Rectangular Grid Tool for Illustrator Tutorial
By Andrew Buckle, Updated : 2021
How to use the powerful rectangular grid tool in Adobe Illustrator CC 2021 2020 2019 2018 etc to create amazing vector grids of all sizes and dimensions, how to combine, how to use with repeats, warping transformations, how to tweak the grid in all kinds of way, how to fill the cells, how to change the strokes etc
1. Where ?
The tool can be found in the toolbar under the line tool. You can, of course, also set up your own customised toolbar and add it to that to make it easier to access or just use the shortcut to quickly find it (the image shows a back slash but this can be changed if you wish)
2. Basic use
To use the tool, select and apply on the art board. It will use the current horizontal and vertical values. It is not a live tool (sadly) so if you want to change it then you will just have to delete it and re-do the artwork. It is just a set of lines / paths that can be changed in an infinite number of ways to create the most amazing artwork but it can also be combined with all the other features of the application such as using it with other filters and vector tools such as using it with brushes and also using with gradients as well as combining with powerful style effects and also powerful plugins such as the ones from Astute Graphics and you can also color it using features such as the swatches and also turn the artwork into a resource that can be re-used over and over such as symbols and you can also fill the work with text / type very quickly to create all kinds of amazing work
The artwork is just a collection of paths and can be manipulated further by various tools such as adding effects, applying transformations and more.
Once you have added the artwork, you can change the stroke setting as well as the fill
Double click the tool's icon and set the dividers (horizontal and vertical) for the rectangular artwork.
You can set the horizontal to 0 and just get vertical divider lines
You can set the horizontal to 20 and set the vertical to 0 etc
4. Skew options
Perhaps not one that I use a lot but you can create some interesting designs using the skew, vertical and horizontal. Must admit, I rarely use this option but it can be useful to create all kinds of unique designs that would be tricky to create manually.
Or skew for the horizontal setting
Or if you are using both
5. Ungroup to remove frame
Select the generated artwork and then go to the object menu and ungroup. You can then select the frame around the art and remove it
Delete the frame
You can also move the lines
You can also then change the stroke etc of the lines once you have un-grouped them, you can change the width, change the color, change the opacity etc
6. Warp it
With the artwork selected go to the object menu and envelope distort and make with warp and select a war preset
The result can be expanded via the object menu expand
7. Filling the cells
You can fill the whole thing by just changing the color of the object, go to the tools box and select the fill color you wish to use. If you want to re-color individual ones then use the live paint bucket tool found beneath the shape builder tool in the tools box.
Hover over the individual cells and change the colors from the swatches panel via the left and right arrows
8. Combine multiple
You can use it as a single design but you can also join them together with different horizontal and vertical settings. All kinds of combos can be made as all you need to do is change the horizontal and vertical settings and then draw out the artwork so it matches the sizes (in the end) of the others unless you want uneven edges to your art. You can then group all the artworks together via the object menu and group
You can also take the above and then combine those together in all number of ways to create very complex and elaborate lattice designs in seconds
9. Tilde and multiple objects
The tool can also be used with the tilde / grave key to create multiple objects very quickly. Start drawing the design and then hold the key and then you will see a mass of paths. Find out more about how to use a variety of effects in the application via our effects section.
10. Repeat object
You can create a design and then go to the object menu and repeat and radial
You can change the number of instances as well as radius and you can also double click any of the artworks generated by the repeat feature and then modify the design in isolation mode
Great for a quick frame design
Once you have used the tool, you may wish to remove part of the design say a circular center. You need to expand the design via the object menu (so set the stroke to something other than 0) and then go to the pathfinder and click the unite for all the lines. Draw a circle on top of the design and now subtract both and go to the pathfinder and click the minus front button
12. Appearance panel and adding fills etc
Add an artwork to your current artboard using the tool and then go to the appearance panel (window menu) and go to the right side menu and add new stroke and you will see the design now has a new stroke. Set the color for the new stroke and then go to the effect menu and distort and transform and the transform command and set the move values or the scale etc or the angle.