art up just a little bit over here and I take this piece of art and I start to move it upwards as well, you can see that guides seem to appear as I move it to let me know where that artwork is currently being aligned to. And that's what Smart Guides are. The reality though is that Smart Guides go beyond just helping you align objects. Let me press Undo a few times to go back to the original artwork here. And we'll take a look at some of the settings that are a part of Smart Guides. For example, when I move my over artwork, you can see that they get highlighted.

Little words also appear. Path, anchor. As I work around, these little gray boxes with X and Y coordinates pop up. All these features are also the part of this Smart Guide feature set. Now granted sometimes, especially with this object highlighting, you may find that it's somewhat confusing or even bothersome to see these on your screen. So before we talk about the settings of Smart Guides itself, let me show you how you can actually toggle Smart Guides on and off. You do so by going to the View menu and choosing the Smart Guides option.

The keyboard shortcut, which I think you should become familiar, with is Command+U on Mac or Ctrl+U on Windows. For example, as I move my mouse over this artwork, it becomes highlighted. But if I press Command+U, now I've turned off Smart Guides. I can move my cursor around without the Smart Guides getting in my way. But one of the really nice things about Smart Guides is that Adobe allowed us to set preferences to control which parts of Smart Guides we want to see. For example, the alignment capabilities might be very valuable to us. But maybe we don't care so much about the highlighting.

Or if you're dealing with very complex artwork, the highlighting may be very important to you but you really don't care about the alignment because maybe you have guides setup or you're using the align palette or some other method to align your artwork. In fact, some artwork you may not want to have aligned at all. If you're creating fine art or free- form drawings, you may not want to have those alignment settings at all. So rather than just having one global setting, turning Smart Guides on or off, let's learn now how to control Smart Guides to do exactly what we want to do. The settings for Smart Guides are found in your Preferences panel.

I'll press Command+K or Ctrl+K to open up Preference panel. And from the popup menu, I'm going to choose Smart Guides. First, you can choose a color for your Smart Guides and a Snapping Tolerance. If you specify a high value for Snapping Tolerance, as long as your cursor is anywhere near in the vicinity of other shapes or aligning to other objects, Smart Guides will kick in. If you use a very low value for Snapping Tolerance that means you'll need to be really, really close to other artwork for these Smart Guides to appear. The default setting in Illustrator is 4 points.

I'll be honest with you, I sometimes find that value to be just a little bit too big for me. Especially, when I'm dealing with very complex art where I have lots of artwork in small areas. I personally prefer a Snapping Tolerance of 2 points. And I find that helps me because I'm usually zoomed in very close to my artwork anyway. But let's focus on some of the settings here in the middle of this panel. First, let's talk about Alignment Guides. These are the guides that appear to let you know whether your artwork is going to be aligned with other art in your document. It will also help you align your artwork to guides and the edges of artworks.

When working in Illustrator, this is probably one of the most valuable parts of Smart Guides. Nine times out of ten, I'm leaving the Alignment Guides setting turned on. Object Highlighting is that we've seen before where when you move your cursor over objects that path becomes highlighted. It can certainly be helpful when you have very complex art and you want to make sure that what you're about to click on is the piece of art that you're trying to select. However, if you don't want that setting turned on, just simply uncheck this box. Transform tools are guides that kick in when using any of the Transform tools inside of Illustrator. That refers to rotating artwork, scaling artwork, sharing or skewing artwork, or reflecting or mirroring artwork.

I find this very useful many times when I'm working, so I like to turn this setting on. Construction Guides refer to when you're actually drawing artwork with say the Rectangle tool or maybe the Line Segment tool. You can specify that guides appear at certain angles. You can either choose from the popup list of different settings or you can specify your own custom values here as well. As you make adjustments to these values, you'll actually see a preview up here in this window. The Anchor/Path Labels are the words that appear when you mouse over anchor points.

