Tips to use Adobe Illustrator for the creation of arrows and arrow heads

adobe-logoFor a beginner, everything, from the interface to the tools may seem difficult and thus creation of novel elements may seem like a daunting task. However, constant practice can help you master this versatile application. Most people find it difficult to perform simple operations and use the basic functions. It should be noted that using Adobe illustrator is not a herculean task. If you wish to create arrows and arrow heads for your illustrated maps, you can do so with ease.

Adobe Illustrator is a dynamic application offering several ways to perform just one activity. The same rule applies for the creation of arrows. If you thought that you can create arrows in Adobe Illustrator using just one tool, you must ponder that again. The first and the most basic method to create an arrow is to use the pen tool. This is the tool that most of the beginners reach out to initially. There is also the availability of pre designed arrow tools in Adobe Illustrator in the form of the brush, symbol and the Add arrowheads filter. You can also create a font based arrow. The possibilities are endless. Given below are a few different methods that vary in difficulty level and can be used by a beginner as well as a professional to create smooth arrows that look clean and realistic.

Making use of the Stroke Panel:

This is the most straightforward way to create arrows of different shapes and sizes. All you need to do is create a line. This line can either be straight or have a series of curves. Go to Window -> Stroke. The Stroke dialog box will be displayed.  There will be a section on Arrowheads that will enable you to create arrows on insertion of the desired values. This method is as easy as pie and is ideal for a beginner who has just been introduced to Adobe Illustrator.

The use of symbols:

Symbols are an excellent way to incorporate arrows into your illustrated maps. These symbols are pre built and you will not have to lift a finger to beautify your maps with these arrows. Simply go to Windows -> Symbols to display the Symbols dialog box. On selecting the fly-out menu and hovering over the ‘Open Symbol library’, the ‘Arrows’ option will be available. Once you select that option, you can choose the arrow design that appeals to you the most and add it to your art board.

Selecting the ‘Break Link Symbol’ option is crucial if you do not want the changes that you make to the chosen symbol to be applied to the symbol in the main library. This option can be selected by simply right-clicking on the symbol and selecting the option.


This is one of the most creative ways to design an arrow in Adobe Illustrator. All you have to do is create two different shapes; one should resemble a triangle and the other, a rectangle. Place it in a way that the two shapes overlap well. On overlapping, the shape must resemble an arrow.  Go to Windows -> Pathfinder and select both the shapes. Once that is done, select the ‘Unite’ option and you will have a neat looking arrow. The best part about using pathfinder is the fact that you can experiment with a plethora of shapes to come up with creative arrow designs.

Creating arrows in Adobe Illustrator is a cakewalk. All you need to do is get familiar with the various tools that it offers.

Guest article written by: Stephen George is a graphic designer at [tp lang=”en” only=”y”][/tp][tp not_in=”en”][/tp] and has a background in fine arts. His love for sketching and experimenting with colours and shapes and other such artistic elements got him in the profession that he loves endlessly. He is currently working on creating beautiful illustrated maps.

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