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I'm trying to explore grid-based layout design in Illustrator to help me create mockups for prototypes. I was wondering if anybody here could help me set up a grid based layout easily in Illustrator CS6? I was hoping to find step-by-step directions but I can't seem to find anything when I look online!

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View > Show Grid combined with Preferences > Guides & Grids – Scott Jan 15 '13 at 3:12
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Just use objects

Guides are fine but I prefer lines and rectangles. I keep them isolated on their own layer for easy activation/deactivation. Smart guides will make it extra simple to snap to these objects.

I set up my basic grid unit and position it in one corner of the layout. Then I use a Transform each to tile it out to a full grid. That is, if you're using a uniform grid.

enter image description here

It also works well for grids with complicated geometry. Here's one I used recently for a branding project. Switch your smart guide angles to match your grid and you'll be loving Illustrator ;)

enter image description here

The Grid builder script for Scriptographer

This is a really cool solution (if you're not on CS6). It generates your baseline grid as well as columns based on variables you fill in.

enter image description here

Preview mode by layer

Also keep in mind the fact that you can change between Preview mode and Outline mode in Illustrator at the layer level. This means, if you build your grid as shapes on a dedicated layer as described above you can switch to outline mode to make the objects more guide-like. Then you can switch back to a color coded or solid shape view just as easily. I often find this helpful on grids like the complicated example above.

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thank you so much for the help!! – yeahumok Jan 22 '13 at 4:39
Great answer, I wish there was scriptographer supper for CS6 – Ctrl Alt Design Apr 1 '14 at 9:03
I would definitely scarf a Scriptographer Supper ;) It is a fantastic tool. I didn't use it every day but when I did there was nothing that could replace it. I still keep a copy of CS5.5 (and CS3) around when I need those tools. – plainclothes Apr 1 '14 at 17:11

Here’s a few resources on creating grids in Illustrator that I found helpful:

Both articles explain step-by-step how to setup a grid in illustrator CS6 by using the in-built option in the Illustrator menu. After selecting an object (i.e. a rectangle of the same dimensions as your art board), from the menu select "Object" then "Path" and finally "Split Into Grid" to see it.

While it is entirely possible to use just shapes and transforms and have a grid without guides I find guides superior as they can still be moved to separate layers (by the way, the option above doesn’t necessarily mean that you must make guides — it creates plain lines first which can then be made into guides by right-mouse click on the object(s) and then choosing "Make Guides"). Guides are faster to turn on and off than layers as well.

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Hello @Siniša Šašić, welcome to GDSE! Could you please post a little more than juist a couple links? A smell excerpt of how these resources answer the question would be really helpful. That way, your post is still valuable for later visitors in case those links break at a later time. Thanks! – Vincent Apr 1 '14 at 9:17
I have hopefully expanded the explanation, thank you. – Siniša Šašić Apr 1 '14 at 12:44
That system is perfect for basic needs. The trouble I run into is that it's not flexible. Think about something like Villard's diagram. Shapes allow you to create all sorts of wonderful, proportion-based systems. – plainclothes Apr 1 '14 at 17:38

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