Extra Bits

Many questions come our way here in the Adobe offices of Australia and New Zealand and rumour has it thequestionroom.com could be somehow connected to us. Personally I have no idea.

One question that recently was asked of me was where has the clip art gone in Illustrator? This does open up a number of different avenues for discussion. The varying benefits for using clip art may be up for debate, however finding the clip art is a path to using Illustrator to its full potential.

There are number of sample files that can be found in the Illustrator Application folder, but this is not our questioner was after – what they wanted is available in the symbols panel.


As you can see there is a huge volume of images available as symbols. Why are they symbols? Why not have a series of documents with the images in Illustrator documents? Answering this also solves problems people face when creating complex illustrations.

Often when people are creating patterns they will copy and paste complex artwork over and over. The net effect is incredibly complex artwork that is slow to work with and to print. Using symbols helps enormously. A repeated symbol references the original artwork for printing and display. A test file I recreated from a customers original artwork went from being 19mb to 2.8mb just by using symbols.

How do you create symbols? All you need to do is draw your original artwork, then drag the image into the symbols panel, easy!


You can also go to town creatively using the symbol tools which help to randomise, colourise repeating symbols while still referencing the original artwork. The best thing is that you change one instance of the symbol and you can change them all.



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