Illustrator Artboard Tutorial

Illustrator Artboard Tutorial

I have recently had a customer ask me how to enlarge the blank space around a clip art image so I have written this little step by step tutorial to help her out. I decided to put this on my blog as it may be of help to others.

The space around an image is referred to as the ‘Artboard’ in Illustrator. When opening a new document in Illustrator, a pop up box will appear with the options of defining your artboard size, the unit you would like to work in (i.e. pixels, inches) and your orientation (portrait or landscape).




When exporting your work as a png or jpeg file, the artboard will define the size of your image and also the ‘space’ around your image. I will go into this further later.

Step 1:

Let’s start with a new document. Use the settings above to create a new document at 12 inches in height and 12 inches in width. Make sure you change the units to inches.

Step 2:

Go to ‘File’ in the top horizontal menu and select ‘Place’. The white area of your document is your ‘artboard’. Click anywhere within the white artboard to place your image.




That funny blue box and cross through your image is illustrators way of letting you know that the image is not embedded. In short, Illustrator will read image files from a saved location on your computer instead of embedding it into the document. This keeps file sizes down to a minimum. The only problem is, if you change the location or file name of that image, Illustrator will no longer be able to find it and you will end up with an empty box with no image. Sometimes, to make things easier, I simply embed the file into illustrator so it no longer needs to read the image from an external source. This will increase the file size but makes it easier for me as I am always moving files around on my computer and un-embedded files can become a real pain.

To embed the file, with the image selected, select embed from the Controls Panel, which should appear under your main horizontal menu.




Once embedded, the blue cross will disappear from over the image.

Step 3:

Align the image so it sits in the centre of the artboard. To do this, select the image and an align toolbar will appear in your control panel. First check that the little drop down box on the left hand side of the align tools is selected to ‘Align to Artboard’. Click on the centre horizontal and centre vertical icons to centre the image.






Step 4:

Now to change the size of the artboard. Select the ‘Artboard Tool’ on your ‘Tools’ bar. If you can’t see your tools bar, go to ‘Window’ on your top horizontal menu and make sure ‘Tools’ is ticked.




Your artboard will now appear with a dashed line around it. Simply use those little boxes that appear on the edges of the artboard to resize.

If you want to be really precise and add an exact 1 inch space around your image – draw 4 boxes at 1 inch by 1 inch and align the inner edges of your boxes to the edges of your image. Select the ‘Artboard ¬†Tool’ on your Tool menu and align the artboard to the edges of your boxes. Once this is done, delete the boxes.




How the Artboard plays a part when exporting PNG or JPEG files:

When exporting your image as a JPEG or PNG file, make sure you check the ‘Use Artboards’ on the pop up menu that appears. With this selected, illustrator will read the artboard as part of your exported image.




Let me give you an example of how this works. If I sit my image half on and half off the artboard like this:




It will save as a JPEG like this (please note, I have added a yellow border around the JPEG so you can see the artboard boundaries).




So as you can see, it is very important that you define your artboard when exporting images for use as PNG and JPEG files.

I hope this tutorial has been helpful. Please feel free to comment if you have any questions or found this tutorial handy.

If you like the little mouse I used in this tutorial, you can find him and his family in my little Mouse Family Clip Art Set listing on my store.

Until next time X



  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • LinkedIn
  • Email

Speak Your Mind