Getting to Know the Illustrator CS5 Toolbox
Illustrator CS5 offers a variety of great tools to be creative with. For those who are just getting familiar with Illustrator capabilities, all of these tools, palettes, and options can be confusing. Therefore, before we start drawing in illustrator, it is good to know what each tool is used for. Knowing the fundamentals of each tool can make you more efficient and consequently take you to the next level. So, let’s take a closer look at each of Illustrator CS5’s great tools.
By default the Toolbox opens each time we create a New Document. If the Toolbox doesn’t appear in your Workspace you can open it by going to Window > Tools.
To choose a Tool Click its icon. Some tools have hidden tools behind them, in order to see them click and hold down the mouse on a tool until the other tools pop up.
For fast access each Tool has a designated keyboard shortcut. For example, to access the Pencil Tool we can just simple press the letter N.
Click the double arrow to toggle the Toolbox between double column and single column.
Now, let’s learn about each group of Tools:
These are the most important and used tools inside Illustrator. With these tools we manipulate, move, select, and modify our Vector objects.
- Selection Tool (V): Moves and re-sizes objects.
- Direct Selection Tool (A): Selects entire paths or objects. Mostly used to fix/reshape objects.
- Group Selection Tool: Selects just one object within a group.
- Magic Wand Tool (Y): Selects objects with common characteristics. Its settings are adjustable.
- Lasso Tool (Q): Allows freehand selection of points or objects.
PEN, TEXT, DRAWING, ERASER TOOLS:
Also known as, Bézier Tools. They are used to draw and edit vector line segments.
- Pen Tool (P): Used to create paths (straight or curved vector lines). Each click creates an anchor point.
- Add Anchor Point Tool (+): As its name indicates, it adds anchor points to any path.
- Delete Anchor Point Tool (-): Deletes an anchor point from a path.
- Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift + C): Allows you to convert a sharp corner to a smooth curve, or a smooth curve to a sharp corner.
- Type Tool (T): Click on the art-board area to begin writing. To create a Type Box Click and Drag. To edit text just click.
- Area Type Tool: Allows you to write inside a shape.
- Type on a Path Tool: Allows you to write on a path.
- Vertical Type Tool: Guess… Yep, it allows you to write vertically.
- Vertical Area Type Tool: Allows you to add vertical text inside a shape.
- Vertical Type on a Path Tool: Allows you to add vertical text on a path.
LINES AND GRIDS TOOLS:
- Line Segment Tool (\): Creates a straight line in any direction.
- Arc Tool: Creates ¼ arcs. (Settings can be modified).
- Spiral Tool: Just click and drag to create spirals. Whirls and size can be specified.
- Rectangular Grid Tool: Click and drag to create a perfect grid. It will acquire your default colors.
- Polar Grid Tool: Consists of concentric circles and dividers. Good tool to create complex rotational patterns.
- Rectangle Tool (M): Helps to draw perfect rectangles or squares. To draw with a specific dimension click the art-board to open the Rectangle Options Dialog Box. To make a perfect square press SHIFT and draw.
- Rounded Rectangle Tool: Creates a rectangle with rounded corners.
- Ellipse Tool (L): Helps to draw perfect ovals. To make a perfect circle press SHIFT and draw.
- Polygon Tool: Click and drag to create a polygon (triangle, hexagon, pentagon, etc). Click on the art-board to specify its radius and sides.
- Star Tool: Creates 5 pointed stars.
- Flare Tool: Creates rays and gives the illusion of lens flare.
PAINTBRUSH TOOL, PENCIL, AND ERASER TOOLS:
These tools allow you to draw free-form lines and apply special strokes to them.
- Paintbrush Tool (B): Allows you to create a broad stroke. Special Brush styles can be applied.
- Pencil Tool (N): Also creates paths, but emulating the process of freehand.
- Smooth Tool: Smooth out curves created with the Pencil Tool.
- Path Eraser Tool: Erases portions of a path.
- Blob Brush Tool (SHIFT + B): Helps to draw and merge paths of the same color.
- Eraser Tool (SHIFT + E): Erases areas on paths and groups.
- Scissors Tool (C): Cuts paths into sections.
- Knife Tool: Slides an object into sections.
Allows us to change objects in a variety of ways such as re-size, rotate, skew, reflect, etc…
- Rotate Tool (R): Rotates object on an axis.
- Reflect Tool (O): Flips or creates a duplicate of the original object.
- Scale Tool (S): Allows you to change the size of an object.
- Shear Tool: Stretches while turning the object.
