Knowing the Rectangle Grid Tool
Illustrator 10 now has now has printable-grid built-in capability. It also has a new Grid tool, under the Line tool, along with the new Arc tool and Polar grid tool. To select the Grid tool, hold the mouse over the line tool until the flyout appears. Then slide the mouse over the grid tool. Release the mouse button and the grid tool is ready for use. Before we talk about the printable grid, we’ll cover the basics of the new rectangle grid tool.
Before we start, change the measurements pixels. For this, navigate to Edit > Preferences > Units and Undo and change the measurement unit in the General dropdown box to Pixels.
Forming the Grid
Method #1: Dragging a Grid
You can use one of two methods to make the grid: either by dragging or setting the options. To drag the grid, click the mouse once where you want the grid to start. Hold down the mouse button, drag the grid in the direction you want it to go and as large as you want it to be.
There are Several Options here as well
• Start to drag and then hold down the SHIFT key as you drag. This will constrain the grid to a perfect square.
• Start to drag and then hold down the ALT key as you drag will draw the grid from the centre.
Start to drag and then hold down the SHIFT and ALT keys and you’ll draw a square grid that is drawn from the centre.
Method #2: Setting Options
To set options for the grid before it’s drawn, click on the artboard once to create the point of origin. For example, if you want the grid to start at the upper-left corner of your document, click once in the upper-left corner. After setting the point of origin, double click on the grid tool icon in the toolbox to open the grid options. Let’s take a look at the grid options.
Set the width for your grid in the Width box: mine is at 200 pixels. Set the height below that in the Height box (If you have preferences set at points or inches and you want to use pixels, here you have to type px after the number so that Illustrator knows to use pixels. It will convert it to the units set in the preferences, but it will be the size you entered).
Next to the width box, there is a small square with four dots on the corners. This is the origin point icon. The black circle is the selected one. This sets the direction the grid is drawn from the point of origin you set when you clicked on the artboard before you opened the options. If you had the lower right corner selected, the grid would start at your point of origin and draw up and left, or northwest.
Next, we set the horizontal dividers. This is the numbers of dividers you want between the top and bottom lines of the grid. (So if you want 4 squares you need 3 dividers.) If you want it to skew so there are more dividers set toward the top or bottom use the skew slider or type in a value. Positive values (slide to the right) the dividers will be skewed toward the top (less dividers on top); negative values (slide toward the left) skew toward the bottom (less dividers on the bottom.)
The vertical dividers are set the same way: enter the number of dividers you want between the left and right side of the grid; again, if you want 4 spaces enter 3. The skew slider and percentage box works the same way, except from left to right.
There are two checkboxes at the bottom of the options:
Use Outside Rectangle as a Frame: When this is checked, the top, bottom, left and right segments of the grid will be replaced with a separate rectangle.
Fill Grid: When this one is checked the grid is drawn using the fill and stroke colours in the toolbox. If it is not checked, the grid is drawn with no fill, and the squares are transparent. This will have no effect unless Use Outside Rectangle as a Frame is also checked.
As soon as you are done setting options click OK and the grid appears on the artboard, drawn from the point of origin as you specified, and with the division options you selected.
This grid has the options set as in the illustration below, with fill grid unchecked, You can see the page background.
On this grid set the fill colour to this soft green, and the stroke colour left at black. Both “use outside rectangle as frame” and “fill grid” were checked.
Changing Fill and Stroke Colours
Fill Grid can be tricky. Use Outside Rectangle as a Frame has to be checked to get the grid to fill. If you have this set and your fill colour is red, your grid will be red, and with its stroke the colour you have set in the toolbox Changing the stroke is no problem. If you want the stroke colour or size changed, simply change it in the swatches and stroke palette the same way you change any object.
The table above had a default stroke of 1. To change it, just go to the stroke palette and set a different number; I set it to 3 here.
To change the colour of the stroke, make sure the stroke is active in the toolbox, and click on the colour swatch you want in the swatches, or double click on it and open the colour picker, and choose a colour.
For changing the fill colour, the quickest solution is to make sure the grid is selected, and grab the fill swatch in the toolbox and drag it over and drop it on the grid, and the fill colour changes.
OR you can change it to a colour that isn’t selected in the tool box by dragging a swatch from the swatches palette over to the grid and dropping it on the grid. (Just make sure you drop it on FILL not STROKE. If you try to drop it on the stroke nothing happens.)
To get a printable grid in Illustrator 10, start with setting the fill to none, and the stroke to the grid colour and point size (in the stroke palette) you want. Then either drag or set your size and spacing options in the grid options as we talked about at the beginning of this tutorial. Setting options is best if you’re trying to get a specific grid size.