Adobe Illustrator Tutorials

Lesson 1 - intro

Vector Graphics

Adobe Illustrator is a program primarily used to create what is often called "outline art." Examples of outline art are everywhere: think of a typical company logo, or a starburst shape in an advertisement, or a technical drawing, or the customized lettering on virtually any commercial product. It is called outline art because you simply draw the outline of a shape, assign it a fill and the drawing program automatically fills in the shape as a solid. Outline art is also known as a vector graphic.

A quick example is in order. Note that all examples in this document are preceded by the “Venus” illustration as shown below.

Vector Graphics

Exercise 1 - Exploring Preview and Edit modes

1) Launch the program. Illustrator will open to a blank document page. (If you need to install the program or configure it, see the Installation and Configuration information in Appendix A.)

2) Using the mouse, click on the Oval tool in the toolbox, and then click on your blank page and drag a large oval. If your system is set to the normal defaults, the oval will be filled with solid black. You will also see some blue dots, which appear when an object is selected. As we shall see later, we can resize and manipulate graphics with these dots. Don’t do that now.

Adobe Illustrator Preview mode

First, we are going to look at Preview mode versus Edit mode. These modes have keyboard shortcuts (listed below), which I want you to learn. The commands are also listed in the View menu on your screen. Switch between Preview and Edit mode, and then back again.

Adobe Illustrator edit mode

Caption: Because vector artwork is made up of lines and paths, you can turn off the preview mode and see only the outlines. Press Control-Y to toggle Preview (full color) Mode or Edit (outlines only) mode on or off.

Problems? You can delete a selected object by pressing Backspace. To select an object in Edit mode (outlines), you must click on the outline. In Preview mode, you can click anywhere in the filled portion of the object. Try deleting the object(s) now.

Vector Graphics

Vectors vs. Bitmaps

Vector graphics programs such as Illustrator and FreeHand are categorically known as "draw" programs, as opposed to bitmap-oriented programs such as Photoshop and Fractal Painter, which are categorized as "paint" programs. Some programs can work with both paint- and draw-type graphics. In fact, the latest versions of Illustrator, FreeHand, Painter and Photoshop all have the ability to work in both vector-oriented and bitmap-oriented modes.

Here are a few common graphics titles in each category:

Paint: MacPaint, Photoshop LE, Sketcher, Digital Darkroom, Kai's Power Tools, Color-it, XRes, Collage, etc.

Draw: Illustrator 5.5, FreeHand 5.0, MacDraw, Claris Draw, etc.

Hybrid: SuperPaint, Canvas, Photoshop (full version), Illustrator 6, FreeHand 5.5, CorelDraw, etc.

Illustrator Pen Tool

FreeHand Pen Tool

Photoshop Pen Tool

Caption: Illustrator, FreeHand, and Photoshop all have remarkably similar pen tools. When you’ve learned one, you’ll easily be able to understand the others.

Vector Graphics

A Brief History

As is probably obvious from the above list, there have been many releases of Illustrator prior to the current 8.0 version. Here are some of the main differences.

Illustrator 1.x - circa 1987 - the initial release provided basic drawing tools. You could not edit objects in so-called "preview mode," which made it rather difficult to create complex graphics. That's probably a good thing, because the printers of the day had trouble printing complex graphics anyway. Another notable problem: objects could not have holes in them. This lack of "compound paths" made things like the letter "O" a trifle difficult to create.

Illustrator 88 - circa 1988 - still no preview mode editing, no compound paths like the letter "O." Your basic bare-metal drawing environment, with some added tools and usability improvements.

Illustrator 3.x - circa 1990 - Added compound paths, better text handling. Still no tabs or preview mode editing, though.

Illustrator 4.x - circa 1992 - gradients! no TIFF support; limited import capabilities.

Illustrator 5.0 - circa 1994 - big breakthroughs: editable preview mode, and much improved import abilities via support for Adobe's new "digital paper" technology called Acrobat. Still no tabs or TIFF support. "Deluxe" CD cost extra.

Illustrator 5.5 - circa 1995 - Added support for tabbed text and third-party plug-ins. Still no TIFF support. Still only single-page Acrobat files supported. Deluxe CD standard. Still need to run stand-alone Separator program to create color separations.

Illustrator 6.0 - circa 1996 - more big breakthroughs: a wide array of bitmap file types importable; bitmap-oriented filters may be applied to vector artwork, any PostScript file may be imported; Separator now built in. Package now includes Deluxe CD, Dimensions 2.0, ScreenReady, fonts, QuickTime tutorials. This product was a Mac-only release. The Windows version was still at version 4.1 and lacked many features of Illustrator 5.5 – 6.x on the Mac.

Version 6.01 (released in Q4 1996) was a free upgrade for registered owners of Illustrator 6.0 that added a few additional features, such as TIFF and Photoshop file support, plus enhanced support for multi-layer Acrobat PDF (portable document format) files.

Illustrator 7.0 – Circa 1997 – Finally, the Windows (PC) version of Illustrator gained parity with the Mac edition. Mac users complained about some interface changes; notably, an awkward implementation of the Stroke function, requiring the use of three separate palettes.

Version 8.0 - Released in 1999 – Interface improvements and new PDF features, etc.

This document discusses features as found in the 8.0 release; most capabilities are also present in earlier versions. In short, Illustrator 5.x and 6.0x represented the title's coming of age on the Mac; version 7.0 was the breakthrough release on the PC.

Version 8.0, in particular, added a significant number of useful functions that make it a worthy upgrade or purchase. This document will explain the above-listed terms more fully later. First, however, an exercise is in order.

Illustrator Export Options

Let’s look at how Illustrator can open existing clip-art (say, from a CD-ROM or your hard drive) and save it in a format that you could use in a Web site. After all, there are plenty of non-artists out there that make good use of existing clip-art by modifying it a little here and there, or even by simply arranging it creatively.

