#35. Working with Symbols
Symbols are objects that can be stored as source artwork and then be reused numerous times in a document as symbol instances. Edit or replace the symbol and all linked instances automatically update. Symbols make it easy to add a bit of random complexity to your artwork while saving you time and keeping file sizes to a minimum (Figure 35a).
Figure 35a. Symbols make it incredibly easy for you to add multiple instances of your artwork by selecting a symbol from one of the sets available to you and literally spraying it onto the artboard.
A symbol can be made up of text, paths, embedded raster images, mesh objects and most groups of objects. You can even use Live Effects (see #36), brush strokes, and other symbol instances in a symbol. To create a symbol, select your artwork and click the New Symbol button in the Symbols palette (Window > Symbols). To be presented with the option to name the symbol, press the Option/Alt key when clicking New Symbol. You can hold down Shift if you'd like the selected artwork to automatically become an instance of the new symbol.
Once you've created your symbol, instances of it can be quickly added in volume using the Symbol Sprayer tool . With your symbol selected in the Symbols palette, choose the Symbol Sprayer tool in the Tools palette. Click and hold or click and drag to spray instances of your symbol onto the artboard, much like a paint spray can. Use the hidden symbolism tools under the Symbol Sprayer: Shifter, Scruncher, Sizer, Spinner, Stainer, Screener, and Styler to interactively tweak your instances and make them appear more natural and distinct from one another (Figure 35b).
Figure 35b. Use the various symbolism tools hidden under the Symbol Sprayer tool to make your artwork appear more random and diverse in size, rotation, color, and so on.
To redefine your symbol and automatically update all the linked instances, drag an instance of your symbol from the Symbols palette to the artboard. With the instance selected, click the Break Link to Symbol button in the Symbols palette. Make your edits to the artwork and then drag it back on top of the original symbol in the Symbols palette while holding down the Option/Alt key (you can only do this if you're using entirely new artwork). This replaces the old symbol with the new and all its instances are dynamically updated.