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Grids & Alignment

Lesson 8 from: Adobe Illustrator CC: The Complete Guide

Jason Hoppe

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Lesson Info

8. Grids & Alignment

High-quality design is clean. In this lesson, learn how to use grids and guides to streamline your process and ensure consistency. Jason covers challenges and possibilities that stroke brings to alignment and when to work with a grid and when to turn it off. See how to use custom and smart guides, distribute spacing and objects and how to snap to pixel.

Lesson Info

Grids & Alignment

Welcome back, folks. This particular lesson we're gonna show you how to use grids and guides and set up your custom guides, which Illustrator has a really cool way of doing custom guides. We're gonna show you Smart Guides, which are gonna be absolutely fantastic for alignments and spacing. And we're gonna show you kinda some of the ins and outs of setting these things up and how it can be really useful, and couple kind of not-so-useful, kind of annoying things that we're gonna work around here. But we're gonna start our document up and one of the things I've gone in and turned on my overall grid. And under the View menu, this is where we can turn on and turn off our grid right here, there's our Hide Grid, and that's gonna be command + ' is gonna turn on and turn off that grid. Now, one of the things about this grid that I wanna make sure that we understand really well is how these things are divided. This can look really confusing. One of the things I wanna do is make sure this is set ...

up in a way that makes a lot of sense. The default here is everything is set up in inches, and trying to go ahead and divide things into eight sections is really confusing. So in my properties panel, I'm going to go and I'm gonna change this all over to millimeters here, because millimeters are gonna work so much better. Increments of 10 makes life so much easier. Now you'll notice when I changed those properties here, my grid didn't change. Well I can change my overall preferences for my units either in my Properties panel, or in my Preferences here going to Units and setting this up so that I can go ahead and make this all millimeters. Now, I'm gonna go to my grids and my guide here because this is gonna be really important on how I set this up. So, setting this up to millimeters, I work much better in increments of than trying to figure out how to divide things into sections of eight, makes no sense whatsoever. So what I wanna do is I wanna set up my guides here, and I can choose a custom color for any of my guides here so I can see how this is going to work. And I choose any color that I want, and I have like a plethora of color choices. And I can choose lines or dots so that I can have lines like you see here, or a dotted line here. And what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna do a gridline every 10 millimeters with subdivisions of 10, which is going to basically mean I'm gonna have heavy lines every 10 millimeters, and then every millimeter I will have kinda the lighter lines here. I can have the grids in back so that they're not on top of my artwork right there. And then I can actually show the pixel grid when I zoom in really big, above 600%. I'm gonna click OK. So this is my grid structure now, and you'll notice, if you count here, you can't really see them all, I'm gonna zoom in here, and now you can see that this is actually 10 millimeters right there exactly. Now, why do we use a grid structure? I use a grid structure for a lot of things, especially building my icons and my info graphics, because then I'm not guessing at the size of things. I do have my Smart Guides, but Smart Guides are only as good as how much you pay attention to them. Using a grid structure like this, setting this up is really nice and easy to use, but you have to be able to use the grid structure fully. Just by turning the grid on doesn't help you at all. You'll notice when I try to draw something, it doesn't snap to the grid by default. In fact, trying to get that right there on the grid is really tricky. So, under the View menu, just because you turn your grid on, I need to snap to the grid. Now, you'll also notice that Snap to Point is turned on here, and Snap to Point is one of these things that frustrates people a whole lot. So I'm gonna turn off my Snap to Grid, I'm gonna hide my grid, and I'm gonna talk about Snap to Point right now, because this is something that people get really frustrated with. Here's what Snap to Point is. Snap to Point is something that's on, and here is what it does. If I were taking a shape or a line or anything and I begin to move this around, whether in my Selection tool or my Direct Selection tool, and I move something, the Snap to Point wants to always go ahead and it basically has a memory. So you may have used Illustrator where you're trying to move something just a little bit, and it doesn't wanna move because it wanna keep snapping to that point exactly, because it remembers that point. That's the Snap to Point. So sometimes it's like, no, I just wanna