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Top Adobe Illustrator Tools You Should Know

If you’re in graphic design, chances are pretty high that you’re using Adobe Illustrator on a regular basis.

Daniel Scott is a certified Adobe instructor, and he’s sharing the top five Illustrator tools that we need to know today. If you’ve got the latest version of Illustrator, you’re already starting off on the right foot. Let’s get into it.

Feature #1: The Shape Builder

The Shape Builder tool can also be used with any tool in Illustrator, but in this video, Dan pairs it with the ellipse tool to create some pretty good lookin’ curves.

So what is the Shape Builder for? It’s meant to replace the pathfinder. If you’re buddy-buddy with the pathfinder, shape builder just might be your new best friend. It replaces all the trials and errors, the undos and the redos, to bringing your shapes together.

Simply select the Shape Builder and draw a line through the shapes you want to morph into one. To get it to do the opposite (which is what Dan does in the video), hold down the option button if you’re on a Mac (alt. on PC) and draw a line across. Now instead of the shapes blending into one, we eliminate the pieces we don’t need. Oh, and we can also add colors quickly and easily to our newly created shapes. Cue the ooh’s and ahh’s.

Feature #2: The Curvature Tool

The Curvature tool is just like the pen tool, but a little bit easier. Whether you’re a little more advanced with Illustrator and are a frequent user of the pen tool, or completely new to the program, definitely check out the Curvature tool. Not surprisingly, the Curvature tool works only with curves. So if you’re trying to create smoothe, crisp curves, this tool is your go-to.

As you start to frame the subject of your Illustrator file, you can click once for a curve, and double click for a corner if your subject has a mixture of curves and more refined edges. Need to go back and correct what you’ve clicked? Simply go back to your last place and double-click.

Feature #3: The Width Tool

Accompanying the Curvature tool is the Width tool. This will create wider strokes for the curves you’ve just created. Rather than using the pen tool to create multiple lines or increasing the size of the stroke, the Width tool gives you kind of a two-in-one benefit. You can expand the line you made to create a thicker curve, and manipulate the shape in a way that doesn’t leave the untouched piece distorted.

Feature #4: The Free Form Gradient

This tool helps you turn really complex gradients, into super simple ones. In the right hand panel, you can select your Free Form gradient. The object you’re editing will show three points you can drag and expand to change the size and direction of the gradient. To change the colors in the gradient, just double-click the point.

Feature #5: Global Edit

This is the tool that’s probably going to change your workflow the most. Let’s say you have an object that appears on multiple artboards. If you needed to edit this object, you’d normally have to go into each artboard and edit every object one-by-one. Can you guess what the Global Edit tool does? Why, yes, it does eliminate this extra work!

In the right panel of Illustrator, under ‘Quick Actions,’ click ‘Start Global Edit’ when you’re ready to edit your object. Make the changes or adjustments you need, and click ‘Stop Global Edit’ once you’re finished. It really is that easy.

If what we’re spelling out for you here isn’t quite clicking, definitely check out the video above where Daniel walks you through each of these amazing features, step-by-step. Then get ready to brush up your Illustrator skills and see your workflow, flow.

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