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How to Use Symbol Library in Adobe Illustrator

 

How to Use Symbol Library in Adobe Illustrator

Today we will introduce you to a useful feature in Adobe Illustrator called “Symbols”. You will find out why symbols are important for creating repeated graphics and how you can load a symbol library in just 2 simple steps.

What is a “Symbol” in Adobe Illustrator?

Symbols are useful when you have the same object repeating many times in your document. They help us to reduce the file size. For example, if you are about to create a vector image of a forest, you basically have two options. You could either create a tree and then duplicate it numerous times. Or, you could make a symbol and just multiply it. In this second way, you can place an unlimited number of instances of this symbol, using only the graphical information of the original tree. This greatly reduces the file size of the document. Furthermore, when you need to update the graphics, you don’t have to go through every object. Just customize the symbol and all instances will be updated automatically.

1. Open the “Symbols” panel.

Go to “Window -> Symbols” (or use the keyboard shortkey “Shift+Ctrl+F11” for Windows or “Shift + Command + F11” for Mac OS).

Go to Window -> Symbols to open the Symbols Panel

Go to Window -> Symbols to open the Symbols Panel

Now you’ve got the symbols panel opened on the right side of your screen. It should be empty at the moment and should look like this:

Empty Symbol Library Panel

Empty Symbol Library Panel

There’s also a chance to have some default symbol loaded, but don’t worry, that’s okay:

Adobe Illustrator Default Symbols Loaded

Adobe Illustrator Default Symbols Loaded

2. Load the symbol library file.

It’s time to load the symbol library file. Go to “Window -> Symbol Libraries -> Other Library” and select the file from your computer. (We always put our symbol library in the ultimate size-pack and it’s named “Symbol_Library.ai”)

Select Window -> Symbol Libraries -> Other Library

Select Window -> Symbol Libraries -> Other Library

Congratulations, the symbol library file has been successfully loaded and you’re ready for action! Now you can play around with the symbols to come up with your own poses. Take a look at our article about creating your own pose to get more details.

Symbols Library

Symbols Library

Using symbols is a smart move when you are using graphics that need to be repeated several times. If you make just a single tweak in a symbol, it will automatically update in all instances on your artboards. That’s pretty useful, isn’t it? Moreover, you will reduce the file size of your vectors. And believe us, when you have a set of 100+ poses, reducing the file size is really important. So, we hope that you’ve enjoyed the symbols. If you haven’t used symbols yet, we strongly suggest you to give it a try.

Take a look at our video below to get a clear idea how to use symbol library in Adobe Illustrator:

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  • http://www.dogfx.com.au Tracy Gum

    Hi I purchased one of your ultimate packs some time ago. Can I open the symbols in Inkscape? If so do you have any instructions?

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  • Clark Burgan

    Hello,

    I just purchased one of your Ultimate Packs (“Businesswoman Superhero” or “Super Woman 11″), and it’s not loading into the Symbol Library. And when I try to open the regular full individual files/figures in Illustrator, it says they were created in a newer version of Illustrator, and that “An unknown shading type was encountered”.

    Then everything is in a clipping mask, and when I release it from that, all the shading goes crazy with various rectangles everywhere…

    I’ve looked through all the information on your site and can’t see anything listing any minimum version requirements for Illustrator. I have CS4 (which generally does everything I need it to do), and if I had known that I needed a later version to easily or effectively use any/all of the files, then I wouldn’t have purchased the pack.

    Can you please provide a compatible version, or a flatter version (without all the fancy 3D shading).

    If you want to discuss this further, please PM me.

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