Of all of the graphics programs mentioned so far, Illustrator, Photoshop, FreeHand and CorelDraw are the most common titles in use in professional graphics applications. Of course, desktop publishing programs such as PageMaker and QuarkXPress are in wide use as well. Some users are surprised to find that neither of these titles can import “native” Illustrator files. (If it’s any consolation, PageMaker and QuarkXPress can’t open native FreeHand or CorelDraw files, either). In order to drop an Illustrator image into a DTP program, you must save it as EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) or another suitable export format.

Vector Graphics

Here's how

Exercise 2

  1. There are sample files inside the Adobe Illustrator folder on your hard disk. Using Illustrator’s File:open command, select the first file with a tiny Illustrator icon in the list and click OK to load it. (Obviously, the following info also applies if you have drawn or edited an Illustrator image yourself.)
    Sample file
  2. Select Save as... to bring up the Save dialog. You’ll find a list of Save options, as shown here. (Note that, at the school, you cannot write to the hard disk. Your teacher will give you a floppy diskette to save files onto.)
  3. Choose “Illustrator EPS.” This is the best choice if you are going to print to a PostScript printer (which is what you should be printing to, if you want the best possible results from any graphics or DTP program). Note that Illustrator 5.5 lacks some of the options shown below.
    Illustrator 5.5 lacks options
  4. Name the file appropriately (e.g., LOGO.EPS), insert the floppy you want to save the file onto and click Save. An EPS options dialog such as shown here will appear.
    EPS options dialog

The default settings are fine (the other options will be discussed later). Click OK to complete the Save operation. The resulting EPS file will then be placeable into QuarkXPress, PageMaker, or virtually any other DTP program.

On the next page, we’ll see how the image looks in the two most popular DTP programs.

Logo EPS

LOGO.EPS as seen when placed into PageMaker 5.0 document.

Logo EPS

LOGO.EPS as seen when placed into QuarkXPress document.

Caption: Many users load vector-oriented clip-art into Illustrator for editing and then simply save it as EPS for placing into PageMaker (top) or QuarkXPress (bottom). Note that these programs, like most others, allow only limited editing of your saved-as-EPS artwork. You can resize and rotate, but not much else. For full control of the graphic, you’ll have toi re-open the file in Illustrator. It’s also worth mentioning that, unlike some other programs, Illustrator can open and edit its own EPS files.

Of course, PageMaker and QuarkXPress aren’t the only desktop publishing programs that can place artwork from Illustrator and/or other graphics applications. We'll discuss importing and exporting artwork in lesson 3. We’ll revisit the process of exporting files in that lesson, too, and describe EPS and other filetypes more fully then.

To summarize the basic principle: file exporting is accomplished via Illustrator’s File menu Save As.... option. Save as “Illustrator EPS” if you want to place the image into a DTP program.

Scanned artwork

Although, as we shall see, Illustrator can also work with photographic (scanned) images, it lacks true photo-editing capabilities (version 6's improvements notwithstanding). For that, you would typically use a separate program such as Adobe Photoshop. While a complete discussion of Photoshop is obviously outside the scope of this document, we will look at how Illustrator and Photoshop work together a little later.

Incidentally, if you aren’t familiar with Photoshop, you should be. It is a wonderful program, and is a perfect complement to the skills you will learn in this course.

Exercise 3 - Bitmap Strategies

You can scan a piece of artwork, save it as a TIFF file and open it as an Illustrator Template, which you can then trace using Illustrator’s array of drawing tools. Here’s how.

  1. Scan an image using a scanner and its software. Procedures vary depending on the software, but assuming you were using Adobe Photoshop as your scanning program and a Hewlett-Packard ScanJet scanner, you might see something like this:
    Adobe Photoshop
    Caption: Photoshop accesses many scanner brands via its File:Acquire menu’s TWAIN... option.
    Using Microtek’s ScanMaker software, the interface looks like this:
    interface looks
  2. Save the image as a TIFF file. For best results, set the resolution to 72 dots per inch. High-contrast line drawings make the best tracing templates.
  3. If you don’t have enough RAM to keep Photoshop and Illustrator open at the same time, quit Photoshop (File:Quit)
  4. Launch Illustrator.
  5. Open the scanned file via Illustrator’s File:Open menu. (Note: do NOT double-click the TIFF file itself, as this would re-launch Photoshop, not Illustrator).
  6. From the Open dialog’s list of options, choose Open this document as Illustrator Template (PICT).
  7. Note that this is a template for tracing, not final artwork. The template will not print. It is a guide only, to help you accurately draw by simply tracing over the scanned PICT.

If you actually wanted to include a bitmap as part of your illustrator final art, save it as an EPS file and place it using Illustrator’s Place... command. All versions of Illustrator support bitmapped images placed in this way. Bitmaps saved this way can have up to 16.8 million colors and can be virtually any resolution. If the image is to be color-separated, it is a good idea to pre-separate the image by converting it to CMYK via the command in Photoshop’s Mode menu. Illustrator 6.x can also place several other types of bitmapped images, including JPEG, TIFF and Photoshop formats. More on these later.

Exercise 4 - the Toolbox


Let's look at what each of Illustrator's Toolbox tools is used for. To get started, select the Oval tool by clicking on it. On your Illustrator page, click and drag a few oval shapes. Delete them, and then try drawing some more while holding either Shift key and note the difference.

Preview mode

Preview mode (Control-Y)

Edit mode

Edit mode (Control-Y again)

Preview mode

Edit mode

Now, we can test many of the tools in the Toolbox on our oval shapes.

Solid arrowSolid arrow = Object select (click on outline)

Hollow arrow*Hollow arrow = point select (shift-click or drag marquee around blue dot to select)

Bezier toolBezier tool = create Bezier curves (click and drag) and/or straight line segments (click)

Hand toolHand tool = change your view position (Space bar performs same function)

Zoom toolZoom tool = change magnification level (Alt zooms out)

Scissors*Scissors = cut object outline(s)

PaintbrushPaintbrush = draw wide lines

Freehand tool*Freehand tool = draw freehand shapes

OvalOval = create ovals (shift-drag to create circle)

RectangleRectangle = create rectangle (shift-drag to create square)

RulerRuler = displays dimensions, coordinates

Text tool*Text tool = click on page to create headline text; click/drag to create paragraph text. Existing text can also be edited with this tool.

