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Huge Time-Saving Features in Illustrator

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Brian Wood, web developer and author of Adobe Illustrator CC 2014 Classroom in a Book, shows you how to work faster using several time-saving features in Adobe Illustrator.
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Would I presume too much if I were to say you could stand to work faster in Illustrator? I could—and I wrote the book on Illustrator, literally. Illustrator is a big program with lots of tools and features, but we all get stuck in our ways, don’t we? In this article, I really wanted to expose a bunch of time-saving features in Illustrator—some widely used, some not so much—explain what each is, and point you in a direction where you could find out more if needed.

So let’s stop wasting time reading this opening, and get to saving time in Illustrator. The list of time saving features we will cover is as follows:

  • Layers
  • The Appearance Panel
  • Selections
  • Global Colors
  • Recolor Artwork
  • Graphic Styles
  • Blends

Layers

Yes, I had to start the list with layers. Why? Because although most of us have pretty good intentions when it comes to layers, we usually don’t live up to our own hype. How many times have you cursed at a file because you couldn’t somewhat quickly select a series of objects or you wanted to add a mask to only certain artwork? Well, layers are the unsung hero of Illustrator and, if used properly, can save you tons of time in the long run.

To me, layers are something that can help you right away, but they also save you from yourself later on. If you either hand the file off to someone else, or open the file some time down the road, a file with content organized in layers that make at least modest sense will cut down time when editing.

A nice tip for working with layers in Illustrator is to collect existing layers into a new layer. This is an easy way to organize your content into layers.

  1. Either Shift-click to Highlight layers/sublayers or Cmd/Ctrl-click to select layers/sublayers not next to each other in the layer stack.
  2. Choose Collect in New Layer from the Layers panel menu (see Figure 1).

    Figure 1

    Figure 1 Collect layers/sublayers into a new layer

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