- Reshape Tool: Changes anchor points; consequently, changes the object.
- Width Tool (SHIFT + W): Allows you to adjust, move, duplicate, and delete the stroke width. Also, allows you to create and save a variable width stroke.
- Warp Tool (SHIFT + R): Allows you to adjust and distort the edges of an object.
- Twirl Tool: Converts edges into spirals.
- Pucker Tool: Shrinks areas.
- Bloat Tool: Allows you to push the edge of an object to transform it into a circumference.
- Scallop Tool: Randomly, gives to an object arc-shaped outlines.
- Crystallize Tool: Randomly, gives to an object spiked outlines.
- Wrinkle Tool: Randomly, gives to an object arc-shaped and spiked outlines.
- Free Transform Tool (E): Allows you to move anchor points of an object. Good for perspective adjustments.
SHAPE BUILDER TOOLS:
- Shape Builder Tool (SHIFT + M): Allows you to create, edit, combine and fill objects.
- Live Paint Bucket (K): Allows you to paint collection of paths. Note: Only colors Live Paint groups.
- Live Paint Selection Tool (SHIFT + L): Modifies attributes of a Color Live Paint group.
PERSPECTIVE GRID TOOLS:
- Perspective Grid Tool (SHIFT + P): Provides you with a perspective guide line that can be manipulated into various different viewpoints to achieve depth.
- Perspective Selection Tool (SHIFT + V): Permits you to move or scaling an object in perspective without altering its viewpoint.
MESH, GRADIENT, EYEDROPPER, AND BLEND TOOLS:
- Mesh Tool (U): Applies a grid to an object in order to apply unusual gradients.
- Gradient Tool (G): Repaints an object that already is filled with a gradient.
EYEDROPPER AND MEASURE TOOLS:
- Eyedropper Tool (I): Picks up attributes.
- Measure Tool: Gives you the dimensions of an area. Note: Measure data appears inside the INFO palette.
- Blend Tool (W): Creates shapes between two previously drawn objects. Its settings are adjustable.
SYMBOLS AND GRAPH TOOLS:
- Symbol Sprayer Tool (SHIFT + S): Allows you to place a symbol or to create a set of symbols. Click the art-board to open the Symbolism Tools Options Dialog Box; there you can change the symbol’s diameter, intensity, density, etc.
- Symbol Shifter Tool: Allows you to move and change sets of symbol instances. Hold down SHIFT to bring the symbol instances forward. To send the symbol instances backward, hold down SHIFT + ALT.
- Symbol Scruncher Tool: Allows you to move symbol instances together or apart. To push symbol instances apart hold down ALT.
- Symbol Sizer Tool: Allows you to decrease or increase the size and intensity of symbol instances.
- Symbol Spinner Tool: Allows you to rotate, spin, or orient symbol instances.
- Symbol Stainer Tool: Allows you to colorize symbol instances. To decrease the amount of colorization, hold down ALT. To maintain the tint intensity, hold down SHIFT.
- Symbol Screener Tool: Allows you to adjust transparency of symbol instances. To decrease transparency. Hold down ALT.
- Symbol Styler Tool: Allows you to apply or remove an style to symbols instances.
This set of tools allows you to create graphs and charts with data.
Nine different options are available:
- Column Graph Tool (J)
- Stacked Column Graph Tool
- Bar Graph Tool
- Stacked Bar Graph Tool
- Line Graph Tool
- Area Graph Tool
- Scatter Graph Tool
- Pie Graph Tool
- Radar Graph Tool
- Artboard Tool (SHIFT + O): Allows you to create, re-size, and reposition different art-boards.
- Slice Tool (SHIFT + K): Divides an image into separate pieces for Web layout.
- Slice Selection Tool: Selects Web slices.
HAND AND PRINT TILING TOOL:
- Hand Tool (H): Allows you to move the art-board window.
- Print Tiling Tool: Lets you to adjust the art-board in order to control the printable area.
- Zoom Tool (Z): Changes the art-board zoom level.
FILL AND STROKE:
Shows the current Fill and Stroke colors. (Right now we have Black color for Fill, and none color for Stroke).
- Color (<)
- Gradient (>)
- None (/).
(SHIFT + D to switch modes)
- Draw Normal
- Draw Behind
- Draw Inside
To change screen mode press: F
- Normal Screen Mode
- Full Screen Mode with Menu Bar
- Full Screen Mode
A lot of excellent and useful tools, huh? Now that you know what each tool does, get creative and start experimenting. Remember, “Practice is the best of all instructors”.