RotateRotate = rotate object(s). Shift constrains. Alt key shows numeric-entry dialog

ResizeResize = resize object(s). Alt key shows numeric-entry dialog

ReflectReflect = flip object(s). Alt key shows numeric-entry dialog

SkewSkew = skew object(s). Alt key shows numeric-entry dialog

PaintbucketPaintbucket. Fill

EyedropperEyedropper. Choose color

GradientGradient. Blends color from foreground to background

BlendBlend - "morphs" objects and/or lines and/or colors from one to another. Click similar points on two selected objects.

ChartChart - makes a bar, scatter or pie chart. Bar charts can be pictorial.

PagePage - drag to set printable area.

Note: toolbox items with a small arrow in the upper-right corner have other options that pop out when you hold the mouse button down. The Text tool, for example, shows these pop-out options, for text inside a shape, and text on a path:

small arrow

We’ll look at these, and other pop-out tool options, later.

There are some additional special-purpose tools in Illustrator 6.0 or newer that were not present in earlier releases. These will be discussed later, along with additional details of the many Toolbox Tools:


For now, the most important thing to understand and remember is that to edit a shape, you MUST be in the hollow arrow mode. Remember to shift-click or drag a marquee around a blue dot to select.

TIP: To temporarily turn any tool into the arrow, hold down Control. To switch from solid arrow to hollow arrow mode,press TAB. Explore the various drawing and selection tools. If your screen gets cluttered, press Control-A to select all, and press Delete to erase everything.

Exercise 5 - Bezier Curves

At the heart of Illustrator -- and indeed, the PostScript language itself -- is the Bezier curve. Rather than describing a circle as hundreds or thousands of short line segments, Illustrator, and other programs that use Beziers, can describe a circle with as few as three clicks of the mouse. Here's how.

  1. Choose the Bezier tool Pen tool. Click and drag, from left to right, a horizontal line about 2 inches wide. Try holding the shift key to keep the line perfectly horizontal.
    shift key
  2. About 2 inches below this horizontal line, click and drag to draw another 2-inch line but this time, drag from right to left -- again, using the shift key to help keep the line perfectly horizontal. Note the curve that appears when you click and drag. Try to make the bottom line's length and position match that of the first line you drew. If you end up with a reasonable looking semi-circle, you're doing it right.
  3. Move the mouse pointer back up to the first place you started drawing. (Notice the way the pen tool changes, displaying a little "o" when you return to the position that will complete the circle! This is called Closing the Path.) Click and drag in the same direction you did the first time -- from left to right. With a little practice, this will result in a smooth circle. Practice it a few more times to get the hang of it.
    smooth circle

Note that you MUST complete each circle before you can begin a new one. The small "o" that appears when you are about to close a path helps you to find the start point of your shape. Once a shape has been closed, notice that the Pen tool displays a tiny "x", symbolizing that a new shape is ready to be started.

Congratulations: you are well on your way to mastering the Pen tool!

Delete the shape you drew by clicking on it with the solid arrow Solid arrow and pressing Backspace

Exercise 6: Tracing a template

In this exercise, we will load a scanned, hand-drawn image into Illustrator so that we can trace over the shapes with the Bezier pen tool.

Note: follow these instructions exactly. Do not attempt to launch the SampleShapes.TIFF file by double-clicking it from the Finder. This will NOT open the file in Illustrator, as the file was created in a different program (typically, something like Photoshop).

From Illustrator's File menu, choose Open. If a message appears advising you to insert a floppy disk, insert the Tutorial diskette and click OK. If not, insert the floppy when the File dialog appears. In a few seconds, you should see a list of the contents of the Tutorial disk. Choose the file called "Simple Shapes.PICT" and click OK.

Simple Shapes

Open TIFF as Template

partially grayed-out image

For the first shape (rectangle), we can use the  Rectangle tool. Select it from the toolbox and trace over the template.

You’ve already done ovals and circles “the easy way” with the Oval tool (remember, holding Shift while drawing an oval creates a circle). You drew a circle (or hopefully something like one) “the hard way” with the Pen tool in the last exercise, so here’s a chance to practice it again. We’ll trace the circle on our template exactly as we did in exercise 5, with the Pen tool. Refer to those instructions again if you need to. Remember, holding Shift while clicking and dragging the horizontal lines will help your circle come out more even-looking.

Bezier PenUsing the Bezier Pen tool as you did in exercise 1, start in the upper left, and work your way clockwise around the other shapes, being careful to close each one for moving on to the next.

Use the Zoom tool Zoom tool to zoom in, if you wish. Remember, Alt- Zoom tool zooms out.

Note that for straight line segments, you do NOT need to click and drag. A simple click will do for straight lines, such as the sides of the rectangle and triangle.

The rule of thumb is: Click and pull to create a curve; just click to create a straight line.

The football shape introduces a new function -- clicking twice in the same place to make a corner. Click once in the left corner and click-and-pull (down and to the right) in the right corner, pulling the curve out so that it follows the template. It should look like this:

pulling the curve

Once you have the curve "pulled out," click again on the right corner (notice the Pen tool gets an upside-down "V" symbol to signify that it is creating a corner!).

symbol to signify

This is how the shape looks after clicking the second time on the right corner.

Then, return to the original point on the left corner, and pull the curve out to follow the template shape.

template shape

Notice that you always pull curves in the direction the line is heading. At the top or bottom of a circle, we pull horizontally; at the sides, we would pull vertically. As we approach the corner of this football shape, the line is heading in an approximately diagonal direction, therefore, we pull at a 45-degree angle.


