Illustrator keyboard increments

by Design Workshop Sydney

Working with keyboard increments is a great way creating artwork in Illustrator. We show you several easy shortcuts to making art in our Adobe Illustrator training courses.
For example, to create the simple geometrical artwork illustrated here, first create a new document A5 in size. Then select the Rectangle tool and cIllustrator-keyboard-incrementslick on the artboard to display the Rectangle tool’s dialog box. Enter values of 70 by 50mm, for example, whereupon the rectangle will be drawn on the page. Change its fill colour to red and its stroke value to None. Copy this object by choosing the Selection tool and pressing down on Alt and Shift as you drag the object downwards. Alt (or Option on the Mac) copies the item, whilst Shift constrains its movement to the horizontal or vertical axis. And change the fill colour of the second rectangle to Magenta.
Similarly choose the Ellipse tool and click on the artboard to enter values of 10 by 10mm – this will result in a small circle. (This is the width and height; Illustrator does not measure by radius or diameter.) Change its fill colour to white and its stroke value to None.
A very simple method of copying this item whilst aligning them to each other is to change the keyboard increments. To do so go to Edit, Preferences, General (on the Macintosh this is Illustrator, Preferences, General) and change the keyboard increments from the default of 0.3mm to 10mm, which if you remember is the equivalent of the circle’s width and height.
Now you may copy the ellipses by pressing on the Alt key (Mac: Option) to copy, and hitting the arrow keys on your keyboard. Simply select the ones you don’t want and hit the Delete key on your keyboard.
It’s a good idea now to return the keyboard increments to their default of 0.3mm – do this by going to Edit, Preferences again, or Ctrl+K (Mac: Command+K).
To centre the dots within the rectangles first select the two rectangles and right-click to choose Group. Then select the Magic Wand tool and click on one of the dots – this tool will select all shapes with the same fill and stroke values. And right-click to select Group. Now select both groups and note the Align icons on the top Control panel – choose to align horizontally and vertically.
And don’t forget to save your file!
Whether you’re a complete beginner or self-taught, our courses will help you gain self-confidence in your Illustrator workflow, as well as adding to your professional skill-set. See many examples of our Illustrator clients’ work on our Facebook page.
Other related Illustrator Blog Posts:
Illustrator workspace
Illustrator basics
Illustrator clipping masks
Illustrator live trace
Illustrator brushes