Adobe Illustrator is the industry standard professional vector drawing software from Adobe. It’s reached its 25th year, costing $599 or $249 for an upgrade from versions CS3 to CS5. Adobe Illustrator CS6 is an absolute must for graphics professionals, and all the more so since the scalable graphics it produces are essential for the seamless integration of images across the multitude of display resolutions across the web. Whereas Photoshop is a pixel-manipulation program, so blowing images up on larger res screens is hit-and-miss and brings all sorts of pixellations and blotches, Illustrator uses mathematics, and in particular vectors, to calculate the relative dimensions of the different parts of the image to suit the display area.
So what has Adobe done to persuade heavy users to upgrade to CS6 this time around, rather than wait another year or two? Well the interface has been overhauled, modernized and even more businesslike. A new adjustable slider can be manipulated to give whichever particular palette of dark or light grays the user feels will best set off their artwork, and Adobe’s new Mercury Performance System helps with the application’s speed and overall performance.
This is the first time Adobe illustrator has featured native 64-bit support for Mac and Windows several new additions to the toolbox are included, though they pale in significance next to the improved snappiness of the whole suite. That’s the killer app in this edition of Illustrator. As well as the 64-bit optimizations, the whole Illustrator engine working behind the scenes has been streamlined, and it means opening huge Adobe files is that much faster, as is saving or exporting your work.
A few minor alterations to the display of menu items also helps make the whole Illustrator experience more fluid, though they are the sort of changes that only power users will really appreciate as they drill down to the more refined and subtle tools and settings. And the completely new look of the interface will be a breath of fresh air for designers who’ve slaved away with Illustrator for years on end. It’s those sort of enhancements that keep the creative juices flowing that bit longer.
A new image-tracing engine works to convert almost any image into vector art in seconds, which can then be stored as a pattern for use in other projects. And there are options galore for the style of the final output. Thus a photograph of leaves on a tree can easily be rendered into a rich, colorful vector image, which will display on any size screen without jagged edges or loss of resolution. That means building vector images is now a matter of seconds – you only need find the basic image in the first place.
Obviously Adobe needed to include the odd extra feature, such as the ‘Gradients on Stroke’ feature, which renders selected objects or images with a gradient fill, but nowadays most features are not functionality that users were crying out for, just ultra-subtle tweaks to existing tools that would very rarely if ever be useful to the vast majority of users, but which occasionally will do for a rough-and-ready mock-up. Vector patterns with Illustrator CS6 can now be created and seamlessly tiled across objects, which should prove useful for textile designers or perhaps even in game design for applying textures to surfaces.
Overall the new features take aback seat in comparison with the spiced-up interface and accelerated operation of CS6 Illustrator. Well worthwhile for anyone using an older version than CS4, and also for anyone who spends a full day or so in total each week working with Illustrator. Adobe Illustrator CS6 starts at $588. Adobe Coupons can save you a bundle, should you decide to upgrade or purchase new CS6. Use CS6 coupons to get it for less!
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