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Adobe Illustrator Definition & Meaning

Adobe Illustrator is an industry-standard vector-based graphic design application. Designers use it to create web and mobile graphics, logos, icons and designs for print media. Adobe Illustrator was originally developed for Apple Macintosh computers in 1985. Adobe has greatly grown in popularity and is now available on Mac OS, Windows machines and on the iPad.

Scalable media

Part of what makes Adobe Illustrator such a useful tool for digital media is the designs are vector-based. Vector graphics are defined by points, lines and Boolean curves. This means they can be infinitely scaled up while retaining their resolution. In contrast, raster-based images, such as those used in Adobe Photoshop, are defined by pixels and lose resolution as they are scaled up. 

The files for vector graphics are typically much smaller than raster files to save on storage space. These files can also be exported in a variety of formats depending on the intended use, such as PNG, JPEG or SVG.

How is Adobe Illustrator used?

Adobe Illustrator is used for creating a massive array of digital media assets, including illustrations, cartoons, infographics, logos and much more. Users can either start with a blank canvas or import photographs or other images to use as a base. A blank canvas is often used when making original illustrations or for sketching. Photographs and images are often traced over, added to, manipulated or can be re-colored within the app. 

One key feature of Illustrator is its ability to allow users to manipulate text. This is great for creating postcards, posters and other marketing materials. Users can place text around a curve which is a huge help for designers when creating logos. 

Illustrator has also been adopted as a standard for website and app design. Users can create mock-ups and wireframes of what a website or a mobile app will look like. These designs can then be passed off to web developers to create the final product.

Primary tools

Adobe Illustrator comes with a large library of tools that serve different purposes. However, there are a few primary tools that are used most often. 

  • The selection tool is used to select individual objects to alter their properties. This can be used to reposition or stack it on other objects, or for more advanced uses, such as grouping and locking objects in place.  
  • The paintbrush tool is used to add color with different types of brush patterns: calligraphic, scatter, art, pattern and bristle.
  • The pen tool creates clean straight and curved lines and can be used to add or remove anchor points.
  • The pencil tool is used to draw freehand.

Adobe Creative Cloud (CC)

Illustrator is available as a standalone product or as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) suite, included with other popular applications, such as Photoshop, Premiere Pro and After Effects. Both are paid for as a subscription. Because it's hosted on the cloud, all media can be stored, managed and accessed from anywhere.










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