15 Essential Shortcuts for Mastering Illustrator

Learn the best shortcuts for speeding up and improving your workflow with Adobe Illustrator

Most illustrators, designers, and artists will already be familiar with Adobe Illustrator. However, to really master the program, it’s important to learn these shortcuts. They will help you to move around the keyboard and interface quicker and increase your productivity. Adobe Illustrator also allows you to add and personalize shortcuts to fit your needs.

Anyone who works with Illustrator should know these 15 shortcuts inside out. How many do you?

Essential tools

All of the following commands are activated at the touch of just one letter key, allowing you to execute them quickly.

Resize: Free Transform tool (E) and Scale tool (S)
These tools are for changing the size of selected objects. The first, the free transform tool, allows you to alter the proportions of the object in a way that distorts the original shape. The scale tool enlarges or reduces the size of the object horizontally (along the x axis), vertically (along the y axis), or both.

Select: Direct Selection tool (A) and Selection tool (V)
The first lets you select individual anchor points or path segments by clicking on them individually, or select an entire path or group by selecting any other point on the item. You can also select one or various objects from a group. The second shortcut lets you select objects and groups by clicking or dragging over them. You can also select groups within groups and objects within groups.

Magic Wand tool (Y)
This is a magic wand that can automatically select objects of the same color, stroke weight, stroke color, opacity, or blending mode with one click.

Rotate tool (R)
This tool is for rotating an object around a fixed point. The default reference point is the center point of the object. To change the rotation point, you just have to click where you want to move it to.

Live Paint Bucket tool (K)
This is an intuitive way to create illustrations with color. It allows you to use the full range of Illustrator’s vector drawing tools, but treats all the paths you draw as though they are on the same flat surface.

Pen tool (P)
The Pen tool is the most useful and versatile vector drawing tool. You can use it to choose how many anchor points your path will have and their positions. You also can decide whether they have jagged or rounded corners.

Hand tool (H)
The hand tool is useful for moving around the area you are zoomed in on. It makes working much easier.

Paintbrush tool (B)
The paintbrush tool allows you to click and drag to create a pathway to which predefined vector artwork is applied.

15 Essential Shortcuts for Mastering Illustrator 1

Short-cuts for actions

These work by pressing a combination of keys at once. Use Cmd when using iOs and Ctrl when using Windows.

Add layer: Cmd + L
This is one of the most-used actions. Adding layers is an essential step when using Illustrator.

Repeat transforming objects in perspective: Cmd + D
This action allows you to duplicate an object or a transformation that you have used before on a different object.

Paste in front (Cmd + F) and Paste in Back (Cmd + B)
The first serves to paste an object directly in front of a selected object. The second is to paste the object directly behind the selected one.

Group: Cmd + G
This serves to combine objects in a group so you can work with them as a single unit. Grouping objects is useful as all of the objects will be subjected to the same modifications at the same time.

Make a clipping mask: Cmd + 7
A clipping mask is an object whose shape masks other artwork so that only areas that lie within the shape are visible–in effect, clipping the artwork to the shape of the mask.

Join two or more paths: Cmd + J
You can use this shortcut when anchor points don’t overlap; Illustrator adds a line segment to bridge the paths to join. While joining more than two paths, Illustrator first looks for and joins the paths that have end points stationed closest to each other. This process is repeated until all paths are joined.

Check spelling Cmd + I
Essential tool which will make sure you don’t miss any errors in the text. It will check every word and highlight any misspellings or other possible errors.

15 Essential Shortcuts for Mastering Illustrator 3

If you would like to discover more Illustrator secrets, then check out our Domestika Basics course, Introduction to Adobe Illustrator, taught by illustrator and designer Aarón Martínez. Aarón will help you to learn the ins and outs of the software, so that you can apply your new skills to your future vector graphics projects.


Log in or sign up to comment

Get Domestika's news delivered to your inbox