Keep on Drawing: Adobe Illustrator 10

For many years, Adobe Illustrator has set the standard for

drawing programs in the print production environment, and with good reason. This professional graphics program offers powerful vector drawing tools, clean PostScript output, and tight integration with Adobe Photoshop. Because of the relatively small change from versions 8 and 9, avid users of Adobe Illustrator may be skeptical about the release of the new version of this package. However, version 10.0 offers more powerful new drawing and automation tools, such as editable warping effects and symbols. Macromedia FreeHand still remains a better choice if you are looking for synergy with Flash, the leading authoring program for Web animation. And if you're new to illustration tools, you might check out CorelDraw instead. But nothing beats Illustrator for an all-around drawing program for both print and Web output.
The New Symbol of Design
Any artwork you create in Illustrator can be stored as a symbol. This is an incredibly useful feature, as this data need only be stored once; multiples of instances of a symbol do not increase file sizes. Unlike other drawing programs, however, Illustrator 10.0 elevates symbols from having a strictly organizational function to a creative, artistic tool. The companion Symbolism tools let you create and manipulate multiple instances of symbols simultaneously. You create an object (a flower, for example), define it as a symbol, store the symbol in a palette, then place multiple instances of the symbol throughout a document. When you modify the master symbol, all repeat instances within the drawing automatically update as well.
There is also a new set of tools to help edit the symbols, and a library where symbols can be stored and shared across multiple documents. Using specialized brushes, you can spray numerous copies of a symbol and vary its size, rotation, tint, and transparency. The Symbolism brushes provide an easy way to create randomized or natural-looking effects.
Illustrating the Web
There are still some gaps in its web arsenal, but for the most part Illustrator 10 is quite web-friendly. There are new slicing options to enable the creation of object-based slices, and to optimize each slice individually. There are also options to specify CSS layers when exporting slices to an HTML file (an idea with great promise) and new options to export Flash (SWF) files viewable in a browser at the original size. This version also includes an option to create simple Flash animations from within Illustrator 10 itself. Unfortunately, you must still export your creations to a Web graphics program such as Adobe ImageReady or Macromedia Fireworks to create JavaScript rollovers or GIF animations.
Thankfully, however, this release does deliver several important new tools targeted exclusively at Web developers. Illustrator now lets you create HTML tables by slicing a drawing into sections. And because Illustrator lets you mix raster images, vector drawings, and HTML text in a single composition, your Web graphics look great and download quickly.
Illustrator 10.0 lets you add live Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) effects, such as drop shadows or Gaussian blurs to your illustrations with a few lines of code. SVG is a relatively new standard for Web graphics, but, when viewed in an SVG-enabled browser (plug-ins are available from Adobe), SVG graphics download quickly and always display at the highest possible resolution.
Advanced Design Elements
New drawing tools are introduced in Illustrator 10. On the most basic level, you can use the new Arc, Rectangular Grid, and Polar Grid tools to create open curves and complex matrices, just as you might draw a straight line using the Line tool.
You'll find that Illustrator 10.0 packs plenty of new and specialized drawing tools into its palettes. The new Liquefy brushes, such as Pucker or Crystallize, are basically filter effects that transform simple paths or text into jittery lines and exaggerated shapes. This approach gives you much more control over the amount and location of the distortion than the existing Distort and Transform effects. And, for pure drama, nothing beats the new Flare tool, which generates the component parts of a lens flare effect--including halos and secondary rings--as vector objects.
Is it Worth It?
If you're an amateur artist, you might find CorelDraw 10.0 (and the host of extra graphics programs bundled with it) easier to use. Some developers will probably want to stick with FreeHand for its ability to work almost seamlessly with Flash. But if you're a professional designer or artist looking for a stable, powerful drawing program, look no further than Illustrator 10.0. Loyal Illustrator customers should consider upgrading for the symbols support alone.
Pricing and Availability
Adobe Illustrator 10.0 is now available in the United States and Canada for an estimated street price of U.S. $425. Registered users of earlier versions of Illustrator can upgrade to version 10.0 for U.S. $149, (and well-worth it, in our opinon). Information about other language versions, as well as pricing, upgrade and support policies for other countries, is available on Adobe's Web site at
Copyright © 2003 LA Splash Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Incorporated. No portion of the contents of this online publication may be reprinted or republished, in whole or in part, without the expressed, written permission of the Publisher.

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