Lesson 5. Type Categories, Layers & Artboards

This lesson is intended to help you learn categories of type. You may use the power of font choice to get across a specific message in your work. In Illustrator we will delve into layers and artboards and how they can streamline your workflow. Lessons include:

  1. Basic type categories for identifying fonts
  2. Using layers in Illustrator
  3. Using artboards in Illustrator for multipage documents
  4. Using the align, distribute and transform functions in Illustrator
  5. Using swatches and gradients in Illustrator
  6. Importing 3rd party brushes and patterns

Points: 50 (+ 8.33 participation points)

Estimated assignment time: 5 hours

Due: Friday, June 15, 11:59P

5.1 Basic Type Categories

Choosing the right font for your message is a vital technique for getting your message read. There are virtually thousands of fonts at your disposal. Understanding their differences and similarities will make your choices easier. We are simplifying our discussion to a basic set. Lessons include:

  • Learning the basic 6 categories of type.
  • Looking for similarities in type.
  • Avoid conflict when mixing fonts.
  • Avoid conflict when mixing fonts.
  • Download and read the .pdf TypeCategories here.


There are numerous sources online to view and download fonts for your use. I personally use dafont for their 
preview function, but also enjoy font squirrel. You may have others which you find useful. Be sure to share your 
sources in the online community for participation points.

Visit the dafont website here.
Visit the font squirrel website here.

5.2 Using Layers in Illustrator

In this portion of the lesson we concentrate on the use of the layers panel in Illustrator to aid in organizing elements in our documents.

  • Learning the layers panel.
  • Hiding/showing layers.
  • Moving elements between layers from the panel.
  • Locking layers.
  • Selecting elements from the panel.
  • Download and read the .pdf LAYERSartboard here.

5.3 Creating Artboards in Illustrator

Here we will discuss the use artboard to create multi page documents. Lessons include:

  • Adding artboards to your document.
  • Using the transform tools.
  • Align and distribute functions.
videoWatch Video part 1 of 3 | 10:45 minutes videoWatch Video part 2 of 3 | 9:37 minutes
videoWatch Video part 3 of 3 | 8:21 minutes

Disregard any references to dates/times and due dates mentioned in the videos. Follow the due dates in the course calendar.

5.4 Swatches & Gradients in Illustrator

Swatches are simply named colors, tints, gradients and patterns which appear individually or in groups. A variety of libraries of swatches are built into Illustrator. Libraries appear as separate panels and are not saved with the document.

  • Understanding the swatch panel.
  • Using the swatch libraries.
  • Importing 3rd party swatch libraries.
  • Learning the gradient panel.
  • Using the gradient tool.
  • videoWatch Video | 12:58 minutes

Disregard any references to dates/times and due dates mentioned in the videos. Follow the due dates listed here.


There following are a couple of links to download 3rd party brushes and patterns. There is also a link to see how to create your own pattern. Google search for more options, there is a wealth of resources available online.

Free brushes available here.
Free pattern available here.

How to make your own pattern available here.

5.5 Do It!
Design a Fourth of July Invitation

Practice on your own and experiment with the tools discussed so far. Create a new page 8.5" x 11" (your choice, portrait or landscape). Considering the design principles, create a visually pleasing invitation to a Fourth of July party @ your home. This could be a pool party, BBQ, etc. Think about the most important elements of the composition and how you can attract attention to them. Consider your choice of fonts to set the theme/look and feel; use layers to organize your work; use an artboard if you want to also do an alternative version (not required); experiment with swatches/gradients and consider using 3rd party brushes/patterns. Try to do this as vector only and avoid using bit map imagery. This will help you learn the tools quicker. As always, have fun and make something strong. If you wish, post .jpgs of work in progress to the learning community for feedback.

Do a SAVE AS, select .ai format and name the file with your name. Convert all fonts to outlines in this file (remember, I may not have the fonts you have chosen).

Do ItPractice the lesson, then save your file.

5.6 Post an example of your work and comments to the Google+ online Community

After you have completed the assignment and uploaded your .ai file, visit the course's Google+ online community and post your comments about the assignment. I am also asking for you to post an image of your work on the Google+ site as well. The online community only accepts .jpg files. Along with your upload, describe anything new you discovered, issues you had, or comments on your experience. Visit the Google+ online community here. Once you have posted, copy the link from the Google+ site. Go the Learning For Life portal, and paste the link in the text field and attach your .ai file. Hit submit.

5.7 Review and Checklist for the Week's Lesson Assignment


Grading Check List

read type categories .pdf
review online font resources
read layers/artboards .pdf
watch demo video A
watch demo video B
watch demo video C
watch swatches video
practice the tools discussed
consider the use of the design principles in your .ai file
post to the Google+ online community (be sure to upload a .jpg example)
submit your .ai file via the Learning For Life portal and provide the link to your post
complete quiz 5 on Learning For Life portal


Testable Items

  • What are the 6 basic text categories discussed?
  • How do you describe a sans serif font?
  • Which font category discussed is based on handlettering?
  • What are the benefits to using layers?
  • How do you create multiple pages in one Illustrator file?
  • Using the tools discussed, how would you vertically align two objects?
  • Which of the font categories discussed evolved from sophisticated printing techniques?
  • Which of the font categories was it suggested to use sparingly?
  • Is it possible to install 3rd party brushes in Illustrator?
  • What does the icon look like for a locked layer?