Using the various tools in the Illustrator Toolbox (fig. 1), you can manipulate your Illustrator artwork or imported clip-art in a variety of ways:

  • select objects to move, (drag) copy (Alt-drag) or delete (press Delete)
  • edit the outline (hollow arrow)
  • add or remove points (pen+, pen-)
  • change the fill and/or stroke (Control-i)
  • rotate, flip and skew (tools in the toolbox - try holding Alt)
  • resize, etc. (hold shift to resize proportionally and/or constrain)

[ header = Filling and Stroking ]

Lesson two

Filling and Stroking

Objective: explore the options for setting fills and strokes for objects, lines and text.

Exercise 1 - Basic Fills

  1. Draw an object using the Bezier Pen tool Bezier Pen tool, as you did in the last lesson. Remember to close the path.
  2. Press Control-I to bring up the Paint Styles palette. Make sure that "Auto" is checked in the palette's lower-right corner. Paint Styles palette  
  3. Making sure your object is selected (Control-click on it if no blue dots are visible), choose a fill color from the Paint Styles palette. The object should display the new paint style you've just selected. (If not, click the box in Paint Styles labeled Fill, and try choosing a color again. Note that you can shift-click several objects and fill them all at once this way. Paint Styles label

Exercise 2 - Adding a Stroke

After an object is drawn and filled, you can add a stroke (with your choice of line width).


Note that you must click on the Stroke box in the upper left corner before you can add a stroke to your object(s). You can enter any positive number you like into the Stroke Weight area (lower right). Here, we’ve applied a 10 point black stroke.

The important thing to understand is that strokes are drawn from the center out. In other words, a 12 point stroke would extend 6 points outward, and 6 points inward. This can (and does!) make heavily-stroked text look very strange. Let's see what it looks like, and how to fix it.

  1. Select the Text Tool Text Tool, click on your page (DON'T click and drag) and type a word. You can use the Type menu to set the size (Make it large enough to fit comfortably on your screen). The Font menu will change typefaces. Here, We’ve used 48-point Chicago. Font  
  2. Using the Solid arrow solid arrow ("Object Select") tool, click on the text object so that you can see a blue underline with a blue square dot at the end.
  3. Near the bottom of the Text menu is a "Convert to Outlines" option. Select it. (The text should become covered with many blue dots.) Font - 2  
  4. Now, open the Paint Styles dialog if it is not already open (Control-I). Choose a color for the fill and another (different) color for the stroke. Make the stroke 6 points wide. Notice the ugly effect as described above. Ugly effectUgly effect - 2  
  5. Here's how to fix it: In the Edit menu is the Copy command.

Copy command

Choose it, then choose Paste In Front, also in that menu.

Paste In Front

This will paste a copy of the text directly on top of the original. In the Paint Styles palette, set the stroke to be [/] (the topleft color is a box with a slash through it, symbolizing "none.") Note that our 6-point stroke is now only 3 points wide, as half has been covered up by the unstroked copy.

Font - 3

In this example, the pasted-in-front copy of the lettering has no stroke and a yellow fill. The Red outline is the stroke on the copy behind it.

Exercise 3

More fancy tricks are possible with text that has been converted to outlines, too.

  1. Make sure your text has been converted to outlines and is selected.
  2. From the Paint Styles Palette, choose the red-to-yellow gradient fill. Font - 4  
  3. notice that each letter has its own red-to-yellow fill? Choose Compound Path:Make from the Object menu. Compound path  
  4. Note that Make Compound made the entire range of objects act like one object, with a single fill? Font - 5 Now, we can use the Gradient tool (the diagonal gray bar in the Toolbox) to change the angle of the fill. Click and drag to set the length and direction.

Font - 6

Imagine putting a 2-point white outline around the pasted-in-front text, and then pasting yet another copy in front and setting its stroke to “none.” This produces an “inline” effect – very snazzy!

Font - 7

Exercise 4

Did we say fancy tricks? You ain't seen nothin' yet....

Now that the text has been converted to outlines (see Exercise 2), you can alter the shapes of the individual letters. This procedure works for any drawn object (not just outline text), by the way.

  1. IMPORTANT: you MUST use the Hollow arrow hollow arrow tool to be able to edit object shapes.
  2. There are two easy ways to select points on a shape to edit:
  • drag a selection rectangle around the point(s) you want to edit, or
  • Shift-click directly on the point you want to edit.

You can tell an object's shape is ready to be edited when "handles" appear on each side of a point on a curve and/or the point turns "hollow."

Try it now, on the text you typed and converted to outlines in the last exercise.

To create the example below, use method (a) as follows:

Object Shape

  1. First, drag a selection rectangle so that it surrounds the top of the letter “I”.
  2. Then, grab one of the solid blue points that appears and pull it up, stretching the top of the letter.
  3. Drag another selection rectangle, but this time around only the top-left corner of the letter “I”. Pull it to the left a bit.
  4. To draw the “paintbrush,” use the Freehand drawing tool freehand drawing tool and draw, remembering to always close the path by finishing your shape at the same place you started it.

Editing a shape selected with the hollow arrow tool can be done by dragging the point with the mouse, using the cursor keys, or even dragging the curve or line that lies between selected points.

Try each of these techniques now.


  • Do create objects with as few points as possible
  • Do save your work often
  • Do try to use keyboard shortcuts whenever possible

Important keyboard shortcuts:

  • Control: makes any tool temporarily become the arrow tool(s)
  • Control-Tab: Pressing tab toggles between solid (object select) and hollow (point select) arrows. Try it now.
  • Control-i: Paint Styles
  • Control-spacebar: zoom in
  • Control-Alt-spacebar: zoom out


  • Don't create stray points, or leave little "garbage" objects lying around. Select them and press DELETE to delete them.
  • Don't forget to close all shapes. Remember to look for the "o" symbol that appears next to the Pen tool. It tells you when you are about to properly close a shape.
  • Don't try to blend objects or text filled with a gradient -- it doesn't work!
  • Don't worry too much if you have trouble taming those Bezier curves -- they take practice!

