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In this installment of the Illustrator Insider Training series, Mordy Golding shows how to draw vector artwork quickly, precisely, and efficiently—without having to think about technical concepts like anchor points or control handles. The course highlights intuitive drawing techniques using the Pathfinder functions, Live Paint groups, Shape Builder tool, and variable-width strokes. It also describes the sketching workflow and features in Illustrator that use pressure-sensitive drawing tablets, allowing designers to focus more on their creativity.
When it comes to drawing inside of Illustrator, perhaps most important thing is being completely comfortable with the tools inside of Illustrator is that you're not focused on which tool do I use or where is that tool found in the menu? You should be able to find those keys immediately with your hands on the keyboard without even taking your eyes off the screen itself. We'll also be making heavy use of transformation tools it's like Rotate and Scale, for example. Those are things again that you should be able to do without having to look down at the keyboard or even hunting or searching for particular tool inside of the toolbar.
This toolbar here is very nice, but it's really there for just the first time that you want to start using a tool. The more familiar you become with Illustrator, the more you'll actually be removed from that toolbar and being focused purely on the artwork in front of you on the artboard itself. So in this movie, I want to focus on the keyboard shortcuts that you must know in order to really be comfortable drawing inside of Illustrator. Adobe has a really nice thing. If you go to the Edit menu, on the bottom here you'll see something called keyboard Shortcuts and this gives you a list basically of all those keyboard shortcuts for each of the tools and in addition also those for all the menu commands inside of Illustrator.
I'm not suggesting that you give yourself a quiz and you actually have to memorize all these keyboard shortcuts for every function inside of Illustrator. Rather what I want to share with you in this movie here is a way for you to understand the most important keyboard shortcuts, so that you within maybe even a day, you become completely comfortable with these keyboard shortcuts because these are the most important ones. We're going to be using a heavy dose of these basic or what I call primitive shape tools. I don't mean primitive meaning back in the Dark Ages. I mean primitive meaning they drove very basic shapes.
So the first tool over here if you go to the shape tools right here is called the Rectangle tool. An Illustrator does help you out a little bit. It has the keyboard shortcut for that tool if there is one assigned for it, listed on the far right and that also exist, by the way, for menu commands. So if I go to the File menu, for example, I can see that the keyboard shortcut for Save is Command+S. If you're on a Windows machine, you would see that it says Ctrl+S. But here is my advice on how to basically become more comfortable when using tools and functions that do have keyboard shortcuts.
Say you want to use the Ellipse tool. You don't know by heart that the Ellipse tool is the L key. So you would go here to the Tools panel, you'd click over here on the Rectangle tool and you would see that the Ellipse tool has a keyboard shortcut of L. So my advice to you is now don't choose the Ellipse tool yet. Go back to the Rectangle tool and now force yourself to hit the L key to now switch to the Ellipse tool. Do to the same thing when you are working inside of Illustrator. If you go to the File menu and you realize you want to save something instead of choosing File and then Save, come down here, see what keyboard shortcut is, in this case it's Command+S, go back to File and don't choose that option, and then on the keyboard press that option which brings up the dialog box.
In this way, it may be a little bit more painful at front, but I guarantee you that's the best way to learn how to use these keyboard shortcuts. More importantly that become committed to memory so quickly that you won't think about them when you need to use these functions. Now if you want to use Line Segment tool-- and it may seem like pretty basic, like why are we going to be using the Line tool-- you'll see later on this title that we're actually going to make pretty good use of the Line Segment tool inside of Illustrator and the keyboard shortcut for that is the Backslash key, not the Forward slash key. The Forward slash key, by the way, you'll find at the bottom of your keyboard in the right side and that's the keyboard shortcut for the None attribute.
For example, you have an object that's filled with a color and now you want to fill it with None. We know that these keyboard shortcuts exist to allow us to select those tools, but we'll also find that while we're actually using the tools we have the ability to use additional keyboard shortcuts to help us draw these shapes in a very specific way. So let me give you an example. I am going to press the M key on my keyboard. That gives me the Rectangle tool. I can now click and drag to draw rectangle and notice that when I am doing so, I actually start from the upper left-hand corner and I'm dragging down and to the right.
