Join Mordy Golding for an in-depth discussion in this video Why use Illustrator?, part of Illustrator CS4 Essential Training.
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I'm often asked, why should I use Illustrator? And that question is usually phrased in the context of comparing Illustrator with other applications such as Photoshop or maybe InDesign. And I believe that I get that question because Illustrator suffers from what I would like to call an identity crisis. On a very basic level, it's easy to describe what some other design applications do. For example, on a very basic level you can say Photoshop is an image editing program. At the same time, you can refer to a product like InDesign as a page layout tool. Flash does animation, Dreamweaver lays out web pages.
When it comes to Illustrator, in one sentence it's very hard to sum up exactly what it does and that's because -- well, it kind of does everything. Once you get to understand exactly what Illustrator is and the toolset that it has, you begin to understand when it's time to use Illustrator. In fact, many elements used in a photo composition in Photoshop may come from Illustrator. Likewise, Illustrator artwork can make its way into a page layout in InDesign and through an animation in Flash or a web page design in Dreamweaver. Many people refer to Illustrator as being a vector graphics application. And while that is an easy way to describe what Illustrator is, very few people understand exactly what a vector-based application is or what that means. We'll talk more about vectors in the next movie, but basically Illustrator's strengths lie in the fact that it can create graphics that are infinitely scalable, meaning they can be resized to just about any size that you need, and they are also extremely easy to edit.
This sample file that I have opened right now is a great example of that, in fact, this sample file ships with Adobe Illustrator. If you go into your Illustrator applications folder, you'll find a folder called Cool Stuff, and there are some great sample files and including this one from Von Glitschka. It's called the Loyal Order of Wormwood. It's a great illustration, looks wonderful. If I take a look at it for example, I see how nice that looks. But if I zoom in let's say right here on this little bird that's whistling, you notice that I lose no detail at all in that, as opposed to an application like for example Photoshop where as you begin to enlarge your artwork or you zoom in, you start to see pixels, and again we'll talk more about this in the next movie. But I could zoom in as close as I'd like to and still see beautiful sharp edges in these graphics. Because of their object-based nature, it's also easy for me to click on a particular object and change its attributes as well. As we go through this entire title, we'll learn about the functions available inside of Illustrator, it will become readily apparent to you on when you should be using Illustrator, what its strengths are and what its weaknesses are.
- Making efficient use of the Illustrator interface
- Creating text on a path
- Using the Magic Wand and Lasso selection tools
- Working with a pressure-sensitive tablet
- Applying 3D extrusions and resolves
- Converting images to vectors with Live Trace
- Exporting files for use in Photoshop, Flash, and other applications