These are the basic set of tools to create design in Adobe Illustrator. They are easy to use and come quite handy at times of small changes and proportion management.
Line Segment Tool
Line segment tool is a little slash icon (/) in the toolbar on the left side of the Adobe Illustrator interface. The shortcut key of this tool is the Backward slash key (/).
Set the Stroke
Before you use the line segment tool, first set the stroke.
So, in the Option Bar (in CS6) or Properties Panel (in CC), change Line Segment Tool settings by various options like stoke color, stroke width, width profile, brush definition, opacity and style.
How to use Line Segment Tool
To use the line segment tool just click and drag. It’s going to draw a line from one point to another. With this tool, you can draw a line at any angle and in any direction you want.
If you hold Shift while drawing a line segment, it will lock the line’s rotational movement to a 45-degree rotation mode.
If you hold the Alt key, it will scale in and out of the center.
Another way to use the Line Segment Tool with great mathematical precision is to click on the Art Board while selecting this tool.
It will open up a small ‘dialogue box’. From here you can assign the properties of your Line Segment Tool i.e. length and angle.
Underneath these two options, there is a small checkbox called ‘fill line’ which visibly doesn’t do anything but adds a fill color to it.
Fill color is visible in the Fill and Stroke color boxes below the tools in toolbar.
In case, if you end up making a shape, by joining the Line Segments from Line Segment Tool then it will add a fill to the shape. Therefore, in most cases, we leave this checkbox blank.
Click on OK button after selecting the desired values.
Mathematically, an arc is a quarter of an ellipse or one-fourth of an ellipse.
Arc Tool is the second option in the fly-out menu of the Line Segment Tool in Adobe Illustrator and the way it works is pretty straight forward.
How to use Arc Tool
Just click and drag with the Arc Tool selected and you’ll see that you’ve created an arc.
Like the Line Segment Tool you can also change the stroke settings but as soon as you put fill color on the arc you can see the change.
Pro Tip: A small tip to work with the arc tool in Adobe Illustrator is that if you press F button on the keyboard while drawing an arc then it will flip the arc on the opposite direction.
And this option comes quite handy when you are making any intricate design.
If you click on the canvas, you will get a dialogue box consisting of various arc tool options like the length of the X and Y axis.
On the right side of this option, you get a ‘reference point option’ which means that our arc will be drawn from one of these reference points that are symbolized by the point in the corners of the rectangle.
Next option is the ‘Type’ of the arc which has two options: Open and Closed.
In ‘Open’ the path is usually open without any closure.
In ‘Closed’ it means the path of the arc will be closed by two other line segments. And this will give you an arc in the shape of a quarter of a circle.
There are other options like choosing the ‘base’ along the X or Y axis and slope of the arc, whether it will concave or convex.
And after you are done with the options you can click the ‘OK’ button to apply your settings.
The spiral tool has some similarities to the arc tool. It does come out in an arc but it wraps around itself essentially. And Like the arc tool, you can also flip the spiral but pressing ‘R’ on your keyboard.
How to use Spiral Tool
The spiral tool in Adobe Illustrator create spiral based on three measurements:
- The Radius
- Number of Segments
If you hold down the Up arrow while drawing the spiral in your canvas, it will increase the line segments of the line segments which will create the more spiral effect.
If you hold the Down arrow while drawing the spiral it will reduce the line segments.
Another point to keep in mind is that, if you hold the Ctrl Key on your keyboard then you can stretch out your spiral like pulling it out from itself or if you drag inwards you will get more like a concentric circle effect.
The spiral tool is basically used for making floral intricate designs.
Rectangular Grid Tool
Rectangular Grid Tool is used for ‘Gridding’ purpose. To get the idea or proportions of a design. Although some designers also use it to create ‘Tables’ or ‘Grid for division of Content’.
How to use Rectangular Grid Tool
You can make any grid or table with this tool. Just like other tools in the line segment tool’s list, this tool also works by clicking and dragging the cursor on your canvas.
And as you do so, you will get a grid, but if you hold shift key while drawing the grid then you will have a perfectly proportionate square grid.
To increase or decrease the number of squares or rectangle inside the grid you can hit the up or down arrow respectively.
Key things to remember here:
- The up and down arrow will change the number of horizontal lines
- The left and right arrow will change the number of vertical lines.
You can also change the number of divisions and other settings from the ‘Rectangle Grid Tool Option’ which you can get by clicking on the canvas while selecting the tool.
Polar Grid Tool
This is the last option in the fly-out menu of the line segment tool. Just like the rectangular grid tool, through polar grid tool, you can create concentric circular grids.
How to use Polar Grid Tool
The tool’s settings are similar to the ‘rectangular grid tool’ where you can set the stroke width, number of the concentric circle and the dividers.
A key thing to remember here:
- The up and down arrow will change the number of concentric circles.
- The left and right arrow will change the number of radial dividers.