Hello, my fellow illustrators,
Do you find yourself navigating through the toolbar often? Adjusting the font size, kerning, and leading are time consuming if you always have to input values in the character settings. Such simple tasks hinder efficiency.
Here are 21 of my favorite Illustrator shortcuts that speed up my workflow. Take the time to learn them. You won’t regret it, I promise.
VIEWING AND ZOOMING
01. Fit Artboard in Window (⌘+0)
Fit the entire artboard on your screen. This is helpful when you need to take a look at the entire project.
02. Temporary Hand Tool (Spacebar + Drag)
Navigate anywhere quickly by holding down the spacebar as you click and drag our mouse.
03. Toggle Between Preview and Outline Mode (⌘+Y)
The outline mode is useful in making sure you don’t have unnecessary shapes or points on your board. Use this mode to edit the “bones” of your illustration.
04. Zoom In or Out (⌘+ + or -)
Get closer by pressing (⌘++) and zoom out (⌘+-).
05. Undo and Redo (⌘+Z; ⌘+Shift+Z)
All day. Every day.
06. Manage Artboards (Shift+O)
It’s a nifty tool for adjusting current boards or adding new ones.
07. Activating Smart Guides (⌘+U)
This tool helps when you need to line points to tangents. I love them for what they do, but I also hate them a little from time to time.
08. Bring Object Forward/Backward (⌘+[ or ])
Bring an object forward or backward. To bring it to the front press (⌘+Shift+]) and send it all the way back with (⌘+Shift+[)
09. Copy and Paste in Front (⌘+C; ⌘+F)
This shortcut copies (⌘+C) and pastes (⌘+F) in front of the copied object. You can paste a shape on top of itself. Or paste in another artboard. This will place the object in the same position relative to the board. This shortcut is handy when you’re making a template (i.e. headers and footers)
10. Lock Selected Objects (⌘+2)
This shortcut is handy for locking selected objects that keep getting in the way.
11. Unlocking All Objects (⌘+Option+2)
Can’t select a shape on your board? You might have locked it. Pressing (⌘+Option+2) will unlock all objects in your file. Also check your layers panel to see if you’ve locked the entire layer.
12. Group objects together / Ungroup objects (⌘+G; ⌘+Shift+G)
13. Create or release a clipping mask (⌘+7; ⌘+Option+7)
The clipping path must always be on top of the object you’d like to clip. Objects must be in the same group.
14. Create or release a compound path (⌘+8; ⌘+Option+8)
Combine all selected paths as one shape.
15. Sample a Color/Object (i)
Sampling a color is quick and easy. Select your shape, press (i) and sample the desired color anywhere on your artboard. This will copy fill and stroke appearance as well as opacity to your shape.
16. Swap fill and stroke colors (Shift+X)
Pressing (X) toggles between the fill and stroke. (Shift+X) swaps the colors.
17. Replace Swatch Color (⌘ + Drag new color on top of current swatch)
Get in the habit of using swatches! Instead of clicking each and every magenta circle in your artboard and replacing them with cyan. You can achieve it much quicker by going into your swatches panel. While holding the command key, drag the cyan the magenta—and voila!
18. Decrease/Increase Type Size (⌘+ Shift + < or >)
You must learn and memorize this shortcut! Changing the size of your font without having to fiddle with the character style panel will boost your efficiency.
19. Decrease/Increase Leading (Option+arrow up or arrow down)
Need to increase spacing between lines of text? Press (Option+arrow up) to increase leading and (Option+arrow down) to decrease.
20. Decrease/Increase Kerning or Tracking (Option+arrow left or arrow right)
Get in the habit of setting the kerning to Optical instead of Auto in your characters panel. But if you need to adjust the kerning press (Option+arrow left) to squeeze letters together or (Option+arrow right) to space them farther apart.
21. Outline Text (⌘+Shift+O)
Select your text then “Create Outlines” to expand it from a “live” state and you end up with vectors. Bye bye missing font problem.
I honestly started with “10 Illustrator Shortcuts” then it grew to 15, then 21. There are so many more shortcuts you can learn, but I guarantee that learning these will speed up your workflow. Give them a try!
Do you know all of these? Which one do you use the most that I didn’t mention?