Illustrator CS6 | Use your mouse to work faster!

How do you usually change the value of an Illustrator artwork object’s attribute? For example, how do you traditionally change the opacity of an object in your artwork?

In Illustrator CS5.1 (three steps):

  1. Select the object, and click the arrow of the Opacity field in the Control Panel
  2. Click and hold the Opacity slider control, move the slider, and release slider to view the new opacity of the object
  3. If the opacity is not exactly the one you need, repeat the previous step until you get the right opacity.

In Illustrator CS6 (one step):

  • Select the object, position the mouse pointer over the Opacity field in the Control Panel, and scroll your mouse wheel.

That’s it! It really is that simple. The artwork is modified as you scroll, and you can keep scrolling until you get the desired effect. You will notice an amazing advantage right away – you don’t have to take your eyes off the artwork while you are modifying it!

Check out this video, for a short demo of the feature that I just described…

Also:

  • One step at a time too slow for your workflow? Press SHIFT while you scroll, and the value of the opacity increases or decreases in steps of ten.
  • Missing the slider? The opacity field now has a pop-out list, with increments in the tens (10%, 20%, etc.). It is much faster to set these values it with a pop-out list than with a slider. Pop-out lists containing standard increments are available for popular controls like font size or stroke weight. You’re not going to be missing that slider for too long :-).
  • Prefer your keyboard to get the right value, right away? While this is a departure from what you have experienced in Illustrator earlier (the slider not being available), in addition to the two new ways of changing the value (scrolling and the pop-out list), the previous two methods of changing the opacity have been retained:
    • You can still manually type the exact value of the opacity you want
    • You can click the opacity field, and use your keyboards up and down arrow keys to change the value.

All fields in Illustrator CS6 that have numeric values, or have lists with standard values, can be manipulated with just your scroll mouse.

There actually is a lot more! Adobe Illustrator CS6 is different from previous versions in many ways. While the team has toiled away at making it faster, providing native 64-bit support, and adding and fine-tuning features, there are quite a bit of smaller changes that have been made it into this version. Many of these are GUI-related value-adds and tweaks that make it easier and faster to work with the Illustrator CS6 interface. While we compile a comprehensive list of the rest of the changes in Illustrator CS6, I wanted to draw attention to this one useful aspect of the GUI.

Watch out for the entire list – coming soon!

14 Responses to Illustrator CS6 | Use your mouse to work faster!

  1. jeffermac says:

    Not much help to artists who draw with a pen/brush instead of a puck with a wheel on it.
    Adobe dropped the ball on this. Until Wacom finds a way to ‘intuitively’ add a wheel to their wildly popular pens – just for something Adobe ‘fixed’ that wasn’t ‘broke’ in the first place, this will remain a major sore spot for true illustrator artists. imho, of course.

  2. jeffermac says:

    Not much help to artists who draw with a pen/brush instead of a puck with a wheel on it.
    Until Wacom finds a way to ‘intuitively’ add a wheel to their wildly popular pens – just for something Adobe ‘fixed’ that wasn’t ‘broke’ in the first place, this will remain a major sore spot for true illustrator artists. imho, of course.

  3. teach says:

    What a shame. I hoped they would finally integrate scrubby sliders like in Photoshop. But no. They decide to remove the slider altogether. Using a Wacom pen this is utterly annoying and counter productive. There are more things extremely painful in this new version. This is one of them and probably one of the biggest ones. This is almost as painful as the silly extra hurdles you had to overcome in, gulp… Canvas…

  4. Rex Heftmann says:

    Is this the Microsoftening of Adobe? Add pen, tablet, MagicMouse/Trackpad, and laptop users to this list of pointers that now have a problem where there used to be a solution. This is an even more goobered-up interface, leaving me to no other conclusion than that Adobe aims primarily to make money off our tools, not tools so we can all make good. Explain why else they release a de facto standard upgrade with no documentation. I regularly use CS1. If you have a chance, try it. I can do anything CS6 can do, usually faster, always better, and certainly with less frustration.

  5. Gepard says:

    Scrolling does not work under OS X Lion. What a mess. 😉

  6. Ehab says:

    i really hate it when they force an option and thinking that what is best for you. i use a tablet and i dont have mouse and i dont want to use my keyboard that often

    Please, adobe font force your opinions on artists lets that to them to decise which best method suits them

  7. Ehab says:

    i really hate it when they force an option and thinking that what is best for you. i use a tablet and i dont have mouse and i dont want to use my keyboard that often

    Please, adobe font force your opinions on artists lets that to them to decide which best method suits them

  8. Simba says:

    Good job adobe, way to ‘fix’ something that was never broke in the firstplace

  9. tabletuser says:

    Not tablet-friendly AT ALL! Completely annoying. What was Adobe thinking?

  10. Paul says:

    What on Earth are Adobe thinking. This new behaviour is horrible and clunky even for a mouse user.

  11. Joanne says:

    Man, this is the dumbest idea. I also use a tablet, as should anyone actually drawing, and this is totally annoying and will be a waste of my time to use.
    Upgrade… no, more like downgrade.

  12. Alan says:

    No sliders causing a panic attack!!!! How hard would it be to put them back…its not like they would have to reinvent the wheel. Oh yea someone would have to admit they made a mistake… :.-(

  13. Illersterter says:

    Just got this yesterday, and I’m joining the chorus here. Even using a mouse, fewer “clicks” doesn’t necessarily equal fewer actions or a quicker result.

    The scrolling is an interesting trick, but it doesn’t work nearly fast enough to make it worth it. To take an object from 100% opacity to say, around 30% (I don’t tend to use specific numbers for opacity, I just want to eyeball it), it takes me almost 5 seconds to scroll-wheel down to the right opacity. Using the CS5 slider, it takes me about half a second. A 1000% increase in the amount of time it takes me to do this task trumps click-numbers any day.

    Also, I have to note that almost every single percentage point on that scroll counts as an action when undoing. Pressing Ctrl-Z up to 100 times to undo one “action” can’t possibly be what the designers had in mind here, can it?

  14. David Babbitt says:

    Is there a way to get the slider back? An option in preferences perhaps?
    The slider was an intuitive part of the interface.
    Limiting options would be understood if Illustrator was a product for the casual user but as a professional tool full control is expected.