move this a little bit, but I can't get it far enough off because I keep having that little magnetic snap right there. Yeah, you can set that. If I go and I move this over here and then I come back, you'll notice how it doesn't remember, because it only remembers the last point. So, it's just so frustrating when you're trying to move something just a little bit, and it won't do it because it's kinda that magnetic snap. Two things, turn off your Snap to Point, or move the point and let go and then come back to it and it won't remember the last point. Or, go under your Illustrator Preferences here, go under your Grids & Guides right here, I'm sorry, your Selection & Anchor here. And you can go in and you can set your tolerance of how close your snap is going to be. So, all these different things that could work. It's one of those things that as you get really, really fine into working with this stuff, that little Snap to Point can be a royal pain. Now, if you're gonna use a grid structure, the Snap to Point isn't a big deal because it's gonna snap to the grid no matter what. So I'm gonna go back under View and I'm gonna turn on my grid here. Just because I turn the grid on doesn't mean I'm actually snapping to the grid. So I have to do both. So, command + ' and shift + command + ' are gonna be turn the grid on and snap to the grid. Once I snap to the grid, everything snaps to the grid. I can't not snap to the grid. And you're like, well, why wouldn't I use this all the time? (laughs) 'Cause there's certain things like when you're doing an arc or a circle where it doesn't actually conform to the snap point of the grid. And you're like, well why doesn't it do that? And it's like, well, because when we get an angle or something, I may not want that to be in that particular location. So with my Snap to Grid turned on, I have the ability now to draw anything that I want to, and the benefit of this is is that I can create, if I wanna draw something else exactly the same, I don't need to duplicate it. I can go in and I can draw something and it's gonna be exactly the same as my other shape that I've drawn. Now, couple of the problems with the grid here. One of them is you'll notice, okay I've got my shapes, but why is this not snapping to the grid? It is. I'm gonna go into Outline Mode and you see that my shape is snapping to the grid. One misconception that people have is that you're snapping the stroke to the grid. No, the stroke is one of these oddball things that it doesn't equate into the measurement of the overall object, so this is 20 millimeters by 20 millimeters, okay? It's the bounding box that it's that size. From edge of stroke to edge of stroke, who knows what it is. Normally we add stroke weight in points, we don't add it in millimeters. If we did add it in millimeters, which I could definitely change here in my Preferences, into my Units. And I start adding doing the stroke in millimeters right here, and I say, okay, my stroke right here is going to be one millimeter, it still doesn't go ahead and snap to the grid. And you're like, well, why, we're using millimeters. Because when we add a stroke to an object here, the default is it always adds it from the center of our stroke. A one millimeter stroke really is a 1/2 a millimeter outside the box, 1/2 millimeter inside the box. And now when I look at this, of course, it doesn't look like it's snapping to the grid. No, because of the stroke alignment. So if I go into my Stroke panel and I go to my Stroke Alignment, I can always have it inside here, and if I have it in millimeters, I can have a one, two, three millimeter stroke and it looks like the stroke is snapping to the grid. It isn't, I'm just using the same measurements. Now, this is like, well why wouldn't I just go ahead and use this so that it always snaps to the inside? It sounds like a fantastic idea, and it is. Just as long as you use closed shapes. Because if I draw a line here, it's great, I don't even have to hold down shift, it snaps to it, and I do a line, a line doesn't have anything that allows me to align the stroke inside or outside, because what's inside or outside of a line? It's down the middle of the line. So when I draw this here and I were to line this up, say I move this over here and I'm gonna rotate this. Actually I'm just gonna redraw it here. And I draw a line over here and it's like, okay, that's not at the top, and it's like, well, if I go into my Preview, yes, they are. You can see that line is exactly at the top of my shape, but they don't line up. Well, they do, but they just don't appear to line up. So it's like, well that's frustrating, right. So now all of a sudden that great idea that I thought of having the stroke inside my container so that it also snaps to the grid structure, makes a lot of sense. Well, no it doesn't because when I try to align something up with a shape and a line, of course the appearance of it is going to go ahead and align up with the width of the stroke, and not the actual bounding box or the shape. So, it's kind of something that you have to be very cognizant of when you're going in and creating your artwork. It's great to