In this tutorial, you'll learn how to save a ton of time in Illustrator by creating and leveraging smart keyboard shortcuts.
Implementing the information in this video could easily cut 20% of the time off projects in Adobe Illustrator.
We've also included the AI file Von is using in the video so you can follow along (file is for education purposes only):
The ability to customize your own keyboard commands and create actions in Adobe Illustrator are, in my opinion, two of Illustrator’s most underrated features. Most people never even tap into them.
Keyboard shortcuts are just what they sound like: the ability to use a key command instead of hunting down the command in a pulldown menu. They help make your workflow more efficient.
Not all functions in Illustrator allow you to add a shortcut command, though. In those cases, actions are your best bet.
Actions allow you to record multiple keyboard commands. Once you are done recording, you can assign the recording to a specific key command. The end result gives you a one button push, that can run a series of commands instantly, which obviously saves time.
The best way to determine how you can best use actions is to simply experiment. Anything you do routinely is a good candidate for an action.
For example, I have an action that converts all text to paths and then saves my artwork out as a PDF onto my desktop so I can email a design to a client. It’s all about improving mundane tasks.
To create your own keyboard shortcuts, go to Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts > Select, and pick either Tools or Menu Command from the pulldown menu in the pop-up window. Select a specific tool or menu command, and then enter in the key you want the task to be assigned to.
Illustrator will tell you if the key is already assigned, and you can decide to ignore or override it. Click Save, and your keyboard shortcut is ready to use. It’s that simple.
To create an action, go to Window > Actions. On the Actions panel, click the fly-out menu in the top-right corner. Then click New Action.
In the pop-up window that opens, name your action, assign it to an action set (mine is GS Actions), then bind your action to an F key, and click Record > Proceed to compile the series of commands you want to record (see Figure.jpg). (Remember that not all functions in Illustrator are recordable.)
Once done, click Stop in the Actions palette. You now have a customized action at the ready.
Make sure to save your action set by going to the fly-out menu in the top-right corner of the Actions panel and clicking on Save Actions. If you don’t do this Illustrator won’t retain them the next time you open the application.
How you ultimately use these features will depend greatly on what type of work you’ll be creating, but when it comes to building vector graphics, I have customized a handful of commands to make routine tasks easier.
Here are twelve shortcuts and two actions I’ve assigned to F keys in order to ease my workflow and save time.
Recording actions to perform routine tasks such as saving out PDF files, or converting and batch processing files is another great way to speed up your creative process. And when combined with keyboard shortcuts allows you to design your own custom functionality of sorts as well.
Von is principal of Glitschka Studios a small boutique design firm located in the Pacific Northwest. His diverse range of illustrative design has been used by some of the most respected brands in the world. He creatively collaborates with ad agencies, design firms, in-house corporate art departments, and small businesses to produce compelling visual narratives.
We've partnered with Von on a variety of different products. If you like tutorials, you'll love Von's pack. The bundle includes brushes, textures, and tutorials. Each pack in the bundle has been carefully tested and organized for easy of use by Von himself.
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