Top 10 Illustrator Tools
Top 10 Most Used Tools


Here are the mostly used Adobe Illustrator Tools. These are the Top 10. There could be more. It all depends on every users of the software. And it all depends of what project mostly a digital artist does.

You might have your own list of the tools you mostly use and I have mine too. Start-up learners of Adobe Illustrator might want to learn from these tools – since they are the most used tools, it might be good to have your hands on them first. You could learn faster and get the hang of the software if you start from the mostly used tools inside.

 1. Hand Tool

The Hand Tool moves the Illustrator artboard within the illustration window. This is basically, in my own experienced my most commonly used tool in Adobe Illustrator. Before I even lay the very first artwork on the artboard this tool is already at work. It’s almost second nature that every artist would test to pan the artboard just for nothing.

The hotkey for the hand tool is just Spacebar – very handy and accessible.


Press Spacebar
 2. Zoom Tool

By namesake, Zoom Tool enables you to enlarge details in your artwork. It is especially useful when coming up with detailed and intricate designs such as logos, figures and illustrations.

Others would press letter Z to activate Zoom Tool for Zoom-In and press Alt to Zoom-Out. But the handiest way of accessing both is by pressing simultaneously Ctrl + Spacebar for Zoom-In, then add Alt to Zoom-out. While holding those keys, you can also Left-Click Hold then move left or right for Zoom-In and Out.

You’ve got to try it!


 3. Selection Tool

Selection Tool is an obvious tool to every digital artist. In fact, I use it as my stand by tool. It is used to move items and out of the artboard. It differs from Direct Selection Tool as DST is used to edit an element once being selected by it.

You just simply press letter V to access the tool.


 4. Direct Selection Tool

Direct Selection Tool allows you to specifically select an element of the design in an editable way. Once you use this tool, it allows you to isolate any single object or path, even if it’s already part of a group and then edit its points – distort it, scale and warp it.

You access this tool by just simply pressing letter A on the keyboard.


Press A
 5. Shape Tools

The Shape Tools are collection of shaping tools in the tool dock. This includes basic shaping tool Rectangle, Rounded Rectangle, Ellipse, Polygon and Star. This tool is basically the jump board for those who want to come up with logo design as more often logos has either rectangular, square or ellipse design.

You can access these shapes by just press letter M on the keyboard or by left-clicking the tool and long-pressing will reveal other correlated tools.


 6. Pen Tool

Pen Tool is used to created custom lines and shapes in the artboard. Works like the physical pen. It can create and edit anchor points and paths. You can create whatever shapes you want with it and simplest shape you can create with it is of course a line or a straight line.

You can access it by pressing letter P on the Keyboard.


Press P
 7. Align Tools

One of my favorite tools there is in Adobe Illustrator – the Align Tools. These tools are used to align shapes and elements inside the artboard. These tools are very handy in distributing elements in the artboard. It could be Align Left, Right, Top, Bottom and Center. You can choose to align elements with respect to the artboard or just to the shape themselves.

You can access these tools by left-clicking Align Tool that is docked at the right side of the panel.


Shift F7
 8. Pathfinder Tools

One of the most important tools in Adobe Illustrator. Pathfinder Tools is used to slice, cut, exclude, trim, intersect and combine objects and elements in Adobe Illustrator. This tool is very Important when you are trying to come up with certain shape out of the general shapes put together.

Left-Click the Tools at the right-hand side panel of Adobe Illustrator to access it.


Shift + Ctrl F9
 9. Swatch Tool

Well, color is life for every classical and digital artist alike. You can never miss out this tool when you are doing digital arts as every figure and elements, we put on the artboard need color interplay to be more interesting. So, color is always part of every design we create. In fact, colors come with every shape we create inside Adobe Illustrator.

You can check out Swatch Tool by Left-Clicking the Swatch Tool at the right-hand side of the panel in Adobe Illustrator.


Press Swatch Icon
 10. Shape Builder Tool

Shape Builder Tool is another one of my mostly used and favorite tools in Adobe Illustrator. To quickly cut and dissolve unwanted elements in an artwork – this tool is very handy. You can cut and shape overlapping elements by using it. This is somewhat related to Pathfinder tool, only that very much accessible by pressing Shift + M on your keyboard to activate the tool.


Shift + M


 Type Tool

Who would leave out Text/Type Tool. You would be very hard-pressed to see artwork without Typographic Art in it. Text Tool is obviously collections of fonts in different styles, shapes, thickness and cases. Typography is very important in digital expressions if you want to be understood even though a picture speaks a thousand words.

You can activate Text Tool by simple press T on your keyboard and left-click on the desired area for text to work.


Press T

As I said, there could be more. You might be a different digital artist as I do. But to the beginner and learners, as I would repeat – you might want to start learning with these tools to familiarize yourselves with Adobe Illustrator. The rest of the tools might be just complementary on your way to create your desired art piece.

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