A Nicer Background Color

TLDR: by default, Illustrator provides a glaring white background for each file. For a much nicer experience:

  • enable the Transparency Grid (cmd-shift-D)
  • set the two Transparency Grid colors to be the same (cmd-option-P)

By saving an empty file as a template, files will default to the the new color.

By default, Illustrator provides a white background for your artwork:

There are two reasons why this is not optimal:

  • any elements of the design that are white are invisible
  • working on a bright white background makes it difficult to accurately perceive the colors in the design

The great masters knew this — scratch any important painting and you’ll see that it was painted on a colored background.

We’re going to change the white background to this:

The Transparency Grid

You can turn on the transparency grid by typing cmd-shift-D, or by looking under the menu View › Show Transparency Grid. Remember that command — you’ll be using it a lot!

Here’s what it looks like when we turn it on:

The default colors are unusable, but we’re going to fix that.

Document Setup

In the Control Bar (Window › Control), click on Document Setup (or type cmd-option-P):

This will launch the following panel:

We’re going to change the color of the white and gray boxes in the above image.

The key is to set them both to the same color; this will be our new background.

Just click on one of them:

Use the crayon picker, and set both rectangles to Iron color (which matches the Illustrator interface nicely).

After clicking OK, here is what the document will look like:

It’s a much nicer working environment, and depending on the project, it might even be necessary.

Tip 1: type cmd-shift-H to hide the black line around the artwork while you’re working and it’s even nicer (or menu View › Hide Artboards).

Tip 2: save a template with this setting and you’ll never have to change it again.

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