Deke’s Techniques 250: Precisely Align Objects to the Grid in Illustrator

I’ve always loved working on graph paper. And not just for the standard graphing and charting mathematical type stuff, but for words, notes, and doodles, too. Turning on the grid in Illustrator is a lot like drawing on that no-photo blue quad-ruled paper: You can use the grid to precisely align objects, then make it disappear in the final result.

This week’s free Deke’s Techniques movie shows you how to use the grid in Illustrator, using key Illustrator features like Snap to Grid and Smart Guide, to precisely align the elements in a chart (a chart which oddly enough demonstrates the various states of the Pen tool in Illustrator—bonus learning!).

For members of, there’s an exclusive movie this week in which Deke shows you how to make these precisely aligned, line interrupting arrow heads:

If you’re not a member of, you can get a free week trial by going to and signing up.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to have this handy reference file on hand, both to practice your grid aligning and to learn about what those Pen tool cursors mean, I’ve made this week’s sample file available here for everyone. Click here to download and enjoy.

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