Adobe Illustrator is a versatile vector graphics software of industry standard that lets you create graphics, logos, illustrations, maps, icons, products, packaging, etc. Vector graphics allow the object created on Adobe Illustrator to be edited without any limitations and loss of quality. Adobe Illustrator for architects is mainly used to create digital and visual renderings integrated with AutoCAD, Revit, and other Adobe programs. Adobe Illustrator’s tools transform sketches and ideas into designs and are widely used in many design firms worldwide. 

Here are ten things you didn’t know you could do with Adobe Illustrator:

1. Text Isolating Tool | Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator for architects is mainly used to create visually compelling infographics or styles that portray your concept or ideas in the best way possible. Text and font styles play a significant role in presenting an artboard to establish hierarchy and emphasis on what is essential. A lesser-known tool for text modifications is the Touch Type Tool. This tool lets you isolate each letter from a text box and can be placed in a non-traditional position. 

  1. Type the desired text into the Text Box.
  2. Under the drop-down options in the Text Tool, select the Touch Type Tool or use Shift+T.
  3. This tool lets you isolate any letter, and it can be moved to any location.
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2. Setting Default Text Styles

Another important and widely underrated tool in Adobe Illustrator, especially for architects, is changing the default Text Style to the one you like. Adobe Illustrator has the font style Myriad Pro set as a default as might be a hindrance to change it to the font you desire in your presentation boards every time a Text Box tool is used. It can easily be altered to set your font style and much more as a default setting.

  1. Select the Text Box.
  2. Under the Window Menu >> Type >> Character Styles.
  3. In the Character Styles Window, Options >> Character Style Options.
  4. Under Basic Character Formats, you can change the Font Family, Font Style, Font Size, Case, etc. It will set them as default to your file.  
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3. Using Recolor For Objects

The Recolor Tool is an excellent presentation tool that lets you experiment with different color schemes in your graphic or presentation. It is most widely used for digitizing concept models or highlighting certain aspects of your artboard.  

  1. Select your vector artwork or object with the Selection Tool.
  2. Go to Edit >> Edit Colors >> Recolor Artwork.
  3. When the dialog box opens up, rearrange the color options, or use the Color Theme Picker to match the rest of your artboard.
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4. Duplicating Objects In A Sequence

Duplicating objects can be a useful tool to create geometric and aligned work. Its versatility can be used for making patterns and hatches or for placing furniture or trees in a uniformly spaced manner, which can be very useful in Adobe Illustrator for architects.

  1. Duplicate the selected object to the clipboard and paste it at an appropriate distance
  2. To repeat the same length, use the command Ctrl + D. This will continue to duplicate the original object at equidistant intervals.
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5. Grid Guides | Adobe Illustrator

Grids act as foundation underlays to create structured and consistent artwork. It helps to build visual relationships and hierarchy to make a layout more efficient and easy to read. Using the Grid as a Guide underlay makes it easier to experiment with composition, just like using a tracing sheet on graph paper.

  1. Add a rectangle to the size of your artboard.
  2. To split the rectangle into grids, go to Objects >> Path >> Split Into Grid.
  3. From the pop-up window, you can add in the number of rows and columns needed.
  4. Select all the grid lines, go to View >> Guides >> Make Guides.
  5. This makes it an underlay, and objects can snap on to the guidelines.
  6. The guides can be toggled on and off using Ctrl + ;
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6. Adobe Color Themes

Adobe Color is a web-based application within the Creative Suite used to create and experiment with shareable colors and themes and can be used in multiple projects. Color Themes in Adobe Illustrator for architects can be used to find and create color palettes using searchable keywords for a presentation board or a vector graphic.

  1. To open the panel, click on Window >> Color Themes.
  2. Under the Explore Tab, you can look for various color palettes in the Search Bar.
  3. The colors can be saved to your swatches and can be individually added to your objects. 
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7. Global Colors

In Adobe Illustrator, the Global Color option allows you to change the color after it has been applied to your artwork in multiple objects. All instances of use are linked and will be updated when the Global Color is modified. They are instrumental when a color palette is defined, and the entire artwork would be updated with a change in any one color. It acts as a quick tool to experiment with different hues and color stories in your design.

  1. After creating objects in your design, select a color from the Swatches panel, and make sure the ‘Global’ option is selected.
  2. A Global color can be identified in the Swatches panel by a white triangle in its lower corner.
  3. This color can now be edited in the Swatches panel, and the changes will be seen wherever the original color was used in the entire artboard.
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8. Making Maps

A successful architectural presentation starts with a complete site or context analysis. Maps play a large role in understanding design decisions and specifications and are very important to communicate it well through your presentations. Diagrams are easier to read compared to text boxes, and urban connections can be well visualized. The use of maps need not be generic, and Adobe Illustrator for architects lets you be creative with different presentations and graphic styles.

  1. Start with a reference map placed on the artboard.
  2. On a new layer, trace the roads using appropriate point thickness using the Pen Tool or Curvature Tool.
  3. Each plot or block can then be made into objects by using the Shape Builder Tool or by using the command Shift + M.
  4. The map can then be modified with color, text, objects, etc.
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9. Direct Selection & Transparency Masks

Adobe Illustrator for architects is one of the most widely used design software by designers globally. It allows you to create a variety of dynamic digital graphics and be experimented with in various ways. Another underrated tool in Adobe Illustrator is the Direct Selection tool that lets you modify an object’s constraints. The Transparency Masks enables you to choose how much of an object can be hidden without changing the shape of the original object. 

  1. After selecting the desired object, use the Direct Selection tool to select just the bottom points and drag it down to stretch the object in that direction. This lets you lengthen an object vertically without distorting it. 
  2. To apply a Transparency Mask, go to Windows >> Transparency.
  3. In the Transparency window, uncheck the ‘Clip’ box and make sure the ‘Invert Mask’ is selected.
  4. To work on the ‘Mask’ canvas, click on the white box linked to your original canvas in the Transparency window.
  5. From here, draw the parts you need to hide using the Pen Tool. Then make sure the ‘Invert Mask’ box is unchecked. 
  6. Go back to the ‘Object’ canvas to continue editing. 
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10. Making Seamless Patterns | Adobe Illustrator

Repetition, pattern, and rhythm. All three elements are essential to understand concepts and to make your designs more effective. Adobe Illustrator for architects lets you create patterns for materials or hatches to best showcase your design concepts. A seamless pattern keeps your print consistent and visually balanced.

  1. Create and arrange your motifs on the artboard and make sure to overhang the motifs to the left and top edge of the artboard.
  2. Duplicate the objects that overhang and place them in place.
  3. For the motifs on the left, select the duplicated objects and press Ctrl + Shift + M. Enter the width of your artboard for Horizontal and 0px for vertical and press Copy. 
  4. Repeat this process for the top of the artboard, but enter the height of the artboard for Horizontal and 0 px for Vertical.
  5. Fill in any blank spaces on the canvas to create a balanced pattern.
  6. Use the rectangle tool to add a background of the size of your artboard. Make sure to fill color and no stroke and send it to the back. 
  7. Create a bounding box by duplicating the background and pasting it to the back using Ctrl + B. 
  8. Select all the layers and motifs and drag everything to the swatches panel. This creates a seamless pattern and can be used on any object using the Swatches Panel.
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Author

Rashmi Nair is an architect, interior designer, and fashion illustrator who is an ardent lover of all things design. She strives to be sustainable in design and life and strongly believes in the ‘Less is More’ idealogy. She enjoys exploring museums, reading, making lists, and a hot cup of coffee

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