Below are some suggestions for efficient use of Adobe Illustrator which I’ve compiled over the years. May be handy at poster time. If anyone has any other tips please add them in the comments!
(on Mac, replace all “Control” with “Command (Apple) key”)
control-X “cut” cuts a selection out of a group!
different ways to “paste”: control-F (paste in front), control-B (paste in back), control-V (paste). control-F is especially useful in conjunction with above when you want to get an object out of a group, e.g. after selecting a piece of a group with the white arrow, ctrl-X to free it from its group, then ctrl-F to put it right back where it was. ctrl-V pasting, which is the normal paste shortcut from every other program, dumps the clipboard to the center of the screen, which can be useful also.
remove arrowheads by selecting the arrow, then clicking the triangle on the appearance palette and selecting “reduce to basic appearance”
Positions and sizes of objects can be specified numerically in the Transform palette. Rulers on sides of document (View > Show Rulers) determine the origin. Very handy for lining things up in posters, or making figures with similar layouts correspond nicely.
If rulers become offset by accident, you can reset the origin by double-clicking the top left corner where the horizontal and vertical rulers intersect.
For figures, to cut all the extra stuff which is outside of the margins before exporting to tiff, select the figure only, then do Select > Inverse to invert the selection, then delete.
if you make scale bars in Igor and then export eps to Illustrator, you have to remove the caps (Stroke palette) in order to get the accurate length.
control-0 (zero) zooms the artboard to match the window size (very handy after resizing a window on screen)
control-1 zooms the artboard to actual size (good for checking font sizes on a poster)
when you’re finished typing in a text box, control-clicking anywhere completes the text box and frees the cursor to do stuff outside the text box (like make another text box).
Most tools have a keyboard shortcut which selects them. The shortcuts are laid out in an intuitive way and it saves an enormous amount of time to learn them. If you hate the layout, they can be changed in the preferences. One tool which lacks a shortcut by default is the “white-arrow-plus” tool. I’ve found it useful to set that one to shift-A, since the white arrow by itself is A.
Preferences are your friend! Almost everything can be customized, including the distance that objects move when you arrow-key and shift-arrow-key, the spacing of grid lines, the units for size and position, etc.
arrowhead border bug in Illustrator 9 & 10:
In AI 9 and 10 there is a bug which causes an unsightly white border around arrowheads which is most annoying when they are placed on a colored background. you can avoid this by applying the arrowhead effect to the stroke only, instead of at the object level. To do this, select the object, open the Appearance palette, and drag the Add Arrowhead effect into the Stroke layer, instead of leaving it below both the Stroke and the Fill layers.
What is going on is when the effect is below both the fill and the stroke layers, it is applied to both the Fill and to the Stroke. But the filled object has no stroke weight and no stroke color, so the default stroke weight of 1 and default color of white are used.
In AI CS the Add Arrowhead effect ignores unpainted paths, so it won’t make this halo around unfilled paths, even when it is applied at the object level.