Adobe Illustrator CS4 Fosters Design Innovation for Business Owners

One of the things that slows down graphic design projects, and which makes ‘herd think’ more common, is the time it takes to do iterative explorations of the design challenge. It’s much simpler than it was before, in the days of Xacto Knives and rubber cement and light tables, but it’s still true – every design project is always done in stages and iterative solutions to client demands. Adobe Illustrator makes those iterations easier to deal with through the use of several of its design features.

One of those features is very basic – the concept of layers. The ability to layer different elements of your artwork together allows you to swap out elements and compare and contrast very quickly; particularly when you’re doing this with a client looking over your shoulder, this makes several parts of innovating within graphic design much simpler.

Extending this idea – that innovation comes from experimentation – Illustrator allows you to select swatches, which are pre-defined color mixes. Everything that you do with a particular swatch will use that color mix. If you decide you want to add a bit more black to a tint, or change something, you change the swatch, once, rather than changing each individual element and re-keying the CMYK or RGB color values.

Between these two, and the ability to do limited keyframing for animations, you can use Adobe Illustrator to export animations by simply telling the animations builder how long to hold each layer in turn before transitioning. This makes it easy to make an animated GIF or a simple flash animation. (More complex Flash animations should be done with Adobe Flash.) When you need to update the animation (or change its color scheme to match a new web site) you go to the swatches and change the color elements needed.

Other ways that Adobe Illustrator fosters innovation are through its excellent and flexible handling of type, including tools for entering text along a curved line, or warping effects to change how type is displayed. Illustrator can even semi-rasterize type so that effects like drop shadows, bezelling and embossing can happen, rather than exporting the illustrator file into a Photoshop format and doing the manipulations in another program.

While Illustrator is capable of doing most of your web banner work needs, in reality it’s a fully functional print program – this gives you options that don’t matter much to web designers, but are essential to people who print and design posters and flyers; the ability to draw what’s needed with simple line segments and use of the pathfinder means that going from concept to manipulation of the artwork is fast, and it allows you to prototype and mock up looks for clients very quickly, with minimal effort, and you’ll be able to handle doing output to printing presses using process and CMYK colors. Because everything is in a vector graphics format, the artwork is scale independent. Unlike a raster format graphics program, the artwork will enlarge or shrink nicely without putting in compression artifacts.

Copyright ?? 2009 Mandi Pralle – About the Author: Make your designs pop, and you don’t have to take forever to create them when you know HOW to use the right tools effectively. Learn more about the Adobe CS4 Creative Suite.

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