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5 Tools to Help You Get Started in Adobe Illustrator

July 12, 2012 IADT General, IADT Detroit, Graphic Design 0 Comments

Adobe Illustrator is a very powerful design program, but it can be difficult to use at first. With these five tools, you can get a firm start on designing.

Pen Tool

The pen tool is possibly the most important and most-utilized tool in Adobe Illustrator. Its simple functions and versatility makes the pen tool great for a variety of different tasks. Its primary role is to create paths, or lines, and it is the basic sketching tool. You can create straight lines by clicking between points, and you can form Bezier curves by dragging. If you hold the shift key while dragging, you can create a handle from which you can adjust and distort the curve. By using another function of the pen tool called an anchor, you can shape a curve in the middle, creating an “S” shape. The pen tool is your basic building block in Illustrator, and it is essential to know how to use it properly.

Lasso Tool

This tool allows you to select multiple objects that do not lie on a direct rectangular path and do not share common traits, such as color or location on the design. Simply click the first image you want to select and then drag your cursor over the other images.

Magic Wand Tool

The magic wand tool is great for selecting multiple areas of your design with varying degrees of similarity. For example, the magic wand will gauge the color of something you select and highlight all instances of that color in the design. What makes this tool so versatile, however, is the option to adjust the tolerance levels. This means that you can restrict what the magic wand views as similar to your selection. If used properly, the magic wand is a valuable asset in your Illustrator toolbox.

3D Revolve Tool

To create 3D objects, it is imperative you know how to use the 3D Revolve tool. This tool takes a 2D sketch or path and rotates it 360 degrees to create a three-dimensional object. For instance, if you manipulated a half circle with the 3D Revolve tool, you would create a sphere. From the 3D Revolve screen, you can also adjust the lighting and highlighting on the object, giving it a polished look as you customize where the light hits it.

Live Trace Tool

Live Trace is an easy way to transform raster graphics (or bitmap) into vector graphics so they can be easily manipulated in Illustrator. The Live Trace button is located on the top of the frame and the options button located on the top left of the screen. After clicking Live Trace, go into the options and play with the configurations to get the effect you want. Work with the different settings until you are comfortable with the tool.

Adobe Illustrator is an advanced and complex program, but with these five tools you could be on your way to creating and designing the images you want.

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