Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating with keyboard shortcuts, part of Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory.
(swooshing) - [Instructor] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. Everyone has their own way of working when it comes to their creative process. I want to share with you how I use keyboard shortcuts in Illustrator to speed up my vector building and make things a bit more efficient workflow wise. Now, I've been using these methodologies for the last 15 years since I switched from Macromedia Freehand, which I used that app for 15 years, and switched over to Illustrator and I've been using Illustrator now for 15 years.
These work really well and it's all about speeding up your build process. Now, I should point out that I'm using the latest version of Adobe Illustrator but, that said, don't worry about it because this functionality can go all the way back to CS4 even and probably even before that, so, if you don't have Creative Cloud, don't worry about it, you can still customize your workflow and become far more efficient. So, I just want to go through each one of the keyboard shortcuts that I have setup on my workstation and explain how I use them and why I use them and I think you're going to understand by the time you're done with this movie why it's important to customize your workflow, it enables you to get more work done and do it easier and the first one is the F1 key.
All of these are assigned to F keys on my keyboard so I can just hit one button and perform the task at hand and the first one is F1, it's make a clipping mask. So, if I had to take this cat artwork and mask it, I would have to take this shape and I would have to go command C to copy it and command F to paste it and then I'd have to go to Object, Arrange, Bring to Front, and you'd have to memorize whatever this command is, I never did, in order to bring it to front and then once it's in front, you'd select both and then to mask, you'd have to go to Object and you'd pull down to Clipping Mask and Make.
Well, that takes roughly three or four seconds to do all of that. If you use this functionality, let's say, conservatively speaking, a thousand times a year, you're investing over an hour of your time just to make content within Illustrator. I know for me it's way more than that. So, think about all the various things you do that could be simplified into one button pushes and that's probably a good candidate for a keyboard shortcut.
So, I'm going to show you how I do it. I select this and I'm actually jumping a little ahead and using another keyboard shortcut which is the F3 key, clone, to do this, but I'm going to select this shape and hit F3, select both these shapes and hit F1, done. Now, I'm talking while I'm doing this, so it's even taking longer than it normally does. I do this without thinking now, since I've been doing it for 15 years, it's second nature to me. So, that's F1 to mask something really quick. We'll go to F2 and F2 is to release clipping mask.
Once you've created it, how do you unrelease it? Well, if you're doing it the traditional way, once again, you go to Object, down to Clipping Mask, Release. In this case, I have F2, so I can just hit F2, done. It's that quick. So, that's why I use it, it cuts down the time. So, think about that context as we go through all the rest of them because that is the reason why I use these and it's just easier. I don't want to remember some nebulous little name some engineer assigned to a function that doesn't really make sense and if you try to do it with one hand on your keyboard, you know, you have to be a contortionist at times to reach those keys, so, I don't like doing that.
We're going to go to the next one, F3, and this is the clone command. Now, this one is using recorded actions assigned to an F key. Not technically a keyboard shortcut but it works like a keyboard shortcut. Now, I'm going to provide you a resource at the end of this movie that will explain how to set all of this up on your own system, so don't worry about that at this point but suffice it to say that this takes the command C, command F command, and here's a good example of an engineer applying a command shift plus command plus bracket.
Who's going to remember that? Nobody's going to remember that. I never remember it. But that brings your image to the front, it arranges it in properly. So, why would I use this command? This is probably one of the keyboard commands I use the most, so, if we go in here, if I select this eye, and we'll go ahead and clone this and it's just F3 and once you can see, it clones those shapes, we're going to go ahead and colorize this, we'll colorize it this color, I'll clone these again, F3, I'll hit it again, and we'll color these this turquoise, I'll slide this up, and you can see we have our original shapes.
We'll zoom in a little further and once I have these, I can select these two, go to my pathfinder, trim it, go here, trim it like this, and I never touched my pull down menu. So, I use these functions to clone shapes and create content all the time just like that, it saves me a ton of time and all that time saves me money because I'm not wasting my time going to pull down menus. Now, the next one is the F4 key and this is send back. This is very simple.
If you did this traditionally, you'd have to select something, go up to Object, go to Arrange, pull over, Send to Back. Notice I have F4 assigned to this so I can select an image, let's say I want this bone to be in the background, so I can hit F4 and it pushes it to the back. So, that's how that looks. Or maybe I said nah, you know what, maybe this one should go in the back and I can push that to the back. So, that's as simple as this function gets. F5 is a reversal of this, it's bring to front. So, maybe I've changed my mind, nah, bring that bone back to the front, hit F5, it brings it to front.
Once again, one button push on my keyboard, I don't have to think about it, I don't have to go to a pull down menu, it just saves time, so it's another time saver, it's more efficient, let's me focus on creativity, not menu items. Here is some artwork that's from a previous DVG lab and if I select it, everything's grouped. Now, group is easy. It's almost a universal command. Command G, almost every app uses the same command for group, command G, that's great.
Not so many apps use the same command to ungroup. It's really convoluted sometimes and so, in Illustrator, I wanted to simplify that, so I made it a one button push with F6, select my art, and hit F6, now everything's ungrouped, it's that easy. So, I use that one quite a bit as well. We'll jump to this one and this one's a little more complex, this is create a compound path. Now, I have another DVG Lab movie where I went over the compound path problem.