[ header = More Importing and Exporting ]

Lesson 3 - More Importing and Exporting

Once we have created Illustrator artwork, we can export it to a variety of other programs. Here are some of the possibilities.

  1. Export as EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) -- this is a common format, supported by virtually all desktop publishing programs such as PageMaker, QuarkXPress, etc. In both of these programs, EPS files cannot be edited per se, but can only be resized and/or repositioned. EPS files only print correctly to a PostScript output device.
  2. Save in earlier Illustrator format(s). Some programs, such as CorelDraw 3 and 4, can only load earlier versions of the Illustrator file format. So, Adobe provides the ability to save Illustrator files in earlier formats. Caution: earlier formats lose the advanced features that were introduced in later releases (see Section 1.3 for details).
  3. Save as Illustrator or EPS and Open the file in Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop can "rasterize" an Illustrator file, converting it to a full-color bitmap. This can be handy for a number of reasons. Use your imagination!
  4. Hold the Alt key as you Copy to the Clipboard. This embeds PostScript code into the Clipboard file, which you can then paste into a wide variety of applications that don't normally accept Illustrator files. (PostScript is not the native format of the Windows (or Macintosh) Clipboard and, as such, is not universally supported by word processors, databases and other programs that don't "officially" support the placing of EPS files. However, this trick often works. By the way, this trick also works with FreeHand.
  5. Illustrator can also Print to a PostScript file. This is the recommended method for sending a file to a service bureau, as it will automatically have all the required fonts and graphics embedded, and will print without "font substitution" problems.
  6. Illustrator can save files as PDF (Portable Document Format). You may find that printing the file to disk as a PostScript file, and then opening this file in Distiller is the best solution in Illustrator 5.5, as attempting to save a PDF file directly from Illustrator 5.5 sometimes fails. Illustrator 6.0 or newer does not seem to have this problem, although objects are sometimes relocated from their expected locations in imported PDFs. These files are readable by any of the Adobe Acrobat family of products, which include a free Acrobat Reader for Mac, Windows, DOS, and Unix-based computers. A free plug-in (included with and installed by Acrobat Reader) also allows the popular Netscape Navigator web browser to view PDF files over the Internet or on local drives. In other words, almost anybody can open and see your Illustrator graphic exactly as it was created -- complete with the actual fonts and resolution-independent PostScript graphics -- if you save it as a PDF and give them a free Acrobat Reader application.

Exercise 1

Try saving your Illustrator artwork in all of these formats

  1. Export as EPS (encapsulated PostScript)
  2. Save in earlier Illustrator format(s).
  3. Save as Illustrator or EPS and Open the file in Adobe Photoshop.
  4. Alt-Copy to the Clipboard.
  5. Print to a PostScript file. This is the recommended method for sending a file to a service bureau, as it will automatically have all the required fonts and graphics embedded, and will print without "font substitution" problems. Try opening this file in Distiller, too.
  6. PDF (Portable Document Format).

Another way to export data from Illustrator is related to #4, above, but exploits a special feature that Adobe built into Illustrator, Photoshop and Dimensions. Copying an Illustrator graphic to the Clipboard, switching to Photoshop and then Pasting the contents into your Photoshop page brings up a dialog with two intriguing choices:

  • Paste as paths
  • Paste as pixels

The first option pastes Illustrator's Bezier outlines directly into Photoshop's equivalent "paths," where they may be edited in a similar way and, eventually turned into a so-called Clipping path or a selection. Naturally, a full description of these Photoshop functions is outside the scope of this course, but briefly, here's how and why you might want to do this:

Exercise 2 - Saving a Photo with a Clipping Path

In Photoshop, scanned images are usually rectangular. It is, however, possible to save a "Clipping Path" around an object so that, for example, an image of a basketball is saved in a file with a circular path. In other words, when the picture of the basketball is placed into a DTP program like QuarkXPress, the text wraps around the shape of the basketball, not the rectangle of its background.

In Photoshop, this feature is called a Clipping Path; in Illustrator, the equivalent feature is called Making a Mask. Frankly, I like the Photoshop terminology better, but here's how it works in Illustrator.

Making a Mask

  1. In Photoshop or other photo-editing program, scan or create a bitmapped image.
  2. Save the image as an EPS file (for compatibility with all versions of Illustrator), or JPEG, TIFF or Photoshop bitmap format (compatible only with Illustrator 6.0 or newer).
  3. In Illustrator, place the bitmapped image. (File:Place...)
    bitmapped image
  4. Draw an outline around the shape (as an alternative to drawing, see Lesson 4; exercise 1, below).
  5. Make sure the outline ("the mask") is in front of the object that is to appear inside it. (It should be, but select the outline with the solid arrow tool and choose “Bring to Front” from the Arrange menu if you are not sure). Note that the keyboard shortcut for this command is Control =.
  6. Object:Mask:Make
  7. The object's background should disappear, as the mask becomes a "window frame" that hides everything outside the frame's perimeter.
  8. That's it! Save, print, export as EPS, etc.

Exercise 3a - More Mask Making

Let's say you have to design a party invitation that features large polka dots (it’s a polka party). You can also use the mask function to clip the dots into the outline of the rectangle that defines the shape of your page, or even mask the dots into the words themselves. It's exactly like steps 4 - 7 above. Here's what we do:

  1. draw a bunch of polka-dots or whatever pattern(s) your fashion sense fancies. TIP: Alt-drag an object to make a copy of it.
  2. Draw an outline that will define your mask, say, a rectangle. For reasons we'll see in a moment, assign a fill and/or stroke color. (Control-i)
  3. As before, make sure the rectangle’s outline ("the mask") is in front of the patterns that are to appear "on" the shirt. (If you draw the rectangle after drawing the patterns, it should automatically be on top.)
  4. Object:Mask:Make
  5. The rectangle should "clip" everything lying outside its perimeter, so that the pattern now appears only inside its perimeter. Notice how the rectangle's fill and stroke disappeared? For reasons known only to the designers of the program, Illustrator hides its "Fill and Stroke for Mask" command in a completely different menu. You'll find it under Filters: Create...
  6. In order to set the "Fill and Stroke for Mask", you have to choose the fill and/or stroke and then choose the "Fill and Stroke for Mask" command. The rectangle should display the attributes you selected.

