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How to Work with Symbols in Adobe Illustrator

Learn how to work with symbols in Adobe Illustrator from expert Will "Focus" Dubois in this Howcast video.


This is how to work with symbols in Adobe Illustrator.

So we're gonna spray out a few symbols. A lot of people don't know what symbols are. Essentially they're premade like icons, or icon sets, that Adobe Illustrator gives you or that you can create on your own. And once you create them you can actually duplicate them using the symbol sprayer to make a ton of symbols all at once.

So what we're gonna do is we're gonna go to our Tools panel. Scroll all the way down. And then there is the symbol sprayer tool, which you'll know shift and s will actually give you that tool. But you click on it and we want to go over to our Symbols panel. Now, if this panel isn't there, you go to Window, scroll all the way down to symbols, you click it and it will open in the right panel. And then, in the upper right arrow, you can click this and you can go to Open Symbol Library. And let's go to, let's go to flowers. I don't like flowers but we're going to flowers.

So we can select any of the symbols that's in this window and we can click the sprayer. You'll notice as we move or stay in place, more little representations of the flower are placed on our art board. And when we stop, voila. We have a bunch of flowers.

Now, how do we edit these flowers or fool around with them? In the symbol sprayer option box, once we go over here, if we click and hold down there are tons of options. There's a symbol shifted tool, the scruncher, the sizer, the spinner, the stainer, the screener, the styler. Play around with these. Get yourself familiar with them.

The main thing you have to do is first spray a symbol on your board. Once you've done that you can go onto something like the shifter tool. You can click those. And as you move through it you'll notice that they shift and then they'll adjust accordingly. Or if we go to the symbol scruncher. Let's say we select this subset. We click. Notice how it starts to pull them inward. And it pulls in the direction of wherever you're clicking. And then we can go to the sizer. Say we want to increase the size and hold it down. And then we'll have some that are larger than others.

But these are all the options that are listed under here. And you can play around with these once you have them. What you want to do is you can double click on them, change some of the options that are inside. Like diameter, the intensity, how many are in the symbol set, like how dense they're gonna be and grouped together. And you can change the type of symbols. You can actually expand them. If you want to work with them more you can go to Object, Expand and you click Okay. And then each individual symbol can now be moved and shifted to wherever you want.

Double click to go inside, because they're grouped together. Pull them away. Or you can select everything, command or control shift G and ungroup them and then move around and alter them.

Now, if you wanted to create your own symbol select the tool. Let's say we're going to use the star. And let's say we want this to be a new symbol. So we click New Symbol in our symbol options menu. And then we'll name this Mario Star. And let's keep it as a graphic type, because we're not using animation. So we're gonna click Okay.

And now, if you look in your symbols panel to the right you'll see the star is there. You can actually delete this off our art board and we can go back to our symbol sprayer. Make sure we have this star selected and we can just bust out a bunch of different stars. And we can go into our Options, and let's say we do the spinner tool. And we can actually change the direction that they're facing so they're not all facing the same way.

And that's how you work with the symbol tool in Adobe Illustrator.

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