June 2016: Illustrator Eraser Tool and Smooth Tool


Watch the video above for a six minute, thorough overview of the Eraser Tool in Adobe Illustrator.

This is an excerpt from Laura’s Ink & Paint class on illustratoring. To start the class, jump to the vimeo class page, and use the subscriber’s password. If you are not a subscriber, just subscribe to our email list and we’ll send it to you right away!

The video above demonstrates using modifier keys with the Eraser Tool, so here are some shortcuts to make the Eraser Tool your new best friend:

  • Eraser Tool shortcut = shift-e
  • Use the [ ] bracket keys to enlarge and reduce the Eraser
  • Hold shift to constrain the angle to make straight or 45º angle erasures
  • Hold option/alt to erase in a rectangular marquee fashion
  • Hold shift and option/alt at the same time to make a square marquee eraser



smooth tool shortcut

Another tool I constantly rely on is the Smooth Tool. It’s the perfect companion to the Pencil Tool, allowing you to drag over shaky paths and iron them into smooth, flowing lines.

When you are using the Pencil Tool, just hold option/alt to temporarily engage the Smooth Tool, and smooth away!

If you are in Illustrator CC, and this shortcut isn’t working for you, double click on the Pencil Tool in the Tool Panel and check Option key toggles to Smooth Tool in the Pencil Tool Options box, as shown above.

In earlier versions of Illustrator, the option/alt shortcut works without the need to turn this option on. That’s because the Pencil Tool changed in Illustrator CC. If you leave the Smooth Tool checkbox off for the Illustrator CC Pencil Tool, the option/alt key shortcut allows you to draw straight lines (at any angle) with the Pencil Tool.

Want to use the Smooth Tool with the Paintbrush Tool? It’s easy: hold option/alt, no matter what version you’re in – whew!

© copyright symbol shortcut

To type the copyright symbol with your keyboard on a Mac, use option-g

On a Windows keyboard type ALT+0169

drag & drop your own font?

Fontself is a tool you can purchase and install in Illustrator CC, that enables you to create your own fonts, by dragging and dropping vector art into the Fontself panel. Check out their YouTube channel for demo videos to see how easy it looks! And let us know if you are using the program, we haven’t tried it ourselves, but it looks mighty cool!



A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit the Kirkland Museum in Denver, Colorado. It’s one of the most fascinating small museums I’ve seen. It’s primarily devoted to the work of Vance Kirkland, a 20th century painter who lived and worked in Colorado. The museum is moving to a new location with a larger, new building, but his studio building (my favorite part of the old museum) will be moved to the new location. The Kirkland Museum will reopen in 2017, but in the meantime, you might enjoy a google image search for more of his mesmerizing dot paintings.


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Laura & John

Sister-Brother Tech Team


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