Time-Saving Tips for Faster File Prep

By Olivia Goree 

While a Minted challenge win is exciting and exhilarating, the file prep that follows can be, well, not so fun. Formatting text boxes, building out colorways, and getting that foil sheen placed just right can be time-consuming and exhausting. We get it! Illustrator is an extremely powerful and complex program that can be overwhelming at times, but there are tons of tools and shortcuts to help you work in the program more efficiently. We’ve gathered our favorite “time-saving tips” to help speed up your file prep and make the process a little less painful.


1. Eyedropper Tool

The Eyedropper is a handy tool that allows you to pull styling from one element and apply it to another. Use this to match the color between two design elements (or even text settings from one text box to another) to ensure consistency.

2. Paste in Place

A simple but commonly used feature, Paste in Place allows you to copy one element and paste in the exact same spot it was copied from. This feature comes in handy when you need to either copy something from one artboard and paste in the same spot on another artboard, or if you are copying elements from one colorway file to another. You can find this feature by going to Edit > Paste in Place, or by using the shortcut Shift + Command + V on a Mac (or Control + V on a PC).

3. Shortcuts!

Keyboard shortcuts in Illustrator are by far the most helpful feature in speeding up your file prep process. Although they can take a while to set up and get used to, they are life-changing within Illustrator once you become comfortable with them. While some shortcuts are automatically programmed into Illustrator, others are open for you to set up on your own. These are the Minted Production team’s favorite shortcuts; you can set up these same ones or set up your own by going to Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts.

4. Utilizing the Shift & Option Keys

Both the Shift and Option keys have a handful of secret features and capabilities that come in handy with moving or resizing elements.

– The Shift Key is mainly responsible for keeping elements aligned or scaling entire elements proportionally. If you are trying to move an element vertically or horizontally across the artboard, hold down the Shift key before clicking and dragging to keep the element moving in a straight line. You can also hold down the Shift key before using the shapes tool to draw a perfect circle or square, or hold it down before resizing a design element to resize it proportionally.

– The Option Key allows you to either copy an element or resize opposing sides of an element evenly. Hold down the Option key before extending the side of a text box in order to evenly extend both sides, or do so with the sides of a line/rectangle to extend the edges. You can also hold down the Option key before clicking and dragging a design element to create a copy of it!

5. Align Tool

A helpful tool that often gets overlooked is the Align tool, which allows you to align different elements in different ways on the artboard (or align different elements to one another). Elements can be aligned six different ways, and can be set to align with the current artboard you are working on or with another element that is selected. If you don’t have this appearing in your toolbar, you can view this feature by going to Window > Align.

6. Pattern Tool

The Pattern tool is a great resource that many designers don’t know about, and can be especially handy for quick and simple patterns (hello, backer and liner files!). After creating a few elements that you want to include in your pattern, select them all and go to Object > Pattern > Make. This will open the Pattern tool, wherein you can see your elements imposed as a pattern and automatically repeated across your screen. From the Pattern panel, you can denote the type of pattern, the width and height of the repeat, as well as how far you want your pattern built out. You can also resize and adjust the placement of your design elements to then immediately see how this affects the entire pattern. Once you’re happy with your pattern, click “Done” to exit the Pattern tool and see your pattern as a swatch in the swatches panel.

7. Recoloring Tool

The Recoloring Tool is an amazing feature that allows you to easily adjust each color within a group of elements (and see your changes in real time). Start by selecting a group of elements and go to Edit > Edit Colors > Recolor Artwork to open this panel. You may also be able to locate this in your toolbar as a circular color wheel icon.
From here, you can select the “New” color swatch and adjust the sliders at the bottom to assign your new value for each existing color swatch. Make sure the “Recolor Art” box is checked at the bottom so you can see your changes before clicking “OK.”

8. Finalize Colorway A first

Starting out by fully completing Colorway A files is the best practice for easy colorway buildout. Once colorway A is done, the Recoloring Tool can be used to recolor text/artwork and save out as your additional colorways. Molly Wiggins, a member of Minted’s Merchandising Operations team (and Minted artist), says using this saves her a lot of time when submitting. “I design all pieces of colorway A, and then use the recolor tool to update the colors for the additional colorways,” she says. “This may not be the easiest thing on complex color design, but if you are only using a couple colors, it makes creating additional colorways a lot faster.”

Do you have additional time-saving tips? We’d love to hear from you; email us at files@minted.com.


Olivia Goree is a Community Support Specialist on the Artist Relations Team at Minted. She is the design community’s source of contact regarding file preparation and submission. Prior to working at Minted, she graduated from Cal Poly SLO with a degree in graphic communication and a concentration in design reproduction technology. She is also a member of the Minted community and has a strong passion for hand-lettering and typography, which can be seen in her work. Visit Olivia’s Minted Artist Store and follow her on Instagram @oliviagoree or @oliviagoreedesign.


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Published June 28, 2018

  1. Amy Kross

    Such a wonderful resource. Thanks for putting this together, Olivia!