Spraying Symbols in Adobe Illustrator

Say, you want to draw a tree in full Spring, a very green one. Not just an outline you want details too so that you actually see the leafs. Unless you have a ton of time on your hands or you’re paid by the hour, it would be a hell of a job to draw each leaf one by one. This would be one of the many situations where the Symbol Spaying Tool can be of assistance.?

Step 1 – Create a few symbols to spray with

First of all you need to create a few symbols to have a bit of variation to work with. Instead of creating a symbol of only one leaf, I suggest to draw groups of leaves and make them separate symbols. To do this, just select the group of leaves and drag & drop them in the Symbols palette. I’ve used different shades of green for my leafs.

Step 1 - Create a few symbols to spray with

Step 2 – Set the Symbol Sprayer Tool

The second step is to double click the Symbol Sprayer Tool in the Toolbox and adjust the settings to your wishes. This can be a bit tricky and you might need to experiment a bit to find the setting that fits your purpose. I’ve used an intensity of 7 and a Symbol Set Density of 5. Furthermore I’ve changed all dropdown menus to “User Defined”.

Step 2 - Set the Symbol Sprayer Tool

Step 3 – Let the fun begin and spray like you’ve never sprayed before

Once you’ve discovered the desired setting you can start spraying around. Oh and you don’t have to worry about damaging the ozone layer here, you can spray like a madman 🙂 Just click and drag, release the mouse when you think that there are enough leaves. I usually deselect each time I’ve released the mouse. This way you have all separate sprayings, so you can move them around and rearrange them a bit if needed.

Step 3 - Let the fun begin and spray like you've never sprayed before

Step 3 - Let the fun begin and spray like you've never sprayed before

Don’t stop experimenting

Spraying Symbols in Illustrator
If you’re still not satisfied with the result, you can also tweak a bit by using the Symbol Shifter, Cruncher, Sizer, Spinner, Stainer, Screener or Styler Tool. These tools are hidden under the Symbol Sprayer Tool when you select and hold down the mouse. Think about the possibilities here in this tool and the amount of time you can save: a field full of flowers, a sky full of birds,… Ah Spring, can’t wait till it’s here. The weather forecast isn’t looking that bad for this week.

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