be able to go ahead and do this because it's so nice and easy to be able to go in and work with transforming and editing the shapes. Perfect thing here is going in and using the Width Shape tool, or sorry, the Curvature tool. If I click with a Curvature tool here, in a non-grid format this is going to snap, or is not gonna snap anywhere, I can go wherever I want to. But if I'm using the Curvature tool and I would like to go ahead and create something like this, the Curvature tool is great because I can use this and I can create total symmetry by going and moving those dots. So you can go ahead and snap and you can count those going right to where I want them. So if I wanted to have something like this, this would be great, I create this heart, and then I decide I'm gonna rotate it this way, and now I get all kind of weirdness here. It's like, okay, wow, what, you know, it doesn't snap to this, why doesn't it snap to this point? Why aren't these here? Well, here's what happens with curves on a grid structure. The initial points will snap to it, but points along the curve won't necessarily snap. If I go in and I use a curve here and I draw, I can draw the curve beautifully. And those initial points snap right to the curve, you can see in Outline Mode it fits that curve perfectly. But if I then use my Width Shape tool here and I want to curve this a little bit right here, this is always going to snap to a point here. And I may not want that, I may want this in the middle. It's like, no, I don't want it to snap here, I want it here. Absolutely. Now we have to turn off our Snap to Grid if I wanna balance this right in the middle of this grid. So, I can go ahead and turn that off, under the View I can turn off my Snap to Grid. Even though the grid is still visible, it doesn't mean that it's actually snapping to it just because it's on. In this case, I'm going to go ahead and get this and make sure that this works, so that it fits right in the middle of my object. Here's another interesting thing. I'm gonna turn my Snap to Grid back on, and I'm gonna draw a container right here, let me just do it this way. And I'm now going to go in and get rid of this point so I have an open grid. I then wanna go ahead and draw a line from here to here, put it together. And you notice that when I do this, it's like, okay, these don't connect like I want them to connect. And it's like, no, because the way the lines are done. And I may want to come in and move this point down here and create some kind of interesting shape right there. Okay, so I have that and if I create another line here, I may be coming over here and create a line over there to kind of create an interesting shape. What I'm doing is I'm just kind of creating this kind of freeform where I can join them together like so. I could then take these shapes and use my Join command, which we showed you in the other videos, do Join, and then join those together here. I'm gonna leave this open. And I look at this and I'm just like, okay, you know, I've created this kind of cool shape with the grid, but I'm not diggin' this whole thing here where it's like, oh my gosh, you know, this doesn't look like it lines up with here. So, well how do I move that point up? Do I take my Direct Selection tool and kind of eyeball it and move it all the way up here? Well I can't, 'cause I snapped to the grid. Well, I could turn the grid off and make sure that I get that right up there, but, cool feature. I'm gonna go over to my Stroke panel here, and we have three different caps. We've got the normal Butt Cap, we've got the Round Cap right here and that's not what I want. But we also have the Projected Cap. (laughing) And in cases just like this, this is the Projected Cap, this works awesome for the Projected Cap, specifically when you're doing things in the grid. Check that out, when I use the Projected Cap here, you'll see that the stroke actually then goes around the entire end, and it may not seem something that you're like, oh geez, you know I never thought about that. There it is. So now it looks like the stroke lines up with it here, even though I'm using the grid structure. Mm-hm, there's all these little tweaks that you can go ahead and do. Here's one other little thing too that we had talked about with the stroke, but this is kind of relevant in creating this little icon here. In the Stroke panel, I can also go in and I don't wanna use my corner widgets to round these corners, I can actually go and I can round the stroke itself. Now, rounding the stroke has nothing to do with rounding the shape. If you had no stroke, this feature would do nothing. I wanna round the corners of the stroke, these are not corners by the way, 'kay, 'cause they're not connected to anything. But if I wanted to round the corners of the stroke itself, not the shape, just the stroke, that's what I can do in the Stroke panel here. So, really interesting little tidbits going in here and using this. Now, I cannot set my stroke to be inside or outside because this is not a closed shape. So when I draw something like this, or the stroke is gonna be centered on the path, equal portions on the