From the Branding Team

Jun 24, 2019

Pathfinder Shortcuts and Astute Graphics

By Dave Keller

Underbelly Creative Director, Dave Keller, will walk you through some Illustrator shortcuts that he has been using for the last eight years, and show you some new tools with a plugin called Astute Graphics. If you would like the full context of the tutorial, watch the video that covers everything you need to know to make this apart of your design workflow. Otherwise, you can skim through the article to see some looping examples from what is shown in the video.

First, you will need to download some files to follow along with the Illustrator portion of the tutorial.

Download the Illustrator Actions Download the Illustrator Shortcuts Cheat Sheet

Combined Shape

The Illustrator cheat sheet is helpful if you’re learning these new shortcuts after you install the actions. When Dave began using them, he printed it out and had it on his desk for quick reference.

Install Actions

With Illustrator open, navigate to the top menu and go to Window > Actions > Top Right of Actions Palette > Load Actions

Load in each action file and then map the keyboard shortcut to each one (e.g. Pathfinder > Unite, etc.) from the Illustrator shortcuts file that you downloaded at the beginning of this article.

For instance, you’ll see Pathfinder > Minus where you will need to double click Minus and assign the shortcut that lines up with the cheat sheet. This will feel tedious since you have to do it for every item, but hang in there and get them all set up. This will allow you to be more efficient in the long run.

Below you can find videos of what each shortcut does if you're pressed on time to watch the full walkthrough.

Astute Graphics Plugin

Download a trial version of Astute Graphics and follow along in the video or see these example videos below on what the tools can do. They have a lot of tools and I’m only showing a few here. I wish I had this throughout my design career because these are absolute game changers on how I work in Illustrator now.

What other tools and workflows have you found in Illustrator that speed up your process of creation?

I’ve found that if you can quickly execute in the software after you’ve done your groundwork of research, sketches, etc. you can iterate on ideas much faster and the software begins to fall into the background and you’re not fighting your tools, you’re doing the work and that’s what ultimately matters the most.

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