Exercise 3b

  1. Let’s try a slightly more complex mask. Try making a design using any of the tools in the toolbox.
    Complex Mask
  2. Select it and Alt-drag it several times to make several copies. Here, the star (created with one of the Plug-in Tools in Illustrator 6) has been rotated and resized, too.
    Several copies.
  3. Now, draw an outline of a t-shirt that partially overlaps your shapes
  4. Make the T-shirt mask your objects as shown below.
    T-shirt mask
    T-shirt mask - 1
  5. As a final touch, set a fill and stroke in the Paint Styles palette (Control-i) and use the Filter Menu’s Create:Fill and Stroke for Make command, to set the fill and stroke.
    fill and stroke
    fill and stroke - 1

[ header = Some Fancy Tricks ]

Lesson 4 - Some Fancy Tricks

Exercise 1 - Wrapping Text around a Photo

Here's how to use Illustrator to make text wrap text around a scanned Photoshop image, as if by magic. To do this, we are going to explore some of the features that Adobe built into Photoshop that makes it a perfect companion to Illustrator, and we shall see how the two programs can share files and clipboard data.

As we saw in the last lesson, some interesting effects are possible when we combine Illustrator "paths" with scanned, photographic images. However, sometimes, the photographic images are so complex that it is not viable or economical to hand-trace the object's outline. It is, however, possible to create a "Clipping Path" around an object with Photoshop's Magic Wand tool, and export the resulting outline to Illustrator. (Illustrator has a magic wand tool, too. In the next lesson, we'll learn about how it works, as well.)

Let's say that, instead of the basketball in our example from our last lesson, the image we need to trace is the outline of a fairly complex leaf (on your course diskette, the file is called LEAF.EPS). We *could* hand-draw the outline and make the mask, but let's let the computer do the hard work for us, shall we?

  1. open the file in Photoshop. Use the Magic Wand to select the background.
  2. Choose Select:Inverse to select the leaf.
  3. Open the Paths palette (Windows:Palettes:Show Paths).
  4. From the menu that pops up when you hold the mouse down on the small arrow at the right of this palette, choose Make Selection. Click OK to choose 2.0 pixels tolerance.
  5. Control-click on the path.
  6. Copy to the clipboard (edit:copy). Switch to Illustrator; paste, position outline to suit. (Don't forget the cursor keys!) *or*
  7. In Photoshop, File:Export:Save Paths as Illustrator.... Open file in Illustrator, position to suit.
  8. Make Mask... or... use Text on Path function... or... use your imagination!

Exercise 2 - More Magic Wand Magic

Remember back in lesson one, when we traced those templates by hand? I hope you won't be too disappointed to discover that Illustrator can trace shapes automatically. Here's how:

trace shapes

  1. Open the template called Dingbat.TIFF (shown above) using the File:Open command. Be sure to choose to open it as an Illustrator Template (TIFF). IMPORTANT NOTE: This template is a scanned image, saved as a Photoshop file and as such, must NOT be opened by double-clicking it from the Finder (we do NOT want to open it with Photoshop, we want to open it from within Illustrator's File:Open menu.)
  2. From the toolbox, hold down the mouse button on the freehand drawing tool. A pop-out menu will appear with the Autotrace tool. Select it. Autotrace tool  
  3. Simply click on the lines of the leaf to autotrace. For best results, click on the inner “football shape” first, so that you can easily select the larger shape afterwards. For the final step, select both shapes and select Compound Paths>Make from the Object menu. leaf to autotrace

Easy, isn’t it? Note that not all shapes auto-trace this well. Auto-trace is great for organic shapes, though.

Exercise 3 - Fancy Blends

Let's say your client wants her ad to depict a purple and yellow sphere sitting on the ground. To create this image, we'll need what looks like a 3-dimensional sphere and a realistic shadow. Here's how to create it.

  1. Choose the oval tool. Click and drag on your page, holding down the shift key as you drag to constrain it to a perfect circle. Perfect circle  
  2. From the Paint Styles palette, choose the purple-yellow Radial fill. If auto-apply is not selected, Apply the fill.
    purple-yellow Radial fill  
  3. Using the gradient tool gradient tool, select a point in the upper left area of the circle and drag the gradient tool down and to the right. When you let go, the gradient fill should be centered where you started, and end where you dragged the mouse to before letting go of the button. If it is not to your liking, repeat step 3 as desired.
    upper left area of the circle
  4. to create the shadow on the ground, set the fill color to White. Draw a large oval, about the size of the "sphere." Position so it looks as though it is on the ground.
    shadow on the ground
  5. Change the fill color to a medium gray. Draw another, smaller oval, about half the size of the white one, and make sure the gray one is roughly centered inside the white one.
    shadow on the ground - 1  
  6. Select both objects by holding down Control and Shift as you click on each one. After selecting them in this way, use the Blend Tool Blend Tool (Square+Circle icon) to select a similar point on both ovals. When the dialog pops up, click OK.
  7. If necessary, Control-click on the Sphere and select Arrange:Bring to Front (or Press Control = to bring it to the front).
  8. That's it!

More Blend Tricks


You don't have to choose the default number of blends. Try this.

