The most revolutionary aspect of Illustrator is the introduction of its Graphic Symbols tools. These tools reduce file size and benefit manageability in much the same way that symbols are used in Flash. Beyond that, the tools make image repetition much easier and cut down the number of steps that are needed to do the same thing manually. Any object or group can be quickly turned into a symbol, and accessing it for reuse is as simple as selecting your symbol in the Symbols palette. Updating a symbol automatically updates every instance of that symbol in your document.

Eight new symbol tools on the toolbar help you manage and create quickly and easily. The Symbol Sprayer tool works very similarly to the Graphic Hose in Painter, quickly applying several instances on your artboard. Attributes such as size and angle can even be controlled by a pressure-sensitive tablet.

Illustrator’s Symbol Tools

Once applied to the artboard, the other symbol tools can be used to modify the instances. Quickly change the rotation, distribution, size and position of each of a group of instances—the tools are impressively intuitive. The Symbol Stainer tool applies a raster-like colorizing effect to your symbols, and the Screener tool applies eraser-like transparency effects that would make you swear you were working in Photoshop. Plus, you can use the Symbol Styler tool to apply preset or user-created styles in varying amounts to your symbols!

Of course you have the option to break the link between placed symbol instances and the original if you wish to modify the objects without making a global change, but this means you lose the benefit of smaller file sizes or being able to make global symbol changes.

The applications for these tools are wide and varied. Not only do they make for efficient and small files, but they also open up new creative possibilities.

Installing the symbols couldn’t be easier, drag and drop the symbol file into Illustrator. The symbol is then opened inside of Illustrator and you can save the symbol to a symbol library by clicking on the symbols palette then click the small triangle button which opens a options menu for the symbols. The last option in the menu is to save the symbol library once you select save a window will open up to the default symbols folder inside of Illustrator, give it a name and press save. That’s it! Now the symbols can be selected from the same menu by selecting the open symbol library and selecting the library that you would like to open.

We have gathered free symbols from the web and have them here for you to download. There are many different symbols available from Christmas Lights, Cell Phones, Aqua Orbs and Credit Cards just to name a few. As we find more symbols we will post them for here for everyone to download and use. Get creative with these symbols and send us your artwork so we can showcase it here on Blogtology.

The Symbols

Christmas Lights


Basket Ball


Aqua Balls


Arcade Logos


Chocolate and Candy

One of our readers submitted his Illustrator Artwork:


Any suggestions, ideas? Feel free to comment on this article!

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