Adobe Illustrator: 2imagine’s Tips & Tricks

Innovating designs in Illustrator make you stand out. In this blog post, we'll highlight 2imagine's tips and tricks for Adobe Illustrator!

Roughly three months ago, we published a blog post on here revealing some of the hidden secrets of Adobe InDesign. In that post, we highlighted seven secrets we thought you should all know about. In this week’s blog post, we’re glad to share you with you another set of secrets we learned along the way, using Illustrator.

What’s the difference then?

As you may know, Adobe has a great variety of solutions they provide. There are three types of software that are a must for everyone into designing all things digital. More specifically, that software is Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. So, you might be thinking, what’s the difference between these?

Good thing you asked, we know quite a lot about Adobe’s Creative Suite. For starters, Photoshop is a raster-based program where every image is made up of pixels. InDesign, on the other hand, is vector-based. Its strengths? In summary, it can handle multiple pages and it can create master pages. Extremely useful for when you’re creating a book, a magazine or a catalog. Illustrator then mainly comes in handy for when you’re designing artwork that does not take up too much pages or spreads.

Back to our tips and tricks! We’ll be highlighting three techniques you most definitely need to follow to create innovative and outstanding designs.

1. Opacity Masks

Making intriguing designs can easily be done in Illustrator. One way to do so is by creating an opacity mask. To start designing, start by selecting an image or artwork for your artboard. Then, create a shape for your opacity mask on your artboard. You can also select a predesigned shape such as an oval or a square. Then, you need to place that shape on your artwork, where you want the mask to be. Subsequently, select the Transparency pen and click “Make Transparency Mask”. And voilà, there is your opacity mask in your design!

Using opacity masks is an innovative way to make an intriguing design. Making an opacity mask yourself is easy.
And, you can make tons of variations of them. Ready to try them out?

A bonus from integrating opacity masks in your designs? You have complete control over them: you can, for example, make your design more opaque or you can let it vanish at the edge. Besides, you can adjust the gradient of the mask, allowing you to make it darker or lighter.

2. Anchor Objects

It’s very likely you already know the main gist of this trick. However, we’ll explain why we think anchor objects are one of the best tools in Illustrator. When you’re aligning objects, you can simply select the objects and hit one of the “Align Object” icons in the Align window.

However, a little more control over your design is always welcome. If there’s an item that you want everything else to align with, follow the next steps to make your design plan succeed.

Anchor objects, or alternatively called key objects, are a huge help if you want to align every object in your design with one object.

Firstly, you need to select all of the objects that you want to align with one another. Next, you need to click on the object that you wish to use as the anchor object. If you selected your object of choice, the selection border of that very object will be now a little thicker. It is now the anchor object. And finally, to make everything align with that anchor object, click the appropriate Align Object icon. Every selected object will now be perfectly aligned with the object that you set as the anchor in your Illustrator design.

3. Gradient Brush

There are several ways how you can spruce up your design, but we highly suggest you try out the gradient brush. It has a very interesting look; however, creating it is not difficult at all. Simply follow the next steps and you’re good to go!

Firstly, you select the Rectangle Tool and create a small square (use Caps Lock to do so) in a color of your choice – without any contour. Next, you need to press both the Alt and the Caps Lock key in order to use the Selection Tool. Then, you drag the two copies you just created to the right of the original. And to finish up the process of creating a gradient, you change the colors of these copies to your liking. With all the squares selected, go to Menu > Object > Blend > Make, and voilà, there is your self-made gradient.

An easy way to spruce up your design, is by employing a gradient brush.
Now you can make designs time and again with your self-made gradient brush.

Now, to make your gradient brush, draw a curvy line with the Pen Tool. Make sure that fill and contour are not selected when you draw that line. Then, click on the Selection Tool and include all paths. Afterwards, go to Menu > Object > Blend > Replace Spine and optimize the gradient you just created for use. And finally, to turn your gradient into your gradient brush, select the whole thing and drag it into the Brushes Panel. Now, you can make designs in Illustrator using your gradient brush – alternatively called image brush.

Ready for take-off?

Illustrator definitely proves to be an extremely handy tool for when you’re making designs. Logos, leaflets or stunning posters. Nothing is too much for Adobe’s vector-based design program. And, designing no longer is a thing for masters of the tool only. With some little guidance, you too are able to create appealing designs. If you want to keep up with the latest evolutions of Illustrator tools, don’t forget to check out their Features page!

If you’re interested in hearing more about 2imagine’s secrets on Illustrator, make sure to keep an eye out for one of our next blog posts. A small hint? The innovations of the packaging industry in Illustrator.

Did we forget other tips and tricks of InDesign we all can use? Don’t forget to share it with us in the comments!