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Chapter 12. Symbolic Acts

Everyone thinks that being a graphic illustrator is a cushy, exciting job. Everyone, that is, except maybe the poor souls who sit long into the night, creating the repetitive elements of would-be epic images and swilling coffee. In the movies, if they need a lot of people or a lot of trees, they hire extras or shoot in the woods. When you're making it all up on your computer, obviously you have neither Central Casting nor the Forestry Service at your fingertips. Not until now, anyway. Illustrator's symbolism tools can be your own personal (or corporate) quantity and diversity provider.

The symbolism tools make short work of creating variations on any image of your choosing. Symbols are stored objects that you can use over and over. The suite of symbolism tools runs the gamut of getting the images onto the page and then easily adjusting and randomizing their placement, size, orientation, color, and even style. The friendly Symbols palette shows you what symbols you have available and provides an interface for choosing which one, or ones, to work with at any time. It also performs a lot of other administrative duties as well.

Even after they've been spun, shrunk, styled, and otherwise permutated, the symbols are all still connected to the prototype stored object, which means your file size doesn't have to balloon because of the army of images you have in it. A feature like this, at once timesaving and size-conscious, is like a health food that tastes like dessert.

Lots of great design ideas involve an amount of repetition that makes you feel, well, uncreative. If you suffer from this, or from the degradation and mind-numbing boredom that comes with having to re-re-re-create bits and pieces of a big picture, this chapter is for you.


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