In exploring Adobe Illustrator CS4 and trying out new tools and tricks I stumbled across the multiple artboards feature. It looks great for marketing, banner ads, etc. and initially I didn’t think it would be much use to me.
The basic concept is the ability to have more than one page on the same “drafting table” – so that rather than switching between windows or tabs you can scroll around to another page.
The other day I was working on multiple conceptual diagrams in Illustrator which were all related to each other, when the light bulb turned on. As I copied a design element from one window and switched over to another I realized this might be the perfect time to play with the multiple artboards feature.
From the new file dialog I remember seeing an area where you could set the number of artboards, since I was working on six different files I decided to try one file with all six artboards.
The artboards are relatively easy to work with, you can add more, delete some, resize them, etc. I read that you could also move an artboard and art around the “stage” but when I tried it the artwork stayed put. There is a button to “Move Artwork with Artboard” which didn’t seem to have any effect.
I tried again and again until I realized the layer with the artwork has to be unlocked for it to move with the artboard.
When you choose to print from a file with multiple artboards each artboard is one printed page (at least with the setting I utilize) and you have control over which artboards are printed. Plus there are tons of options for printing…
I imagine using one file with multiple artboards would have a great potential for project file management. Instead of having a folder full of various files I’m envisioning one file with all the separate diagrams & pages included inside it, as separate artboards. Any of the artboards could be updated and the whole file saved, which might make it easier (at least for me) to keep track of the newest versions of each separate file. I’m not finding any simple way within Illustrator to re-order the artboards, you can move them into different locations but they retain the auto-generated artboard number. I’ve discovered that you can create a new artboard and drag the artwork from a previous artboard to the new one and then delete the old artboard. When you do this the artboards are re-numbered.
The only drawback I can see is that the multiple artboard file isn’t compatible (to my knowledge) with earlier versions of Illustrator, so the individual files might have to be exported individually, but changing file formats and such seems pretty standard.
In conclusion, I like the multiple artboards feature in Adobe Illustrator CS4, and will continue to work with them. I may come back with more information on project management with multiple artboards after a current consulting project is complete.
If you have experience with multiple artboards in AI CS4 and know of any fantastic tricks let me know!