Well, Illustrator wouldn't call it a problem, I call it a problem because it's inconsistent from one tool to the next, the shape building tool handles compounds great, the pathfinder, it's hit or miss. I don't like using the shape building tool 'cause you have to have all your ingredients before you can use it, pathfinder, I build as I go, that's why I enjoy using that process. If we select these shapes on these fishes, let's say we'll color them green here and I want to add, if actually, let's show you this first, on the appearance panel, this is a compound path and I want to take these scales, which are also a compound path, and kind of punch them out of this green artwork so it shows through like the eyes and the gills of the fish here.
So, I'll select both shapes and I'll go minus front with pathfinder and I get that look and feel I'm after but if I select this shape and go to the appearance panel, notice it's a group now, it removes the compound nature, this is that inconsistent behavior inside Illustrator that was the most frustrating thing to me when I moved to Illustrator because in Macromedia Freehand, for example, everything, by default, was a compound unless you told Illustrator you didn't want a compound.
I think that makes more sense and I wish it was that way in Illustrator but it isn't. So, to fix it, I set up my own compound. In this case, I'd have to select the art, go to Object, pull down to Compound and Make, but notice I have F7 setup, so as soon as I run a pathfinder function, I hit F7 to return compound. Now, maybe I decide later I want to put scales on this fish, so if I select these two, minus front, I'm going to lose that compound nature again but, in this case, I just hit F7 really quick and it fixes it.
So, that's how I use that, it works really well. Here's another one, deselect. This is easy, if you're zoomed in on an image and you have access to the background but you're focused on something you want to deselect to maybe preview your art without it highlighting the anchor points, you can just touch the background to deselect, that's easy, but sometimes you're in the midst of creating, maybe you're on this nose part and you have the blob brush and you're kind of refining the shape like this and you're working on it and you're not sure and then you decide, well, I want to deselect but there's no background to click and if you click something else, it'll just select something else like this brow right here, so, I setup the F8 key so when I'm in a situation like this, I just hit F8 and it deselects everything.
Not something I use all the time but when I do need it, it comes in very handy. And here's the next one, F9, this is a punch command, going back to my Freehand days. Freehand had a function called Punch much like the pathfinder but it retained the compound nature and I wanted that same behavior, so I did another recorded action that creates, it uses the minus front subtract feature found right here in the pathfinder and it also makes a compound path.
So, if I select this artwork, it's a compound, and if I select this detailing and I want to punch out of it, that's also a compound. With those two selected, I can hit F9 without even going to the pathfinder and it's going to punch those through and retain my compound. Maybe I want to do additional details, so I slide these over, select this shape, hit F9 again, and it creates the compound and retains the compound as well. So, I use that as well as I build and it's almost like being able to design your own functionality for your own workflow method and that's always a benefit to improve your creative process.
The next one is F10 and this is place. So, if you go to the File, you can see it says Place here. For a long time, you couldn't add this as a keyboard shortcut, it was impossible, you always had to go to the pull down menu then they finally added it and it's nice because now I have it assigned to the F10 key. You know how much I like using textures, so, I can just hit when I'm in a file and I want to add a texture, it might be on my Desktop, I just hit F10 and I go to my Desktop, I select my texture, and I go place and then I can place my texture over a design like this, in this case, I'll color it white, I might scale it down a bit like this, and then I might adjust the value, we'll do 80 and so I use the place command all the time with F10.
Now, two more I want to walk through and then we'll be done and the first one is using the option key plus F1. Now, as I build the design, I'm using a lot of different colors, here's a piece from an artwork that I created, maybe I decide I want to take this red tunnel value and I want to change it. Well, global colors is how you can do it, you can click into this and adjust the value and all the reds universally will change but sometimes it's a matter of just selection, not changing color.
So, I can select one shape here and then I can hold option down and hit F1 and all the shapes using the same color will be selected. I can do that for any color, so, maybe it's the orange, hold Option, hit F1, it selects all those colors. So, I use this quite a bit when I'm coloring and when I'm composing a design or illustration and the next one is option F2 and this is kind of like the fill but it focuses on stroke. So, if we go to key line view here, all of this stroke-based artwork, with exception of the fills on the fruit as shown here, so, let's say I want to select all of the vector strokes for the grapes in this art.
Well, I'd have to go in and manually select all this art and that could take quite a bit of time. If I just select one and if I go in here and let's say I select this outline and I go Option, F2, it's going to select all of the iterations of a purple stroke, whether it's this thick one or the thin one, so that's very, very helpful, maybe it's the outline of the leaves and I decide I want to maybe change that a little bit or select all of those and move them, I can hold Option down and hit F2 to do the same thing for those as well, so, I use that quite a bit as well.
All of these methods I've showcased work well for me and since I've been using them for years now, they're all muscle memory and that is what you want. Make the process seamless, streamlined, and easier for you. So, take some time, figure out what routine methods or functions you can simplify into one button pushes and customize your own creative workflow using keyboard shortcuts and recorded actions. Now, to help you setup your own, I've included a free chapter from my book, Vector Basic Training, and it's in the exercise files for this movie and that's going to walk you through exactly how to set all of these up and record your own actions.
So, make sure to check that out and it will guide you in that process. I love any excuse to create new artwork, so if you have a question you'd like me to cover in a future DVG Lab movie, then please, by all means, email me at email@example.com. Thank you for watching DVG Lab. Until next time, remember, as always, never forget, don't stop drawing.
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