The Key To Learning Adobe Illustrator CS5


New users to Adobe Illustrator often complain that they find the program “fiddly” and frustrating. When we run Adobe training courses, we recognise that part of our job is rid people of this perception of Illustrator as a difficult program to use. We have identified three main elements to making people aware that Illustrator is no more difficult or frustrating than any other program.

The first thing is, we are always reminding new users of the ease with which you can change back your drawing to a state earlier than the point where it has gone wrong. Also, we constantly remind delegates that they must be on the right tool in order for a given operation is to work. As well as this, we give them an insight into the subtle and useful visual feedback provided by Illustrator as you create and manipulate elements within your drawing.

If you a new user to a sophisticated program like Illustrator, you cannot be expected to avoid making errors: things may go a little awry or even get completely screwed up. The key thing here is to learn the power of the Undo command. For example, if you accidentally resize an object don’t try to manually change it back to the original size, simply go to the Edit menu and choose Undo or use the keyboard shortcut (Control-Z or Command-Z on Apple Mac). If you Undo too many times, you can always use Edit – Redo to move forward again. (The shortcut for the Redo command is Control-Shift-Z.)

The key factor in avoiding these types of errors is to keep looking at the various signals that the program provides, in particular those signals relating to the cursor appearance. For example, if you are attempting to resize a rectangle, you can only do this when your cursor changes to a slanted line with an arrow at each end (This indicates that your cursor is now in the correct position).

Another thing that phases new Illustrator users is when they find they are unable to carry out a certain operation because it can’t actually be done under the current set of circumstances or at that moment in time. For example, they might want to resize a shape and they end up rotating it or changing its position instead.

The best way of avoiding these types of mistakes is to keep an eye on the various signals that Illustrator provides, particularly those relating the appearance of the cursor. Thus, for example, if you are trying to resize a rectangle, you can only do so when the cursor changes to a diagonal line with an arrow at both ends (indicating that your cursor is in the correct position).

When manipulating objects, Illustrator newbies will often forget to first highlight the Selection tool. For example, they will draw a shape with, say, the Line tool and then, while the Line tool is still highlighted, they will attempt to move or resize the line they have just drawn or perhaps click on the page to deselect the line. They are then bemused and cross when little lines keep appearing on the page or Illustrator’s shape dimension window keeps on popping up.

If your effort to create a drawing has gone completely wrong, the best thing to do is to accept defeat and choose the Revert command from the File menu. This is a way of admitting “This just isn’t working. I submit!” The Revert command abandons all of the modifications you have made to the document since it was last saved and can be another useful way of avoiding user headaches.

The author is a training consultant with OnSiteTrainingCourses.Com, an independent computer training company offering Adobe Illustrator Classes at their central London training centre.

Image by masha_k_sh
in january i helped tim to draw these shirts for Esquire Russia.

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