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7 Illustrator Shortcuts That Will Make Your Life Infinitely Times Easier

Illustrator Shortcuts

So you finally made the leap from Photoshop to Illustrator. Congrats. It’s time to brush off your shoulders, because those Photoshop-sweating amateurs ain’t got nothin’ on you.

But here’s the thing. Remember how it took you literally (okay, figuratively) 100 years to finally get good at Photoshop? Well, now you’re back at square one. As with all Adobe software, Illustrator is a complex program, and knowing the right shortcuts can save you big time.

So to make your design work (and frankly your entire life) easier, our design experts at The unFactory put together this quick list of Illustrator shortcuts.

Note: For this post, we are using Illustrator CS6, so some of these tips may not work with older versions.

Illustrator Shortcut #1: How to Navigate Artboards

Illustrator Shortcuts

At times, you may find yourself zoomed into your project at 6400% working on some fine details. But, oh no, you forgot to fix something on the opposite side of the artboard. Rather than scrolling all over the place or selecting the hand tool from the tool panel, simply press and hold the Spacebar to quickly toggle the hand tool.

Illustrator Shortcut #2: How to Hide Bounding Boxes and Edges

Illustrator Shortcuts

Too many outlines can be distracting when laying out a design. To quickly hide the bounding box press Shift+Cmd+B (Mac) or Shift+Ctrl+B (Windows). To hide edges press Cmd+H (Mac) or Ctrl+H (Windows).

Illustrator Shortcut #3: How to Turn Off Smart Guides

Illustrator Shortcuts

Smart guides can be great for centering and aligning elements, but they can also prevent you from moving these elements precisely where you want them to go. To turn smart guides on and off, use Cmd+U (Mac) or Ctrl+U (Windows).

Illustrator Shortcut #4: How Align to Pixel Grid is Quietly Sabotaging Your Designs (and Probably Your Life Too)

Illustrator Shortcuts

Ever wonder why your anchor points aren’t snapping together or joining correctly? When you connect objects using the pathfinder window, are your final shapes shifting ever so slightly? The culprit is most certainly the “Align to Pixel Grid” preference. This preference is on by default when creating a new document, but can be found (and turned off) at the bottom of the Advanced section in the New Document window. The preference can also be turned off later in the flyout menu of the Transform window. If you use the latter method, be sure to deselect the “Align to Pixel Grid” option in the Transform window for any object you have already created.

Illustrator Shortcut #5: Pen Tool Hacks

Illustrator Shortcuts

When creating shapes with the Pen Tool, it’s often necessary to move anchor points or to adjust curves to better suit your design. Rather than jumping back and forth between the artboard and toolbar, there are some simple shortcuts that can be used to easily access the Direct Selection Tool and the Convert Anchor Point Tool without ever abandoning the Pen Tool. To temporarily switch from the Pen Tool to the Direct Selection Tool, press and hold the Command key (Mac) or the Control key (Windows).Note, if you more recently used the standard Selection Tool, this shortcut will default to that tool instead. To fix the issue, click the Direct Selection Tool in the toolbar and reselect the Pen Tool. To temporarily access the Convert Anchor Point Tool, press and hold the Alt/Option key.

Illustrator Shortcut #6: How to Create Custom Shapes Using Shape Tools

Illustrator Shortcuts

If simple shapes are needed in your design, Illustrator’s built-in shape tools can be very useful for quick generation. There are several simple shortcuts that allow you to quickly customize these shapes before committing to them. When using any of the shape tools, holding the Shift key will both straighten the shape and keep it in a perfect 1:1 aspect ratio. Holding the Spacebar will allow you to freely move the shape around the document while retaining the current look and size.

Illustrator Shortcuts

The Star Tool offers some additional customizations that are not applicable to the other shapes. Holding the Alt/Option key straightens all sides of the star. Holding the Command key (Mac) or the Control key (Windows) allows you to lengthen or shorten all points on the star while the other anchor points retain their current position.

