Free For All: Adobe Illustrator Edition

In this all-vector edition of Free for All, I’m plotting a path from point X to point Y with a bounding box full of resources for creatives who like to work in the resolution-independent splendor of Illustrator. You’re sure to find your fill (and stroke) of useful Illustrator freebies below!

Illustrator Brushes
When you download and extract the brush sets below, you’ll find .AI files. Don’t open them. Instead, install them as brush sets by copying or moving the .AI files into the Adobe Illustrator CSxPresetsBrushes folder, which is under Applications (Mac) or Program Files (Windows).

13 Watercolor Brushes:

28 Swooshes and Swirls [note that if this link doesn’t work for you, try cutting and pasting http://bit.ly/aquKMU into your Web browser’s address field]:

30 Flowers and Circular Designs:

30 Abstract Brushes:

Sick Brush Kit (22 Brushes):

Sick Brush Kit 2 “Elementals” (25 Brushes):

Scatter Brush Set 3 (30 Brushes):

105 Retro Tech-Shaped Brushes:

105 Retro Tech-Shaped Radial Brushes:

Box Based Circles (32 Brushes):

Kirby Krackles (10 Brushes):

The Hairbrush Kit (16 Brushes):

Hydronix Vector Splash Pack (8 Brushes):

Illustrator Scripts
Scripts can extend Illustrator’s functionality, automate repetitive tasks, and even improve on existing features. Although Illustrator scripts aren’t as plentiful as Photoshop and InDesign scripts, there are still real gems.

The excellent scripts I’ve included here work on both Windows and Mac OS X, in cross-platform JavaScript format. First download and extract the scripts. Close Illustrator if it’s open. Then copy the scripts to your Adobe Illustrator CSxPresetsScripts folder, which is under Applications (Mac) or Program Files (Windows). The next time you launch Illustrator, you’ll see your new scripts on the File menu, under the Scripts sub-menu.

Thanks to Kelso Cartography, you can make calendars directly in Illustrator with Calendar Script version 5. Download — and read all about — it on the official page at Kelso’s Corner.

John Wundes’ Divide Text Frame separates a selected, multi-line text frame into multiple, single-line point type objects. That function will be useful to anyone who works with lists or who creates Web or UI menu items in Illustrator. Instead of creating one point type object, switching tools and clicking away from it, then switching back to the Type tool to create the next point type object, you can just type the entire list into one area type object and let the script break it up for you.

John also has a Join Text Frames script, which does the opposite of his Divide Text Frame script. It combines selected multiple, single-line type objects into a single, return-separated area type object. This is incredibly useful if you frequently edit PDF files that don’t include Illustrator editing capabilities. In such cases, each line of text in the PDF is often rendered as a separate text object and thus a royal pain in the neck to edit.

Now, if John’s scripts don’t meet your needs — say, you lose formatting you’d like to keep — give Ajar Productions’ Merge Text Extension a try. It can only combine, not divide, text, but it does so while preserving character and paragraph styles in use on the separate text objects.

Round Any Corner is a script to, well, round any one corner (not all four). Doing so with a script is a heck of a lot faster than all other methods I know. To use it, simply select the anchor point at a given corner and run the script. You’ll be prompted for the desired corner radius, and then — voila! — the corner is rounded.

Do you need to export Illustrator layers to separate graphics? If you use Illustrator to create icons or navigation buttons, for instance, you almost certainly find yourself exporting each layer via Save for Web & Devices. Wouldn’t it be nice if Illustrator could export each layer to a PNG file for you, the way Fireworks does? Thanks to Jack Westbrook, working on a request from Jon Hicks, that’s now possible. Just install the SaveLayersAsPNGArtboard.jsx script and you’ll be able to output all top-level layers in your Illustrator file to artboard-sized PNGs in no time.

If instead of PNG you want JPG output and a little more control, you’ll love this variation script. It saves top-level layers as JPGs but also includes advanced features like including one layer in all exports as a watermark or other image constant. Be sure to read the directions to learn how to setup your AI layout before using the script.

It would seem that saving layers to individual files is a common task. Check out these other scripts by Pavel Rassadin to save layers to EPS, AI, PDF, PSD, and more.

You can resize all placed raster images back to 100% size with WR-descaleImages, or use WR-scaleLikeTopMost to scale all images to the size of the top selected image.

Go to page 2 for a bonanza: scores of free seamless pattern swatches!

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Posted on: March 15, 2010

4 Comments on Free For All: Adobe Illustrator Edition

  1. Will these also work under CS4 or do they need manipulated in some way?

  2. Thanks for the tips?

  3. Do you know of anyplace to get premade stroke styles for InDesign?

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