Blur symbols / Vector shapes in Illustrator Tutorial

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By Andrew Buckle, Updated : 2021

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Symbols can be applied in many different ways in Illustrator such as via the sprayer tool as well as simply dragged from the panel for the symbols or via all kinds of plugins. The symbols are generally always sharp and without any blur unless they were initially designed with that in mind from the start by just applying a standard blur via the effects menu and then adding that blur shape / design to the symbols panel and use that with the sprayer tool.


You can also add the blur to the symbol later, when you apply the symbol via 1) dragging it from the panel or 2) applying via the sprayer tool.


If you add an effect such as gaussian blur to a symbol, it is only applied to that symbol and any changes to the source will be reflected with a change to the blur, the blur is not applied to any of the other instances.


You can go to the sprayer tool found in the tools bar and then apply the currently selected symbol. With that set of designs selected, you can go to the effects menu and use the gaussian blur or one of the other blur effects. If you go to the appearance panel you will notice that the current selected set of symbol instances will have an entry associated to the blur and can be edited by double clicking or deleted via the bin button.


If you apply the design as a selection of sprayed symbol instances and only want the blur to be applied to some of the symbols then you can do this. Create a graphic style for the blur. Select a path and add a blur to it. Go to the graphic style panel and right side menu and define a new style for the blur. You can now use the sprayer tool and add the symbols (you can do this before or after the creation of the style) and will have more than one symbol instance. Select that set and then go to the symbol styler tool beneath the sprayer icon and select that and then select the blur style and now you can apply the style to one or more of the symbols in the set. You can double click the styler tool and set the intensity etc