Adobe Illustrator is most commonly used to create complex shapes, text effects, and technical diagrams for print and web publishing. Illustrator's vector drawing capabilities make it ideal for creating the smooth curves, bright colors, and clean transitions found in these types of art.
For today's project, we will use Adobe Illustrator to first make a landscape drawing. Later, we will also use Illustrator to create some logos. In the process of working through these projects, we'll gain familiarity with tools most typically used to create artwork in Illustrator.
As we begin, we will take a short tour of Illustrator's interface, then set up our Illustrator workspace to help us work more efficiently.
Understanding the Illustrator Interface
Illustrator is a program designed to allow the user to make illustrations for print and web publishing. One of the strengths of Illustrator is the wealth of tools it offers to help us create different types of artwork, from simple logos to more complex drawings.
To help us get more familiar with the tools in Illustrator, we'll be creating a simple landscape scene using the shape tools. It will include a sun, a little boat on a pond, and a sky that appears to fade to white in the distance. It will look something like the following illustration:
As we work on the landscape drawing, we'll get comfortable with the Illustrator interface and become more familiar with how the different tools work.
The Illustrator interface is complex, and at first glance may be overwhelming. Let's take a brief tour of the different interface elements before we start working in Illustrator.
Let's open Illustrator now.
Step1. Launch Illustrator.
NOTE for MacOS Users: The panels and Tools panel are displayed but there is no defined workspace until an image is opened.
Step2. To view the preferences, from the Menu bar,
Click Edit, Click Preferences, Click User Interface
NOTE for MacOS Users: To view the preferences, from the menu bar, Click Illustrator, Click Preferences, Click Interface.
Step3. To select the lightest interface, at the top just under User Interface,
NOTE: You may choose whichever color you like, but screen captures in these materials are taken at the lightest setting.
Step4. To close the dialog box,
Setting the Illustrator Workspace
Any arrangement of panels, bars, or windows makes up a workspace. We can select a preset workspace that has been designed to be convenient for certain types of tasks, we can adapt a workspace to our needs and save it, or we can create our own personalized workspace. Illustrator CC has several predefined workspaces from which to choose. Illustrator starts us off in the Start workspace, but we'll move to a workspace that will bring out many of the panels we'll need to work on our landscape drawing.
Step1. To switch to the Typography workspace, in the Menu bar,
Click, Click Typography
NOTE for MacOS Users: The Menu bar can be shown or hidden using the Window menu.
Exploring the Illustrator Workspace
To get a better idea of what the Illustrator interface looks like, let's create a new document.
Step1. To create a new Illustrator file, on the Menu bar,
Click File, Click New...
Step2. To indicate we want to create a document for print, in the bar across the top of the New Document dialog box,
Step3. To indicate we want to work with the Letter page size, if necessary,
Step4. To finish creating the document,
NOTE: Adobe recommends that we set our monitor resolution to 1280x800 at a minimum. Your own screen may look different depending on our monitor's resolution.
|Menu bar||Contains the workspace switcher, menus, and other controls.|
|Tabbed Document window||Displays the current file.|
|Tools panel||Panel that contains tools used to create and modify objects.|
|Control panel||Displays options for the selected object. This is context-sensitive, depending on the selected tool and object.|
|Panels||Sets of task-specific controls to help modify and monitor objects.|
|Artboard||Area that contains all of the items that will be printed.|
Changing the Illustration's Position and View Size
When working with an artboard in Illustrator, we may want to zoom in and out to view pieces of artwork in more or less detail, or change the area of the artboard that we're viewing. We can change the zoom level and position of our artboard in a number of ways.
Step1. To reduce the view size, in the bottom left corner of the window,
Click, Click 66.7%
Step2. To move the position of the artboard, in the Tools panel,
Click, Press & Drag the artboard to a new position
Step3. To enlarge the view again with the Zoom tool, in the Tools panel,
Click, Click the artboard
Step4. To zoom out, with the Zoom tool active, press:
Alt key, Click the artboard
NOTE for MacOS Users: To zoom out, with the Zoom tool active, press: Option key and Click the artboard.
Viewing and Configuring Rulers
Because we want to have a sense of the size of objects in the illustration, we will turn on vertical and horizontal rulers. Illustrator has a variety of options for units of measurement. The default values are in points. We will change these so that we can work in inches.
Step1. To activate rulers, if necessary, on the Menu bar,
Click View, Point Rulers, Click Show Rulers
Step2. To change the default units of measurement, on the Menu bar,
Click Edit, Point Preferences, Click Units...
NOTE for MacOS Users: To change the default units of measurement, on the Menu bar, Click Illustrator, Point Preferences, Click Units & Display Performance.
Step3. To change the unit of measurement, under Units: General,
Click, Click Inches, Click
Using the Grid
The grid in Illustrator is a very useful tool. When active, it appears in the background of the artboard. It allows us to plot different parts of our drawing and to draw objects precisely, as well as visually measure objects as we make them.
Let's show the grid now.
Step1. To view the grid, from the Menu bar,
Click View, Click Show Grid
Step2. To change the number of subdivisions in the grid, from the Menu bar,
Click Edit, Point Preferences, Click Guides and Grid...
NOTE for MacOS Users: To change the default units of measurement, on the Menu bar, Click Illustrator, Point Preferences, Click Guides and Grid.
Step3. To change the distance between the gridlines, in the "Gridline every" field,
Press & Drag the value, type: 1in
Step4. To change the number of subdivisions, in the Subdivisions field,
Press & Drag the value, type: 4 Enter
Step 5. To save the file, from the Menu bar,
Click File, Click Save
Setting the Location and Filename
NOTE for MacOS Users: On a Macintosh, the Save in field is above the list of visible folders and files, and is labeled "Where:". To move to the desktop, press the key combination Command key+D. From there, you can move into the epclass folder.
Step 1. To open the correct subfolder, if necessary,
Double-Click the Illustrator Basics folder
Step 2. If the filename is not highlighted,
Press & Drag across the default filename
Step 3. To name the file, type:
Lake Practice Enter
Step 4. To accept the defaults,