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SYMBOLS documentation

Introduction This is a brief introduction to the installation and use of the symbols / shapes in Adobe ® Illustrator ®. The symbols are variously known as ‘Illustrator CS3 symbols’ or ‘Illustrator shapes’ etc but I will use the term ‘symbol’ throughout. The symbols mentioned are symbols that can be purchased on the website but the symbols could as easily refer to your own generated symbols or modified symbols or the symbols that come with Illustrator ®. Any questions, please let me know either by e-mail or via the graphicxtras forums etc Andrew

Installation of symbols You must first expand the zip file holding all symbols. You should be able to do this on the PC without any additional tool but if you cannot access the zip file, an application such as PKunzip or Stuffit Expander might prove useful. On OS X, you might require Stuffit expander as the archive utility might not recognise the zip format (though it is a fairly standard zip format)

1) Expand zip 2) Try and keep the folder structure - so don’t just select a file and drag to an alternative location 3) Select the AI files in the ‘symbols for Illustrator’ and place in the Illustrator symbols folder

Installation locations Depending on your user account, you may have to enter your admin username and password to copy the AI files to the presets location. If you wish to copy the symbols files to the presets folder then select the symbols files (all start with GX etc), they can be found in the ‘symbols for Illustrator’ folder of the zip and then paste into the folder indicated below on the PC (XP or Vista and probably Windows 7) c:\program files\adobe\adobe Illustrator CS4\presets\symbols On the mac HD:applications:adobe illustrator CS4:presets:symbols If you are using CS3 CS2 CS1 or 10 then the location might be slightly different but the location is basically the same (skip adobe illustrator 10 and use just Illustrator instead) You may also wish to check for an install location via the web as others have found user locations that work equally well. You can also just place the AI files in any folder, in particular your user account area, as this does not require any permissions to be set, and access the symbols via the open symbol libraries browse feature. It is up to you.

Serial number and backup Please store (if you have purchased a symbols pack) the serial number - found in the serial number folder. Also make a backup of the symbols onto CD or DVD

License use Please check out the license as well as the valid examples of royalty-free use for the symbols (both online). The symbols are royalty-free for commercial and hobby projects (license) (examples list)

De-install the symbols Please remove the graphicxtras AI files from the preset symbol libraries folder

Support If you have any questions about the symbols, please let me know.

Applications The symbols are for PC (Vista and XP) and mac OS X (10.3 10.4 10.5 etc) Adobe ® Illustrator ® 10 CS1 CS2 CS3 CS4


Illustrator and Photoshop are registered trademark of Adobe Systems Incorporated. We have no connection whatsoever with them. We have no connection whatsoever with Adobe. Adobe product screen shot(s) reprinted with permission from Adobe Systems Incorporated. Mac and Mac logo are trademarks of Apple Computer Inc registered in the U.S. and other countries

Copyright of symbols All the symbols are copyright Andrew Buckle 2004-2009 (depending on the individual set) Please note they are non-exclusive, so the same symbols etc might appear in other projects and used in similar ways. Documentation is copyright of Andrew Buckle also, though the screenshots are with kind permission of Adobe Systems Incorporated

Company address Telephone UK 01622 688 375

Additional items on the site There are a number of additional items available for use in Illustrator from the The main page for all the illustrator ® material is /aiplugins.htm

Symbols format All the symbols were saved in Illustrator ® format 10. Please re-save the files if you wish them to be stored in the latest format, CS2 or CS3 or CS4. All the files are RGB


Please let me know if there are any errors in this document. Also one pleasure (and nightmare) with Illustrator is that there are countless ways of achieving the same result and I might mention one way but there could be six additional ways to do the same thing (such as transformations). Also, sometimes the approach changes from version to version of Illustrator so what works in CS4 will not work in 10 such as a certain command or sequence has been added since 10. I might have also just got the wrong end of the stick with some of the commands and convinced myself that the tools work in one way and they clearly don’t. My apologies for this. I am certain a book 10 times longer could be written about the symbols and their interaction with Illustrator (a good book to check out is Illustrator WOW!)