left and the right-hand side. So, I love using the grid structure because you can create so many things, space so many things out here. You wanna put circles along here, it's great, you get perfect circles and then you can space them out every amount, and then just do command + D. And you know, I may be creating something and look at that, I mean it's just like so cool to be able to go in and land these exactly where you need them to be. And duplicate them if I can select the whole thing here, there we go, come on. Select those, hold down the Option key, duplicate them, look at that. That spacing is absolutely awesome. And now if I wanted to create some type of colander or some type of texture right here, that shape's perfect. Going through and doing that, I absolutely love it. Amazing. Now, you'll find out that the grid structure can be very frustrating, 'cause it is very exacting, and not everything that you do with the grid structure is exactly what you want it to do. It's great for corners, it's great for centering, but it's not great for angles or things that are gonna end, like this, or you have points that are gonna end that are gonna be open. Just gotta keep that in mind 'cause we will turn on and turn off the Snap to Grid quite often to get those things to be where we want them to be. Once we turn the Snap to Grid back on, it's not gonna snap everything back to the grid unless you click on that point and snap it back to the grid structure. Then it's like a magnet and it has to snap to the grid if you have your Snap to Grid turned on. So, other interesting things with this. I'm gonna turn off my grid structure right now, so I'm gonna hide the grid. And even if I hide the grid and my Snap to Grid's turned on, it will still snap to the grid while I'm drawing, even if the grid's off, so keep that in mind, okay? Just because it's hidden, doesn't mean the you can't get to that grid. Now, if I wanna have a little bit more loose snapping, I can go ahead and use guides, but I need my rulers turned on. So over here in my Properties panel I can turn on my rulers or just do command + R. The rulers pop up on the top and the left-hand side. And my guides come from my rulers. If I would like to do manual guides on the page here, I can just simply pull them down, and with those guides selected I can go into my Properties panel and I can place those guides exactly where I want them to be, and land them right there. Now the one interesting thing with guides is that they're totally selectable. So, if I go in and I click on the guide, I can move it, I can delete it and get rid of that guide if I want to. The guide's gonna be active when they're highlighted in blue, I can just simply click right over them. One of the frustrating things is that if I select content on here, I can select the guide as well, and then I'm moving my guide and my content and it's like, eh, I don't like that. So under the View menu, what you can do under your Guides here is you can lock your guides, which means once you draw them on your page here, it's going to lock them and you can't move them. Which probably makes a lot of sense, or you can create all your guides on one layer so you can just simply lock that layer if you want to. Now, pulling your guides from the rulers is really simple. You put them wherever you want to and they're on the page there. If you go up to your Rulers here and you wanna change your units of measurement, you can do that as well. If you don't wanna be working in millimeters at this point, you can do it in your Preferences here. If you have a lot of guides on your page, you can always go under guides here and say clear the guides. It's gonna get rid of them all whether they're locked or not. But here's the feature that I absolutely love, this is cool. I've created this icon, 'kay. I have no idea what these angles are right here, but what I would love to do is I would love to go ahead and create a guide, so that I can actually create other things at this angle. And if I take this shape right here and I'm just actually gonna select this, and I'm gonna copy and paste this shape right here to get this angle. I don't know what this angle is, I could go and look at it over here, but I wanna turn anything into a guide. So if I have a line or something on the page, I can actually turn this into a guide, something that I haven't seen any other application being able to do. So, if I'd like to turn this into the guide, I can go ahead and just get that line, go into the View menu under Guides, and I can go ahead and choose Make Guides. And it actually turns this into a guide right there. So it took whatever line that was and it turns that into a guide, so if I wanted to create other items that were at that angle, I could take that shape right here and I could rotate this, and I could go in and I could snap it to that guide right there to make sure that I was doing something at the same angle. Now, this is just a random guide. I can take anything. So if I draw a line on my page here like this, and I wanna turn this into a guide, I can take anything and turn this into a guide right away, going under View, Guides