Working With Documents in Adobe Illustrator

Opening Existing Documents

When working with Illustrator, you are not always going to be creating a new document. Sometimes, you will want to open a document that you have saved to your computer so that you can edit or add more things to it.

To open a document in Illustrator that you have on your computer, go to File>Open. Find the file on your computer, and then click Open.

Creating New Documents from Templates

A template is a pre-designed document. Letterhead, for example, can be a template that you save in a program. All you have to do is open the letterhead to create a document, instead of re-creating the letterhead each time. In Illustrator, you can create your own templates, or you can use one that Illustrator provides. There are all different types of templates in Illustrator that you can use, including those for banner ads, brochures, business cards, CD cases, and even stationary.

To create a document from a template:

Go to File>New From Template.

As you can see above, you have multiple folders that contain templates. Let us choose Tech templates and click on that folder.

Now, the different types of templates in that category are listed. Let us pick Business Card.

A new document opens with our business card template. We can now edit the information to customize the business card.

Create a Template from a Document

There may be times when you create a document and then want to use that document as a template. We can use the letterhead example from earlier for this. You create letterhead for your company, and you want to save that as a template for future use. Let us show you how to do it.

Go ahead and create your document. Using our example, you would create your letterhead. When you are finished, go to File>Save as Template.

Choose a location to save the template to on your computer in the Save In field (shown above), and then enter a File Name. Notice that the file will be saved as an AIT file. This is an Adobe Illustrator Template format. Do not change the file type.

Click Save when you are finished.

Insert Images into a Document

The Place command inserts images into documents. To use the Place command, go to File>Place.

Find the image that you want to use on your computer. Next, choose an option. Your options are on the left hand bottom side of the window shown above. We have included another snapshot below to help you find them.

  • You can choose Link, which puts the image on the screen and links it to the image file.
  • Template puts a dimmed version in the document on a template layer.
  • Replace replaces the current image.

    Click Place to place the image.

    Creating and Customizing Artboards within a Document

    To create a new artboard, go to the Artboard tool in the toolbox and click on it. It looks like this, .

    Now your current artboards are highlighted and labeled.

    You can look up in the control panel and change the presets for the existing artboards.

    You can change the size, rename them, delete the artboard, and so forth. You can hover your mouse over any of the buttons in the Control Panel to learn what they do, but let us cover what they do.

    In the Presets field, you have the size of your artboard. Since ours was a preset size, or Letter size, that was what was listed. We can click the downward arrow to select another preset size, or you can select Custom and create a custom sized artboard.

    To the right of the Preset field, you will see these buttons:

    Let us cover them from left to right.

    The first two buttons look like little people. These are to change your document from portrait (the length is longer than the width) to landscape (the width is longer than the height).

    Next, we have the new artboard button. If you click this button, a new artboard will appear in the document area. It will be floating on your screen, as shown below.

    Click to place it where you want it to go in the document area.

    The fourth button looks like a little trash can. Use this to delete the artboard.

    Next, in the artboard control panel, we have the name of your artboard.

    You can click inside the Name field and edit the name.

    Then, we have the following series of buttons.

    The first one on the left is Move and Copy Artwork with Artboard. This allows you to duplicate an artboard with all its contents.

    Next is Show Center Mark. It will appear as little green crosshairs:

    Show Crosshairs. See the snapshot below and take note of the crosshairs.

    Show Video Safe Areas. This shows areas that fall inside the viewable area of the artboard.

    Opens Artboard Options. These options are all options we have covered in the Control Panel. You can always click this button to set your options if it is easier for you.

    This is the Reference Point. You can change the reference point for an artboard by clicking the new reference point on this button. A reference point is a point that other lines, shapes, and so on, are referred. Your reference point might be the middle left side. All your artwork originates from that area, or the reference point is the focal point of your design.

    Finally, in the Control Panel, are the X and Y coordinates of your artboard, or where they appear in your document area.

    Working with Multiple Artboards

    If you have 50 artboards within one document, it may seem overwhelming to work on any one at a time. However, Illustrator makes that easy with tools and the Artboard panel.

    To view the Artboard panel, go to Windows>Artboards.

    All your artboards are listed. You can name your artboards so you know what is on each one. You can also create a new artboard or delete one from the Artboards panel.

    Activate an artboard by going to the Artboards tool in the toolbox, and then click on an artboard in your document area to activate it.

    You can show or hide artboards by going to View>Show Artboards or View>Hide Artboards.

    If you want to easily resize an artboard (without using the Control Panel), click the Artboards tool, and then point to the edge or corner of the artboard that you want to resize. The cursor will change to a double arrow. Drag inward to shrink the artboard or outward to enlarge.

    You can also rearrange the layout of your artboards. Go to the Artboards panel and click the Options button (). Select Rearrange Artboard from the dropdown menu.

    You can then change the layout, the number of columns or rows, and the space between artboards. Click OK when you are finished.

