Day 19: Using the Symbol Tools

illustrator symbols

Symbols help you to create repeated design elements easily. First, you will need to create a symbol which acts like a master copy. New instances you created are linked with the master copy. Once you update the master copy, the instances will automatically update the graphic but retain all the transformations made to the symbols.

Creating a New Symbol

Once you have created your graphic, select and drag it to to Symbols Palette (Window>Symbols). Click OK to confirm.

new symbol

Symbol Sprayer Tools

Next select, the Symbol Sprayer Tool. You can double click on the Symbol Spray Tool to open up the Symbolism Tools Options. In the options you can change the diameter or intensity of sprayer.

Symbol Sprayer Tools

symbolism tools

With the Symbol Sprayer Tool, click and drag to create new instances of your symbol.

There are a couple of other things you can do with Symbol Spray Tool. Switch to Symbol Spinner and click and drag to change the direction of the instances. The arrows will point the direct to rotate to.

To create random sizes, select the Symbol Sizer and click to enlarge the symbols. You can hold Alt/Option to reduce the size too.

Finally, we will stain it with a yellow color. Select the Symbol Stainer and select yellow for the foreground color. Click on areas you want to stain it with. Go over the areas again if you want to have a stronger stain.

Expanding Symbol Objects

If you need to expand the symbols objects to paths, you can go the Symbols Palette and choose Break Link to Symbol.

Editing your symbol

To make changes to you symbols, drag a copy of your symbol to the artboard, double click on it and it will warn you that the changes will be applied to all its instances. Make your changes and you will see that it automatically updates itself.

For Illustrator CS2 or below: Drag a copy of your symbol to the artboard. Go Object>Expand to expand your symbol. Make the changes you want. Hold Alt/Option and drag it over the old symbol in the Symbols Palette to replace it.

Next Lesson: Creating Special Effects »

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