Symbols packs

You can find many new and exciting symbols packs for use in Illustrator on (go to the Illustrator section and then symbols). There is also a super bundle of all the symbols packs. Demos are also available. Some packs also contain additional vector designs in EPS / AI format as well

Opening symbols

If you open the symbols file, you might or might not see the symbols displayed on the artboard / document, this has no effect on the actual use as symbols. Most of the later sets have the symbols on the artboard as well as in the symbols palette

fig: Windows menu for symbols

To use the symbols in another document or new document, go to the windows menu and select symbols. The symbols palette will appear (or vanish if it was already visible). Go to the right of the symbols palette / panel and select the menu. The dropdown menu will show all the symbols currently located in the presets symbols folder, if you have placed your symbols files there, your files also will be shown. If not, you can still access the symbols file via the browse option / other library at the bottom of the menu (browse to the actual location of the symbols file).

fig: Select symbols palette via the ‘symbols’ command

Once selected, the symbols will be displayed as a symbols library within Illustrator. Selecting a symbol will place the symbol in the document’s own symbol library

fig: You can find the open symbol library on the symbols palette

fig: Other library option to access files not found in the presets location

fig: You find the save symbol library on the symbols palette.

Saving symbols You can re-save the symbols in the latest format. The best way is to open the symbols file, all the symbols will appear in the symbols palette. Go to the symbols palette and save the symbols via the save command. I would suggest that you check the symbols file upon saving it, simply re-access the symbols and use the symbols Personally, I prefer to save them just by editing the source symbols document and then using the standard file > save command. Up to you.

fig: An alternative approach to the saving the symbols, this only works if you are in the actual symbols file and not your own document

fig: replace symbols command on symbols palette

Replace symbol One great feature of the symbols is they can be replaced / changed at any point in the creative process. For example, start out with symbol 'heart1' and then your boss says he prefers 'heart2' and 'heart1' is littered throughout the design, using the replace symbol command will remove all trace of heart1, leaving only heart2. Symbols can also be hi-impact designs such as images etc, so the symbol for most of the creation can be a basic square and then at the end of all the work, simply replace the symbol with the image symbol. 1) Select symbol in artboard 2) Select a different symbol in symbol palette 3) Go to the symbol menu and select replace symbol fig: Original symbols before being replaced

fig: New symbols via the ‘replace command’. The symbols are untouched, only the instances are changed.

3D Extrude effect The symbols can be used in the native. 3D tools such as extrude, so the symbol can be used as perhaps the front display on a box or an edge. Go to the effects menu and select extrude and click the map art button and select the symbols as required. Scale to fit and selected side / edge etc as required. The symbols can also be used in the revolve. Sadly, not the 3D rotate. 1) Select symbol 2) Effects > 3D > Extrude

fig: live effects 3D > extrude command (revolve etc also available)

fig: Original symbol before the extrude

fig: Symbol after extrude

Symbol opacity The symbols can be made more or less transparent. The symbols are internally made into a 'new temporary symbol'. Change the opacity via the transparency palette

Blending modes Symbols can be used in normal blending mode, simply overlapping the other paths and symbols etc but you can also change the blend mode to difference or multiply etc. Change the blending mode via the transparency palette fig: X Symbol before modifications

fig: Transparency palette with opacity and blending mode options

fig: Opacity set to 24% fig: Setting the blending mode to difference

Symbol sprayer An easy way to use the symbols in Illustrator is via the symbol sprayer, an easy to use paint brush tool. The symbol sprayer requires a symbol to be selected. Once selected, paint and the paint drops will appear in outline until you release the brush.The symbols are then considered a symbol set and transforms etc are applied to the entire set. To modify the individual symbols in the symbols set, simply use the symbol sizer, screener tools etc to apply styles, modify styles, add color, re-size, re-angle, random angles, fixed angle etc and a lot more. The symbol sprayer set of tools comes with a number of options.

fig: Expand out the symbols tools

The symbols in the pack can be used with the symbol sprayer tool to create unusual paint brush designs, backgrounds and more. Here the symbols are shrinking or growing (hold down various key combos). Or here the symbols are being stained or re-colored using the current fill color. The symbol spray tool comes with a large number of options

fig: Symbols tools options

fig: Spiral symbols sprayed by the sprayer tool

Symbol scripts Some scripts are included as bonus items with the release symbols pack. The scripts are to be placed in the scripts folder if required and accessed via the scripts menu. The symbol scripts require symbols to be placed in the symbols palette (a single symbol or multiple required symbols) as well as an open document. The symbol scripts create various things such as a frame or background texture The scripts include a number of features such as apply random opacity etc and these can be removed if not required. The scripts can also be tweaked to say change the re-sizing or gaps between elements. No dialogs appear relating to these elements, you will have to change the javascript by hand

fig: Some javascript coding

fig: Scripts menu - access the symbols scripts here (or just ignore)

