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Designing Presentation & Research Posters with Illustrator

Learn the six basic tools for designing and creating posters with Adobe Illustrator.

The Illustrator Tool Palette

An image of the toolbar from illustrator with the selection tool, direct selection tool, text tool, shape tool, and fill and stroke tools assigned numbers 1-6 accordingly.

After launching Adobe Illustrator and creating a new document, you'll see this tool palette on the left side of the screen. There are a lot of tools, but these are the six that you'll use most often when creating a poster: 

  1. The selection tool (black arrow) selects, moves, and resizes objects.  This is the tool you'll use most.

  2. The direct selection tool (white arrow) lets you grab corners or other points in complex objects. Of the six most-often used tools, it's probably the least-used -- you'll only use this if you create complex objects

  3. The text tool adds and edits text. Most often you will probably use text boxes for your text. The boundaries of a text box control the flow of characters; when text reaches a boundary, it will automatically wrap to fit inside the defined area. Illustrator does not have a spell check feature. If you have a lot of text on your poster you may want to type it in Word and copy it to a text box in Illustrator.

  4. The rectangle tool creates a predetermined shape in your document. The colors of your shape are determined by the colors selected in the stroke and fill area of your toolbox.

  5. The fill color refers to the area enclosed by the outline (inside of a text box or the inside of a shape).

  6. The stroke color refers to the outline of a shape or text.