Artboard Tool (CS4+)

1. The artboard tool is an excellent addition to Adobe Illustrator CS4. It is strictly a production tool that helps the artist / designer to quickly produce different pages of work in one Illustrator file. The best part about this is that it helps the user to quickly print several projects at the same time without having to toggle from one file to another. So let’s get started with this tutorial. I am using an business card file as an example.

Illustrator CS5 Update: There are new additions for Illustrator CS 5. Now you can re-arrange pages and order! Yay! You can also do simple column distributions. Read below.


2. Now the Illustrator document above looks like an ordinary document, however this file has 2 artboards within one Illustrator file here. First off, this is a digital file of a business card that is ready to be printed at the printers. The best part about this file is that printers can now print both sides of the business card using one file. (If they are caught up to the CS4 software.)


3. Now when we turn on guides, we can see all the guides that were implemented into this document. On the image above, we can also see that bleeds were set up along artboard for the printers.


4. If we check out the Document Setup (File > Document Setup) dialog box, we can see under “BLEED:” that all 4 sides are set at 0.125 (the usual bleed standard). When we turn on guides, we can see the bleed settings put into place defined by a red colored outline. This is the bleed, and this is important to remember with this tutorial (you will see why).


5. Now to prove that I have multiple artboards in this file, I will drag my file to the right a bit and you can see the CMYK color settings attached onto the file as yet another artboard. Now we can print two sides of the business card within this one file, but also the color information sheet from this file alone.


6. To manipulate the artboard, it is quite simple. There is the artboard tool. You just simply select that and you can adjust the artboard to any size you like.


7. As you can tell from this screen shot, the two artboards are clearly shown now. The numbers represent the artboard order as well as the page of when you print. And now we can see the border of the artboard along with the “x” mark that eliminates the artboard if you want to.


8. When you select one of the artboards, you also get the option of editing the size using handles like any shape or object in Illustrator. This is where you can resize your artboard to any size you want instead of the default sizes or templates that are given to you in the FILE > NEW dialog box.


9. Now it is important to take notice of the trim parks that get created when you select the artboard tool. As you can tell from the 2 screen shots above, the trim parks are created along the edges of the artboard as well as the bleed settings. Remember how I told you to pay attention to the bleed settings? Well with the artboard tool, if you re-size your board in the middle of working on that document, the bleed settings and the trim marks follow with your re-size modification!



10. Now here is another trick you can do with the artboard tool. On the object tool bar, make sure you have the button next to the trash can icon PRESSED IN. On the screenshot above, it shows that it is de-pressed. You want it to be pressed. Then select an artboard with the artboard tool and hold down the ALT KEY and DRAG one of the art boards down. This should duplicate the whole entire artboard into a new artboard.


11. Here we have it. Easily duplicated, even with the bleed settings intact.


12. One thing to remember is that you NEED to save your document under Illustrator CS4. If you save it in any other version format, the artboards will not be there.


13. As you can see, in Illustrator CS3 format, the artboards get converted into guide lines.


14. Now the important factor is in the print dialog box. When you print with multiple artboards in the same file, there are options within the print dialog box that you can change or modify. The first thing to take notice is the “RANGE” option. From here, with just one Illustrator file, you can assign what pages get printed and what pages don’t. Now remember the artboards having numbers on them? Those are the page numbers or the ranges. So if you write ” 1-2, 4-5 “, it will do just that. Print artboards #1 and 2, and #4 and 5. Very neat.


15. Now on the print preview box, you can toggle between your pages to see where on the document it gets printed!

16. As stated, this is a cool feature for faster production. Now you can have multiple design projects of the same category in the same file, which is a neat way to keep your file directory from having number of Illustrator files.

17. In Illustrator CS5, there has been a new update with the multiple artboard feature. For the longest time, I have been boggled by the fact that in CS4 I couldn’t arrange “page order” using the artboard feature and exporting it as a PDF. This became a bit annoying because sometimes I have a good idea for something at the end and if I created a new idea, it would make the presentation a bit out of order for clients. Will now that has been fixed with CS5! There is now a tool palette called “Artboard” in the windows menu.

17. Once you open up the Artboard palette, you should see something like the screenshot above. This is where all the page arranging can be controlled.

18. If you click the little document icon on the right side of the artboard label, you will get a big dialog box with lots of options. On this window you can change the size, show crop marks, crosshairs, or video safe regions (for video). You can also name your artboard here to whatever you wish. You can also do various other things such as constrain proportions or orientation. Awesome!

19. To change the page order, you just have to click and drag the order around. Now when you export it as a PDF, the page order will be retained and your presentation will be in whatever order you please!

20. Another new option is the rearrange artboard option. You can go to this by hitting the little menu button on the artboard palette and then “rearrange artboard”. On this dialog box, you can make your artboard align to a column or in a set numeric layout.

11 Responses to “Artboard Tool (CS4+)”

  1. John said:

    One thing I haven’t been able to find out. How do you adjust the margins or space in between the artboards? For example, if I have setup my artboards to have a .5 inch space in between all artboards and I want to change/increase them all evenly to an 1 inch, how can I accomplish this? It should be in the document setup area for adjustment. Am I missing it somewhere?

  2. Chris said:

    I can only assume the options you mention is not available (yet) because I have been looking for something like it myself. You also can’t change the order of the pages either or I haven’t found how to do that.

  3. ali said:

    How can I replace spot color swatches using (Alt + Drag) or any method? Just like
    Replace basic color swatches? for Exmp i use 1 sport color and have same color tint value how can i replace my tint color swatch without make new swatches ?


  4. Chris said:

    I am not really understanding what you need help on. You can always make a duplicate swatch out of existing swatches but any changes you make in the swatch that is used in your illustrator document will change it globally.

  5. kaushal said:

    its wrong

  6. Mike said:

    Great article. There is something to think about. thanks

  7. Anonymous said:

    Sorry, but this tutorial is not friendly to follow, your tabs etc don’t follow in cs 3 or 5, 5.5

  8. Chris said:

    What do you mean by tabs? This tutorial was written under CS5.0. I do not own 5.5.

  9. Eile said:

    Hi. Good Post! It definitely clear most of my doubts for Bleed in Illustrator. Just one question, when printing the printer will follow the bleed dimensions or my original dimension?

    So if it follows the bleed dimension, (For example.) I want my name card to be 85mm x 45mm with 3mm bleed, my inital dimension have to be 79mm x 39mm (minus 6mm on both sides)? Am I right to say that?

    Please clear my doubt. Thanks a million!


  10. Chris Takakura said:

    @Eile: No, your bleed settings must extend outwards not inwards. You need to create a document larger than the size you are looking for and then set the bleeds.

    There are two ways this tutorial covers on how to set the bleeds. One is using guides, another is using the settings in Illustrator. I am still in the old habit of creating bleeds so I create an artboard larger than the standard business card size and use guides to establish the bleeds.

  11. Enamul Hoq said:

    nice art board tool and helpful tut. thanks……………!!

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