I’m back with another bit of training for everyone – this one’s inspired by a special request workshop I’ll be delivering soon, and it focuses on using Illustrator to make a very basic floor plan.
One of the reasons I love Illustrator is because of how versatile it is. I’ve used it for many different tasks, from building logos to making graphics for use on a poster – I even made part of my Christmas cards in Illustrator! Another thing Illustrator can do is help you make basic floor plans, which can be helpful if you’re moving into a new apartment or house and want to plan where things go, or if you’ve got a class project that involves laying out a floor plan of some sort. For example, in an assignment for one of my Information Science classes a few years ago, we had to put together a floor plan of the old cafe in the basement of Wells Library and record information about how people interacted with the space – so the ability to make a floor plan can come in handy in unexpected places. This tutorial will walk you through setting up an Illustrator document to make a floor plan, and also share some hints that’ll help make the design process easier.
Note: This quick tutorial assumes you have some basic familiarity with Adobe Illustrator. If you’re new to Illustrator, or need a brief refresher, IT Training’s Illustrator: The Basics course will help you get started.
Before we even open up Illustrator, let’s talk about the scale we’ll be using for our floor plan. For today’s purposes, the scale for our drawing will have one foot equal to one inch – so, if we have a room that’s 16 feet long, it’ll take up 16 inches in Illustrator. I’ll be referring to the scale I’m using a couple of times while walking through the tutorial.
If you know the measurement of your room (or objects that’ll be placed in the room) in inches but not in feet, no worries! We can have Illustrator make those calculations for us by typing in the value in inches, followed by /12. Illustrator will do the division for us, and make it so the room (or object) is now measured in feet.
Setting up a document for floor plan creation
Let’s go ahead and open up Illustrator, and make a new document. Here’s where we’ll start setting things up to help make the process of making a floor plan a little easier.
In the New Document dialog box, we’ll want to change the following settings (highlighted with red boxes in the previous screenshot):
- Set the document preset to Print.
- Change the unit of measurement to inches.
- Set the dimensions to one inch larger than the dimensions of your room (remember, it’ll be scaled down to 1 ft = 1 in) – so if you have a room that’s 16 feet by 12 feet, you’ll want to enter in 17 inches for the width and 13 inches for the height. This will give you some extra room around the outside of the floor plan, so you can include text around the outside if necessary.
Once you’ve made the necessary changes, go ahead and click Create – Illustrator will load your new document, and present you with a blank artboard. There are two things you’ll want to do once the new document is open – first, you’ll want to turn on rulers (View > Rulers > Show Rulers), if they’re not already on. Next, you’ll want to turn on the document grid (View > Show Grid) to help you keep objects neatly lined up. It can also help you quickly measure objects as you’re adding them to your artboard.
Creating the floor area
Now that we’ve got an empty artboard, and have grids and rulers turned on, it’s time to add a shape that’ll serve as the floor plan area. The room I’ll be making for demo purposes is rectangular in shape, and is 16 feet wide by 12 feet long, so I’ll add a rectangle to my artboard that’s 16 inches by 12 inches.
While I could press and drag with the Rectangle shape tool to create this rectangle, and tweak it afterwards to make sure it’s the right size, there’s an easier way to add shapes of a precise size to the artboard in Illustrator: activate the shape tool you want to use, and then click the artboard – a dialog box will appear, allowing you to enter the dimensions of the shape you want to create.
Enter the dimensions of the room you want to make, and then click OK – a rectangle will appear on your artboard. You’ll need to move it into place at this point, leaving 1/2 inch of space between the edge of the artboard and the edge of the rectangle – use the Selection tool to press and drag the shape into place.
(screenshot of rectangle in middle of artboard)
Now that the rectangle’s in place, we’ll want to remove its fill color so we can see the grid better, and lock it in place so we don’t accidentally move it.
To remove the fill color, we’ll want to go to the bottom of the Tools panel, to the Fill and Stroke swatches.
Click on the fill swatch to select it, then underneath the swatches, click on the None swatch to remove the fill color.
Once the fill color’s been removed, we’ll just have the outline of our rectangle. Now, we’ll lock it in place to make sure it doesn’t accidentally get moved. Make sure the shape is selected (click on the outline with the Selection tool if need be), then go to the Menu bar, and go to Object > Lock > Selection. (If you need to move the shape at any point, you can unlock it by going to Object > Unlock All.) At this point, your artboard should look similar to the following image:
Now we’ve got a boundary for a room, and can start adding objects to it!
Adding objects to the room
When you’re ready to add other objects to the room, such as tables, windows, doors, dividing walls, and so on, you’ll want to use the Shape tools to accomplish this. If you know the measurements of the objects and features you want to add to the room, you can add them using the same method used earlier to add the room boundary. If you know the measurements in inches instead of feet, as mentioned earlier, you can simply type in the measurement in inches, followed by /12, to have Illustrator do the math for you and convert it down to the scale you’re using.
You’ll likely also want to indicate the size of objects and features you’ve included in your room – you can do this with the Type tool. Simply click on the Type tool in the Tools panel to activate it, then click near the feature you’d like to add text to. Illustrator will add some dummy text, similar to the following image:
Once you see that text, you can type in the text you want to add. If you want to change the appearance of your text, you can press and drag to select the text, and use the text formatting options in the Character panel (Window > Type > Character) to change the text’s size and font. When your text is looking the way you want it to, you can move it into place with the selection tool – simply click the text to select it, then press and drag it to the new location.
You can also use the Selection tool to rotate text – simply type the text you need, then switch to the Selection tool. Click on the text to select it, then point at one corner until you get the double-ended arrow, as shown in the following image:
Once you see that cursor, you can press and drag to rotate the text to whichever orientation you need.
Now you should have all the tools you need to create a basic floor plan in Illustrator! If I missed anything, let me know in the comments and I’ll add it to the post!