and say, Make Guides. And now that's a guide, right there, anywhere on my page. This is great for creating intersecting guides here to be able to then rotate your artwork and do that, anything can be turned into a guide. You want shapes right there? Sure, take that shape, turn it into a guide. Anything that you draw on there, you can make into a guide. Whatever the length of that line is, there it is, works really good. I haven't used that very often, but boy when you need to use that, it is very nice to be able to have that ability to go in and turn anything, any object, any shape, any line, directly into a guide. Now, guides from your rulers here, we used to use these all the time because as we were drawing shapes and putting these things together, it was very important to get things to be lined up. Well now we got Smart Guides. And Smart Guides are turned on by default here, under the Guides, under Smart Guides here, wherever it is. Yeah, there it is, Smart Guides. Smart Guides are great. You'll notice that when we've been drawing these shapes or moving them around, we see all these little things flashing all around. Let's see, make sure, there we go. You see all these things flashing and little spacing arrows and things like that. Smart Guides are fantastic, and here's why Smart Guides are so incredibly awesome. Smart Guides take any object that you have and it tries to go ahead and relate that object to any other object on the page. So, top, bottom, left, right or center, when I'm moving these around it tries to snap to the top, bottom, left, right or center of any other object. And as you see these moving around, you see the little purple lasers coming out here. And the lasers will actually stop so you know exactly what you're referencing, whatever point you're referencing right there. So if I'm dragging this up here and I come and I'm trying to line this up right there, I can go in here and I can line these things up, and I get the center intersecting here. But Smart Guides go beyond just alignment. Smart Guides are also going to tell you when you're selecting a path, when you're selecting a corner using your Direct Selection tool, when you've got the center of something, when you're landing in the center of something, the end of the path, the corner, whatever. It's really truly fantastic. So, if I'm going in and I'm drawing a shape here, Smart Guides also allow me to know when I'm starting at that exact location too. So if I would like to create another container this size without having my grid turned on, I can simply take my tool and you can see right there, I'm starting at the same point. And as I begin to draw, all of a sudden I can then draw and I'm going to be able to then land those points and make sure that those are going to be right along the same edge right there, which is really cool. I now can draw that the same height. When I'm moving things around of course, they're always gonna try to snap to everything else. If I wanna move these things and I want to move them, in fact, I'm gonna duplicate this shape right here, I'm gonna hold down my Option key and duplicate, you'll notice that the center point here kinda gives my little magnet. 'Cause the Smart Guides are gonna try to restrain the movement so that I can see that I'm moving this directly in line with this. I can hold down my shift key when I do this, don't go ahead and get that right there. And get it to constrain or else I can pay attention to just the constrain right there. Now, here's another amazing thing. I'm starting to space these out. So I'm dragging these out and all of a sudden in between the spaces, I get this little reference point showing me that the space between the first and the second object now matches the space between the second and the third object. And it's like, wow, that's amazing. So not only can I go ahead and duplicate these items in the exact same plane, but I also don't have to worry about that spacing, I mean it's really hard to not, you know, space these things correctly. There's no getting it close. Either the Smart Guides work or the Smart Guides don't. So, taking any of this content here and moving it around and having it snap to any other place, lining these things up on top of each other right there, there's right in the middle. You can see the word intersect comes up, center of the point that I'm moving intersects with the center of the point I'm putting it on right there. It's right in the center. How could I not do that? I mean it's very hard to not be able to snap that right to it. This is Smart Guides, they are just absolutely fantastic. They do get annoying because every time you move something around, it's always trying to reference the top, bottom, left, right, center of everything. Absolutely everything. Which can be quite frustrating, but it's also one of those things where when you're doing your alignment, it is just absolutely golden. And especially when you're copying things or you're spacing things out. You can grab everything and you can just space everything right out here, and get everything to space right out, line right up, you know, line right up under there. Now