Some Illustrator Basics for Creating Infographics

By Justin Beegel, MBA, The Infographic World Team

Adobe Illustrator has some unbelievably cool features you can use to add all sorts of flourishes to your infgraphics. Before you get into those, however, take a look at some of the basic features of the program for a little taste of the technical wizardry you can add to your infographic.

Glitches can arise at a moment’s notice. Save your artwork frequently by pressing Cmd+S (Mac) or Ctrl+S (Windows). The first time you save your work, the computer prompts you to name the file and place it in a certain folder on your computer.

Use the Selection and Direct Selection tools

While you work, two “selection” tools allow you to perform certain functions to each element of your infographic. You can experiment with them plenty, but know that the Selection tool (the black arrow in the tools panel) allows you to move or resize an object. If you have objects grouped together, the Selection tool allows you to move the entire group.

The Direct Selection tool (the white arrow to the right of the Selection tool) allows you to grab points on an object and manipulate them individually. Or, if you click a line that’s between two points, you can manipulate the whole line.

Place text boxes

Text boxes organize all the type in your graphic, from headlines to blocks of text that tell your story to the tiny type that gives credit to your sources. By the time you are building your infographic with Illustrator, you should have all your research complete, and you should have written your text (also known as copy).

Now, it’s time to lay it out like you planned in your wireframe, and make sure that your text and art support each other.

To create a text box, click the Type tool on the Tools palette and then click anywhere on your artboard. Then type your text. You can create a specific size for your text box by clicking the Type tool on the artboard, then holding and dragging in a diagonal fashion downward.

After you create a text box and fill it with copy, you can move this block of text around the infographic by using the Selection tool and then clicking, holding, and dragging the text box around your layout.

You can also click any text box handle to drag that side of the box in or out. Because text boxes are so easy to move and resize, they can help you as you modify and edit your infographic.

Repeat actions to duplicate objects

Here’s how to duplicate an object or text box.

  1. With the black Selection arrow active, click/hold the object.

  2. Press and hold Option/Alt.

  3. Drag the object anywhere on the artboard.

  4. Release the mouse.

    You have a clone!

  5. Repeat as often as you wish.

This duplication trick comes in useful quite often. In this Uncle Sam example, this duplication maneuver was used to create a second hand rail for the treadmill.

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