Again, when working inside of Illustrator, they may help to identify when objects snap to other paths or anchor points. But again personally, I don't find as much value with that. So I usually turn this setting off. Finally, there are Measurement Labels. I find these extremely helpful. These are those gray boxes that appear with the values inside of them. For example, as you're drawing out a rectangle, you will actually see the size of that rectangle being displayed as you draw it. When you move objects, these labels will also tell you how far you're moving that shape. When you're done, simply click OK to go ahead now and accept those preferences.

Now, whenever you turn Smart Guides on using the Command+U keyboard shortcut, it'll use the settings that you've just specified now in that Preferences dialog box. For example, if I go to my View menu and I turn my Smart Guides on, notice that now when I mouse over my artwork, I don't see the object highlighting that I did it before because I didn't want that specific setting. However, I do see the measurement settings. In this way, I get Smart Guide to do what I want it to do. And rather than get in the way of my experience inside of Illustrator, they do just the opposite.

They help me get my work done faster.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS5 Essential Training
Illustrator CS5 Essential Training

126 video lessons · 81255 viewers

Mordy Golding
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 3m 35s
    1. Welcome
      1m 18s
    2. What is Illustrator CS5?
      1m 46s
    3. Using the exercise files
      31s
  2. 12m 37s
    1. What are vector graphics?
      6m 3s
    2. Path and appearance
      3m 42s
    3. Stacking
      2m 52s
  3. 32m 6s
    1. The Welcome screen
      2m 23s
    2. Creating files for print
      6m 7s
    3. Creating files for the screen
      2m 55s
    4. Using prebuilt templates
      2m 40s
    5. Adding XMP metadata
      4m 18s
    6. Exploring the panels
      6m 33s
    7. Using the Control panel
      3m 11s
    8. Using workspaces
      3m 59s
  4. 43m 44s
    1. Navigating within a document
      9m 15s
    2. Using rulers and guides
      7m 26s
    3. Using grids
      3m 6s
    4. Using the bounding box
      3m 37s
    5. Using Smart Guides
      5m 56s
    6. The Hide Edges command
      3m 22s
    7. Various preview modes
      3m 47s
    8. Creating custom views
      4m 3s
    9. Locking and hiding artwork
      3m 12s
  5. 28m 46s
    1. Using the basic selection tools
      8m 50s
    2. Using the Magic Wand tool
      5m 22s
    3. Using the Lasso tool
      2m 28s
    4. Selecting objects by attribute or type
      3m 37s
    5. Saving and reusing selections
      2m 15s
    6. Selecting artwork beneath other objects
      2m 13s
    7. Exploring selection preferences
      4m 1s
  6. 1h 16m
    1. The importance of modifier keys
      1m 52s
    2. Drawing closed path primitives
      11m 38s
    3. Drawing open path primitives
      5m 47s
    4. Understanding anchor points
      3m 43s
    5. Drawing straight paths with the Pen tool
      7m 37s
    6. Drawing curved paths with the Pen tool
      9m 47s
    7. Drawing freeform paths with the Pencil tool
      5m 33s
    8. Smoothing and erasing paths
      3m 8s
    9. Editing anchor points
      7m 21s
    10. Joining and averaging paths
      10m 9s
    11. Simplifying paths
      4m 55s
    12. Using Offset Path
      2m 17s
    13. Cleaning up errant paths
      2m 32s
  7. 48m 26s
    1. The Draw Inside and Draw Behind modes
      7m 34s
    2. Creating compound paths
      5m 56s
    3. Creating compound shapes
      8m 0s
    4. Using the Shape Builder tool
      10m 28s
    5. Using Pathfinder functions
      8m 6s
    6. Splitting an object into a grid
      1m 16s
    7. Using the Blob Brush and Eraser tools
      7m 6s
  8. 49m 5s
    1. Creating point text
      4m 2s
    2. Creating area text
      8m 13s
    3. Applying basic character settings
      7m 44s
    4. Applying basic paragraph settings
      4m 28s
    5. Creating text threads
