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Adobe Illustrator – What Is It & Why Use It

Vector based graphics are awesome for scaling, editing, and yield crisp renders at any magnification. You may have heard the word vector before. It’s different from pixel based imagery because it’s a calculated mathematical equation the software computes so the graphics remain clean at any scale. There are other vector based programs such as Corel Draw and a slew of third party software available. Illustrator leads the industry in vector based software boasting a comprehensive tool set and user interface. It’s the vector program I was trained in, the one I use daily and the one I teach to others. Graphic logos are commonly created within Illustrator because of its ability to scale up or down in size with no loss in detail. Also the editable nature of vector art is fantastic for edits on the fly or updating a project at any future time.

EXPERIMENT: Try zooming in on a photo. You will see the image deteriorate in quality and its pixels become prominent. On the other hand locate a document created from a vector based program, zoom in and notice the lines stay crisp and clean (a word document saved as a PDF works the same way, the text will remain clean and crisp when zoomed in which is an example of vector art when zoomed in). A crisp and clean graphic at high magnification will always be vector based.  This is the best way to determine if a graphic is vector or pixel based.

SCENARIO: Say you’ve just spent hours (maybe even days) creating a logo in Photoshop to your client’s exact specifications. You show the client and they approve it but now they also want the logo twice the size for other marketing needs. There will be obvious image deterioration when scaling a pixel based image to twice its original size. The solution is to a) recreate the logo in Photoshop to the client’s new specifications or b) create the logo in Illustrator so you can resize the logo on the fly with no distortion. If you recreate the logo in Photoshop there’s always the chance there will be another change in size, shape or color by the client again. The approval process can be unknowable.  To avoid this exact problem you should use Illustrator to create you logos. This is a real scenario likely to happen to any graphic artist.

CONCLUSION: Using Illustrator for your graphic designs comes with added benefits. Scaling with no loss to image quality may be the strongest attribute of vector art along with many other advantages like small file size and editable changes on the fly along with mechanical graphic machines that read vector paths for laser, engraving, & vinyl cutting. Knowing when to use vector art over pixel based imagery in graphic design can save you loads of time and headache with your projects on deadlines in the approval process. I can teach you to be a confident user in Illustrator, giving you the knowledge to advance your vector art skills to take on any project.

I hope this has been a helpful insight into Illustrator and why vector art is so valuable in creating digital assets. This is a simplified explanation of Illustrator and what vector art is compared to pixel based images. If you would like to learn how to use Illustrator or other graphic design programs such as InDesign or Photoshop please feel free to contact me. I’m happy to help you learn these programs while avoiding the headaches and pitfalls I experienced over the years in graphic design.

Jeremy G.