Free Transform tool has been greatly simplified. Many improvements to existing features. Available for Windows and Mac. Cons Can't buy a single, perpetual license. Can't enlarge in-app 'what's new' videos.
Bottom Line Despite some harrumphing from the digital arts community about Adobe's price and distribution model for Creative Cloud, Illustrator CC is the best vector-graphics editing program around. Adding to the software's already-excellent collection of capabilities, Adobe's continues to introduce new features and enhancements sure to delight creatives. Recent highlights include path simplification, spell check, the improved Properties panel, the Puppet Warp tool, custom sizing for anchor points, and performance improvements.
In previous updates, Adobe has improved interoperability between the program's desktop and mobile siblings with shared Libraries. The company also recently integrated and updated Adobe Stock , which now includes design templates as well as vector illustration and photographs.
Despite some competition in the vector-based graphics space—Concept Draw Pro, Affinity Designer, CorelDraw, Sketch, and InkPad, to name a few—Illustrator remains the market-leading vector drawing software thanks to its unrivaled toolset, sweeping capabilities, and integration with the Creative Cloud Suite.
Note that the apps in the suite no longer include CC as part of their names, however. The November Illustrator updates are not quite as plentiful as what we saw last year but will be welcome to designers, nevertheless. Here's a quick rundown. Path simplification makes working with paths easier by reducing unnecessarily large numbers of anchor points. Auto spell-check highlights errors as you type—a boon to designers who aren't also editors.
Background save lets you move on to other tasks and export more quickly than before. Faster rendering of drop shadow, blur, and glow effects. More accessible troubleshooting when opening or saving files. New guidance in the form of tutorials and help resources in the Home and Learn tab. As a refresher, here are the most compelling highlights from the release, some of which merit further discussion later in this review: The Properties Panel gives context-sensitive info and options about the currently selected object.
You can increase the size of on-screen controls, including anchor points, handles, and bounding boxes, which makes them a lot easier to adjust. For users who have ever wanted to tweak or rotate a portion of an illustration without distorting the whole thing, the Puppet Warp tool gives you the power to do so in an intuitive and natural-looking way. Move over PostScript PS: The app now supports Microsoft's Surface Dial.
You can now import multipage PDFs in one operation. You can use the software to browse Dropbox files without downloading them. A free seven-day trial lets you test the software out with no commitment and requires no credit card information. Illustrator is compatible with both Windows 7 SP1, 8. For either platform, you need a reliable internet connection to download and register the programs.
You can work offline, but you need an internet connection for membership validation and access to some online services. You can find a complete list of the system requirements for Adobe Illustrator on Adobe's site. It's for Windows only, though. For that price, you get six pieces: The first is a vector and illustration program. The second is an image-editing program. The other pieces are essentially utilities. Corel still offers a shrink-wrapped product, which is preferable for anyone with a spotty internet connection.
You can also buy a perpetual single license and download a local copy of CorelDraw. Is Creative Cloud a Good Deal? All things considered Creative Cloud is an excellent deal. While I understand the reluctance to getting locked into software subscriptions, there is no denying that membership has its advantages. In return for your annual payment for full Creative Cloud, you get access to all Adobe's ever-expanding collection of pro applications and even some betas.
This inspires me to keep up my knowledge of emerging trends, technology, and capabilities. Even if some apps included with my subscription are built for work and play outside my expertise, I get to fool around and discover fascinating new tools. Plus, as soon as Adobe releases them, instant updates are yours with just a click. There's no more agonizing between saving money but falling behind on the latest features and being wiped out by an annual thousand-dollar purchase that allows you to stay current.
Vector vs. Raster For the uninitiated, let's identify the key differences between vector and raster graphics.
Vector graphics, defined by points, lines, and Boolean curves, are advantageous in that you can enlarge them infinitely without loss of resolution. This is key when you are designing a huge billboard or other large graphics where scalability is a requisite for success. A second advantage of designing with vectors is that files tend to be much smaller than their raster counterparts.
Vector graphics left are defined by lines and curves, while raster graphics right are defined by pixels. Conversely, raster-based artwork like that created in Photoshop is defined by pixels. When you enlarge or zoom in on raster art, the pixels enlarge too, resulting in visible pixelation, or chunkiness with ragged edges. Also, large raster artwork produces enormous files. When your work includes logo design, typography, or illustration, Adobe Illustrator is a must in your arsenal.
It's the tool for creating simple drawings, maps, complex technical illustrations, iconography, interesting charts and diagrams, information graphics, fine typography—and even business card or invitation layouts and mechanical art.
What's more, you can export your files in a variety of formats intended for use in print, web, mobile, interactive, app design, and video projects. Workspace and Tools If you have worked with InDesign or Photoshop , Illustrator's environment robust toolbars and panels, and contextual menus should be reasonably familiar. You can customize the recently modernized, flattened interface with options from dark to light gray. Palettes and menus snap to any configuration that pleases you.
