Just want to add a quick post today as a heads up to a resource site/blog – https://iamsteve.me/ – that I’ve found really helpful. It’s helped me to improve my workflow on a couple of points that had been really getting to me. The big bugbear I’ve had of late has been working with pixels in illustrator. A lot of the work that I produce is static vector based graphics that are viewed on screen. My clients all expect pixel perfect designs that look great across multiple screen sizes… however, I’ve found pixels to be a nightmare to work with in illustrator and have spent hours lining them up and getting them bang on only to move my design and have to do it all over again!
During a particularly frustrating job in which I just couldn’t get a piece of work I was doing to stay put, I searched the problem and came across this post on pixel perfect grids by Steve McKinney in which he details what was for me a totally fresh way at looking at it. Now, I might be incredibly late to this, but the method he proposes opened my eyes to pixel perfect design in illustrator.
The big thing I’ve taken away from the post is the suggestion to use 16×16 pixel grids and as an extension of this, I’ve started to base my artboards on multiples of 16 – this is how screen resolutions typically scale up. When I’m making infographics, my clients don’t tend to be too exacting on dimensions – it’s a notoriously grey area in the world of infographics. As a rule of thumb, I try to make sure that the graphics I produce are legible down to about 600px wide – there has to be a compromise for static images, this is why I’m increasingly moving into designing microsites and interactive content which look great across all screen sizes. Anyway, my point is, previously, my infographic designs would average around the 1000px wide mark, hitting around 5000px in length whereas now, by making them multiples of 16 (1024px wide), I’m able to use a 16 x 16 pixel grid with 4 px squares that fits perfectly into my artboard. This way I can create 32px margins (or another multiple) in a column grid system with gutters (again a multiple of 16).
By simply turning off snap to point and turning on snap to grid, you default to easy, pixel perfect design. Steve goes into more detail and explains it much better than me so have a read! There’s some other really good posts on there too and I look forward to reading more. The next post about Illustrator grids is helpful too, it’s a functionality of indesign (along with resizing text boxes to fit their content) that I really wish carried through to illustrator – this is an effective workaround.