Demystifying Adobe Illustrator

tablet art

It’s ok to feel overwhelmed by Adobe Illustrator. Why are there so many toolbars? What do all the buttons mean? What if I click the wrong thing and my project gets ruined forever?

Relax. Adobe Illustrator, like any other tool, just takes some getting used to. Let’s remove some of the mystery around the program to see what it is and what it can do for you and your creative projects.

Design on tablet

Adobe Illustrator equals control

It’s helpful to think of Adobe Illustrator as a sort of word processor for images. When you’re drafting a project, you can save your progress. That way, if you have to backtrack and edit parts of your illustration — no problem.

Swap colors. Add texture. Experiment with brushes. Take out that one part and add that other part.

Working on a revisable digital project gives you control that you don’t get when working with the more permanent medium of pen and paper. And that can save you time and effort when it comes to fine-tuning final revisions.

Collaborating on tablets
Adobe Illustrator gives you the ability to revise your work without erasing or drawing over your previous progress.

Work in vectors and layers with Abode Illustrator

One of the coolest features in Illustrator is the ability to create “vector drawings.”

What are vector images? They’re images that can be blown up or shrunk without compromising image quality.

Vectors are great for creating patterns or for print projects that require large images that would otherwise be rendered in chunky pixels. Smooth, clean, scalable lines rule in the digital age.

Vector images are a little hard to explain but super cool in practice. Learn more about them here.

And don’t forget layers. Layers are great for making collage-like illustrations, or for creating a sense of depth in your project.

Many artists prefer to use computer graphics tablets in conjunction with Adobe Illustrator software. That way they can “freehand” shapes that can then be manipulated and edited digitally.

What’s digital? What’s analog?

Many serious illustrators create their work using a synthesis of analog drawing/painting techniques that are augmented or complimented by digital revisions.

That’s a fancy way of saying that, when it comes to Adobe Illustrator, you can really mix it up. Draft on paper, scan your work into the computer, and edit. Or try “watercolor” technique with a digital brush set and proper brush technique on a digital drawing pad.

There are many ways to get creative using Adobe Illustrator and available illustration technology. Where will your artist’s intuition take you?

Mastery is relative. Learn (or share!) what you know.

Illustrator, like all Adobe products, is a deep rabbit hole. You can get really into complicated techniques. Have questions? You can always take a hands-on class in Illustrator!

There are many directions you can go once you’ve developed your basic skills. Here at Abacus, we often use Adobe Illustrator to design laser-cutting projects.

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When you’ve mastered Adobe Illustrator, why not teach others? Sign up to share what you know, by visiting the Abacus Session Marketplace.