That gives me a rectangle this way. I could choose to drag up and to the left, but again, whichever way you're more comfortable with that so you can draw a shape. However, if while I am holding the mouse button down, I'm still dragging with the mouse, I press and hold down the Option key on a Mac, and again that'll be the Alt key on Windows, you can see that the origin point is now coming out from the center of my object. This allows me to draw artwork outwards from a specific point and we'll soon find that as we're drawing shapes that can be very helpful because it gives us a much better way of positioning our artwork as we're drawing it.
Now if I start to click and drag again and I hold down my Shift key, you'll notice that now I'm constraining the Rectangle tool to only draw a perfect square, meaning all the sides now are equal in length. If I don't hold the Shift key down, I could draw rectangles. Tall and thin or wide. I have the ability to adjust how I'm creating the rectangle by using the Shift key. Now notice also if I hold down the Option and the Shift keys together, I'm drawing out a perfect square from the center basically of where I've clicked from. So these are ways again that I could modify my artwork as I'm drawing it.
Another thing that I can do is I can click and hold my mouse button down and again, the key here is not to let go of the mouse. I can now press the Spacebar and the Spacebar lets me kind of freeze the drawing and actually move the shape anywhere else inside of my document. So if I'm drawing a shape over here and I realize that I kind of want to align it or move it somewhere else, I can press the Spacebar, move it to where I want it to go, and then let go the spacebar and continue drawing. Whenever you have a certain tool selected, that tool stays selected until you choose another tool.
So for example, if right now I am drawing rectangles, you'll notice that as I finished drawing a rectangle, my Rectangle tool is still selected on my toolbar and I'm ready to draw yet another rectangle. But let's say now that I've drawn this rectangle and I have committed it to my artboard, now I actually want to move this somewhere else, so I want to resize another shape or even I want to resize this shape right over here, I have to actually go back to my Selection tool to now go ahead and do that, either resize this object or select another object. Now if I want to draw more rectangles, I have to now go back to my Rectangle tool and now go ahead and choose to draw more rectangles.
So to avoid that, as you're working inside of Illustrator, it's important to know that no matter what tool that you're using, whenever you press the Command or the Ctrl key, so again that'll be Command on the Mac, Ctrl on Windows, Illustrator temporarily activates the last selection tool that you used. So right now I'm drawing with my Rectangle tool. I realize now I want to resize this shape. I can press and hold the Command key on my keyboard. Notice now, my cursor turns to the black arrow tool because that's the last selection tool that I used and now I can resize that shape.
Now if I let go over the mouse, I'm back to using my Rectangle tool and I can draw more rectangles. It's pretty straightforward and easy to understand when you understand how Illustrator kind of built these keyboard shortcuts. The V key on your keyboard, V for Victor, accesses the regular Selection tool or the solid arrow tool. Now to access the Direct Selection tool, press the A key,. So whenever you're working inside of Illustrator, always know that you can press the Command or the Ctrl key to go back to the last selection tool you used, but if you know specifically you need either the regular Selection tool or the Direct Selection tool, you can use the V or the A keys to access that.
Let's focus on just three more important keyboard shortcuts inside of Illustrator. We already know that I can press the V key, for example, to go back to my Selection tool and I can click on a shape to select it. But we're going find that we're going to be using the transformation tools a lot inside of Illustrator and there are three transformations tools that we'll use most often. The first one is the Scale tool. Now we know that there's a feature inside of Illustrator called the bounding box. The bounding box allows you to actually kind of move your cursor over just to the corner here and rotate a shape or to click on a handle and actually scale the shape.
So why would I need to have the Scale tool or the Rotate tool as individual tools if I can access it directly for the bounding box? We'll talk about the bounding box in another movie later on in this chapter. So if I want to scale something, I can press the S key on my keyboard for Scale. In fact, the transformation tools are pretty straightforward as far as how their keyboard shortcuts go. The R is the Rotate tool. If I want to mirror or reflect something, the keyboard shortcut for that is the letter O. The reason why the O is the shortcut for the Reflect tool is because the O if you kind of slice it in half and you kind of mirror it on both sides, it looks like a mirror image of itself.
It is so important as you work inside of Illustrator, you're going to be focusing on the arc that you need to create. The last thing you want to start doing is hunting for the specific tools or functions inside of Illustrator. We want to be comfortable with these keyboard shortcuts. A real good way to practice is to completely hide or close your toolbar altogether. That way you force yourself to use the keyboard shortcuts for these important functions.
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