      8m 25s
    6. Setting text along an open path
      6m 29s
    7. Setting text along a closed path
      6m 24s
    8. Converting text into paths
      3m 20s
  9. 18m 55s
    1. Create a logo mark
      11m 26s
    2. Add type to your logo
      7m 29s
  10. 42m 42s
    1. Using the Appearance panel
      8m 21s
    2. Targeting object attributes
      4m 42s
    3. Adding multiple attributes
      4m 25s
    4. Applying Live Effects
      5m 18s
    5. Expanding appearances
      4m 42s
    6. Appearance panel settings
      4m 33s
    7. Copying appearances
      4m 51s
    8. Saving appearances as graphic styles
      5m 50s
  11. 34m 0s
    1. Applying color to artwork
      5m 57s
    2. Creating process and global process swatches
      8m 54s
    3. Creating spot color swatches
      3m 19s
    4. Loading PANTONE and other custom color libraries
      4m 49s
    5. Organizing colors with Swatch Groups
      3m 31s
    6. Finding color suggestions with the Color Guide panel
      4m 24s
    7. Loading the Color Guide with user-defined colors
      3m 6s
  12. 50m 23s
    1. Creating gradients with the Gradient panel
      8m 12s
    2. Modifying gradients with the Gradient Annotator
      4m 37s
    3. Applying and manipulating pattern fills
      5m 33s
    4. Defining your own custom pattern fills
      9m 13s
    5. Applying basic stroke settings
      5m 22s
    6. Creating strokes with dashed lines
      3m 41s
    7. Adding arrowheads to strokes
      2m 45s
    8. Creating variable-width strokes
      4m 35s
    9. Working with width profiles
      2m 36s
    10. Turning strokes into filled paths
      3m 49s
  13. 32m 46s
    1. Creating and editing groups
      8m 18s
    2. Adding attributes to groups
      12m 17s
    3. The importance of using layers
      5m 9s
    4. Using and "reading" the Layers panel
      7m 2s
  14. 12m 13s
    1. Creating and using multiple artboards
      7m 52s
    2. Modifying artboards with the Artboards panel
      2m 2s
    3. Copy and paste options with Artboards
      2m 19s
  15. 31m 10s
    1. Moving and copying artwork
      3m 55s
    2. Scaling or resizing artwork
      6m 47s
    3. Rotating artwork
      2m 44s
    4. Reflecting and skewing artwork
      2m 34s
    5. Using the Free Transform tool
      2m 15s
    6. Repeating transformations
      3m 39s
    7. Performing individual transforms across multiple objects
      2m 10s
    8. Aligning objects and groups precisely
      4m 27s
    9. Distributing objects and spaces between objects
      2m 39s
  16. 35m 40s
    1. Placing pixel-based content into Illustrator
      5m 14s
    2. Managing images with the Links panel
      4m 49s
    3. Converting pixels to paths with Live Trace
      8m 44s
    4. Making Live Trace adjustments
      6m 9s
    5. Controlling colors in Live Trace
      6m 4s
    6. Using Photoshop and Live Trace together
      4m 40s
  17. 14m 42s
    1. Managing repeating artwork with symbols
      4m 38s
    2. Modifying and replacing symbol instances
      3m 8s
    3. Using the Symbol Sprayer tool
      6m 56s
  18. 16m 57s
    1. Cropping photographs
      1m 59s
    2. Clipping artwork with masks
      3m 22s
    3. Clipping the contents of a layer
      3m 31s
    4. Defining masks with soft edges
      8m 5s
  19. 26m 2s
    1. Defining a perspective grid
      7m 48s
    2. Drawing artwork in perspective
      8m 46s
    3. Moving flat art onto the perspective grid
      9m 28s
  20. 25m 8s
    1. Printing your Illustrator document
      3m 26s
    2. Saving your Illustrator document
      6m 39s
    3. Creating PDF files for clients and printers
      7m 30s
    4. Exporting Illustrator files for use in Microsoft Office
      1m 4s
    5. Exporting Illustrator files for use in Photoshop
      2m 31s
    6. Exporting artwork for use on the web
      3m 3s
    7. Exporting high-resolution raster files
      55s
  21. 2m 18s
    1. Additional Illustrator learning resources
      1m 36s
    2. Goodbye
      42s

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