that's perfectly aligned with that, I can copy these, and I can perfectly align those with those right up there, and it's like, oh my gosh, this is amazing. Take that, align everything right there. Make sure I select it all first and begin to move, there it is. Oh, line it up with the side right there. Now I'm gonna line that up here at the center, come on. Why is it not lining up with the center? Ah, 'cause those aren't aligned to the center. There we go. It's funky, didn't know which one to go ahead and align to. Now the spacing's the same, really cool alignment. Now, we also have the Align features in here, under the Window menu we have our Align functions. We also have our Align functions too in our Properties panel as well. And this, of course, you gotta go into your little cheese grater to get, or your little dot dot dot to get all of your alignment here. We're just gonna bring this all up. Now, normally when you call up your Align panel here, it doesn't show everything. I don't know why, you gotta go to your cheese grater and show all the options. Now when we talking about align and distribute items here, people get really confused about what align and distribute is. Because these shapes kind of look the same. Aligning the objects means you have two or more objects, and they can be groups of objects too, they don't have to be singular objects. But aligning these to the left, centered, right, top, centered or bottom. How does that work? Two or more objects, I align them to the left, everything aligns to the left. Yep, that makes sense. Aligning things to the middle, sure. So if I've got my objects here, select them both, align them to the middle vertically, align them to the middle horizontally. Why are my shapes shifting? 'Cause it's kind of like averaging them together and it's like, no, no, no, no, I wanted the box to stay in the same place here. It's like, I don't want these things to be moving. I want this to go ahead and move and not this. But when I do this it's like, okay, they're kind of averaging them together and it's like, well, I didn't want both of them to move. Or, is the one staying in the same place, the other one moving. Here is what a key object is. When I go in and I select multiple shapes right here, what is my key object? My key object is the one that, once I select everything, I touch and I get the thicker blue line. That's the one that we're going the align to. So, I didn't want my box to move, I wanted it to stay there. Select both, tap on the box there, and then I move everything. Now the box stays in the same place, because that is my key object. Those are all the things that are going to align, the box is gonna stay in the same place, I aligned everything else. That's key, because it's the key object, but it's also extremely important. The Distribute Objects is really interesting, 'cause the Distribute Objects here confuse people to no end and for good reason. Because they don't understand exactly what's going on. The Distribute Objects here, I'm going to use a different example here, I'm gonna take these three shapes, but I'm going to make one of these smaller right here. And I'm gonna take these shapes right here, and what I'm going to do is I'm going to distribute the shapes here, in fact I'm gonna make three different sizes here so we can really see the dramatic difference. When I use the Distribute feature, I wanna distribute spacing between the centers. So, I click on the Distribute, and what I get is I get identical spacing between the center of the first one to the center of the second, and the center of the second to the center of the third. However, people look at this and they're like, well that isn't right, because the spacing between them isn't what I want. That's not what you clicked. You clicked the Distribute Objects here are always going to go ahead and they're gonna distribute from the centers of the object. That's awesome if all the objects are the same size, because the center is going to be in the exact same location reference-wise. When they're different sizes, that center point, I mean if I draw a distance from the center point to here to here, that distance is identical from the center point from here to here, it's exactly the same. But that's not what I wanted. And as I tell people, if that's not what you want, don't do it. Here's how we go ahead and work with this. And this is where it gets frustrating. This is where I go to distribute spacing. Now, normally you don't see the distribute spacing, so you're just stuck with this and you're like, okay, this can be totally frustrating. You have to click in the cheese grater to get to more options. And the frustration doesn't stop. So you're like, okay, I wanna distribute the spacing between them. So I go ahead and I click on that and it's like awesome, it puts that right between there, and that's exactly what I want. How this works is if I take my shapes, I'm gonna add a couple more shapes here so we can see this, we can see how this works right here. What you do is you put your first object where you want it to be, you put your last object where you want it to be. And I call this