CreativePro Tip of the Week: Viewing Illustrator Artwork as Outlines

This CreativePro Tip of the Week for Viewing Illustrator Artwork as Outlines was sent to CreativeProse email subscribers on May 3, 2017.

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If you’ve used Adobe illustrator for any amount of time, you know that you can view artwork in either Preview mode (where you see all strokes, fills, effects, etc)

Illustrator Preview mode

or Outline mode (where you see just vector paths).

Adobe Illustrator Outline mode

And you probably know the keyboard shortcut for toggling between modes, Command+Y (Mac) or Ctrl+Y (Windows). But you might not know that Illustrator also offers the flexibility to see individual layers, or just placed artwork in Preview mode, as well as the ability to see artwork in both modes simultaneously.

To see a single layer in Preview or Outline mode, hold the Command key (Mac) or Ctrl key (Windows) and click the layer’s eye icon in the Layers panel.

Adobe Illustrator layer outline mode

To see placed images in Outline mode, choose File > Document Setup, and select the option to Show Images In Outline Mode.

CP-totw-20170503-4 Adobe Illustrator show placed images in Outline mode


To view artwork in Preview mode and Outline mode simultaneously, choose Window > New Window, and arrange the windows so you can see both with the controls in the Application Bar.

Adobe Illustrator outline mode preview mode simultaneous

Or view the artwork in Outline mode and open the Navigator panel, where artwork is always shown in Preview mode.

Adobe Illustrator outline mode and preview mode in Navigator panel

Note that there is a default preference in the Navigator panel menu where dashed lines are displayed as solid lines, but you can turn this off if seeing the dashes is important to you.

Posted on: May 10, 2017

Mike Rankin

Mike is the Editor in Chief of, InDesign Magazine, and He is also the author of several video training series, including Font Management Essential Training, InDesign FX, and InDesign CC: Interactive Document Fundamentals.

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