    More on the Artboard Panel

    You can arrange and set up artboards after you have already created a document and begun work on it by using the Artboard panel. You can go to Window>Artboards to find it, or look for the button on the right hand side of the Illustrator screen. The button for this panel looks like this, . Click on the button to open the panel, shown below.

    As you can see, we have two artboards.

    We can click on the button to the right of either artboard to edit the size and other features. When we click on the button, this dialogue box appears.

    It also tells you that you can click the Alt button and drag your mouse to create a duplicate artboard. Make changes that you need to make, and then click OK. Click Delete to delete the artboard.

    We have more options at the bottom right of the panel, as shown below.

    You can rearrange the order of the artboards either by clicking the up or down arrows. Click to add a new artboard. When you do that, the new artboard will appear based on how you organized your artboards when you set up your document (by rows, columns, or other.).

    You can also click the trashcan to delete an artboard.

    You can also view your artboard options by clicking the button at the top right of the panel, .

    You will see this dropdown menu:

    You can create a new artboard, duplicate artboards, delete them, delete empty artboards (helpful if you have 100 artboards and do not know if one is empty), or rearrange them. You can also click Artboard Options, which allows you to rename, resize, and so on. This is the same dialogue box you saw when you clicked the button.

    Display Views

    There are two main views for Illustrator, Preview and Outline. The Preview display shows your artwork in color and as it appears on the screen. Outline view gives you an outline of your work.

    There are other views also; however, if your artwork is too large to fit on a printed page, you can use tiling options in the Print Dialogue box. If you want to see how your artwork will print, you can show print tiling. In addition, you can also view your artwork as it will appear at final output, whether it is printed, shown on the web, or a mobile device. If you prefer a certain view that has different options than the Preview or Outline views, you can also create custom views.

    To use the Preview view, go to View>Preview. Warning: if you are already in Preview view, it will not show as an option in the dropdown menu.

    To use the Outline View, go to View>Outline. Warning: if you are already in Outline view, it will not show as an option in the dropdown menu.

    To show print tiling, go to View>Show Print Tiling.

    To create a new view, set up the view the way that you want it, and then click View>New View. Enter a name for the view, and then click OK.

    If you want to rename or delete a view, go to View>Edit Views. Select a view, and then rename it. Or click Delete. Then click OK.

    If you want to switch between custom views, go to View, and then select a view by its name.

    Change Views with the Navigator Panel

    The Navigator panel gives you a view of the image, albeit a smaller view. It also allows you to navigate through your document or change the zoom size so you can focus on different elements in a document. The Navigator panel is shown below. It is found at Window>Navigator.

    Look at the Navigator panel above. You will see red lines. If you click and hold your mouse within those lines, you can move over your artboards. Then, you can zoom into artboards using the slider, or zoom out. When you click within the red lines, you also change the view area on your artboards in the document area.

    Change Screen Display

    The Screen Display mode is what determines the background displayed behind active images. You can choose a screen mode that hides panels and the menu bar. You can also have your image against a solid color background.

    To change the screen mode,

    Click the Change Screen Mode button located at the bottom of your toolbox, . You can toggle between the modes, and then select the one that you want.

    Normal Screen Mode will display your work in a standard window. Normal Screen Mode is shown by default.

    Full Screen Mode with Menu Bar shows your work on a full screen. Menus, panels, and scroll bars can still be seen.

    Full Screen Mode also puts your work on a full screen, but no menus or panels are visible.

    The Zoom Tool

    You can also change your view of a document using the Zoom tool. With this tool, you can see your document at different magnifications.

    To use the Zoom tool, go to the Zoom tool in the toolbox, .

    Click on it.

    Your cursor will turn into a magnifying glass with a + sign in the middle of it. Click to zoom in. You can also right click and select either Zoom In or Zoom Out from the dropdown menu.

    Using the Hand Tool

    The Hand tool allows you to move an active image in the document window without using scroll bars. It is handy if you are working and need to change the viewable area of an artboard.

    To use the hand tool, click the Hand Tool button in the toolbox, .

    Drag the active document to move it around.

    Crop Marks

    Crop marks are simply trim marks, or marks that indicate where you want a printer to cut the printed page. They are printed with black registration lines. This is so that when the registrations are printed, the printer can align pages. You can create multiple crop marks. They are helpful when you trim or align objects on an artboard or export them to another program. Crop marks can be noneditable live effects or they can be editable so you can adjust or delete them.

    Live Effect crop marks can be deleted by going to the Appearance panel (Window>Appearance) and using the Delete Selected Item button. Editable crop marks can be deleted by selecting them with the Selection tool, and then pressing Delete. The Selection tool is found in the toolbox. It looks like this, . It allows you to click on an object to select it so you can make changes.

    To create crop marks as a live effect:

    Select an object on an artboard using the Selection tool, then go to Effect>Crop Marks.

    The crop marks appear around your object.

    To create editable crop marks,

    Select an Object(s).

    Go to Object>Create Trim Marks.

    If you want to adjust the trim marks, select the trim marks with the Selection tool, and then drag an anchor point or segment.