fence posting, 'cause you put the fence post at the end. And then it's going to go ahead and it's going to equally distribute the spacing between the shapes. It has nothing to do with the centers, so it does take into account the different sizes. The first one doesn't move, the last one doesn't move, but now the spacing in between each one is going to be exactly the same. Different than having the centers measured, this is the space between. But what happens if I want a specific size, a specific distance between all of them? Then I go over here and I click on this field that I can't click on. And it's like, why can I not get to this field? And the reason why is because we get the tool hint, but nobody reads, 'kay, it says blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And it's like, why can't I click on this? Forget about the point that it actually tells you, in order to specify the values, what you have to do is you have to go and you have to go over here to your little dropdown menu, and you have to align to a key object. That key object is whatever object is there that you want to start the alignment at. Well, I wanna start the alignment here. And I want all of them to be aligned from this key object, if you do not set the key object, you do not get the field to enter it in. Which is exactly what the tool hint says. But again, who reads? So, I've selected my objects, I've chose align to my key object, you see my little key in there. And the key object is any one that you touch after you've selected all of your objects. Now I say, okay, I want them 10 millimeters apart and I hit return and nothing happens. And you're like, (sighs) how frustrating. Yeah it is, because once you put the value in, then you have to go back in and you have to press the horizontal distribute spacing after you've put the value in, because you're like, now I want it to happen. I know, it gets very confusing. So, you have to select a key object, or select a key object choice, then you have to select the key object, then you have to put in the spacing. And then after you put in the spacing, you then have to click and make that spacing apply in order for that to actually work. Mm-hm, there you go. So the Distribute Spacing is different than Distribute Objects. Distribute Objects, if they're all the same size, it's going to look the same. If they're different sizes, different shapes, then the Distribute Spacing, but you have to choose the Align to the Key Object, and then choose your key object, put your spacing in, and then apply your spacing in order to make it work. It can be frustrating, but you can also get really good results. Now on the other hand, you can simply put those two together, and then you can take any of your shapes as you go through here and just simply move them. And as you move them, you can snap right to those shapes right there, and all of a sudden it snaps to those shapes, and there you go, there's your spacing as well. Sometimes people like to do that. People get a little bit confused when it comes to the alignment of things here. If I use my Align Left feature with all of these, it's gonna take everything and pile it right on top of itself, 'cause it's gonna line all of them left. Which is kind of cool if I wanna do that. I can align these all to the top, if I align these all to the right or all to the centers, it puts them all in that way. I can align them to the centers that way, and you notice how they shifted right there? It's because I don't have my key object. Which one do I wanna keep in that initial place? 'Cause it kind of averages them all out. Well, even when I select them I can say, okay, this is the one where I want to align to the center, all of them will now shift down to the center of that object. So, the align is kind of interesting. Yeah, it's a little bit challenging, but between using the grid and the Snap to the Grid using our manual guides that we can go ahead and create, any direction, any size, any shape that we want works really good. The alignment and the spacing, as well as my Smart Guides for so many purposes, the Smart Guides are gonna be absolutely great. There's a lot of things that we can do and, you know, align and make these absolutely perfect. Now, speaking of perfect, we do have this one thing called pixel perfect, and we have this thing called Snap to Pixel. Now why would we do something like this, Snap to Pixel? Well, if you're creating anything in Illustrator that's gonna be ultimately end up using for the web here, I'm gonna create a new document here and I'm gonna set this up for the web, and we're gonna see what Snap to Pixel actually means. So, I set this up, a new document, it doesn't look any different than what we have with a normal document here, but I'm gonna go and I'm gonna draw a shape in here. And I'm going to up the stroke so we can see what's going on here, and this is what we have. Now because I set this up as a web document here, and I have my Snap to Pixel turned on, here's what happens if I don't have my Snap to Pixel turned on. When I go in and I draw a shape here, I can get kind of blurry edges, all right? Now we know that