Vector: The Basics of Illustrator

Cool Capabilities

  • Can create images for laser cutter
  • Laser cutter stencils can be used for embossing
  • Can use laser cutter without induction


  • What is a vector?
    • An algorithm
    • Can be scaled up or down without losing quality
    • Vectors online can look rasterized
    • Object → make pixel perfect
    • Align vector to the pixel grid

Opening a Document

  • Artboards
    • Can have multiple
    • can adjust how you see them (up, down, z-shaped) viewing
  • Size
    • Adjust size accordingly
  • Bleed
    • 3 mm
  • Color mode
    • RGB
    • CMYK
  • Raster effects
    • Non-pixel based objects
    • Can apply photoshop effects
    • Pixel preview mode
    • Sometimes what can happen is that there is a gradient
    • Snap to pixel would be useful for web

Starting Work

  • Open the document
  • Set workspace to essentials classic
    • More than one way to do the same thing
    • Customize panels and workspaces with the windows option at the top
  • The top
    • Useful properties speciifc to the tool
  • Artboard tool
    • Can make boards bigger or smaller
    • Move artwork with artboard
    • Can make portrait or landscape

Screen Shot 2018-11-19 at 10.23.26


  • Click to create different sizes
  • Three elements of a vector
    • Anchor points
    • Handles (element that controls the curve)
      • In a circle, the directional handle controls the direction of the curve until the middle of that curve
      • Can also change the tension of the curve
      • If you click ALT you can change only one handle
    • Paths
  • Selection tool
    • Scale
    • Rotate
  • Direct selection tool
    • Change the anchors, handles, and paths
    • You can change only one corner
  • If you click on shape at the top on the properties panel, you get a shortcut to the properties
    • Can change the corners
    • Can scale strokes and effects


  • Option for swatches
  • There are presets
  • You can also get your own colours
    • Pantone palattes
    • More swatches
    • Adobe kuler
      • Good for colour combinations
  • If you double click on the swatches, you get the CMYK, RGB, and Hex Codes
  • Colours which are safe for web may not be safe for print
    • Super bright ones
  • You can move swatches to the normal colour palette
  • Gradients
    • Double click on the gradient panel
    • Change colour
    • Rotate the gradients and change its size with the slider

Making a Pattern

  • Transform
    • Constrain proportions
  • Duplication
    • Click alt and drag
    • Or use the move tool and input numerical values
      • Click copy and it will copy to that specified distance
      • Command D does the last thing you have done

Screen Shot 2018-11-19 at 11.13.08


  • You can always modify
  • Make sure you zoom in and check that it is correct

Building Shapes

  • Shapebuilder tool
    • Add
    • Subtract with alt
  • Pathfinder tool
    • Divide

Screen Shot 2018-11-19 at 11.12.40


  • Can collapse and expand
  • Organize your layers
  • If you click on something, the sqaure next to it will indicate if it is clicked
  • To move objects
    • Drag
    • Object → move to front
  • To move to different layer
    • Make new layer
    • Move indicator from one layer to another
  • Can move layers up and down


  • The color is achieved through the stroke colour
  • Brush
    • If you draw, you will be able to manipulate a path
    • Select anchor points and use the scissor tool to delete
  • Blob brush
    • Creates an area, like a shape
    • Eraser can delete parts of the shape
    • Can use the knife tool to slice a shape
  • Add brushes and effects with brushes panel

Screen Shot 2018-11-19 at 11.30.31

Tracing Images

  • When you bring in an image, you can see exactly what it is at the top
    • File type
    • Dpi
  • Image trace
    • You can open the image trace panel and alter the threshold of the image
    • Expand and make it a vector

The Pen Tool

  • You can open the grid to draw better
    • Change the grid in preferences
  • If you press P, the pen tool will stop
  • Click on the last anchor and keep drawing
  • Click once, instruct for a straight line
  • Click and drag, instruct for a curve
  • Release the mouse and give the instructions for the next path
  • Press alt and do not release the path to change direction of the curve
  • Shift will make it 90 or 45 degrees


  • Command – for zoom out
  • Command + for zoom in
  • Command Y for outline view
  • Command J  to join two paths
  • Command F for paste to front
  • P to stop the pen tool

Helpful Practice

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