Illustrator Tips and Tricks 2020 Cover Image

Illustrator Tips and Tricks 2020 - How to improve your workflow with Adobe Illustrator?

ILLUSTRATOR | 15th October 2019 | Author: Lukasz Adam

I am sure you know the feeling. You open up Illustrator, start creating your shapes but somehow things doesn’t look like you want them to look like.

Maybe you have missed something?

But most of the time you are on the right path. There are small things that can make or break a design and the same goes for Adobe Illustrator.

Today I want to show you some small 2020 tips and tricks I have learned along the way. With this guide, you will be able to improve your workflow and you will start getting better with Illustrator day by day.

What is Adobe Illustrator good for?

Adobe Illustrator is a vector-based software for those who want to create vector-based graphics. It is available through Adobes Creative Cloud. It is one of the most popular software from Adobe along with Photoshop.

The main advantage is that with vector-based artwork, your SVG files will look crispy clear on every device and for every resolution.

There is so much to learn with Adobe Illustrator. No matter what you want to create, there are tons of options and feature to make your artwork look even better.

Illustrator Tips and Tricks 2020

One of the biggest reasons I have started using Adobe Illustrator, is because I didn’t want to rely on others when it comes to illustrations and Icons. And one thing I can say is, it is the number one reason I’ve become a better web designer.

It’s also a nice feeling. After I have created something, I can do whatever I want. I can publish it wherever I want, without thinking about the license.

I can even give my illustrations away for free.

gift icon for my free illustrations

Actually that is what I did here: Free Illustrations.

So today I want to share a few tips, which will help you to get more out of Adobe Illustrator. In the end, you will be able to use these tips, to create something you always wanted.

Let’s just dive in with my illustrator tip #1

Before anything else, start sketching.

Let me tell you what I did in the beginning.

I just started to create shapes.

Click and drag, a circle here - a rectangle there. It was good to get to know how Illustrator works, but it surely didn’t help me to create better Illustrations and Icons.

So I started to sketch things out before creating them.

Here comes another secret. First I did it with Pen and Paper.

I sketched something, I took a picture of it and then I imported it to Illustrator. Then I could re-do all the shapes and lines.

Problem was, It didn’t look right at all. Not only I felt uncomfortable with the whole process, but it also took me way too long to create something that looks good.

But I wanted to create good Illustrations so badly.

Desperate as I was, I just started to sketch with my mouse.

I didn’t have any special mouse at all, it was some basic thing that you get everywhere for a few dollars.

To my surprise, things changed very fast. I was way more comfortable to sketch things with my mouse and then directly creating the shapes with Illustrator.

sketch made with adobe illustration
Illustration made with Adobe Illustrator.

But there is one important thing to consider when doing so.

Do not sketch with a bold black line. Instead, create a light and thin brush. I use a magenta color for this and I set the opacity to 0.5.

brushes made with adobe illustration
Brushes to sketch with in Adobe Illustrator.

This way my sketches look way better.

You can even choose another color and use the second one for your shadows.

So what is the main point here?

I am not saying that the mouse is the only way to start sketching. I think most of the people won’t even like it.

But it surely helped me along the way. For you maybe a drawing tablet is the better option. No matter what you chose in the end, always sketch things out before creating them. This will improve your workflow immediately.

Use the right colors

As a beginner I just picked random colors. I wasn’t aware that there are colors that can make or break my design. I didn’t even know, that I can find the right colours right here in Illustrator, without using a third-party tool or any other website.

Not only you can find the right colors, but you’re also able to choose from different harmony rules depending on what you want to create.

Today I know and in a min, so do you.

So open up Illustrator, click Window and then color guides.

Illustration of color guides.

color guides in illustrator
color guides in Adobe Illustrator.

This will open up this tool right here.

harmony rules
harmony rules in Adobe Illustrator.

Now you can select a color as a base color, choose a harmony rule and Illustrator will do the work for you.

Nice, isn’t it?

But what’s up with all the harmony rules, which one should you choose?

There are many different harmony rules. You can choose between complementary colors, Split complementary, Analogous, Triadic and also Monochromatic.

For now, you can stick with complementary colors, these should give you a pretty nice range of colors which you can use for your Illustrations and Icons.

Later along the way, try to get a feeling for the other harmony rules as well. They will surely be of great help to your designs.

Use the shape builder tool

shape builder illustrator

To create something in Illustrator, you have basically two options. You can either use the pen tool and draw the lines or you use shapes to combine them into something you want. I use both methods.

I am not saying that one is better than the other, but if you struggle with your mouse or your graphic tablet, try the shape builder tool.

It is so easy, that this could be a clickbait title and people would still love it.

Let me show you.

Let’s say you want to create a cloud. Now, you can pick a brush and just draw the lines until you’ve got the cloud, but this will surely take longer than using the next method.

Let’s do this instead.

Create a circle, then create three more.

Create a rectangle.

Combine them.

In the end use the shape builder tool.

building shapes with adobe illustrator

That’s it. You’ve got the perfect cloud icon.

So that’s it for now. I hope these tips will be helpful to you.

I will make sure to add other tips on this list, so if you want to stay in touch with me, check it out from time to time.

Thanks for reading.