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Product: Illustrator 9
Publisher: Adobe
Estimated Street Price: $399.00
Review By: Julien Jay


Table Of Contents
1: Introduction
2: Features
3: Web & Advanced Features

4: Conclusion

    I still remember the day I first saw Adobe Illustrator on this pretty old Macintosh that there was in the office I was working in. Iíve rarely used Macintosh and I never owned one of them nor know how to use itÖ For more than ten years I used PCs and I think itís too late for me to change. However my boss needed me to make a new layout for the brochure we were working on and the Mac graphic designer was ill and as usual the work had a deadline fixed for yesterdayÖ Since I was the only guy that could do it even if at that time I only knew Microsoft Publisher or Corel Draw, I started the job and launched Illustrator: at the beginning I found the interface insipid & austere. However I quickly realized this interface was just a marvelÖ why? Because of itís incredible simplicity: the secret is that you arenít lost in an ocean of buttons, menus, tools you donít even know each onesí purpose. Only the primary tools are shown and you can start drawing right away making your first steps in the Adobe world in all knowledge of what you do. As you make your way into the software youíll discover its amazing complex & robust new features in a wide variety of palettes. But the main tools you need are always shown in the single vertical toolbar, if at a moment palettes clutter your working environment (which comes fast with a 17í screen) you can easily minimize them. A few tools of the main Illustrator palette can be expanded unveiling sub tools you can select. Itís right that Adobe software programs are massively used by graphic professionals, so one of the strongest Adobe advantages is when you have learned how to use one software you can use every Adobe software across platforms: in reality this selling argument is true and Illustrator users can use Photoshop as if they were born with. The only regret I have with the Adobe Illustrator 9 interface is that you canít customize it like in Corel Draw 10 hiding menu/buttons or adding new shortcuts.


Adobe Illustrator 9 Main Interface



    Like every new software program, Adobe Illustrator 9 contains many new features over existing ones, but unlike the usual habit of software manufacturers existing features have also been streamlined to deliver more efficient tools so users can concentrate themselves on what they draw to express their creativity. If before Illustrator 9 was mainly used to create brochures, packages, posters, as well as various print projects it was really weak for web designing. This new version 9 has the Ďhttp://í mention and web navigation icons placed over the product logo, and is definitely aimed to address this shortcoming adding by the support of Macromedia Flash and SVG. Adobe Illustrator 9 is vector graphic designing software: vector graphics use a mathematic coding to produce high quality drawings with no scale effects unlike bitmap files. If a vector graphic picture isnít as realistic as a bitmap one, its main advantage lies in its small size perfect to transmit high quality illustrations over the Internet. The main interface of Adobe Illustrator 9 has been enhanced but doesnít differ too much from previous release and features the same look and feel as other Adobe software: so mastering Adobe Illustrator 9 interface will be easy if youíve ever used an Adobe software before. If youíre new to Illustrator, youíll have tons of things to learn but hopefully the huge 440 pages usersí guide will help you. You can always change the shortcuts of Illustrator 9 so the software will adapt itself to your working habits. As usual when youíre drawing objects in your composition, a new layer appears in the layer window and next to it you now have a thumbnail of it so you see what it contains. The first new major feature introduced by Adobe Illustrator 9 is the support of transparencies. You can now add transparency to every object, as well as to a combination of objects or to a whole layer. That way if you add an object into a frame, transparency characteristics will be automatically adapted. If that wasnít enough an opacity feature has also been added by the opacity mask: with it you can apply variable transparency effects onto the same object helping you create marvellous effects. Changing the opacity of objects or layers is easy using the lever but you can also use one of the 16 blending modes like normal, overlay, etc. Illustrator 9 now adds two new masking features named Opacity mask & layer-clipping mask. For those of you who donít know a mask isnít used for Mardi Gras: itís a shape that hides parts of a drawing. The opacity mask mode now lets you define the transparency level through the shape while layer-clipping masks hide whatever is outside the limits of the mask on the specific layer youíre working on. Another new major feature of Illustrator 9 is the Live objects option. If like in previous version of Illustrator the filter menu still contains PhotoShop plugins that can only transform a vector into a bitmap, a small new command named effect: with it you can apply a wide variety of filters like bevel, shadow, glow, blurs, soft edge, feathered edge to text and more to a selected vector object so you can modify it later to your satisfaction eliminating redundant designing tasks. Indeed if you choose to modify your vector form, the filter effect will be reapplied in real time just like in the very old Image Styler or in the more recent LiveMotion. The effect style you have created can be saved in the palette as a swatch so you can reuse it later simply by dragging it over existing objects. Obviously you can also share styles with colleagues: great to fasten productivity even if we regret that styles arenít applicable to texts. As usual with Adobe software the integration with other Adobe software has been enhanced further so you can export your illustrations to PhotoShop of LiveMotion very easily as well as dropping an Illustrator object into PhotoShop or GoLive for editing. If Adobe Illustrator 9 still doesnít have a history palette it can hopefully undo your changes as many steps back, as you need depending on the memory you have. Like other Adobe software, Illustrator 9 lets you undo change made prior you saved a file and lets you revert to the last version of the file.



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Advanced Features -->


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