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Illustrator has a fantastic feature called Symbols. Symbols are a way for you to manage repeating design elements that may appear inside of your file. If you take advantage of the benefits of using symbols, you'll find that you can create designs very efficiently. More importantly, make changes in a very short amount of time. Let's take a look at how you might use symbols in a document. If you want to follow along, open up the using symbols file, which you'll find in Chapter 13 of the exercise files. I'll open up my Symbols panel, and I'll see that I have here a collection of symbols already in this document. While some people think that symbols are clipart, that's not the case at all. A symbol is some kind of piece of art, or collection of art that you may have created inside of Illustrator, which can then be defined as a repeating element.
It's important to note that anything can be defined as a symbol, with alone exception of a placed linked image. In this example I have this symbol that I've created here called Surf Highway. If I want to place that here in this particular file, I can simply drag out of the Symbols library, and place it right onto my page. If I know I'm going to be using symbol on lot of different places, I could simply hold on the Option key to create a copy of that, and drag it to other places as well. For example, I'll just drag a few of them out of my document here. Notice that I also have a bounding box here. I can go ahead and click on these to actually resize them. I could rotate these as well. In fact, I would use any of the tools that we already know, for example, the Transformation tools, for rotating, sliding so on and so forth. You can even change the Opacity level by clicking on it, going to where it says, Opacity, and I'll change that one to about 50%.
When working with symbols it's important to know that when you drag it around onto the artboard are referred to as symbol instances. So the symbols actually live here inside of the Symbols panel, but as you drag them out onto the artboard, they become instances. You can have several instances, but these instances all reference the same symbol that exists here inside of the Symbols panel. For example, let me move this one down a little bit. Let's say I wanted to use a graphical element as I bullet items for these settings right here. I have a lovely Hawaiian flower, which maybe I'll use here as well. I'll drag this out, and I'll position them, say one right over here, I'll move one over here, and one over here as well.
What's important to know about symbol instances is that they are simply a placeholder for whatever graphic appears inside of the symbol. But at any time I could swap out one particular symbol for another. For example, I can click on this symbol right here, which I've scaled to be much larger, and if I wanted to actually have that be a flower instead, I could simply come over here in the Symbols panel, highlight the Hawaii flower, then you come over to the flyout menu here, and choose to replace that symbol. Now that symbol that was before the Highway symbol, now has been replaced with the flower. Again, the instance itself is just a placeholder for whatever symbol I point to in the Symbols panel. It's important to realize though that the scale attributes that I applied to it still remained. Let's try that one more time with these particular symbols right here.
If I click on this one, hold own the Shift key and select these three symbols right here, I could highlight for example, this little surfboard icon, and choose to replace it with that particular icon, and those symbols replace here as well. Let me just move it over just a little bit more. Maybe that's the way that I would have those particular bullet items appear. The power of symbols go way beyond just being able to swap out one graphic for another. As we'll see in the next movie, you can obviously create your own artwork for symbols.
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