Split Into Grid

split into grid

When I think about the features I use most in Illustrator I was kind of surprised that one of the top functions was Illustrator’s Split Into Grid. I only use it for a couple specific things, but I do these things all the time. If you are not using the Split Into Grid feature or don’t know much about it, I think you will like these tips. Let me know if you use the Split Into Grid for anything else.

Split Into Grid

The premiss of the the Split Into Grid function (I’ll just call it SIG from now on) is pretty simple. Illustrator will take any object and split it into a specified number of equal-sized rectangles. To activate the function, select your object and choose Object > Path > Split Into Grid. With the SIG dialog box open, you can change the number of Rows, number of Columns, Gutter dimensions and Illustrator will automatically calculate the height and width of the rectangles. Check the Add Guide check box and Illustrator will draw guides at the borders of the Rows and Columns for you.

Use Cases

After reading the description of the SIG feature, I’m sure you’re already thinking about what you can do. Below are some of my most common use cases.

Quickly Create Artboards

Whenever I create a set of icons, illustrations, logo comps, ui designs and so on, I usually start with one Artboard to create the initial theme and dimensions. After the initial concept is complete, I build the rest of the series in the same document instead of creating a new document with a specified amount of Artboards. I start by drawing a rectangle big enough to encompass all the required Artboards in the series and then use the SIG feature. With the new rectangles created, I choose Object > Artboards > Convert to Artboards. This is a pretty quick way to create consistent Artboards within a document.

split into grid

Grid Layouts

Another big use case for Illustrator’s SIG function is for grid based layouts. I use the SIG to create wireframes, web designs, book covers, cd covers, icons sets, signs, and so on. The Add Guide feature of SIG works great, but I like to convert the new rectangles to guides themselves by selecting the rectangles then going View > Guides > Make guides. Boom… instant accurate grid to design with!

split into grid

Compositional Guidelines

The other way I utilize the SIG feature is for compositional guidelines. With some illustrations I use a simple compositional grid. It’s usually a basic 3×3 grid, and nothing as specific as the grids I use for layout. Just a grid where I can edit major compositional elements. I usually convert these grids to guidelines like with the Grid Layouts.

split into grid

What About You?

I’m sure some of you guys have some great use cases for the Split Into Grid function. Please share!

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17 thoughts on “Split Into Grid

  1. Definitely an excellent feature, and one that I wish Photoshop had (although I think someone did put together something of a plugin to do this with guides, at least…)

      • Great tip as usual!

        I too been struggling with grids for Illustrator. Been playing around a bit in InDesign with this great tool from Designers Bookshop called Grid Calculator Pro.

        And now I just received a newsletter announcing the release of a new version for Ai and Ps. You can download a free demo from this site: https://www.designersbookshop.com/grid-calculator-basic-edition.html

        I don’t usually promote stuff like this but I think it may be what you’ve been looking for.

        Thanks for a great site and blog!
        Cheers, Viktor

  2. Use SIG along with the Warp Arc deformer and Gradient with transparency and you quickly get some window like reflections on a sphere or a balloon. I use it this way sometimes.

    Thank you for sharing your examples of usage.

  3. I use this all the time to easily create stripes for the backgrounds of designs. Usually this requires a high number of columns and a very thin gutter. Be careful, they will not be grouped immediately after you split. You’ll have to group them before deselecting ;)

  4. Holy smokes, I was almost sobbing that I would have to turn to Photoshop for web layouts, but with this I can stay with my beloved Illustrator.

    Thank you :)

  5. Wow, I was searching to method to divide the shape. Your tutorial explains it all. Thanks a lot. Save me so much time instead of dividing manually.

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