Effects (Live effects) applied You cannot apply a filter to the symbol. Many of the commands in Illustrator will just ignore a symbol and will not change or twirl or whatever. With 9 and above, Illustrator 速 comes with live effects or 'effects' and many of them parallel the filters commands and they can be used with symbols. Many third party plugins also support live effects ( ones don't at present). You can apply blurs, etc or illustrator effects such as free distort and more. These are all added to the appearance of the symbol and can be saved as a graphic style. Below, the scribble live effect is applied to the selected symbol creating a scribble / sketch effect. The plugins such as pixelate or brush strokes from Photoshop can also be applied in the same way and also combined in multiple ways using the effects gallery and other features of the appearances palette

fig: Angel source symbol

fig: Free distort live effect applied to the symbol

Shear / scale / rotate symbols Symbols can be sheared and rotated and scaled using the normal shear / scale / rotate tools. The entire set of symbols will be changed (if generated by the symbol sprayer tool). If you have created a symbol instance by dragging the symbol to the document surface, then that symbol can be modified separate from the other symbols. If you have used the symbol sprayer tool to generate the symbols, the symbols can be re-sized individually using the symbol sizer etc 1) Select symbol 2) Select fig: Original symbol

fig: Access the transform tool such as shear and scale via the toolbox

fig: Shear tool applied to symbol

Break link with symbol The symbol can be released from being a symbol (and can then be modified as a normal path) by using the 'break link' command found using the right click on the symbol

Expand symbol The symbol can be used as a normal path using the expand command.

Use the symbol as a path You can expand the symbol (use expand command or break link) and use the symbol as a normal path. Ungroup etc the path as required. As a path, the path can be re-colored, the points changed etc. The path can also be re-saved as a symbol by dragging it back to the document’s symbol palette

fig: Original candle symbol

fig: Re-color individual parts of the expanded symbol

Ever useful expand command found in the object menu. Select symbol and then expand. Once expanded, use as normal path (depending on the complexity you might have to ungroup etc)

fig: Use the warp tool on the expanded symbol

Use symbol as art brush The symbol can be dragged to the document and then straight to the brush palette (or use multiple symbols) and select the art brush option (set the size etc) and use as a normal art brush. Setting the hue options / tint etc also means the symbol brush can be re-colored. The art brush can be used as a normal brush. Draw a design with the brush and then drag that design back into the symbols palette and save as a symbol. Then, use the symbol sprayer tool and create a scattering of symbol instances and select the entire set and drag that into the brush palette and use that as a brush stroke. I wouldn't get too carried away with the combo of brushes and symbols, I am certain at some point things will get too confusing and the brush or symbol will be rejected as too complex. Still, very useful for creating some truly unique brush stroke designs (as well as useful)

Use symbol as a scatter brush

fig: Original symbol before being dragged screaming to the brushes palette

Instead of selecting the art brush option, you can use the symbol as a scatter brush. Change all the various spacing and scatter settings as required

Pattern brush Drag the symbol to the document and then drag into the brushes palette and select the pattern option. You can tweak the size etc to create a different application of the pattern. Great for frames as well.

fig: As scatter brush

fig: As an artistic brush

fig: As a pattern brush

Use symbol as a pattern Select the symbol (break link) and then edit define pattern command. The expand command is not so useful here, though it does allow for the creation of a pattern, the detailed structure is not accessible via the expand command (if you wish to modify the pattern color etc). Then select a normal path and then use the swatch palette to select the pattern and fill. Select multiple symbols and expand and define as pattern for more interesting designs (or use the pattern plugin from to create even weirder mixes of patterns and designs) 1) Select symbol 2) Expand or break apart 3) Edit > define pattern. 4) Select a new path or existing path 5) Apply swatch

fig: Original source symbol (expanded to allow the application of the define pattern command)

fig: Path with applied pattern swatch

Background design The symbols can be used as a useful background design for the entire illustration, simply place the symbol behind everything else. Some symbols are better for this purpose than others. Symbols are low resource usage so you can always repeat a few symbols and overlap etc

fig: Original symbol of a warped harlequin design

Frame design

You can also use the symbols but instead of a background, you can use them to create a basic frame design.

fig: Multiple symbols (some scaled and rotated) as a background A clipping mask has been used to create a rectangular background

fig: Basic frame created from multiple symbols

Create new symbol You can also create a new symbol from the existing symbol, or convert to a path and distort or re-color and then re-save by dragging it back into the symbol palette and then if you wish to re-save on a more permanent basis, save the library palette 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6)

Select symbol Drag to document Object > expand Modify Drag back to symbol palette Save, if required

fig: Original symbol

fig: Expand and then re-color and ungroup (or isolate) to access the individual parts of the symbol. Re-color and then drag back to the symbol palette

fig: Pucker and bloat applied. This can also be applied as an effect to the symbol or the path in CS4 (there is no corresponding filter available in CS4).