  1. Make a red square (Shift-rectangle): Paint Style:fill=red
  2. Make a Yellow Circle (Shift-oval): Paint Style:fill=yellow
  3. position the objects about 6 inches apart on your page (select and drag)
  4. rotate the square 45 degrees. (rotate tool)
  5. Select both objects by holding down Control and Shift as you click on each one.
  6. After selecting them in this way, use the Blend Tool Blend Tool (Square+Circle icon) to select a point in a similar position on both shapes.
  7. When the "Number of Blend Steps" dialog pops up, type "6" click OK.
    Blend Steps
    Blend Steps
  8. That's it! You can use this effect for animation, realistic shading, morphing effects, and much more.

[ header = Advanced topics ]

Lesson 5 - Advanced topics

Exercise 1 - Creating Color seps

  1. Save a file as EPS.
  2. (5.5 only) Launch Separator.
  3. Print. In Illustrator 6.0 or newer, color-separation controls are available in the Print dialog.

color-separation controls

color-separation controls

Remember that you should pre-separate photographs by saving them as CMYK in a program such as Photoshop before placing them in Illustrator.

Exercise 2 - creating a chart

  1. Draw one side of a tree with the freehand drawing tool freehand drawing tool. Tree Make sure it is selected. Hold the Alt key and click on it with the Reflect tool Reflect tool. Reflect Select Axis:Vertical and click Copy to create the other side of the tree. Add a brown trunk if you wish. Tree
  2. make a rectangle around it, with no fill, no stroke, send it to the back (Control -) Tree
  3. Object:Graph:Design DesignDesign
  4. Select the Chart Tool. Click on your page. Enter (or import) chart data. Click OK. chart data    chart data
  5. Object:Graph:Columns. Select your design. Choose the “Vertically Scaled” option. Click OK.

    Vertically Scaled         Vertically Scaled

Here’s another example. using a different type of graph. This time, we’re repeating the graphic instead of stretching it. Create your design as in steps 1 - 4, above. Choose the Repeating design. Enter a 1 in the "each number represents x units" field. Click OK.



Exercise 3 - Placing a bitmap "over" a drawing

  1. In Photoshop, convert drawing to Bitmap
  2. Save as EPS. Set "Make Whites transparent."
  3. Place in Illustrator


(Parts of this section are paraphrased from the excellent book, The Illustrator Wow Book, by Sharon Steuer.) Layers can simplify and enhance the Illustrator working environment significantly.

Layers themselves are quite easy to use, once you’re in the habit. One of the beautiful aspects of Illustrator’s implementation of multiple layers is that you cannot move objects to locked or hidden layers. That might seem like an unnecessary restraint, but in Aldus FreeHand the opposite approach results in objects mysteriously disappearing into hidden layers.

Though the Layers palette is a relatively new addition, Illustrator has always provided a powerful and flexible drawing environment to manage the stacking order of objects. The seemingly straightforward commands Hide, Show, Lock, Unlock (from the Arrange menu), and Paste InFront and PasteInBack (from the Edit menu) offer considerable control over Illustrator objects. Even though you can now benefit fully from the newer layers functions discussed at length in this chapter, the original secret powers are still well worth learning:

Paste In Front, Paste In Back (objects -F, objects-B) Even if you use a million layers to separate objects, you will still need these two functions. They don’t merely paste an object in front of or behind all other objects; they paste exactly in front of or behind the object you select. The second, and equally important, aspect is that the two functions paste objects that are cut (objects -X) or copied (objects -C) in the exact same location (in relation to the page margins). This ability applies from one document to another, ensuring perfect registration and Layers palette basics:

  • A dot under the Eye means a layer is visible; a dot under the Pencil means it’s unlocked.
  • Click to place dots in, or remove them from, the Eye or Pencil columns. Or, click-drag up and down to remove dots or place them in multiple layers.
  • Double-click on a layer to open that layer’s print and view preferences.
  • Shift-click to select multiple layers, then let go of the Shift key. When multiple layers are selected, if you then click on the Eye or Pencil itself, you will hide/ lock all layers that are not selected. Double-clicking on one layer will access Preferences, which you can set for all the selected layers.

Shortcut keys can be handy here:

  • Unlock and show all layers (objects -2),
  • unlock and show all objects (objects -4).

In the dialog box which then appears, click to Replace the selected EPS with this new one. If you didn’t intend to replace an EPS, click Ignore (which places the new EPS in addition to the one that was selected), or just Cancel. To move a selected object to another layer: open the Layers palette, grab the colored dot to the right of the object’s layer and drag it to the desired layer. To move a copy of an object: hold down the Alt key while you drag.

Making Gradients

Make your own gradients by placing and spacing pointers representing colors along the lower edge of the color scale in the Gradient palette, or by adjusting the midpoint of the color transition as a result of sliding the diamond shapes along the top of the scale. Illustrator saves gradients by name, so changing the colors or styling of a previously used gradient will automatically update all objects filled with that gradient. You can adjust the length, direction and center-point location of selected gradients, as well as unify blends across multiple objects by clicking and dragging with the Gradient-fill tool. To fill type with gradients, convert the type to an object.


  1. To open your Gradient palette, double-click on the Gradient tool or on a gradient name in the Paint Style palette, or choose Window: Show Gradient.
  2. Click on the lower edge of a gradient to add a new color.
  3. Hold down your Alt key to drag a copy of a color pointer.
  4. With the Eyedropper tool, Control-click in your image to load that color into a pointer.
  5. Drag one pointer over another to swap their colors.

Use blends for irregular or contoured transitions.

For domed, kidney-shaped or contoured objects (such as shadows), only a blend will do. Make two objects with the same number of points (try scaling one to create the other). Set each to the desired color and click on a related anchor point on one, then the other, with the Blend tool.

Try setting the number of steps that the Blend dialog box recommends (you can experiment with fewer, but there is rarely a need for more). The more similar the colors, the fewer steps you’ll need. (See the Adobe CD’s “Smooth blends” for technical specifications for calculating smooth blends.)


Experiment with the filters. Pathfinder filters are the best!

Illustrator Easter Egg!

As many already know, clicking Illustrator’s status bar brings up a pop-up menu, letting you change what’s displayed in the status bar.

