For several years, Adobe Illustrator is the reference graphics software in business environments. It’s only fair. It indeed offers powerful vector drawing tools, impeccable PostScript output and integrates seamlessly with Adobe Photoshop. In its new version, 10.0, offers even more graphics tools and automation than before, such as customizable special effects and Symbols (models of objects or easily modified images). Macromedia Freehand yet remain your favorite if you are looking for synergy with Flash, the main web animation creation program. Similarly, if you are new to the computer-assisted illustration, you have any interest in trying rather CorelDraw. But when it comes to finding a versatile illustration software able to create files for printing or publishing on the web, nothing beats Illustrator.
Illustrator 10.0 presents the classic interface of Adobe products. Authoring tools (eg Bezier pen), the object properties (including color) and management tools (such as diapers) are presented on pallets. If you have already used to working with Photoshop or InDesign, you’ll have no problem taking your marks in Illustrator.
A new size
New Symbols for Illustrator 10.0 (models of objects or images) make it easy to create complex designs and update just as quickly. Illustrator’s Symbols are managed like other graphics software (including Macromedia Freehand): you create an object (a gable 6 teeth for example), you assign the definition of Symbol and you save this Symbol in a pallet. You can then place as many instances of the Symbol in your document as you want. When you edit the original symbol (the one in the palette), all occurrences of that object in the document are automatically changed.
But unlike other graphics software, where Symbols have an organizational function in Illustrator 10.0, these are artistic tools and creation. The tool allows you companion Symbolism in effect creating and manipulating multiple instances of Symbols simultaneously. Using specific brushes, you can place multiple copies of a Symbol, and varying their size, rotation, color and degree of transparency. With Symbolism, you can easily create realistic or random effects.
A new useful technology appeared in llustrator 10.0: data-driven graphics. It allows you to create templates that are linked to a database. You can then, using the Variables palette, specify which element of a document is to host an object and update (or replace) directly via the external database. Let’s take an example. A web designer creates a single image for a banner header. Programmers can then create all the headers needed for a site simply by adding a code that connects the host elements to the text database. Note however that Illustrator does not create lines of code to connect the host elements to data sources. Programmers will be done using AppleScript or Visual Basic and create links by hand to an ODBC database.
The web is still lagging
But rest assured, this version incorporates all the same new tools specifically for web developers. Illustrator allows you for example to create HTML tables by cutting your drawings into different sections. And as Illustrator allows mixing of bitmaps, vector graphics and HTML text, your web graphics are beautiful and quick to download.
Illustrator 10.0 also allows you to add effects SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics). Now it’s easy to put shadows or Gaussian blur in your artwork by adding a few lines of code. SVG is a relatively new standard, but if you use a compatible browser (SVG plug-ins are available on the Adobe site), the images load faster and are always displayed in the highest possible resolution.
Many useful tools
Illustrator 10.0 offers many new tools. Among the most basic, the arc tools, rectangular grid and polar grid can create open curves and complex matrices as easily as if you were tracing a straight line. Liquefy the new brushes, or as Pucker Crystallize, are actually filters that transform simple forms (text or images) in other much more unstructured. The advantage is that you keep more control over the location and amount of distortion with the Distortion and effects processing. Finally, when it comes to impress, nothing beats the new Flare tool. This lets you create elements of a lens effect (halos, secondary circles) as if it were vector objects.
When buying Illustrator 10.0, you are entitled to technical assistance by phone personalized and professional Adobe for 90 days (30 days in the event of an update). Also on the Adobe website complete technical notes, user forums, and you can even request assistance by email. Different paid for support services are also available as options.
If you are new in the field of computer graphics, prefer CorelDraw 10.0 (and many graphics software shipped with) because it is much easier to use. Flash developers will turn more probably to Freehand, perfectly integrated with Flash. But if you are a professional graphic designer and you want a powerful and stable software illustration, look no further. And if you already own an older version of Illustrator you have any interest to update, if only for the Symbols.
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