Quickly Creating Scaleable Images in Adobe Illustrator

(This being my first ‘tutorial’ for something like this I hope it is clear… if you have questions or corrections please email me at steve@merch-tips.com)

One big challenge especially after you reach the higher tiers in Merch is creating enough designs.  I have only used design I have created since day one of my Merch account.  Initially I created one off designs… then realized that scaleable designs can help in filling slots with valid, sellable designs.  By scaleable I mean taking one basic design and creating many variations of it quickly.  For example create a design for “Best Dad” and scale it to include “Best Brother”, “Best Son”, “Best Father”, “Best Friend”, “Best Lover”, “Best Co-Worker”, “Best Cousin”, “Best Study Partner”, etc…

When I first started doing this I would create the design, export to png, edit the text, export to png.. repeat… which works.. but isn’t real fast… So I came up with this method to set-up an Illustrator file that has many variations and then export a bunch of png’s… then make quick changes and do it again. I do this by using multiple artboards and symbol objects.

I use Illustrator CS5 so these steps may be a little different for those using a newer version but it should at least outline the steps you need to take.

 

CREATE FILE WITH MULTIPLE ARTBOARDS

Click to Enlarge

Click ‘File > New’ and you will get the window pictured to the left.
Enter a descriptive name for the template you will create (This example is going to be 4 columns and 3 rows of artboards)
In ‘Number of artboards’ enter the total number of boards you will use in this file.
Set ‘spacing’ to zero.
Select the number of columns (in this example I use 4)
Set the units to ‘inches’, the widtth 15 inches and height to 18 inches.
In ‘Advanced’ settings make sure color mode is CMYK and the raster effect is set to 300 ppi.
Click Okay

 

Click to Enlarge

 

 

You will now have something like what is show to the left
Remember to SAVE your file!

 

 

 

CREATE YOUR DESIGNS

Start building your design.  For this example we will have a flower graphic in each artboard… there will be 4 different colors of the flower…

Click to Enlarge

 

Start by placing a flower in the first artboard.
Copy (ctrl C)  then click on the second artboard.
Paste in place (ctrl shift V) This places the flower in the exact same position but on the second artboard.
Make changes as needed to the second flower

 

 

Click to Enlarge

 

 

Continue doing this to the other 2 artboards in the top row.

 

 

 

Click to Enlarge


So you will end up with something like this.
Remember to SAVE your file!

Next we make each of these into symblos so we can easily modify them later.

 

 

 

CONVERT THE DESIGNS TO SYMBOLS 

Click to Enlarge

 

Click on the first flower.
Click on the Symbol tab.
Click on New Symbol.
Enter a name for the symbol.
Choose ‘Graphic’ (that actually doesn’t matter, I just do it)
Click ‘Okay’

 

Click to Enlarge

 

 

Do the same for the other flowers creating a new symbol for each one.
Remember to SAVE your file!

 

 

 

Click to Enlarge

 

Click the first flower symbol
Copy (ctrl c)
Click the first artboard in row 2
Paste in Place (ctrl shift v)
Click the first artboard in row 3
Paste in Place (ctrl shift v)

 

Click to Enlarge

 

 

Do the same with the other 3 flowers
Remember to SAVE your file!

 

 

 

CREATE THE TEXT AND CONVERT TO SYMBOLS

Click to Enlarge

Now we will set-up the text
Click on the first artboard
Create, format and position the text until its how you want it.
Click the text to highlight it
Click on the Symbol tab.
Click on New Symbol.
Enter a name for the symbol.
Choose ‘Graphic’ (that actually doesn’t matter, I just do it)
Click ‘Okay’

Click to Enlarge

Click on the text symbol
Copy (ctrl c)
Click on the second artboard
Paste in Place (ctrl shift v)
Click on the third artboard
Paste in Place (ctrl shift v)
Repeat for the forth artboard.

 

Click to Englarge

 

 

Click on the first artboard on the row 2
Repeat the steps to make text, convert into a symbol and copy and paste in place for row 2

 

 

 

Click to Enlarge

 

 

Do the same for row 3
Remeber to SAVE your file!

The hard/time consuming part is over.. this is your master templae file for flower designs!

 

 

START EXPORTING THE PNG DESIGN FILES

Click to Enlarge

 

Click File >Export
Create a file name for the your first set of exports
Choose ‘PNG’ for the file type
Select ‘Use Artboards’ and ‘All’
Click ‘Save’

 

 

Click to Enlarge

 

Make sure you select ‘High (300 ppi)’ and color as ‘transparent’
Click Okay.
Wait for the files to save (which can take some time depending on your system and the complexity of the designs)

CONGRATS! Now you have 12 PNG files ready to upload!

 

 

MAKE CHANGES TO THE DESIGNS AND/OR TEXTS

Click to Enlarge

 

 

After the files save you can click on the text in row 1… keep clicking until that text has a text cursor in it
Change that text as desired (you can change the words, font, color, etc.)

 

 

 

Click to Enlarge

 

Click away from the artboards until you are out of isolation mode.. all the symbols on that row will update, so you changed one symbol and all the other instances of that symbol changed.
Do this for row 2 and row 3
Remember to SAVE your file!

 

 

EXPORTING MORE PNG DESIGN FILES

Click to Enlarge

 

Click File >Export
Create a file name for the your SECOND set of exports
Choose ‘PNG’ for teh file type
Select ‘Use Artboards’ and ‘All’
Click ‘Save’ and wait for the files to save (which can take some time depending on your system and the complexity of the designs)

 

 

MAKE MORE CHANGES TO THE DESIGNS AND/OR TEXTS

Click to Enlarge

 

Since we made the flowers symbols also, you can make changes to those as well…

Here we are replacing the flowers with different ones.
Click on the symbol until its open and then delete the old flower and paste in a new one.. format and adjust as desired.

 

 

 

Click to Enlarge

 

 

Click off the artboards repeatedly (to get out of isolation mode) and the other flowers in that column will update as well.

 

 

 

Click to Enlarge

 

Do the same to the remaining columns.
Repeat the export process with a new file name.
12 more unique designs created.

 

 

 

Click to Enlarge

 

 

Here are 36 unique designs all from this one template file.  You can continue doing this and creating as many files as you want.  You can see that once the orginal template is set-up the changes are quick.

 

Another example would be setting up a bunch of art boards, putting a single symbol on each with a design in it then adding different text that isn’t a symbol to each board (mom, dad, sister, brother, son, daughter, erc.) Save them exhort all artboards… make changes to just the one symbol, export… repeat… super fast!

 

 

I hope this helps some of you.  There are more indepth ways to make the changes that involve creating a data set file and using scripts to change the text but that was a little overkill for me at this point.. maybe in the future I will try that and make another tip.

Steve

3 Responses to Quickly Creating Scaleable Images in Adobe Illustrator

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *