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Finishing Up: Adding Symbols and Trimming the Artwork

star.jpg ACA Objective 2.6

star.jpg ACA Objective 2.6a

star.jpg ACA Objective 2.6b

star.jpg ACA Objective 3.2b

To finish up the back of the business card, we’ll add some icons that represent key areas on the map. To do this, we’ll use symbols. Symbols contain several benefits when working in Illustrator, the main benefit of which is that any symbol instance added in the file will update if any changes are ever made to the symbol.

Before we go too far, if you’d like to add a color to the background of the business card, go ahead and create a new layer at the bottom of the stacking order and draw a rectangle that encompasses the artboard using the color of your choice.

Creating a Symbol

  1. Create a new layer called Locations. This will serve as a place for the icons representing the key locations you’ll be putting on the card. Position this layer at the top of the stacking order in the Layers panel and keep this layer active for the next step.

  2. Using the Star tool p0084_01.jpg, drag to draw a star on the artboard where you’d like a key feature represented on the map. For now you can leave the stroke set to None and the fill set to black.

  3. Open the Symbols panel by choosing Window > Symbols, and drag the star shape you drew in step 1 onto the Symbols panel. The Symbol Options dialog box appears.

  4. Enter Key Location in the Name field and click OK.

    The type of symbol doesn’t really matter when you’re designing for a print product. If you were creating art that would be used for the web or repurposed in an animation program like Adobe Animate CC, then you might want to adjust the symbol settings.

  5. In the Symbols panel, drag the Key Location symbol onto the artboard. You’ve just created a symbol instance. Symbol instances are identified by a small icon in the middle (Figure 4.26).

    Figure 4.26

    Figure 4.26 A symbol instance represented by an icon in the middle of the symbol

Modifying a Symbol

The benefit of using symbols is that each symbol instance that you create by dragging from the Symbols panel is connected to that original symbol. So any updates you make to the symbol itself will be reflected in all of the symbol instances in the document.

  1. In the Symbols panel, double-click the Key Location symbol. You are taken into Symbol Editing mode.

  2. Scale the star shape down a bit and change the fill color to white.

  3. Press the Esc key on the keyboard to exit Symbol Editing mode and notice that each instance of the Key Location symbol updates to match the edit that you made to the symbol.

Using Symbol Libraries

When constructing a map, one of the challenges can be to produce all the different graphics you need to represent the various types of landmarks in the area covered by the map. It would be a real time-saver if you had access to a collection of pre-built graphics designed for maps. You’re in luck! Illustrator provides whole libraries of symbols for a wide variety of purposes.

  1. Click the Symbol Libraries button p0085_01.jpg at the bottom of the Symbols panel to open a menu listing the libraries of symbols that ship with Illustrator (Figure 4.27).

    Figure 4.27

    Figure 4.27 Loading the Maps symbol library from the Symbol Libraries menu on the Symbols panel

  2. Choose Maps from the menu. The Maps symbol library opens in a separate panel (Figure 4.28).

    Figure 4.28

    Figure 4.28 Once loaded, the Maps symbol library opens in its own panel.

  3. Drag some symbols from the library panel to the artboard and try them out in your design. Add text if needed.

    Tons of great symbols that can be used as artwork in your projects are easily available for you to use.

Using a Clipping Mask to trim the Artwork

Our final task is to delete the bits of artwork that extend beyond the bleed. To do that, we’ll use a rectangle on a new top layer as a clipping mask.

  1. Choose View > Smart Guides to activate Smart Guides again.

  2. In the Layers panel, create a new layer at the top of the layer stack. Give it the name Clip.

  3. Select the Rectangle tool and drag in the Clip layer to draw a rectangle. Make sure the bounds of the rectangle snap to the bleed guide (Figure 4.29).

    Figure 4.29

    Figure 4.29 Drawing a rectangle to serve as a clipping mask

  4. Fill the rectangle with white (this is a temporary color, just to make the rectangle easier to see).

  5. In the Layers panel, click the disclosure triangle on the Clip layer to open it and display the Rectangle object.

  6. Click the Locations layer to select it, then hold Shift and click the Background layer.

    All of the layers below the Clip layer are now selected.

  7. Drag the selected layers up and slightly to the right. Release the mouse when a dark line appears under the Rectangle object.

    The selected layers are now sublayers of the Clip layer (Figure 4.30).

    Figure 4.30

    Figure 4.30 Dragging a stack of selected layers into the Clip layer beneath the Rectangle object (left) converts those layer to sublayers of the Clip layer (right).

  8. Select the Clip layer and then click the Make/Release Clipping Mask button p0087_01.jpg. The Rectangle object clips all of the elements beneath the Clip layer, acting as a clipping mask (Figure 4.31).

    Figure 4.31

    Figure 4.31 The clipping mask trims the graphic elements so they don’t extend beyond the bleed guide.

  9. Save your file.

Congratulations! You’ve completed the back of the business card! You can combine the artboards containing the front and back of the card into a single file and you’ll have a complete business card, ready for printing.

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