Illustrator doesn't have blurry edges because it's all pixels, but I can get a little bit of a blurry edge in here when I'm actually viewing this. So, what I wanna do is I want to see my pixel preview up in the View menu here, and Pixel Preview is gonna show me exactly what this is going to look like on screen. Now, this is ultimately what I want it to look like on screen, because something like this, it's like, oh, that's gonna look terrible. It's like, yeah. Now, watch this. If I go in and I simply draw a shape like this, it's like, oh, you know, I drew it here and it looks awesome. Clean, crisp edges, and this kinda gives us weird little blurry effect. Exactly. Because very much like snapping to the grid, making something pixel perfect is making sure that you're not creating a shape that's going to be like 27 and 1/3 pixels. Because if you know anything about Photoshop or anything about the web, you don't display a portion of a pixel, it kind of goes in and it kind of gives you that blurry, soft, kind of anti-aliased edge. Well, when I'm doing something and my sole intention is to create beautiful icons for the web, the last thing I wanna do is make everything really fuzzy. I mean that's horrible, I don't wanna do that. So, turning on the Snap to Pixel, very much like Snap to Grid, prevents that from happening. Now when I go in and I draw a shape there, I can never go ahead and draw a shape that is going to be about 1/2 a pixel, 'kay? And it's going to snap to those pixels right there, you can kinda see the little snaps as they go. I can't make something 27 and 1/2 pixels. So whenever I draw any type of shape whatsoever here, it's going to go ahead and it's gonna make it pixel perfect. Now you look at this circle and you're like, okay, so how do I make the circle pixel perfect? Well folks, pixels are squares, and there's no amount of squares that will ever make a perfect circle. So, when you draw something that's going to be pixel perfect, this is pixel perfect. And I zoom in, you can see this. What you're seeing is you're seeing squares trying to make up a curve, okay? So, even though this is not as smooth as you think it's going to be, it's going to display as best as it possibly can on the web. So pixel perfect is something that actually does use a grid, it uses the pixel-based grid, so keep in mind. So when you do do angles, you do curves here, it doesn't look exactly the way you want it to look because we are based in, or we set our document up to be in web mode, and we also have our View turned on to make a Pixel Preview. With our Pixel Preview turned off you're like, wow, that looks great. But that's not how it's gonna look on the web. We need to see what it looks like here. So keep in mind, anything that isn't horizontal or vertical is going to go ahead and it's gonna give you what's called this anti-alias effect, which is this smoothing right here. Don't panic, 'kay, because we have curves on the web all the time. It's just that when you make it pixel perfect, your icons or your logos are gonna turn out and display much better, because really, when you're looking at it on the web at size, you're not gonna see this. This has happened ever since Photoshop came around, and ever since the web was there, it's there, so no need to panic. Just keep in mind if you're creating these icons for the web, make it pixel perfect, under the View menu, and turned on your Pixel Preview here so that you get something that's going to be the best possible results. It is a different type of grid, it just happens to be a pixel grid, but it's a grid nonetheless. So, I hope you found this helpful. A lot of cool challenges in here, but also a lot of helpful things to go ahead and make artwork that's going to be very consistent, consistent spacing, and if you do anything for the web, make that pixel perfect as well. So, good stuff, stay tuned for more.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Gradients Tutorial
Layers Tutorial
Infographic - Watering Can Tutorial
Symbols Tutorials

Ratings and Reviews


What an amazing course! I am a working professional and have cobbled together most of my knowledge of Illustrator from working through different projects. I wish I would have taken this course sooner! There's so many tips and tricks that Jason teaches that would have saved me at least 20% of my time. I feel like a more well-rounded Illustrator user now after this and I'm excited to use all these skills in my upcoming projects. Thanks, Jason!

Sheldon Carvalho

All the info was super. Super easy to follow. And great to start learning. Illustrator. One thing I could see that needed adding was little projects after every class. Get something new created and then learn how it was made with the tools that were discussed. But there should be another class for sure.

Tomas Verver

Like most of Jason's courses they are professional high quality courses. From beginner to expert. The course is packed full with the latest tips to improve your Illustrator Workflow. There are some nice examples included so you can watch the video's, do the exercises and build experiences in the program quickly.

Student Work