All About Views and the Artboard in Illustrator

By Esben

Sometimes when working in Illustrator it is necessary to go into view modes that are beyond the basics. But what are they? When is the best time to use them?

Esben, our resident Illustrator expert, returns with several ways, detailed below, that Illustrator can display your artwork.

Outline Mode

Normally you draw in preview mode, but outline mode can be very helpful, too. It shows a wire frame (like in a 3D program)of everything on the art board , so you can easily see every element without colors and effects. Outline mode is useful when your meshes or blends get very complicated and Illustrator or your computer has a hard time processing everything in color. Cmd/Ctrl+Y will turn it off and on.

Pixel Preview

You don’t have to export your graphic to see how it renders in pixels, just select View> Pixel Preview for a pixel-based view. This can be very helpful if you have any concerns, particularly about the way effects will look. Cmd/Ctrl+Alt+Y turns Pixel Preview on and off.

If you notice that your pixel-based effects are looking bad, try going to Effect>Document Raster Effects Settings and changing the resolution from the default Screen (72 ppi) to High (300 ppi). Be careful though, as this can make it more difficult for Illustrator to give you fast updates when you move or change objects.

What About Transparency?

The scariest part many Photoshop users encounter when they fire up Illustrator is that the pop-up dialog box for new documents doesn’t give the option to chose between a white, transparent or black background. Well, it really doesn’t matter since the white art board is always transparent from the start! The familiar transparency grid (the grey and white checked background) can be turned on and off by hitting Cmd/Ctrl+Shift +D, except when in Outline Mode, in which case the transparency grid won’t show up.

You will see that the art board is transparent and the white color that shows by default in Illustrator is just a canvas, not something that shows up when the file is exported. But what if you have to draw something that’s white? White on white is impossible to see! Here’s a tip: make a square with any color you like as a “contrast” color and make it as large as you need to (past the art board boundaries if you want). Go to the Layer panel and lock the object you just created. Also make sure to place it at the bottom of the layer stack. When you’re ready to export your artwork, remember to either delete the contrast layer or hide it in Layer panel.

My next article is a tutorial (which will be up next Monday), where we will make an RSS button and go through using all of the palettes and tools we’ve talked about so far.

Missed one of Esben’s previous articles? Catch them here:

And remember to subscribe to Creative Curio today for more useful articles like this!