How do you master Adobe Illustrator?


Adobe Illustrator is a vector based program.

You are not drawing as if you are drawing on a piece of paper and making a line; imagine you are drawing with an infinite ruler that only changes it’s course when you create new connection points.

This is a powerful tool for typography, creating exact drawings, dies and graphic shape based drawing.

In particular, I do not think there is another tool at the moment that matches Illustrator’s strength as a typographic program.

I could never write an explicit answer on how to use Illustrator, there are all sorts of courses, free and professional online for any sort of instruction. To instruct in illustrator would also be a free course in graphic design; the art of visual communication.

To help you on your journey, here is my list of differentiation of amateur to pro user.

  1. Learn your hotkeys. You will be designing just as much with your keyboard as you will with your mouse. Stopping what you’re doing to select something in a menu is ridiculous at one point. Memorize them, they are your best friends.
  2. Understand exporting processes for various medias. Images for print are different than web, dyelines are different than interior architecture drawings. Learn DPIs, PPIs exporting benefits of JPEG vs. PNG vs. .AI vs .EPS vs. GIF. Understand sizing and transparency. You will have a lot less trouble in the future.
  3. Typography is an art. Respect it by learning the basics of kerning, tracking, readability and which fonts are for paragraphs vs. titles vs. descriptions. When you are talking about a font, use the proper descriptions of x-heights and ink traps. Know what is classic, what is free, and the benefits of investing in a solid library of fonts.
  4. Illustration in illustrator is for precision. Get familiar with the reflection, replication, repeat, angles, and trajectory of your vectors to make illustrations that are something beyond what the human hand can create; computer aided perfection.
  5. Set up guides, but don’t make them the only thing that you use. Instead, create a grid templates specific to the type of content you are creating, set your guides to snap to the grid template if possible. Grids are the skeleton of a system; and don’t you want the body of your content to stand up?
  6. A style guide for any brand makes your work much easier to interpret years later if you are creating a brand. It is not always part of scope, but leaving yourself notes and references makes any job easier and is a good habit to get into.

Good luck!