7 Things You Didn't Know Adobe Illustrator Could Do

7 Things You Didn'tKnow Adobe Illustrator Could Do

01. The Blend Tool / Adding Lines Between Lines...

We've all seen those fancy cool looking vectors where lots of evenly spaced lines curve around some complicated graphics. It can really help to add movement and interest to a design and its really easy to do. This tool is how you do it.

Draw two lines with the pen tool (Hot key ="P"). Now select the blend tool (Hot key="W"). If you would like to set some options up (eg. how many lines will appear between the two you have drawn) then press "return". On nearly all the tools this will bring up an option window where you can play about with settings. When you are ready simply select one of the lines you have drawn with the blend tool and then select the other line.

Blend 1

And... Bing, you should have a blend between the two lines. Enjoy...

Blend 2

02. The Mesh Tool / Adding Shading To A Shape...

Ok this one can get very complicated. Some have been able to create photo realistic images using this technique. However we will just use it on a simple circle. So press "L" for the circle tools and draw yourself a circle, using the shift key to keep it from distorting into an oval shape.

Mesh Tool

Make sure the circle has a fill in it and that it is selected, then press the "U" key for the mesh tool.

Now make a selection anywhere within the circle and select a different colour. The point which you made the selection will evenly gradient into the outer colours.

You can also use the direct selection tool (Hot key "a") to select the nodes and change their colours and positions as well. Using these techniques you can create very complex meshes which can add depth and shadow to illustrations or shapes.

03. 3D / Entering The Next Dimension...

Did you think that Illustrator was limited to 2D flat vector shapes? Will it isn't. Adobe have recently (CS1) introduced a piece of the future into Illustrator which I'm sure will become more and more advanced as time goes on. Ladies and Gents... The 3D effect.

So press "M" and draw yourself a box. When it is selected go to Effect > 3D > Extrude and Bevel. You will now be faced with a configuration window. I'd suggest you select the "preview" option so you can see whats going on.

Illustrator 3D Example 1

Have a play with the options and you can easily create simple and effective 3D objects.

Illustrator 3D Example 2

If you wanted to flatten this all you have to do is go to Object > Expand Appearance and boom, you will have yourself a flattened 3D object which you can do what you want with...

Illustrator 3D Example 3

04. Patterns / Making Fills Interesting...

Ok, create your desired pattern using normal illustrator tools and effects and simply drag it into the swatches pallet.

Illustrator Pattern tool example 1

Next time you draw a shape select your pattern as its fill and bobs your uncle, you have a tiled pattern fill. You can also turn your pattern by using the selection tool (Hot key "v") to select your object and then by pressing return. This will bring up the "move" options pallet where you can set the angle of a pattern.

Illustrator Pattern tool example 2

05. Symbol Sprayer / Splatter some vector...

Fed up with recreating tiny details with copy and paste? The symbol tool makes little details like this easy as pie.

Make a graphic and select it. Drag it into the symbols pallet.

Illustrator Symbol Example 1

Now select the symbol sprayer tool (hot key shift s). You will see that it sprayers your symbol onto the artboard. If you wish to add a little interest you can click and hold the symbol sprayer icon on the tool pallet and then select the symbol sizer tool and other symbol related tools.

Illustrator Symbol Example 2

Tip: Symbols can be made using transparency as well.

06. Blur / Smooth Out The Vector...

What was that? illustrator is too straight edged for you? Well have you seen the "blur" effect?

Illustrator Blur Example 1

Make a shape, select it and then simply go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. You will have a few options relating to the harshness of the blur. Select OK and your vector shape will be blurred. It will retain its blur and vector edit ability, so if you wish to change its shape it will continue to have that effect applied to it. Very handy for adding quick drop shadows or atmosphere.

Illustrator Blur Example 2

07. Transparency / Bringing Depth To Overlaying Shapes...

This one has saved me many times. Create a vector shape and duplicate it so that some areas are overlapping (you can do this by using the selection tool – hot key v) and whilst a shape is being moved press the alt key, this will duplicate it. If you want to duplicate the shape in exactly the same way again press option D).