When you have your screen perfectly composed with your favorite preferences, defaults, menu organization, and positions, it's good to know that you can save your workspace and later clean up palette clutter by returning to that exact configuration whenever you like. I appreciate that the software lets you assign custom key commands, which allows you to further optimize your workflow for any kind of project.
In fact, Illustrator ships with customized workspace options specifically suited to disciplines such as layout, printing and proofing, typography and web, and an Essentials space that highlights new enhancements and additions.
Fear not, you can still access the previous Essentials setup. Illustrator supports multiple, repositionable pages, called artboards. You can size these using Illustrator's myriad presets, cut them down to size with the Crop tool, or define the width and height values yourself. Artboard control has improved, with enhancements to positioning and arranging, as well as an increase in the maximum number of boards allowed.
Appearance and Properties Panels Although it's mixed in with other less powerful tools, the unassuming Appearance panel constitutes the backbone and muscle of your workspace. Appearance is arguably the most underappreciated of Illustrator's default panels—but I consider this tool my information control tower.
With the Appearance Panel, you have full command over every aspect of an object's or group's attributes including basic fills, stroke color and size, opacity, and blending mode. But where the panel really impresses is when you work with complex operations like creating multiple strokes, adjusting Illustrator Effects such as glows, feathers, and drop shadows , and reordering or toggling effects layers.
The Properties Panel appears in the Essentials workspace and when you choose Properties from the Window menu. It shows frequently needed tools based on the current context, meaning it changes what it displays depending on what you select. It's a nice touch, and I could see it being useful for designers, but if you would rather stick with your tried and true approach, you can switch back to the Essentials Classic workspace. Toolsets Panel In addition to the Appearance panel, Adobe has stocked the tools panel with everything you expect in a professional drawing application, as well as some unique goodies.
Illustrator's eight tool categories allow you to get the job done, and they inspire exploration, too. I recommend beginners do just that—explore the tools and their submenus before embarking on a project that's due tomorrow.
This many specialty tools and subtools can be daunting at first glance. By default, Illustrator shows five selection tools, each designed to choose specific types of objects, groups, paths, and points—and you can get even more precise control via the Preferences menu.
A dream-come-true for hard-working eyeballs is the preferences addition of custom sizing for anchor points and handles. Until now, no matter how high you magnified your view, the anchor points remained painfully small. This can remove unecessary anchor points, especially important for paths created by tracing or with mobile apps. The tool keeps the path essentially the same as it does this, but you can adjust the number of anchor points with the Reduce Anchor Point Slider.
Getting even further into the weeds, you can open the Simplify dialog to specify the Corner Point Angle Threshold. The program's 18 drawing tools are sure to satisfy. Among them is the invaluable Pixel Perfect tool which aids in creating crisp web-destined graphics with pixels that align along a grid.
The Puppet Warp tool gives you a way to make minor adjustments without having to select lots of points and move each separately. The tool allows for more holistic complex-shape editing by creating a triangulated mesh envelope around your selection that allows you to lock certain zones while manipulating adjacent areas, rather than having to do so point by point.
Working with complex typography is a pleasure with six type tools, including the revolutionary Touch Type tool, which allows repositioning, rotation, and scaling of individual letters within live text blocks. Now typographers can assign OpenType alternate styles to a text block. Artists will enjoy playing with eight paint tools, including the Live Paint tool, which fills the need for the current coloring book craze by allowing users to color fill shapes simply by clicking in them.
The Brush tool allows you to create custom brushes Pattern, Art, Scatter, Calligraphic or Bristle , a feature that becomes even more awesome when you realize that you can create unexpected shapes by replacing polygon and ellipse strokes with a custom brush. Related to the paint tools is the delightful Symbol Sprayer tool with its seven variants.
Add Adobe Stock to Photoshop and get 10 free images. Adobe Stock gives you access to millions of images, graphics and videos available right inside Photoshop. Try a free month and download up to 10 high-res images. Cancel risk-free within the first month. £/mo. If interested, send an email to [email protected] for more information. This offer cannot be combined with any other offer, package, or promotion codes. Adobe Summit is consistently the best digital summit in the industry by far! Oct 11, · Adobe Connect pricing & purchasing for enterprise corporations, non-profit, education and government organizations located in US, Canada, UK and Europe. Includes training and live FANATICAL 24× support before and during meetings. FREE toll dial-in telephone audio included with Adobe Connect Meetings purchase/5.
Free day trial You can try Adobe Stock for free with a day trial. You can cancel with no strings attached at any point within the first month. View Deal Adobe Black Friday deals: What we saw in So what sort of Adobe Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts did we see from software giant last year? For Prime Day we saw a similar discount, but not confined to Prime Day itself. Overall, the message to take away is that while Adobe is now getting involved in major discount events, the bargains on offer during these periods tend to match the best deals we see during the rest of the year i.