Illustrator Shortcuts

The Star Tool, Polygon Tool, and Rounded Rectangle Tool can all be customized using the Arrow keys. The Up and Down Arrow keys can add or remove points from the star, add or remove side from the polygon, and increase or decrease the curvature of the rounded rectangle corners.

Illustrator Shortcut #7: Distraction Free Font Surfing

Illustrator Shortcuts

There’s nothing more frustratingly time consuming than choosing a font for your project. When testing different options in your design, the last thing you need clouding your vision is an underline, a border box, or a text highlight that inverts both your font color and any element below. Hide all of these distractions using Cmd+H (Mac) or Ctrl+H (Windows).

Note: If you are using a newer version of Illustrator, you can easily cycle through fonts by scrolling up or down over the Character drop-down list or by clicking the list and using the Up and Down Arrow keys.

Give these Illustrator shortcuts a shot – they’ll facilitate a more seamless production process and create better work (that does better things) for you and your clients. Our team at The unFactory uses Illustrator everyday to create logos for our brand names, and we’re always psyched to pick up new tips and tricks. Got any hacks that aren’t listed here? We’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!

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Everything I need to know about business I learned in Costa Rica

business in costa rica

I recently had the good fortune of visiting a friend’s beach house in the exquisitely beautiful city of Manuel Antonio. Located on the warm and balmy Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, approximately 3 hours away from any major metropolitan area, Manuel Antonio is a tourist haven – and don’t the locals know it!

Without websites, or social channels, or even Google Analytics, the local businesses attract a steady stream of customers via simple, yet highly effective marketing tactics. Here are four invaluable takeaways from the inherently savvy coastal-preneurs – who didn’t have to bookmark SEO MOZ to get their businesses where they are:

1. Create a Network of Other Business Owners

business in costa rica
One particular evening, when we set out, as twenty-somethings do, to grab dinner around 9pm, our cab driver informed us that the restaurant we were headed to was closed and suggested another spot instead. It was lovely and inviting, with plastic red-checkered tablecloths and wobbly wooden chairs. We sweat through a meal of watered-down, two-for-one margaritas and freshly blackened chicken.

When we left the restaurant, the host asked if he could call us a cab. Who showed up? The same cab driver who took us there. Was the first restaurant we suggested even closed? Who knows? But in Costa Rica, if a business owner recommends someone to your business, you recommend them right back.

The takeaway? As a business owner, it’s a good idea to establish a network of other business owners that are relevant to your industry, so you can create a web of referrals. At The unFactory, we love to work with other small businesses who are rockin’ the digital marketing space, so we can support them, and they can support us right back.

2. Offer flexibility.

business in costa rica

Business owners are notorious A-types, which can often get in the way of closing a sale or creating a positive customer experience. The business owners in Costa Rica take a “scrappier” approach and are generally willing to accept business as it comes.

For example, we last minute wanted to add two new members to our boat tour of the Mangroves. There wasn’t enough space on the boat we booked, so what did the tour company do? They grabbed some kayaks and gave us an impromptu paddle tour. Sure, it was a bit of extra effort on their arms, but they got two unexpected payments in valuable US currency.

There’s an obvious lesson to learn from this. Don’t run a business on rules. Run a business that is adaptable to your customer’s needs, and the payoff will be two-fold.

3. Being authentic trumps being grand.

business in costa rica

Our ziplining tour began with complimentary lunch. As soon as we piled into some guy’s van, we were informed we were going to Wendy’s. Wendy’s was a small red roof home in a little community off the tourist strip. When the guide opened the door for us, a gorgeous little girl with a mess of curly hair ran up to him, hugged his leg, then ran away and hid. He pointed to a woman piling dishes in the kitchen sink and said, “This is Wendy. She is my wife.”

Wendy served us a meal of plantains (from their backyard), rice, and black beans around their patio table. The meal that cost them probably less than $10 to make earned them more than 10x that. Did we ask for our money back? Absolutely not.

You don’t have to provide your customers with something larger-than-life, just something that is real and authentic and meaningful.

