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Archive for the 'Illustrator' Category

Even More Fun With Icons

even more fun with icons

This is the follow up to a post from several weeks ago on using a site called to incorporate snazzy icons in your design work. After all, we do seem to almost be moving back to a time of hieroglyphs (icons and emojis). Be prepared to speak this visual language using appropriate, meaningful icons. This usually means creating custom iconography to suit your communication.

In today’s post, I’ll show you how to use the built-in symbols in Illustrator to create custom icons. (Note: I’m using CS6 but this should translate to the latest CC pretty smoothly, also.)

In Illustrator, when you activate the default Web workspace in the upper right of the control panel,

web workspace

this workspace will give you the Symbols panel on the right side of the interface. Read the rest of “Even More Fun With Icons” »

Fun With Icons on

fun with icons graphic

We’re all trained by now to think in icons. Triangle means play. Speech bubble means chat. Plus sign means add. Icons are great way to sum up instructions or ideas in visual ways. This simplified visual representation allows us to process the information quickly and minimizes lengthy text explanations. logoThat’s why when I’m creating web graphics, I rely heavily on using icons. If time allows or if the idea is pretty complex or unique to the situation, I will create a custom icon. But I’ve found a great site for when time is short or you don’t want to reinvent the wheel:

On the homepage, you can search for the type of icon you need, or you can scroll down to preview a few different sets available.

What I especially love about the site are the straightforward license agreement details that are included. That way, I know if I can use it with no strings attached, if I need to link back to the designer’s site, or if I need to credit the designer somehow in the graphic itself.

Most of the time I’m looking for free/no strings attached icons, like this set:

screenshot of icon set

Click image to enlarge.

But depending on the project, I might want to use a specific kind of icon design and I can credit the designer. Like this one:

example icon set - sympletts

Click image to enlarge.

Yet, if I do want to customize an icon, and I often do, I can download the native .ai file and modify away (depending on licensing restrictions).

Select Adobe illustrator

I also really appreciate the ability to very easily download the icons in different sizes or file formats, without having to do those steps myself in Illustrator.
more options

For example, the following is an excerpt from an earlier blog post of mine, in which I downloaded the .ai file for the book icon, recolored it in Illustrator, and used it in the blog post with the image itself linked back to the appropriate site:

example from other blog post using book icon

Excerpt above from:

Be sure that when using icons on web pages, you’re using good alt tags and image descriptions to keep your site up to standards with accessibility.

Also, note that if you download a few icons from, they’ll prompt you to create an account with them. This is a simple login process and is free.

And remember, many social media icons are already available at different sizes in IU colors from in if you’re working on IU-related projects. View the logos downloads page and scroll down to the Icons files.

Stay tuned for a follow-up post on using the symbols in Illustrator for your iconography.

Adobe Creative Cloud 2015 is Here!

The Adobe Creative Cloud 2015 What's New website. Click to go!

The day we have all been waiting for has arrived!


Yesterday, Adobe started rolling out their updated version of Creative Cloud, Adobe CC 2015. This update brings with it many enhancements for the core Adobe applications. If you’re already using Creative Cloud, simply launch the Creative Cloud application (from the system tray on Windows or the notifications area on Mac) and you should be able to update any or all of the applications.

Some of my favorite updates include:

  • Artboards in Photoshop
  • Auto-save in Illustrator
  • Bootstrap and Emmet integration in Dreamweaver
  • Faster zooming and scrolling in InDesign

You can read more about the update by visiting the following resources on Adobe’s website:

If you’d rather watch a video, you can watch videos from the following playlist:

Over the next several months, IT Training staff will be busy updating our in person and online workshop materials to teach the Adobe CC 2015 applications. Check back in the fall semester to sign up for our course offerings!

Creating a Pattern Fill in Illustrator

Image of a star with a cat and heart pattern fill, with the text Creating a Pattern Fill in Illustrator

One of the awesome things Illustrator can do is let us turn our art into a repeating pattern that we can use for the fill or stroke of our art objects (and even text)!  Figuring out how to do it, though, can be a little tricky.  In this blog post, I’ll walk you through the process of creating a pattern. Read the rest of “Creating a Pattern Fill in Illustrator” »

Creating a Research Poster: A Learning Path

Learning paths road sign.I need to assemble a research poster – how do I get started, and what programs can I use to make a poster?  And how do I make graphs to display my data?

With programs like InDesign, Illustrator, and Microsoft Publisher, with a little help from Microsoft Excel, you can create an eye-catching poster to showcase your research project.  Illustrator and Excel can be used to create attractive graphs to display any data you wish to share, and you can pull everything together in InDesign or Publisher and lay out the contents of your poster.  Before you start building your poster, there are a few steps you can take to help get things rolling.

