Learn about using symbols for efficiency.
- [Instructor] If you've been working with Illustrator for any amount of time, then the chances are you've come across symbols, because they are very efficient when you have multiple instances of a piece of artwork in your illustration. You may not be aware though of dynamic symbols that were introduced into Illustrator just a couple of years or so ago. They have certain special properties that really do extend their usefulness, and maybe especially so when we're making maps.
Let's take a look at an example, so we can compare the two. In this exercise file I've got my symbols panel open. You get that from the Window menu if you can't see it already. What I tend to do when I'm working with new symbol sets is to delete the default ones that are in there. There's some artwork on the left-hand side here that I can simply drag into the panel to create a new symbol. I'll give it the name Marker and change it to static symbol.
You don't need to worry about anything else in the dialog for this exercise. If I hit OK, then our symbol is created, and I can use the selection tool and Alt or Option on my keyboard to drag copies. Excellent. If the master artwork changes, then all of the symbol instances would reflect that change. This is great, but I might show it to whoever I'm making the map for and maybe they'll say, we've got something that we'd like to do here with color, so we thought restaurants could all be green, and we thought that maybe bookstores could be orange, or whatever, and then you find yourself making loads of additional symbols, because while you can get the direct selection tool and click on a symbol, and choose another color from another location, if I go to my swatches here, for example, even though the interface tells me its color's changed, it hasn't.
You can stain symbols with the symbol stainer tool, but really that's not what we want to do here, and there's no need, if we've got dynamic symbols. Let's make one of those. If we get the artwork on the right, and drag that in, okay I'll call this one Demarker, like so. I don't need to change anything else, because dynamic symbols are the default. Then, I'll Alt drag some copies across, like so. Of course Option, if you're using that keyboard.
Then, I'll get my direct selection tool again. This time, when I click on the symbol, you'll notice it's very different the way it shows its selection. That's because I'm actually getting the component that's underneath, rather than the whole thing. You'll see if I click here, there's a boundary. If I click on this, it's a very clearly defined mark. If I now go to my swatches, I can override its appearance by applying different colors.
See, that makes it very, very flexible indeed. In fact, I can get to other parts of the marker if I want to. If for example I wanted to change this to (laughs) full on green, that's not as radioactive, and change the shape there, that looks like a D. It's not actually type, it's just a piece of artwork. I can modify all of those things really, really easily. It makes it incredibly flexible.
Do investigate them. We'll be using them later on in the course too. If this is the first time you've come across them, perhaps now may be a good time to have a little practice.
- Understanding where your map will be used
- Finding reference material
- Using symbols and masks
- Drawing roads, rivers, buildings, and other landmarks
- Adding type
- Enhancing your map
- Adding interactivity and animation