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Basic Adobe Illustrator Tutorial

Updated on April 9, 2011

Illustrator Tutorial

In this article I have decided to share with my readers some Adobe Illustrator help since I have decided to revise some old notes I have stored away in my chest of draws, in essence it is a great addition to the creative hubs I have been writing recently.

I am going to start with some basic tools because it is almost impossible to master something without starting from the beginning, plus I believe if you know your way around you will discover new techniques and explore with your own initiative.

Photo courtesy of youngdesign

Illustrator Guide - Quick Reference

Now you can't start anymore basic than with the Tool bar which will appear on the left hand side of the screen when you open the program, don't worry if you aren't comfortable with it in this location just click on the tab and drag it to where ever you desire.

There are additional tools to the one in the tool bar and these are shown to the left. The additional tools can be found by clicking and holding a tool icon that has a small black flag.

Illustrator Shape

All shapes in Illustrator have three components, they are anchor points, stroke and area fill. anchor points are the little dots on the corners of shapes and can be altered by clicking and then the convert direction tool appears. The Stroke is the line that joins the anchor points together and the Area Fill represents the area enclosed by the Stroke.

The picture above I have included shows in Figure 1 that the Area Fill has no fill. This is indicated by the line across the box which appears as a red line on your computer screen. Figure 2 shows that the Stroke color is set to black.

Which ever box is in the foreground is the one that any color changes will occur in. By clicking on the double headed arrow in the top right hand corner you can swap the stroke color and the area fill color around (Figure 3).

Illustrator Tool

The Rotate tool will affect any selected object, shape or anchor point. If you want to rotate a whole shape use the black arrow to select then click on the Rotate tool. A small cross hair target will appear in the center of the shape that you want to rotate. This shows the point where the shape will rotate around. The rotation point is movable and is done y simply clicking where you want it to be.

There are two ways that you can rotate a shape or object, free rotate and constrained rotate. To free rotate set the rotation point then move the cursor about an inch or so away for the rotation point, then click and hold and when you move the mouse(still with the mouse button depressed) the shape will rotate. To gain more control when rotating move the cursor further away from the rotation point.

If you know the exact angle that you want to set a shape to then it is best to use the constrained rotate method. To do this double click on the rotate tool and then type in the angle required into the window that appears. However when using the constrained rotate the rotation point is fixed to the center of the shape and cannot be moved.

Illustrator Effect

The above image describes how to use the lasso tools which helps you to select groups of shapes or groups of anchor points. The black lasso will select any unlocked shape that its path touches or passes through. The white lasso will let you select multiple anchor points on the same shape, gradient mesh or group of shapes.

Illustrator Paths

When you draw a new shape it will automatically be placed on top of the last drawn shape. In figure 1 the circle was drawn first and then the square. To bring the circle in front of the square first select the circle and then go to Object - Arrange - Bring To Front the circle will now be in front of the square (figure 2).

This is made easy in illustrator 9 due to its new and improved use of layers. Now when you draw a shape, place an image or type some text, it will appear on its very own sub-layer to which ever layer you are working on.

When you are working on a more complex document it is easier to break down the overall image into manageable sections and designate a layer to that section. To open the layers window go to Window - Show Layers and this window will appear. To add an new layer go to the little black triangle on the right hand side of the window and click on New Layer.

Adobe Illustrator 9

A window called the Layer Options window will now appear and you can change the name of the new layer, in this example the new layer will hold all of the text for the document so it is renamed Text layer. This also the window that ou can change the path color and allocate any special abilities to that layer.

To open this window for a layer that already exists simply double click on the layer in the Layers Window I have included a diagram of above. In this image you can also see other abilities of the layers window such as view, write protect, copy layer and delete layer.

Tutorials For Illustrator

Here is an interesting chart I like to call 'The Periodic Table of Adobe' and I thought it would be useful for some of you newbies who are new to designing on computer because it lists all of the software programs which sometimes run hand in hand.

This is a list of some that I know:

DW - Dreamweaver (used for Web Designing), FW - Fireworks (Also used for Web Designing animations), F - Flash (used for multimedia on websites), Spiral 'A' - Adobe Acrobat (Reads certain files such as PDF's for printing efficiently), ID - Adobe's answer to Quark Xpress (used for layout of magzines etc), FX - (Used for special effects graphics), AI - Illustrator ( Vector based software for lettering and artwork) and lastly the one most people know is PS - Photoshop ( a digital image manipulating software of which Illustrator shares many tools and vice versa).

Photo courtesy of charlesonflickr

Draw Illustrator Artwork

Well, that is the end of my first Adobe Illustrator tutorial series, I'm not sure when the next one will be but I am planning to do a Quark Xpress (layout software) tutorial very soon for those of you who love journalism and wish to create your own publications. I hope this has set you on your way and I decided to throw in an image right at the end as an example of what you can achieve with some simple tools in Illustrator, removing anchor points in shapes and combining gradients can produce a great replica of the Twitter logo!

Photo courtesy of joshsemans


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