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How to replace symbol instances in Illustrator tutorial

A guide to how to replace symbols / instance or multiple symbols in Adobe Illustrator with a new symbol in the artboard

Illustrator Symbol instances to be replaced

replace symbol instances in Illustrator tutorialThe first thing is that there is a symbol instance to be replaced, so add a symbol or symbols to an artboard in Illustrator and then select that instance or instances, you can select multiple instances of that symbol. You can also replace multiple instances of different symbols so if you have a square symbol and a circular symbol then they can be replaced in seconds with a single design.

 

You can find many symbol sets on the site such as twirl and curved symbols for Illustrator and character based designs in vintage type / text and historical shapes / symbols and colorful spiral symbols

 

Top bar replace in Illustrator

replace symbol instances in Illustrator panelOK, select the symbol instances you want to replace. What then ?? well, go to the top bar of the Illustrator application and you will see an dropdown maked as 'replace' and you will see all the current symbols available to you. Just go and select one of the new symbols or perhaps the same as before (if you want all symbol instances to be the same). If you try and replace the symbol instance where all the instances are same as the replaced then nothing will happen

 

Replace symbol instances via panel

You can do the same as the top bar replace via the symbol panel. Select the symbol instances and then go to the symbol panel and then select the symbol you wish to replace them with. Follow that with a quick trip to the menu for the panel and select the replace command (which will be disabled if you try and replace the identical items)

 

Replace symbols and size

replace symbol instanceIf you have a large symbol instance and a small instance and then go to the replace command in the panel or the top bar (personally the top bar is easier) you will notice on replacing the items you will suddenly see the new instance added in exact size / dimensions to the previous instances and the new replaced items will be large and small.

 

Symbol sprayer

If you add the instances via the sprayer tool you will see a number of the instances and they can be selected as a group and then they can be replaced on mass by going to the panel menu or top bar and select the replace command with the new symbol selected in the panel. So if you have a selection of sprayed oranges they can all be changed to replaced with lemons or limes or raspberries etc and if you use the sprayer sizer and spinner then the newly modified instances will be set to the same dimensions and angle.

 

Expanded

Once you have expanded the symbol instance or broken the link then you cannot use the replace.

 

Examples

replace symbol instance number 1The replace command is a really useful tool such as having a symbol instance with a logo and you have added multiple examples of a logo throughout multiple artboards etc and then you can simply select the new preset in the panel and then select the replace command and all the logos will be changed quickly to your new design and the best thing is that the original is not touched, it is still there in the panel (unless deleted) and you can repeat the same operation with any new logos and all can be quickly slotted into the design. Perhaps you have a design with rows of shops and you want replace 'shop 1' logo with the new 'shop 2' logo then the replace command can quickly change all the artwork

 

number 1 replacementYou can also perhaps use the replace command to change all numeric symbols (such as 1) with a new symbol (such as 2 or perhaps a * to hide the number). There are probably thousands of possible uses for the replace symbol command in Illustrator

 

Another useful feature of the replace command is that you may have thousands of symbol instances and to change them all by hand would be slow such as adding the item on top of the previous item and then deleting the lower preset. If you use the menu command, it can be done in a micro second.

 

replaced symbol in IllustratorIf you have an entire document full of symbols, you can select all the items in the artboard and then use the replace and then you will have all the items replaced with the same item. Quick and easy way if that is what you want.

 

Replacing dynamic symbols

The menu command works in exactly the same way as before but any color additions added to the dynamic symbol instances is ignored and lost and the colors are set as the new preset

 

Other tutorials

You can find many other tutorials on the site for Illustrator such as

 

1) how to modify graphic styles in Illustrator

2) how to convert artistic brushes into scatter brushes

3) how to export SVG files from Illustrator

4) Illustrator wrinkle tool and deforming paths

5) Variable width strokes and width tool and profiles

6) Join tool and melding paths together in Illustrator as well as trimming paths

 

Video Youtube videos tutorials

You can find many tutorials on youtube from us such as replacing symbols in Illustrator (youtube)