4. Create Harmony with Your Community

business in costa rica

When headed out to Costa Rica, I was nervous about the reptiles and insects and general wealth of wildlife, but the first night, when we found a cool-as-a-cucumber crab in our shower, I realized everything was going to be just fine. Unlike the rabid squirrels and feral cats in my home city of Los Angeles, the animals seem at peace. They are unbothered by the people, and in turn the people are unbothered by them. In Costa Rica, the people treat their earth well (did I mention there were four separate recycling bins in our house?), and in turn, the earth around them thrives. Bite into a slice of their pineapple, and you’ll see what I mean.

The same sense of peace holds true between the people. On our three-hour cab drive from the airport to our house, our cab driver pulled over to a woman who was waiting for him with a bottle of water and a kiss at 1am their time. On our drive back from the Mangroves, our tour guide offered a ride to an older woman passing by who was headed to the grocery store. The working people of Manuel Antonio take care of one another, which presumably makes working a whole ‘lot easier. Entrepreneurs need support to keep going day after day, and Costa Rica’s inclination towards peace does just that.

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What Kind of Entrepreneur Are You?

At The unFactory, we believe every entrepreneur is a revolutionary. The kind of people who start businesses are the kind of people who never fit in. They’re too bold to follow rules. They’re too kind to be corporate. They’re too creative to plug and chug. Or they’re simply too much themselves.

Defining your brand begins with defining your rebellion. Are you a revolutionary, a disciple of peace, a restless creative, or an oddity? Discover your entrepreneurial style from our latest infographic:

what kind of entrepreneur

  1. The Revolutionary
  2. Revolutionaries are brash and bold – unafraid to burn bridges and take risks. Born leaders, they require powerhouse brand names that embody their fiery spirt. Revolutionaries disrupt the industry. They’re competitive in the market. They are tech leaders, change instigators, and power players.

    Anyone else remember Apple Macintosh’s Superbowl Ad circa 1984? The message behind the ad “Conformity sucks! Non-conformity rules! Apple is for non-conformists!” was a powerful play by The Revolutionary Steve Jobs.

    Did you quit your job, because you can’t follow the rules? Do you breathe fire into every project you touch?

    Looks like you’re ready to start a revolution. Name your business something revolutionary.

  3. The Disciple of Peace
  4. Disciples of Peace seek to change the world. They value good health, kindness, education, and collaboration. They never stray far from the path to betterment. Born peacekeepers, disciples gravitate towards gentle business names that inspire growth. They are social leaders and entrepreneurial activists.

    Once upon a time, CEO Blake Mycoskie witnessed the hardship of children without shoes and decided to start a business to bring about change. Today, TOMS is one of Fast Company’s most innovative retail companies and the inspiration of countless other “one for one” models.

    Did you quit your job, because you didn’t believe in your company’s mission? Did you get into business to make the world a better place?

    You’re on the verge of making a change. Define your brand a disciple of peace.

  5. The Restless Creative
  6. Restless Creatives can’t stop creating. They are copywriters, designers, and professional artists who are sick of playing by the book. They have bold tastes and restless hands, strong opinions and vivid dreams. Born aestheticians, restless creatives choose business names that evoke sounds and images.

    We love Alexandra Watkins – the brilliant advertising copywriter turned brand naming expert. She loved the art of naming so much, she built an industry out of it.

    Did you quit your job for creative control? Do your projects keep you up at night?

    We can’t wait to see what you come up with. Paint your brand a restless creative.

  7. The Oddity
  8. Oddities are oddities. They can’t be categorized, and they can’t be defined. They do their own thing, and the world is better for it. Born originals, oddities seek names that stick out.

    Clive Palmer may have invested million dollars into dinosaur cloning, but the Aussie-based Minerology CEO is  worth a very serious $550 million.

    Did you quit your job, because you never fit in? Do you say thank you when people call you weird?

    Stay proud, Strange One. Name your business an oddity.

You started a business, because you weren’t very good at following the rules. Own it. Define your brand persona, and find a name to match. Viva la revolución!