Should you like a change of scenery, or have the impulse to innocently confuse a coworker for a few hours, press the Alt key before you click the status bar!

Imaging Essentials

The following review was written by Randy M. Zeitman on behalf of the User Group Alliance(UGA). It may be freely distributed or reprinted in its entirety. If printed, please send a copy to:

UGAPO Box 29709Elkins Park PA 19027-0909

Thank you, Randy M. Zeitman

Imaging Essentials, the second installment of Adobe Press’s Professional Studio Techniques series, nicely integrates step-by-step insights into Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Dimensions, and Premiere.

As with its predecessor, Design Essentials, Imaging Essentials serves as a “cookbook” for artists familiar with the basic features of the program. Each recipe is highly detailed in color and peppered with relevant software tips and insights.

In fact, the examples detailing the creation of banners, tubes, hoses, and three-D cans in Dimensions might inspire you to buy a copy of the Adobe Dimensions as well! (Dimensions is a 3-D graphics program that saves files in Illustrator format.)

A fraction of the indispensable topics include: Simulating graininess in a photograph, impressionist effects, painting in neon, transparent shadows, masking images with type, metallic type, creating gradations with type (most interesting!), blending images together, and creating masks for QuickTime movies.

Deserving special note are sections exploring the idiosyncrasies of combining Illustrator and Photoshop artwork as well as various printing considerations.

If you already own Design Essentials, you’ll be happy to find a set of upgrade notes to keep your copy in sync with Photoshop and Illustrator.

When a team of Adobe Designers get together to detail their digital discoveries, only good things can happen. Imaging Essentials, Adobe Press, ISBN 1-56830-051-4

Design Essentials

The following review was written by Randy M. Zeitman on behalf of the User Group Alliance(UGA). It may be freely distributed or reprinted in its entirety. If printed, please send a copy to:

UGAPO Box 29709Elkins Park PA 19027-0909

Thank you, Randy M. Zeitman

Design Essentials, the first release in Adobe Press’s Professional Studio Techniques series, might be one of the best digital special effects book on the market to date.

In a nutshell, Design Essentials provides step-by-step instructions to reproduce a variety of traditional photographic techniques in Photoshop. While several Illustrator effects are also detailed, particularly the magic behind creating three-D boxes, many effects described are directly available in Illustrator 5.5.

Beautifully detailed sections on impressionist effects, stippling, posterizing, bleeding, textures, text effects, translucent shapes, rustic effects, halftones, and even duotones, tritones, and quadtones are just a sampling of the techniques demystified. Charts showing the effects of applying a combination of Photoshop filters to an image are also helpful. And not only does Design Essentials show you how to create a stereoscopic image, a pair of three-D glasses is included in the back of the book!

Considering that Design Essentials is packed to the gills with information, in color no less, the $39.95 isn’t hard to take at all. Design Essentials makes a great addition of any Photoshop users bookshelf. Design Essentials, Adobe Press, ISBN 0-672-48538-9

[ header = Other Resources ]

Other Resources

While Adobe does have a forum on CIS, you’ll be well served to check out the Illustrator SIG (special interest group) on America Online.

Ted Alspach, one of the Forum Consultants, is the author of the MacWorld Illustrator Bible. Another Forum Consultant, Sandee Cohen, also contributed to the Illustrator Bible as well as the Illustrator Wow! book. (Side note: this book is the best value going. The Illustrator Bible is 800 pages, includes a CD-ROM, and is only about $40 in the USA. The ISBN number is 1- 56884-097-7.)

Between Ted, Sandee, and the numerous others who sacrifice their free time to answer tough Illustrator questions, the AOL SIG is where you want to be to talk Illustrator.

Also available on AOL, eWorld, and various FTP sites is the Illustrator Goodies newsletter. Author Bruce Bowman ( offers a variety of tips as well as some pretty useful Illustrator filters he writes himself!

For Further Reference

If you’ve completed the Adobe Tutorial and yet want more structured guidance before plunging into this book, I can suggest a number of sources. First, take the time to go through the animated tutorials on Adobe’s Deluxe Edition CDROM. Borrow or rent a CD player if necessary, and while you’re there, browse through and print out the “Tech Notes.” Also, Adobe publishes a book titled Adobe Illustrator: Classroom in a Book, which provides over 30 hours of structured lessons broken up into one to four-hour projects. Two good reference books on Adobe Illustrator methodically cover almost every feature and function of the software: The Illustrator Book by Deke McClelland and the Illustrator Bible by Ted Alspach. Some of you might find the Illustrator: Visual QuickStart Guide by Elaine Weinmann and Peter Lourekas less intimidating.

Appendix A


Illustrator 5.5 or newer is best installed from the included CD-ROM disc. Installing from diskettes is possible, but in these newer versions, not all components are available in a disk-based installation.

The main components of a standard CD-ROM-based Illustrator installation are:

  1. The Illustrator application - the drawing program itself.
  2. Adobe Acrobat Reader
  3. a selection of Adobe Type 1 (PostScript) fonts
  4. tutorials and how-to tips

Note: Illustrator 6.0 or newer builds Distiller and Separator functionality into the main Illustrator application and adds the ability to open virtually any EPS file as editable artwork. Other capabilities of Illustrator 6.0 or newer include the ability to turn PostScript artwork into anti-aliased bitmap files, and, in some editions, the Dimensions utility that adds 3-D drawing capabilities to Illustrator's bag of tricks.

Running Illustrator Effectively

Illustrator, as most programs, functions even better when more RAM is available. About 25MB of hard disk space is required for a typical installation.

One more issue that affects your computer's graphical performance is, of course, the display. For best results, set your display to thousands or, if your Mac supports this mode, millions of colors. You can set display modes and sometimes change resolution settings in the Monitors control panel. On newer Mac models, these display settings are sometimes handled through Control Panels with different names; consult your Mac's documentation if you do not know how to change these settings.