Symbols and export Symbols can be copied and pasted into other applications such as Photoshop 速; or saved to PDF and imported into Toon Boom Studio and other applications.

Export to SWF / SVG Symbols are low resource usage, useful for export to SWF / SVG etc format. 1) Work on document 2) file > export 3) Set export type For SVG, use the file > save command

fig: Flash export dialog

fig: SVG save options

fig: Original symbol before style applied

Graphic styles Graphic styles can be applied to a symbol (though not always as effective as with a path, to be honest). Some elements of the appearance will appear though. 1) Select symbol 2) Go to the graphic styles palette 3) Select style and apply 4) Go to the appearance palette to further manipulate the style

fig: 3D style applied. Many of the styles have little or no visual effect (though you might be able to change this quickly via the appearance palette

fig: Scribble effect applied

Symbols and isolate With CS4, you don’t have to break apart the symbol or expand the symbol to edit the symbol, you can use the isolate the symbol by double clicking it. You will be warned that any changes will change the symbol and the symbol instances, you cannot edit a single instance using this method

fig: Original symbol

fig: Exit out of the isolate mode by clicking the symbol instance name near the top of the document

fig: Symbol instance (after double clicking the original symbol) adding a background circle and changing the path to green The symbol in the symbol palette will change to look like this as will all the other symbol instances

Place symbol instance Instead of dragging the symbol from the symbol palette, you can be more restrained and use the place command (sadly it has no menu command for repeat functionality or feature to add multiple copies of the symbol, which would be useful)

fig: Place symbol instance command found on the right of the symbols palette

1) Go to the symbol palette 2) Select symbol 3) Place symbol instance

fig: Repeat applies of the place symbol instance command The place instance command does place the symbol at the size of the original symbol which might be big (same as if you drag the symbol from the palette) or very small depending on the size at creation

Symbol opacity mask You can use a symbol with an opacity mask as with paths. Access via the transparency palette 1) Select symbol 2) Go to transparency palette 3) Make opacity mask 4) Select mask 5) Apply new paths as opacity masks 6) Re-select the symbol half to ‘exit’ opacity mode

fig: Original embellish symbol

fig: Transparency palette with make opacity mask option

fig: With a basic opacity mask

Symbols with third party plugins supply a number of plugins that work well with symbols. Specific to symbols: Volume 8 (spray paint tool) Volume 9 (symbol texture plugin) Volume 10 (symbol toolbox) Volume 11 (symbol headlines) The above plug-ins work with a selected symbol or random selection of symbols or use the order of the symbols Many of the other plug-ins also work well with symbols but only use the actual selected symbol instance. fig: Example of one of the plugins in use (dialog of)

Warp and symbols The warp tool / envelope functionality also works well with symbols (via object menu or effects) 1) Select symbol 2) Object > enevelope distort

fig: Warp dialog displaying a variety of warp options such as arc (the dialog says warp, the function is the envelope distort) fig: Original embellishment symbol

fig: Embellishment symbol - arc version

fig: Flag warp

Symbols and re-color artwork The symbols can be re-colored in the new recolor artwork feature of CS4 1) 2) 3) 4) 5)

Select symbol Click recolor artwork icon Change color via dialog Saturate / random color etc OK

This changes the color for all instances

fig: Recolor artwork icon is along the top bar

fig: Original holly symbol

fig: Re-color applied. Note, as with the isolate, this changes the color for all the symbols instance as well as the source symbol

Additional examples of symbols / shapes The next few pages show some of the symbols packs available on the site. Sets include frames, 3D designs, arrows, wavy designs, harlequin symbols, weird symbols, background symbols, overlay symbols and many more. The symbols are all vector designs and can be used to any size, be re-colored etc as mentioned in this document. All the symbols on are by for use in commercial and personal use. License details for the packs is available via the site along with lists of example uses. Each set includes many different symbols, not just the one or two displayed here. Designs are (c) Andrew Buckle

Rosettes pack

Diamond pack

buttons pack

Circles pack

X Pack

Pieces pack

Radial pack

Embellish 7 pack

Radial pack 2

Butterfly pack

Pipes pack

Greek ornament pack

Circles 2 pack Spirals 5 pack

Arrows 3 pack

Wavy 2 pack

Profile for Andrew Buckle

Symbols for Illustrator (R) CC 2017 2015 CS6 CS5 CS4 etc manual  

Documentation for the installation and use of Illustrator symbols. How to install the symbols AI files, how to apply them, how to convert th...

Symbols for Illustrator (R) CC 2017 2015 CS6 CS5 CS4 etc manual  

Documentation for the installation and use of Illustrator symbols. How to install the symbols AI files, how to apply them, how to convert th...