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How to use the rectangular grid tool in Illustrator

The Illustrator rectanglar grid tool can be found in the Illustrator toolbar under the line tool in Illustrator CC CS6 CS5 CS4 etc. To use the rectangular grid tool, select and apply on the artboard. Double click the rectangular grid icon and set the dividers (horizontal and vectical) for the rectangular grid.

Rectangular grid tool

how to use rectangular grid tool Illustrator fill tutorial
  1. Select the rectangular grid tool in toolbar (beneath line segment tool) in Illustrator

  2. Double click icon to change settings such as horizontal dividers etc

  3. Set the stroke weight and color

  4. Click and drag and draw the rectangular grid

You can set the fill and stroke color of the rectangular grid tool. You can also set the skew of the horizontal dividers and vertical dividers. You can use the tool once or multiple times. This tutorial shows you how to change the settings of the rectangular grid tool. How to add color to the rectangular grid. How to create grid line designs and edit the individual lines of the grid in Illustrator. How to ungroup the rectangular grid path in Illustrator. How to use the rectangular grid in Illustrator multiple times and combine the result of the grids and how to generate multiple grids using the tilde tool.

Basics of the rectangular grid tool in Illustrator

rectangular grid tool in Illustrator basic setup

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You can find the rectangular grid beneath the line segment tool. Select the rectangular grid tool, double click or press return for settings. The rectangular grid creates a rectangle made of cells and uses the current stroke color for those cells. You can change the number of horizontal dividers and vertical dividers (as well as skew of those dividers). You can apply the rectangular grid once or multiple times, fill the artwork with color as well as distort and add effects and paths etc to the strokes

  1. select the rectangular grid tool (beneath the line tool)

  2. double click tool icon for settings

  3. set the dividers to 5 and 5 (though this does, confusingly create 6 x 6 cells)

  4. drag and create from the grid origin point.

  5. select color in swatches panel and fill with color using the live paint bucket (my favourite way of quickly coloring the design)

  6. click or drag with the live paint bucket to fill with color

  7. expand

Ungrouping the rectangular grid paths in Illustrator to reduce to just lines

rectangular grid and removing the frame

The rectangular grid is a collection of lines. You can ungroup the grid and manipulate the individual lines. The lines are just then normal paths and they can be formed into any number of additional artworks

  1. create the grid

  2. go to the object menu and ungroup

  3. to remove the frame, select the frame and delete

  4. Manipulate the lines as normal paths

  5. Form new grids and designs from the original rectangular grid path

Grid lines ungrouped in Illustrator and applying width tools and stroke width etc

The rectangular grid tool in Illustrator is made up of individual lines and you can change each individual line. Select the line with the direct selection tool or perhaps click the end points and shift those or select the anchor point tool and turn the straight lines into curves. You can also select the individual lines and delete them via the delete key. You can also select the individual grid lines and change the color of the stroke as well as add different stroke width profiles (or use the width tool to modify them)

  1. create grid

  2. object menu

  3. ungroup

  4. select the width tool

  5. go to the individual lines and change the width of the line.

  6. Select the lines with the direct selection tool and change the stroke color

Transform rectangular grids using the warp tools / mesh in Illustrator

transform and distort grids

The grid is a normal path and can be manipulated by standard tools in Illustrator such as the transforms and distort etc

  1. select grid

  2. object menu

  3. envelope distort

  4. make with warp

  5. set bend for the rectangular grid

  6. click OK

Create designs by generating multiple rectangle grids and combining

multiple rectangular grids combined in Illustrator

As with all the tools in Illustrator, the rectangular grid tool can be applied once as well as multiple times.

  1. view and smart guides ON

  2. select the Illustrator rectangular grid tool

  3. apply and set the color of the strokes

  4. use the smart guides to draw another rectangular grid and set the color of the stroke

  5. repeat to fill the entire document with grids

If you want to have all the rectangular grids as a single shape

  1. select all the grids

  2. object and expand

  3. go to the pathfinder panel

  4. unite

You can also apply the grids on top of the other grids to create far more complex grid artworks

Tilde / grave tool and generating multiple copies rapidly

The Illustrator rectangular grid tool can be used holding down the tilde / grave key. As you move the cursor, 100s of grids will then be generated across your artboard. You can then select the grids and re-color them or delete them as required.

Other tutorials

1. Create circular track grid design in Illustrator tutorial

Sources and references

1. Rectangular grid on Que

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Updated: September 2017