You’re a graphics person, right? Conventional wisdom says you’re a decidedly right-brained person. You use Illustrator to draw things, not to mess with cryptic code.
Maybe. But even if you’re the kind of Illustrator user who steers away from rulers, snaps, and numerically-entered values, and instead dives right for the Paintbrush, Symbol Sprayer, and Warp Tool, you still use Illustrator to get graphic things done and to use its features and commands. Scripting enhances both of those things.
Let’s face it: Repetition gets old, fast. It’s long been said that necessity is the mother of invention. I tend to think most cool inventions are the offspring of that cranky old couple, Laziness and Boredom. Some of the scripts in this collection arose from the shamelessly selfish desire to end the repetitious tedium of certain tasks.
But isn’t automation what Illustrator Actions are for? Well, yes. But Illustrator’s Actions Palette lets you create mere “macros.” With Actions, you can record and play back a series of most operations that you would normally perform by using the tools and commands that are directly accessible in Illustrator’s user interface. But scripts allow you to do more.
If little Invention was borne of daddy Laziness and mommy Boredom, he’s also been at least baby-sat by cousin Curiousity. Many of the scripts shared here were self-inflicted experiments, inspired by comments, complaints, and double-dog-dares in the Illustrator User-to-User Forums
where I often hang out for recreation.
Scripting can enable you poke around a bit “under the hood” of Illustrator’s user interface, and manipulate many things from which the normal interface isolates you. For example, did you know that…
- An Illustrator file has an internal list referred to as the “inkList” which determines the color separation plates?
- A path can be designated closed or open, regardless of whether the whole path or just a part of it is selected?
- You don’t have to settle for merely defining an ellipse in terms of the height and width settings of the Ellipse Tool’s dialog; you can define it like a technical illustrator often wants to: in terms of size and angle?
So it’s about more than merely automating repetitive tasks. It’s also about doing things which can’t be done with the normal feature set. Scripting effectively lets you add your own new “features” to Illustrator. All it takes is an ulterior motive, a little experimentation, and a bit of creativity. See? You don’t have to turn off the right side of your brain, after all.