What is Adobe Illustrator

This is our first blog in Illustrator Tutorial Series, here I’ll be answering the basic question ‘What is Adobe Illustrator?’

Before we begin, I am Lalit Adhikari, admin and main author of LTY. We update our blogs at a regular interval. So, keep reading and keep learning.

This blog is an introductory blog in the Adobe Illustrator Tutorial Series in our Graphic Designing Course at LTY.

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What is Adobe Illustrator?

Adobe Illustrator is a vector software that uses mathematical shapes to draw on the canvas and therefore the output will always be a vector based output.

What is Vector?

In terms of Physics and Mathematics, Vector is defined as a quantity having a direction as well as magnitude especially as determining the position of one point in space relative to another.

In Graphic Designing, we are dealing with something similar called Vector Graphics which work on the same principle as above.

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What is Vector Graphics?

Vector Graphics are computer graphics which are defined in terms of 2 dimensional points (or anchor points).

Points (or anchor points) are connected to one another by lines and curves (also known as path or edge) to form various geometrical shapes like rectangle, ellipse (circle or oval) & polygons etc.

All of these points have a definite position on the x-axis and y-axis of the Art Board or Canvas or Work Plane. Hence determines the direction of the path.

These path may have different properties values such as stroke color, shape, curve, thickness (or stroke weight) and fill.

Most used file formats or extensions for Vector Graphics are SVG, EPS, PDF, CDR or AI.

For commercial purposes, a Vector Graphics may needed to be converted into a Raster Graphic file formats like JPEG, PNG etc.

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Understanding Vector & Raster Image

Let’s look at an example to further clarify this point. Over here I’ve opened up the vector file of an illustration, I’ve made recently in Adobe Illustrator and a Jpeg Image of that same illustration.

If we pick up the zoom tool from the toolbar on the left and zoom in the vector image, the artwork remains clear.

No matter how much we expand the artwork it won’t get pixel starting to show out. Adobe Illustrator is perfect for this is the kind of artwork.

illustrator vector file - What is adobe illustrator
Illustrator Vector File & Sorry for spelling mistake

Now, if we zoom in the jpeg image you can see it’s made of pixels meaning that it is a raster-based artwork.

JPEG image - what is illustrator
Raster image

The whole purpose of working with Adobe Illustrator is to make vector based illustrations, a common example will be logos.

Vector graphics are solely made up of anchor points and lines and there are unlimited ways in which you can alter the artwork according to your requirements.

You can even choose different colors for individual objects on the canvas.

Now, on the other hand, if we click on the rasterized image you will notice that the whole image is just made up of one component.

That means we can’t manipulate the artwork in any way since illustrator works with individual vector based component and a raster image is treated as a single object.

So, if you are working with an image, there’s little what illustrator can do to manipulate the artwork.

On the other hand, there is an infinite number of possibilities when it comes to vector based artwork.

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Difference between Illustrator & Photoshop

Now, you if you’re already in Graphic Designing field or new here, you have used or heard about Adobe Photoshop.

And you might be wondering, what is the difference between Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator?

Like I explained above Adobe Illustrator is a vector based software application whereas Adobe Photoshop is a bitmap or raster based application.

And this means in Adobe Illustrator, you are going to create designs which are called vector graphic whereas in Adobe Photoshop, you are going to create and edit something called raster graphics.

Now, a typical vector graphic is something that is drawn using paths. It’s an object-based document and you can scale up as big or small as you want and it would still maintain the edge fidelity whereas in Photoshop you are working with this raster graphics or bitmap graphics.

A lot of standard graphics are created in Photoshop because it’s a very easy tool to use and you can push pixels around. It’s not as constrained and defined by these path-based object.

And with that ease, you can create effects like blur. But in Illustrator ‘Blur’ is kind of a ‘fake blur’ applied to a vector object that re-renders it every time you resize the artwork.

So, it’s not really a true vector blur, it’s a blur based on a vector object. In Photoshop, you can do various things like select color channels, heal anybody’s skin tone.

Illustrator is an object-based editing tool, so in Illustrator you have stacks of the object and the object just has a bunch of attributes attached to it.

For example: if you draw a little circle or ellipse, here the object is really that path and you can just attach a fill or any kind of effect to that object. You can scale it up or down and with this appearance factors change with the object, whereas in Photoshop you are always selecting chunks of pixels.

Another point to keep in mind is that in Illustrator when you have a stack of ‘Layers’ it’s actually just a stack of objects. So, outside the actual object on that Illustrator layer, there isn’t anything.

And in Photoshop, even when you have a layer with just a little bit of artwork and rest is transparent, that transparent layer is actually transparent pixels because Photoshop is a series of stacking raster images. Every layer is a new raster image that is being placed over the old raster image.

If you are following our Free Illustrator Lessons and Tutorial Guide, then next you should read about Line Segment Tool, Arc Tool, Spiral Tool, Rectangular Grid Tool and Polar Grid Tool.

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