Illustrator symbols

by Design Workshop Sydney

Symbols in Illustrator are used in many different contexts, for example in map making. We show you how to increase your workflow efficiency in our Adobe Illustrator classes.Print
In the example of a landscape created in Illustrator, we could utilize the Symbols feature of the program to create duplicate of the trees in the forest. In this way we maintain consistency of look, whilst also allowing for variations in individual instances of the Symbol.
To create the tree symbol, first create an equilateral triangle. Give the shape a green gradient blend fill colour. Then adjust the corners to rounded via the Effects drop-down menu. We then copy the triangle three times and increase its size, pressing Shift to maintain its width to height ratio. It may also be necessary to use Object > Arrange > Send Backward to get the order of branches looking correct.
We then select the four triangles comprising the tree, using the Selection tool. And we click and drag the tree shape into the Symbols panel. If this is not visible, go to the Window drop-down menu and choose Symbols. Having dragged the tree into the panel a small dialog box will open asking if you wish to create a still image or movie graphic. It actually doesn’t matter in this context – just hit OK, and the symbol will be saved within the Illustrator file.
To then bring more instances of the tree into the drawing, simply drag them from the Symbols panel. You can also use the Symbol Sprayer tool from the Toolbox on the left. Note the tools stacked behind the Symbols Sprayer – these allow you to scale, move, rotate instances of the symbol, as well as add colour and transparency, even add a Graphic Style.
If you wish to add this tree symbol into future Illustrator documents, simply go to the Symbol panel options list and choose to Load Symbols.
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