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How to Use Adobe Illustrator: A Quick Guide

Adobe Illustrator is a powerful graphic design software that allows you to create stunning visuals, illustrations, and more. In this brief guide, we’ll cover the basics to help you get started on your creative journey. 

Whether you’re new to Illustrator or looking for a quick refresher, we’ve got you covered.

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Getting Started with Adobe  Illustrator

To begin, open Adobe Illustrator and press Command + N (or Ctrl + N on Windows) to create a new document.

Alternatively, you can open an existing document using Command + O and then navigate to the Illustrator file. Use the Spacebar + Click and Drag to pan around your workspace.

File Formats and Types in Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator supports various file formats for importing, exporting, and saving documents. Here are some of the most common formats used.

Adobe Illustrator is the native file format for Illustrator. It preserves all the vectors, shapes, text, and editing capabilities of your file. If you are saving a file that you intend to edit in the future or send to a fellow designer to edit, this is the format to use.

It is denoted with a .ai extension and appears as the Illustrator logo icon if you have the software installed. To make it editable to someone using an older version of Illustrator, you need to down-save the Illustrator file. Here is how to do it.

After you have finished designing, go to File>Save and a pop-up appears that shows as indicated, 1 – Where to save the file, 2- file format you want, in this case .ai, and finally 3 – the name of the file.

Adobe Illustrator File formats

Click save after setting these options. A new Pop-up appears that allows you to choose the version of Illustrator you want to use. To edit the file on a different computer, make sure to choose the version of Illustrator on the computer. Click Ok when done.

Make sure to not convert the text to curves when saving for text editing.

Use Adobe Illustrator

Adobe PDF (pdf) is useful for sharing vector graphics while maintaining compatibility across different platforms. It is the standard Adobe file moving format.

AutoCAD Interchange File (dxf) and AutoCAD Drawing (dwg) will allow you to import in AutoCAD art into Illustrator for further editing. Finally, AV1 Image (avif) is a format used for images that provide high compression efficiency and still retain quality.

Vector files in Adobe Illustrator are graphic files that use mathematical equations to define and display images. They are ideal for creating artwork that needs to be scalable without losing quality. Here’s a summary of vector files in Illustrator:

Illustrator allows you to convert raster images (like JPEG or PNG) into vector format using tools like the Image Trace feature. This enables you to edit and scale images without loss of quality.

Vector graphics are scalable, which means they can be resized without losing quality. This makes them suitable for logos, icons, and illustrations.

Adobe Illustrator Compatibility

Illustrator’s AI (Adobe Illustrator) format is its native vector format. While primarily associated with Illustrator, AI files can also be opened in other software like CorelDRAW for editing.

In new Illustrator versions, it is possible to package files. This process collects and copies linked graphics and files into a package folder, making it easier to share or collaborate on projects. The package file has link images, fonts, and any other thing used in your design.

To collaborate or share vector art files with other Adobe software like InDesign, you can export your artwork as PDF or AI files. When placing these files in other Adobe programs, they remain editable.

Creating Basic Shapes in Illustrator

Access the Rectangle Tool by pressing M on your keyboard. Click and drag to create rectangles. Modify their properties using the toolbar at the top.

Click and hold on the Rectangle Tool to reveal the Star Tool. Create stars and adjust the number of points using the arrow keys. Press A to activate the Direct Selection Tool. Select and manipulate individual points on shapes, including curves.

Shape Builder Tool: With the Shape Builder Tool (Shift + M), you can merge or divide overlapping shapes to create custom designs. Undo and Redo: Use Ctrl + Z to undo and Ctrl + Shift + Z to redo your actions.

The Eyedropper Tool (I) – 6 can match colors and appearances between objects. It lets you sample colors and styles from one object to another.

How To Use Adobe Illustrator

Drawing and Editing Adobe Illustrator

The Pen Tool (P) – 8, allows you to draw custom paths. Use + to add anchor points and – to remove them. Similar to the Pen Tool, the Curvature Tool (Shift + Squiggly Key) creates smooth paths. Press Alt to create sharp points.

Learn, Explore, and Create

Now that you’re familiar with these Illustrator basics, start experimenting and creating your own designs. Adobe Illustrator offers a vast array of tools and features for graphic design and illustration.

To get started with Illustrator, Join our free newsletter to be notified when we post new tutorials. If you are interested in a paid course, we have created a list of the cheapest Illustrator courses to get you started.

  1. How to make a clipping mask in Illustrator in 4 Easy Steps
  2. What is Good and Bad graphic design?

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

  1. <strong>How can I select and manipulate multiple points at once?</strong>

    You can use the Lasso Tool (Q) to draw a selection around multiple points, and then switch back to the Direct Selection Tool (A) to move them together.