The Relationship Between Art, Typography and Illustrator
Art, typography, and Illustrator
We often think of Adobe as being defined by applications like Illustrator and Photoshop. But it wasn't always that way. In fact, Adobe started out as a digital type foundry, and they still are. John Warnock, one of the founders of Adobe, created the PostScript language to allow for scalable high-quality fonts. And one of the main reasons why Adobe created Illustrator was to get more designers to use PostScript, so that they would buy PostScript printers. As it turned out though, it was Adobe Illustrator, along with Aldus Pagemaker and Apple's Macintosh and LaserWriter, that transformed the entire print in design industry, ushering in the era of desktop publishing.
So type is definitely important at Adobe. But even as desktop publishing was thriving, type was going through a tough time. Where in the past professional fonts for typesetting machines were very expensive, one could now buy these font explosion CDs filled with thousands of fonts for less than a hundred bucks. Even worse, type was being set by designers who weren't necessarily schooled in the subtleties of typography, and typesetters--that's the people, not the machines-- were finding themselves out of work.
In the late '90s, Adobe was already building what would become the premiere application for working with text, Adobe InDesign. Adobe's goal was to bring back the lost art of typography and enable desktop applications to set perfect, professional-level type. After seeing InDesign, designers wanted those professional type features in Illustrator too. But Illustrator was never built with professional typography in mind. In fact, Illustrator didn't even have a type tool until version 3.2 appeared, and even then, the text was quite basic at that.
But the relationship problems between Illustrator and type went deeper than just features. Illustrator's underlying technology also needed a change. Illustrator is used heavily in Asia where fonts and typography are far more complex than their western counterparts. Illustrator needed a modern Architecture to support not just advanced type control but also advanced type technology, including support for things like Unicode, OpenType Fonts, global language support, especially around Asian type workflows.
And so for Illustrator 10, Adobe created a brand-new text engine to support modern features and serve as a powerful platform for global language support and future versions. Adobe also added many type features in Illustrator to match those found in InDesign, including paragraph styles, Optical kerning and Optical margin alignment. Initially, this new text engine caused designers tremendous heartache. The new text engine wasn't compatible with the old one, so there was no easy way to save files containing text back to be opened in previous versions of Illustrator.
In fact, I cover this in the Working with Legacy Text chapter in this course. Illustrator's Text Engine is called the Adobe Text Engine, or ATE for short, and it's what Adobe refers to as a core technology. ATE is built into it many Adobe products, including Illustrator, Photoshop, Fireworks, and After Effects. And that means that you can easily move text between these applications without losing styling or formatting. But what about InDesign? Well, it's text engine is a bit more specialized.
It supports highly structured content, like XML, across long documents, and it's also optimized to function seamlessly across three powerful products: Adobe InDesign, Adobe InDesign Server, and Adobe InCopy. For this reason, moving formatted text between InDesign and Illustrator is still problematic. Now, I care a lot about type. My first job was as a typesetter at a publishing house, and I've also had the privilege of working very closely with art directors and creative directors who were meticulous about every aspect of type, both as an art form and also as a form of communication.
And as a production artist, I care very much about managing type in the most efficient manner possible. And really, that's what this course is all about, combining the beauty of type, the mode of communication, and speed and efficiency, all so that you can focus on your task at hand.
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