Illustrator Transparency Example

Now to add some interest. Go to the transparency palette. There will be a dropdown menu currently selected at "normal". Click it and select "multiply". Notice the difference? Try some of the other transparency options.

Seven Things You Didn't Know Illustrator Could Do

If you enjoyed this post, why not have a look at the following:

7 More Things You Didn’t Know Adobe Illustrator Could Do


Killer stuff. Note to self: Play with Illustrator more often.

brillant - thanks for this !!

Great things to know; especially if have been playing with illustrator lately.

great job!
todo junto es una mezcla de arte vectorizado con Illustrator

i knew all of that stuff. *yawn*

Well I guess this article wasn't for Micahel then. Good stuff.

Tell us something we don't know oh great and informed Michael.

It is always to great to know new stuff about the the softwares that we are using.

thanks a lot.

5* for this article

This is awesome. I am a complete n00b when it comes to Illustrator, but this has helped a lot! Thanks!

I didn't know any of that, but then again I've never used Illustrator.

Michael, thanks for telling us you already knew that. Good contribution. Now the rest of us can assume you're better than everyone else.

Great post... thanks!!! I always appreciate cool tips, so much software to keep track of!

wow note to self.. must buy illustrator. any spare cash anyone?

much appreciated, please keep posting!

Thanks for sharing!

Hey! Thanks for sharing! Soo cool!

Hi, great post! Nice to learn the 'designer's secrets!

This is a cool tutorial. Wondering.. Does anyone know what the difference between the live paint tool and the live paint selection tool is?
Seems odd to have them take up 2 slots in the main tools palette.

awesome post.

Thanks, for giving tips.
i am student and i used in my work & its helpful in my assignment. "THANKS"

yay! for free information...kudos to you, the line blend was just what I was looking for. Thanks.

is it possible to save blurred or translucent elements to pdf? inkscape has the same capabilities, but it doesn't seem to be able to export those effects to pdf, just svg...

Simply Great!!!

this is really cool and helpful! thanks a lot!

Boring, knew all seven :-(

So Michael, what have you shared with the rest of us? Dying to learn here. Esp from you. Heard you are great. Hope to get some links from you. :)

Nice info, Thanks! :-)

New to Illustrator, very helpful! thanks!

love this thing, helps a lot with little things you always forget, thanks :)

cool! but put some more! =)

This was a really cool tutorial, thanks, great work.

En principio quiero agradecer la forma altruista nos dan para el mejor manejo de Illustrator.
Tengo una dificultad relacionado al punto 07. Transparencia / Profundidad Para Llevar La superposición de formas ...
No encuentro esas teclas "de selección â € "tecla v" y queria saber si hay otra manera de hacerlo?

Muchisimas gracias por toda esta información.
Gracias! muchisimas Gracias!

these techniques are simple. they are easier then a fat girl 5 min before the club closes!!

I agree what Michael says... I all ready new this stuff!... But good post

This is great!

An excellent post! I learned some cool things here. Thanks.

Great ideas. Just opened CS4 and looking to step back from work and have some fun for a change. Thanks!

Lol @ Michael..
"i knew all of that stuff. *yawn*"

Though he needs to remember that not everybody knows everything!

Adobe illustrator is the best adobe product.

A few of these I, in fact, did not know.

great and good tips, always go forward

Thanks a lot for all these tips!

Also, I'd like to recommend these little tutorials to anyone who wants to use Illustrator:


It teaches you a few neat effects in Illustrator.

ummm can anyone send this to me email is [email protected]

Hi Chris - we don't send out articles - what you see on our website is what you get!

very good design illustrator

I knew all of these techniques.. Maybe it's great for newbies. Zzzzz

very useful indeed!
thank you very much


good stuff for beginners.. brilliant!