What is Adobe Illustrator Used For? Understanding Vector Images
Adobe Illustrator is a program used by both artists and graphic designers to create vector images. These images will then be used for company logos, promotional uses or even personal work, both in print and digital form. So what is Adobe Illustrator used for? It is typically used to create illustrations, charts, graphs, logos, diagrams, cartoons of real photographs, and more. While the program may be difficult to understand initially, the final product will be well worth the learning curve.
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What is a Vector Image?
Creating vector images allows you to create clean, beautiful works of art that can be scaled up and down infinitely without ever losing quality. Have you ever created an image in Adobe Photoshop, and then realized that you should have created it three times larger than you did? You go into Image Adjustments, increase the size, and … oops. The image is now pixelated and looks horrible. If the image was too small to begin with, you’ll need to start all over again. The same does not remain true for Adobe Illustrator. Unlike the familiar gif, jpeg, tiff, etc images – known as raster images – vector images are not made up of a grid of pixels. They are instead created by paths – a combination of a starting point and an ending point with a combination of shapes, angles and lines in-between. These paths relate to each other by mathematical formulas, allowing them to be scaled and rescaled infinitely.
This makes Adobe Illustrator a more ideal program for companies than Adobe Photoshop, since they can create images and logos that can be small enough to be a tiny icon or large enough to appear on a billboard.
What Can You Really Do With Illustrator?
Many people are intimidated by Adobe Illustrator due to the fact that they believe they have no artistic skill. If you can’t draw on paper, what makes you think you can draw on the computer? While this self-doubt is certainly not the right way to look at things, Adobe Illustrator actually doesn’t require any prior knowledge of drawing or painting. You can use this program to create freehand drawings, but you can also import a photograph and use that photograph as a guide to trace and re-color a particular subject – turning it into a work of art that looks as though you drew it freehand.
As a graphic designer, you can use Illustrator to easily create sleek, aesthetically pleasing company logos. Do you want to type in a circle around a particular image or logo? Not a problem! Do you want to type in the shape of the CEO’s head? You can do that as well, and it’s not as complicated as you’d assume.
Illustrator is not only limited to artists and graphic designers. Those who are looking to create a website can create a mockup through Illustrator, which they can use to create vector images that can be used over a wide variety of platforms. Since it is an Adobe product, Illustrator works seamlessly with other Adobe Programs in the Creative Suite. After creating your initial image, you can drag it over into Photoshop to further edit it and apply filters, or drag it over to InDesign for flawless printing and digital booklets or magazines. Want to turn your illustration into a game or animation? Import it into Flash and watch it come to life! You can even add your logo and illustrations to videos or animate them through After Effects.
Still not sold on using vector images? If you decide you no longer want it to be a vector, you can easily convert it into a bitmap or jpeg image. Unfortunately, illustrations that are created as a a raster image cannot be converted to vector images after the fact. If you’re unsure whether or not you’ll need to resize your image later on, it would be wise to create a vector image to begin with – especially if it is an image that will be widely used around the company or the office. Another perk is that vector files are actually smaller than their raster counterparts.
Since vector images are created of different lines, curves, shapes, and points, you have virtually unlimited editing opportunities. Let’s say you draw a heart in Adobe Photoshop, and you decide that the bottom of the heart is a bit too narrow. Too bad! You’ll either have to live with it or start over. Now, let’s say you draw the same heart in Adobe Illustrator. Since your heart is comprised of many different points, you can go back in an adjust the bottom of the heart so that it becomes fuller. You can make it smaller or larger, without worrying about ruining the quality. This allows you easily make changes throughout your creative process, and doesn’t restrict you to the images you have already created.
And then there’s this: the transparent background. Unless you create a background for your vector image, it will always be transparent. This is helpful in many different situations, when you simply want to put a logo on top of something else or a small illustration into a larger picture. If you’re working with purely raster images, you’ll need to separate the image from the background before moving forward. While programs such as Adobe Photoshop make selecting your subject fairly easy, you’ll be thankful that you’re using vector images when you begin to create more complicated designs.
Is It For You?
I’ll be the first to admit that Adobe Illustrator is an expensive program, as are all programs within the Creative Suite. It is truly created for professionals who are going to utilize it to its fullest capacity. If you are unsure of whether or not this program is for you, Adobe offers a free 30 day trial that will give you time to dip your toes in and complete a couple of self-guided tutorials. If you decide you want to continue learning, you may qualify for a business or student discount.
If you’re looking for a place to build your skill set, look no further. Udemy offers many courses on Adobe Illustrator. Why not start out with this beginner’s course? If you’re looking for something beyond the basics, we’ve got you covered. Building on the Fundamentals gives you a more in-depth look at everything you can do with this versatile program.
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