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Working With Artboards in Photoshop and Illustrator

By Jake Bartlett
IllustratorPhotoshopAfter Effects

Learn how to create and manage artboards in Photoshop and Illustrator with this video tutorial from Jake Bartlett.

How do the professionals plan out those sweet animations? How can you keep your designs consistent across your entire project? The answer my friend is art boards. However, many artists are scared or confused by artboards, so we thought it'd be fun to put together a tutorial all about artboards in Photoshop and Illustrator.
Jake Bartlett, the instructor of Photoshop and Illustrator Unleashed & Explainer Camp, is here to answer all of your artboard questions! If you're looking to up your game and finally start that personal project, then you need to learn how to utilize artboards in Photoshop or Illustrator, this tutorial will help you get there.
Pre-production is a vital part of making your animations stand out from the rest of the crowd. A well thought through animation can go a long way, and that all starts in the design phase! So suit-up, grab your thinking socks, it's time to chase down some knowledge...

Video Tutorial: Working with Artboards in Photoshop & Illustrator

Now it's time for Jake to work his magic and make learning fun. Enjoy learning how to work with Artboards in Photoshop and Illustrator!

Download the Artboards Project File

If you want to poke around in the project file created by Jake himself make sure to click the download button below! The project file is free to anyone with a School of Motion free student account.

Photoshop and Illustrator Artboards Project Files

Download Now

What are Artboards?

An artboard is a virtual canvas. What's great about Photoshop and Illustrator is that you can have multiple canvas in a single document. Hooray!
This is extremely useful if you need to create multiple frames for your animation project. Being able to see all of the artboards next to one another helps keep the continuity of your design consistent throughout your entire project. And, you're able to make small tweaks without having to open multiple projects.

How to Create Artboards

It's one thing to know that artboards exist, but how do you get started with these handy tools? Here's how you can create artboards in Photoshop and Illustrator.

How to Create Artboards in Illustrator

When you launch Illustrator you're met with a pop up screen full of options. Even though this can be overwhelming there are just a few things you need to set in order to get started.
Here's how to create multiple artboards in Illustrator:
  1. Click Create New... at the top left
  2. Find the Preset Details panel to the right
  3. Enter your desired frame width and height
  4. Enter in how many artboards you would like to start with
  5. Click Advanced Settings
  6. Set Color Mode to RGB Color
  7. Set Raster Effects to Screen (72 ppi)
  8. Finish by clicking the Create button at the bottom right.
Artboard Creation -Illustrator.png

How to Create Artboards in Photoshop

This process is very similar to creating artboards in Illustrator but with one key difference.
Here's how to create an artboard project in Photoshop:
  1. Click Create New... at the top left
  2. Find the Preset Details panel to the right
  3. Enter your desired frame width and height
  4. Click the artboards checkbox
  5. Set Resolution to 72
  6. Set Color Mode to RGB Color
Create Photoshop Project.png

Moving and Creating Artboards

The workflow for creating new artboards in Photoshop and Illustrator are different, but the process very easy. Here's a quick guide for creating and managing artboards once you're in Photoshop and Illustrator.

Managing Artboards in Illustrator

While you're in the project you can re-arrange your artboards and even create new artboards. You're not limited to the number of artboards created at the beginning of the project.
When you're ready to start editing your artboard layout equip the artboard tool from the tools palette. You can find the tool palette on the left side of Illustrator when using the default layout. See the image below for what this tool currently looks like. Also, the keyboard shortcut for Illustrators artboard tool is Shift+O, which is a very quick way to keep your workflow lightening fast!
Artboard Tool.png
The artboard tool in Illustrator
After you've selected the artboard tool, the properties panel on the right will display your artboard editing options.
Artboard Properties Panel.png
The artboard properties panel on the right of Illustrator
Here you can make changes to the artboard names, select a new preset, and quickly create new artboards.
New Artboard Button.png
New artboard button in Illustrator
There are a lot of other neat ways you can manipulate and create artboards that Jake covers in this tutorial, like duplicating and moving artboards manually.
Duplicating Artboards in Illustrator.gif
Jake showing up his duplicating skills
There you go! Not so scary after all, and with just that basic info you're all set to start creating artboards in Illustrator! Take this information and use it on your next personal project, pre-production just go that much easier!

Managing Artboards in Photoshop

If you're ready to equip your artboard tool in Photoshop, it can be found in the same location as the move tool by default, or press Shift+V.
Artboard tool Photoshop.png
Artboard tool location in Photoshop
Once you have the artboard tool selected you can click the plus icon to either side of your currently selected artboard. Or, in the layers panel you can select an artboard and duplicate it by pressing CMD+J.
Create Artboards in Photoshop.png
Click the plus icons to create a new artboard.
Once you've created your artboards you can see them show up in the layers panel as folder groups. Here you can add new layers and even rename them. The name you give your artboards here will be what name they are given on export.
Artboards in Layer Panel.png
Artboards shown in the layers panel
Now, if we select an artboard in the layers menu you will see the properties panel populate with new options specifically for that artboard. This allows you to edit the height and width, the Artboard Background Color, and more!
Photoshops Properties Panel.png
Artboard properties panel in Photoshop
Unlike Illustrator, Photoshop does not have an option to automatically arrange your artboards for you.
You'll need to drag them around yourself, so be mindful of this when you're creating artboards. Note that you can't click in the middle of the artboard canvas, you actually have to click the name just above the artboard. If you want to make it a little easier to move around your artboards make sure that snapping is enabled under the view menu!
Moving Artboards in Photoshop.gif
Moving artboards in Photoshop
And just like that you're up to speed with the basics of creating and managing artboards in Photoshop!

Want to really learn Photoshop and Illustrator?

This is just one step in mastering your design workflow. Photoshop and Illustrator can be intimidating, so we've created a course that lays a solid foundation in both of these applications.
In Photoshop and Illustrator Unleashed you'll follow Jake Bartlett through the ultimate design software deep-dive. In just 8 weeks we'll help you go from being extremely uncomfortable, to ready to snuggle your new beastly best friends, Photoshop and Illustrator. Check out our courses page for more information on all of the courses we offer!