How to use Illustrator: Being a graphics enthusiast, you recently thought of enrolling in a graphic design course held in your city, in order to deepen your knowledge of Illustrator, the famous software developed by Adobe that is used by all professionals who work with vector graphics. In the end your many commitments did not allow you to fulfill your intentions, but you don’t give up.
In fact, you would like to try to start self-taught to learn the basic functions of Illustrator by reading some online guide. Well, then I guess you came to the right place at the right time! In today’s tutorial, in fact, I will explain how to use Illustrator illustrating the main tools made available by the Adobe vector graphics program and explaining, therefore, how to create designs and logos quickly and easily. And if you intend to act on your smartphone or tablet, you will find the last part of the post dedicated to the mobile version of Illustrator very useful.
So, are you ready to start? Yup? Fantastic! Courage: make yourself comfortable, take all the time you need to focus on reading the next paragraphs and, more importantly, follow the instructions I’m going to give you step by step. I am sure that, thanks to my “tips”, you will not have the slightest problem in using Illustrator to create drawings, logos and other quality graphics. I wish you a good read and, above all, have fun!
How to use Illustrator on PC and Mac
If you are reading this tutorial, you probably want to know how to use Illustrator on PC and Mac. Before explaining it, however, I want to inform you that, since it is a program used in the professional field, it is paid: to use it, you need to subscribe to a subscription to the service Adobe Creative Cloud, which starts from 24.39 euros / month. However, by downloading the free trial version, you can test all its features for 7 days. Good news, isn’t it?
For download the trial of Adobe Illustrator on your computer, first connect to Adobe website, presses the button Free trial version located at the top right and wait for the installation file to start downloading (it takes a few seconds). When the download is complete, open the file you got and complete the setup following the instructions that appear on the screen.
If you use a PC Windows, then start the file .exe that you downloaded and then presses the button Yup. If, on the other hand, you use a Mac, open the file .dmg that you got from the Adobe site and then double-click the Illustrator Installer located in the window that appeared on the screen.
At this point, answer the short questionnaire that is proposed to you on the screen indicating, through the appropriate drop-down menus, your level of competence in using Illustrator, your current occupation and the reason why you intend to use the software. Once this step is completed, press the button again Go on, click the button Start installing and wait for the installation to complete (it may take several minutes, given that it is a rather large download). Once the installation is complete, the program should start automatically.
After installing and starting Illustrator, presses the button Create new … present in the main program window and, in the panel that opens, click on one of the tabs at the top of the same to choose the type of file you want to create: Recent, to use a recently used model (at the first start of the software this card will be, for obvious reasons, empty); Mobile device, to create a project concerning the graphics of files optimized for mobile devices (e.g. iPhone 6 / 6s, App icon kit 1, etc.); Web, to create graphics suitable for websites; Graphics and illustration, to access the models through which to create logos, illustrations, etc.
After choosing the type of project you want to create, modify (possibly) the characteristics of the document (Width, Height, Orientation, etc.) through the drop-down menus located on the right (under the heading DEFAULT DETAILS) and, as soon as you are ready, press the blue button Create located at the bottom right to start working on your project. In the window that opens, then, choose whether to read the tutorial that is shown on the first start of Illustrator to guide the user in using the software or whether to skip it by pressing the button Skip tour.
As you can see, the Illustrator workspace is basically divided into three blocks: on the left there is the toolbar containing the various drawing tools (through which to create the real illustrations); on the right there is the panel dedicated to level management and in the center is located the worksheet on which to draw with brushes and other available tools.
To create a drawing with Illustrator, you must first select one of the tools located in the toolbar on the left (e.g. Brush tool, Pen tool, etc.), modify its properties by clicking on the tab Property located at the top right and adjust its characteristics (e.g. the color, lo stroke thickness, L’opacity, the fill pattern, etc.) via the menus Appearance is Brush.
Once you have chosen the tool to be used and the properties to be assigned to the latter, start drawing on the worksheet which, as I mentioned earlier, is located in the center. If you make mistakes, then select it Eraser tool from the toolbar located on the left and delete the stroke you drew by mistake, or use the function cancel (Ctrl + Z/cmd + z) to undo the last action performed.
One of the main uses of Illustrator concerns the creation of logos. To create one, select the item New… from the menu File (top left), presses on the card Graphics and illustration, select the dimensions you want to use by filling in the fields Width is Height and presses the button Create located at the bottom right (basically you have to follow the indications that I have given you a few lines higher).
Then select the shape you want to use as the base of the logo and modify it according to the project you plan to make. To choose a shape, right-click on the icon rectangle located in the toolbar located on the left and choose the shape you intend to use (e.g. rectangle, rectangle with rounded corners, ellipse, polygon, star, etc.). Then choose the fill color you want to give to the chosen shape using the foreground panel located at the bottom left and the edge color via the tile placed in the background, also located at the bottom left.
Now, change the shape to your liking: use it Width tool and lo Rotation tool to change the width and position of the selected shape respectively and use it text tool (the icon of the “T“) To add text within the logo (you can change the font and size of the text entered by selecting the item Font / Size from the menu Text). If you want more information on how to create a logo with Illustrator, also consult the in-depth analysis that I published on my blog.
To save the work you have done, then select the item Save with name… from the menu File and, if you want to export the design or logo created in the vector format (which, as you probably already know, allows you to enlarge an image without shelling it), save it in the format SVG by selecting the appropriate item from the drop-down menu Save as:. Finally, type the name you want to assign to the file in the text field Filename and presses on the buttons Save is OK to complete the operation.
Did you see that using Illustrator wasn’t complicated at all? Of course, the more you practice, the easier it will be to use this software. If you want to further speed up your progress, then, I invite you to consult the interactive tutorials you find on This Page of the Adobe website: I am sure that even these “extra” resources will be of great help in using all the potential of the program.
How to use Illustrator on smartphones and tablets
Wishes use Illustrator also on smartphones and tablets? Know that you can use it for this purpose Adobe Illustrator Draw, a free app for Android is iOS which allows you to take advantage of the touch screen technology of mobile devices to create vector drawings. Let’s find out how to use it best.
After installing and starting Illustrator Draw on your device via the links I have provided you a moment, start the app and press the button Log in with the Adobe ID to login with your Adobe account (if you don’t have one, press the button Get a free Adobe ID and fill in the registration form you see on the screen to register with yours e-mail) or log in via your account Google or your account Facebook by pressing on the corresponding buttons.
Once logged in, tap on the symbol (+) to start a new project and select the sheet format you prefer to use (e.g. Standard screen, Widescreen, Comics, etc.). The first time you start Illustrator Draw, you will be able to view an interactive tutorial that will help you become familiar with the tools integrated in the app: if you want to view it, press on Start and follow the instructions on the screen to practice the tools available.
As you can see, in the left part of the screen there are i brushes through which to create vector drawings: by tapping on one of them you can select it, while making a long tap you can change its properties using the drop-down menu that will open. At the top right, however, there is the button Back (the icon of the arrow pointing left), through which to cancel the last operation performed; the button Forms (the icon of triangle with circle), with which to access the shape menu and the button depicting thegear, through which you can change the settings relating to the worksheet.
As soon as you have finished your work using the tools provided by Illustrator Draw, press the button Share located at the top right and decide whether to open the drawing made with the desktop version of Illustrator or with Photoshop (as long as you have signed up for the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription or have downloaded the trial of these desktop applications) or whether to save the drawing locally by pressing on the item Image (immediately under the heading Share). If you want more information on how to use Illustrator Draw, take a look at the in-depth analysis that I just linked to you and that I published on my blog.