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In this installment of Illustrator Insider Training, author Mordy Golding shows how to create type that’s both beautiful and communicative, whether it’s destined for logos, brochures, signs, infographics, or simple documents. This course covers core typography concepts, such as working with Unicode and OpenType fonts, applying character and paragraph settings, managing text with styles and text threads, placing text along a path, and wrapping text around graphics.
One of the most important things to do before sitting down to start just about any project at all is to get an idea in your head, try to visualize what it is that you're trying to create, and make sure that you're using the right application for that. You see, Adobe has many different applications for a variety of different kinds of creative tasks. There's Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, for example, Dreamweaver, and Flash, and when you sit down to work on a project, you can sometimes understand that there is this overlap of features across the different products.
As a basic example, you might be able to create a business card inside of Illustrator, yet you can also create a business card inside of Adobe InDesign. Of course, you can also create a business card inside of Dreamweaver or inside of Photoshop. It doesn't mean that those are the best applications for that kind of project. Now, obviously, if you're trying to host your business card online, maybe that's something that Dreamweaver is suited for. However, many times we often use applications that we find are most comfortable for us. So, for example, if I have a background where I have been using Illustrator for many, many years, I may jump into Illustrator first to work on just about any project, even though Illustrator may not be the best application to perform or to create that project in.
So keeping that in mind, let's understand two important things that have happened in the recent history of Illustrator. When Illustrator 10 was released, Adobe put a brand-new text engine inside of the product. There is now a whole new way of working with text inside of Illustrator. There is far more capabilities that Illustrator has when it comes to working with text. Also, when Illustrator CS4 was released, Adobe added the ability to have multiple artboards--not multiple pages, but multiple artboards inside of a document. However, many of us sometimes often think of those as multiple pages.
So if we kind of take a step back for a moment and think about, well, what if I have like a 16-page brochure or a newsletter that I want to create. Should I be doing that inside of Illustrator. After all, Illustrator has support for multiple artboards, and Illustrator has all these powerful text features inside of them. But that's something that I would direct you to do inside of a program like InDesign. So let me give you an example here inside of Illustrator. I am going to create a new document, and you'll see in the New Document dialog box here, I have the ability to specify actually up to 99 artboards in my document.
99, that's a lot of artboards! Now, artboards, again, inside of Illustrator are just a way for me to specify different output areas. But I should never really think of them as real pages in a document, for example. In fact, if what you're trying to create can actually be defined as something called a document, nine times out of ten, it's better off to do that kind of project in a product like Adobe InDesign. One of the strengths of InDesign is something called long document support. It allows you to create, not just books, not just magazines, but entire chapter books.
There are features inside of InDesign that are geared specifically to working with tons and tons of text. From an Illustrator perspective though, we have to understand a very important concept. If we're driving along the highway and see one of those cars with two or three mattresses strapped to the top of the roof, and it's got the blinkers on, and it's going really, really slow, everyone is trying to kind of weave around that in traffic, well that's because the person is actually using a car to carry some kind of a load that was never really meant for that kind of vehicle.
In other words, the people who designed that vehicle never thought about it being used to carry such large loads. Likewise, when you see a car with a big sofa on the top of it. Sure, the car can do it. It can actually transfer that mattress or a sofa from point A to point B. But of course, as you already have experienced yourself, that car is driving really, really slow. If you hit a bump in the road, well, who knows what can happen to that mattress or that sofa. So while it's possible to do it, it's not really the best way to do it. If you knew that you wanted to transport a lot of furniture from one point to another, you might rent one of those moving vans, or borrow a pickup truck from your friend, because those types of vehicles were built with heavy loads in mind.
So this is my advice when talking about working with text inside of Illustrator. Illustrator can handle text, Illustrator has great text features; however, they're not meant as long document features. Meaning if I have a map, and I have a whole bunch of text that I now want to use for labels for all the roads, I can obviously do that inside of Illustrator. If I wanted to create a one-page ad, or even a two-page spread, maybe a little booklet for a CD or a DVD cover, Illustrator will be able to handle all those kinds of tasks. However, keep in mind that Illustrator was never built to handle a large amount of text.
So while it will happily do it for you, Illustrator is going to slow down; it won't be able to perform at its optimal levels. It will be just like carrying that big sofa from your old apartment to your new home, but you just have to go about two or three miles an hour along the highway. So it's a matter of setting expectations, and it's a matter of choosing the right application for the job. Now, if you have a one-off project where you're going to have a lot of text, just keep in mind that Illustrator may struggle to keep up with you. That's totally fine! But just don't get into the habit of doing large projects that have a lot of text inside of Illustrator, which will only slow you down.
So if you constantly find yourself staring at Illustrator, watching the little spinning beach ball, waiting for things to happen when you're working on large projects that have a lot of text inside of them, it might be time to take a look at InDesign for that. But of course, this title here is all about using text inside of Illustrator. So now that we've set our expectations correctly, in the next movie, we're going to talk about the three kinds of type objects that exist inside of Illustrator.
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