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


AWESOME! Knew a few, but the other stuff is great! Good to know!

Very good tips. Love the blend between two lines.

good oneee. thanks bunches, im trying to learn all i can (:

totally cool stuff you guys

This is so cool!! I haven't used any of these techniques yet.

nice post..
so many thing that i don't know yet in Illustrator.. Thanks so much!

Thank you for sharing this. You are what is wonderful about the internet.

Great stuff, love these mini tuts....can we have some more please.

Micheal if you are such a clever dick what are you doing looking at this stuff anyway - yawn!

I guess u can teach an old dog new trick...this goes to show u that u can always learn something new about illustrator.

its very good

Great stuff. I've been using Illustrator for a long time and didn't know some of this...thanks

Pretty scary how 90% of "designers" on the street have little or no clue about how Illustrator and InDesign work. this fact reflects on the poor quality of work we get and how difficult it is to hire staff with experience other than "Photoshop." If you use Illustrator, why not start by reading the manual, just like the author of this article did. Geez.

Awesome!! I love these!!

I love these very much which helps me a lot to move.

That's it? These are kind of basic Illustrator functions that, in most cases, have been around since version 5. Except the "oh-so-super-useful" sprayer tool.

Oh, and using the Photoshop-like effects in Illustrator (blur, brush strokes, etc.) slows things down enormously. It's best not to use them extensively, or at all. Unless you enjoy waiting for progress bars.

Great Tips, Very useful thanks for sharing

Thanks, I'm just learning Illustrator, this helps a lot.

I know this article is 3 years old, but I must thank you, as this was very very helpful for me to improve my works.

I really like it!

Using the program for 2 years, knew all the stuff.. :P

Thank you guys for making my life a little easier.

We are LogoProDesign as a Creative Logo Designer, We checked your artwork collections. Those are amazed us. Thanks for that type of good work collections. We regularly checked your website for good artwork example.

David Thomas

This things are easy to do in illustrator, the most difficult thing to do is a good work, ive seen many garbage works that use this perfect and amazing software. Say Yo to the digital inclusion!

I knew all this stuff....and Im a self taught hack!!!!

The example (7) you give for transparency / multiply is very simple, yet beautiful.

just awesome..!! thanks a lot.

i like your work and trick's

Excellent article. I now realize what I have been doing. Thank you for the info.

je suis comptens... glad

this tutorial is great i made a piece i am very proud of and have posted it to my facebook page at "chase designs"