Whenever I design in Illustrator, which is every day, I always try to remind myself to use all the shortcuts I know of. Why? Because shortcuts can save you so much time, when you are designing.
I have this goal of never having to drag my mouse across the screen, to pick a new tool. I am not there yet, but working towards getting all the shortcuts on my “designer-spine” so I can focus on the design in itself and not on clickingon the right tools.
You know by now that I design all my stickers myself to fit them to my needs. What this means is that designing is a long process, so these ten shortcuts are the ones that I use to speed up the time I take to design my planner stickers.
1 – Alt + click + drag.
What it does: This shortcut makes it easy and simple to copy a shape or illustration to anywhere you want it on your page
When to use it: I use this shortcut all the time, when I make my stickers. More often or not you want a sticker more than once, like headers. Inthis case, the copy function makes it much easier and less time consuming, since you only have to make your sticker once, and then copy it after.
Select your item with your selection tool and then apply the shortcut, like here:
2- Ctrl+ d
What it does: Basically it copies the action you just did. So let’s say you just used shortcut no 1, when you use Ctrl + d, Illustrator will do that for you again. The same direction and distance/rotation
When to use it: Whenever I need to make full boxes, I want them to be spaced correctly, and this is the shortcut I use for that. Firstly, I use shortcut no 1 to copy the shape and then hit Ctrl + d to copy that action more times. I also use this shortcut if I have an object that I want to copy on a rotation – like for winter I want to make snowflakes, and rotating one snowflake “arm” and copy in one saves me so much time.
See it in action:
3 – Hitting x on your keyboard
What it does: Hitting x on your keyboard will switch the colors in illustrator. Shifting from fill color to stroke color.
When to use it: When you are designing stickers you often need an offset: either the offset is the cutline or the actual colored box. We do this to avoid white borders when the stickers are cut. So I toggle between fill color and stroke color all the time since My colored boxes don’t have a stroke and the cut lines are only colored strokes.
4 – Hitting v/a on your keyboard
What it does: It selects your selection tool/ direct selection tool. One of the tools you will use most in the software.
When to use it: Whenever you want to select an object or move an object. This tool highlights your objects, so you will need the tool every time you need to work on another object from the one you are currently working on, so it is very handy to know the shortcut since it will save you time when you are designing.
5 ctrl. Holding down ctrl
What it does: Momentarily picks the last selection tool you used.
When to use it: This shortcut is one that I use all the time. When you hold down ctrl on your PC (cmd on a mc) illustrator will give you the last selection tool you just used, which is good when you need to quickly need to pick another object on your screen. I use this shortcut in connection with the smooth tool all the time and also whenever I am recoloring a sticker kit.
6 – ctrl +g
What it does: Groups your highlighted/selected items.
When to use it: I use groups all the time when designing stickers. Like grouping the cutlines and the actual sticker together will prevent me from accidently moving one and not the other, and thereby ensure that they are aligned at all times.
Bonus: If you hit Shift + Ctrl + g it will ungroup a selected group.
7 ctrl + 7
what it does: This shortcut will crop an image or shape into another shape.
When to use it: Sometimes when you make stickers, you will have some graphics that you want to fit into a full box or the liking – using this shortcut is how you do that. The shortcut is nondestructive meaning you can go back and reposition your objects at any time. You just select the two objects that you want to merge, and then use the shortcut.
See it in action:
8 alt + scroll on mouse
What it does: Zoom in and out
When to use it: You basically use it whenever you want to zoom in or out. This one is pretty self-explanatory :). You don’t have to have any tools highlighted to use this shortcut. It works just like no 5.
9 – holding down spacebar on your keyboard
What it does: Similar to no 5, but momentarily gives you the hand tool, giving you the option to drag the screen into position.
When to use it: All you do is hold down your spacebar, and then click and drag with your mouse. You can use this shortcut to navigate faster around your “canvas”.
10 – pressing i on your keyboard
What it does: picks the eyedropper tool in the software.
When to use it: The eyedropper is useful for when you need to pick colors for your kit. Let’s say you have purchased some clipart and matching digital paper, and want to make your kit match the colors of your papers. All you do it hit I and click on the color you want to know. Now if you want to make your palette you can make 5, or how many colors you want, squares and then color in the squares with your eyedropper tool. It makes the color selection very quick.
I hope you found this helpful. If you implement all these shortcuts into your design process, you will save a lot of time in the long run + you will get a much better workflow.