Photograph of a pad of paper, with a rough design for a poster sketched out on it.Having a general idea of how your poster will look will help you get started – think about how things will be laid out on the page, what colors you’ll be using, and what fonts you’ll be using for your poster.  A rough sketch of what you want your poster to look like when it’s finished may be helpful, and you can use that as a road map of where things should end up on your poster.  Make notes about the colors you might want to use, and fonts you might want to use for headings and body text – when you start building your poster, you’ll have everything you need planned out already and can focus on laying things out.  You’ll also want to make sure to collect any images you want to include, the data you want to present, and the text of your poster in one location before you start working.  Once you have those items together, the following learning paths will help you create your poster.

Read the rest of “Creating a Research Poster: A Learning Path” »

Adobe CS6 Interface Overview

If you’re new to the Adobe Creative Suite, trying to figure out what the different parts of the programs do can be a daunting task.  This video helps take some of the mystery out of Adobe CS6, however, and introduces you to the interfaces for Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Dreamweaver.

Please note: For the best viewing experience, please use Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

Creating Logos in Illustrator and Using Them in InDesign

In a recent workshop, I was asked why logos created in Illustrator look strange when the logo is resized inside InDesign. Here is a possible answer to this problem.

Let’s begin inside Illustrator and create our logo.

Read the rest of “Creating Logos in Illustrator and Using Them in InDesign” »

The best way to save your images

One of the biggest space fillers on your computer right now is probably images and movies, especially if you’re a designer. Digital images take up a lot of space all over the place–in our emails, computer memory, webpages, etc. It’s such a pain when you don’t have any more space on your devices, and absolutely everyone hates when those pesky large files take FOREVER to load. When working with digital image files there are certain file types that work better depending on what you are doing.

Small info graphic stating "Know your file types: When to use .gif, .jpeg, .png"  Read the rest of “The best way to save your images” »

Adobe CS Quick Tip: Customized Keyboard Shortcuts

I just recently downloaded a new app for my iPad called Actions, so I’ve been working on configuring it for the applications that I use often. Throughout this process, I’ve been searching applications for keyboard shortcuts for commands and buttons that I use often so I can decide whether or not I want to map it to an Actions button. While setting up my Dreamweaver shortcuts, I realized that a lot of the tools I use already have shortcuts, but some of them (like Save All) don’t.

After a little bit of digging, I discovered that Adobe CS applications allow you to customize the keyboard shortcuts that come standard in the application. I thought I would pass along the info to you all as well. I checked out Dreamweaver, InDesign, Photoshop, Fireworks, and Illustrator and the following will work for all of them.

To edit the keyboard shortcuts in an Adobe application, in the Menu Bar, click Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts…. You’ll see the following dialog box:

Dreamweaver Keyboard Shortcuts dialog box.

Dreamweaver Keyboard Shortcuts dialog box.

From here, you simply find the command you want to add or change a shortcut for in the Commands section, then click in the Press Key text box, press the keyboard shortcut you want to assign, then click Change. If you’re adding your first shortcut, you’ll have to save a copy of the default keyboard set, but the application will warn you if needed.

That’s all there is to it. If you are curious, here’s what I was working on setting up using Actions for Dreamweaver:

Actions Dreamweaver Shortcuts

My Actions setup for Dreamweaver.

Now that I’ve got that configured, I’ll be exploring how Actions can help my productivity in other applications. I expect I’ll write a post about Actions in the near future, so stay tuned.

Got Illustrator skills? Get more!

Adobe Illustrator CS6 is an awesome tool for making vector graphics. It’s probably the vector creation software of choice for most graphic designers and other professionals who create graphics for a living. Like all Adobe products, it’s packed with features, and comes with a steep learning curve.  I learned how to use Illustrator at a rudimentary level in two Indiana University IT Training Workshops, “Illustrator CS6: The Basics,” and “Adobe CS6: Pen Tool Basics.”  Now that I’m somewhat comfortable with the software, I practice on my own. My skills are improving a little, but if I’m going to become really good at Illustrator, I have to seek out some more training resources. (See the post I wrote  for the Tips Blog about taking the skills you learn in a workshop to the next level).

Random Illustrator objects.
Random Illustrator objects.

There are a lot of Illustrator tutorials out there.  I’ll share some of them with you now.

  1. Adobe Illustrator on Adobe TV. Learn the software from the source.
  2. Check the Adobe Illustrator Blog for more tutorials and tips.
  3. Vector Tuts+ has a lot of content including tutorials, articles, tips, and resources. Premium members can access features such as online courses and an ebook library.
  4. Astute Graphics’ blog has a quite a few free tutorials, tips, and tricks.
  5. Chris Spooner’s Spoon Graphics offers free Illustrator and Photoshop tutorials.  You can find more content on his Facebook  page too.
  6. An excellent source for technology training is Most lynda content is available  to paying subscribers only, but if you’re serious about learning, it’s probably worth the expense. IU students, facutly, and staff get lynda for free!

I think those are enough resources to get you (and me) started. I’m collecting Illustrator tutorial resources on Pearltrees, check there once in a while to see if anything new shows up.

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