Adobe Illustrator is an exceptional application used to create vector graphics for print or web formats. This application has been developed together with Adobe Photoshop as a companion product, and represents the standard in the development of logos, graphics, comics, fonts, and much more. This wikiHow shows you how to get started with the basic functions of Adobe Illustrator.
Method 1 of 5: Create a project
Step 1. Open Adobe Illustrator
You will find it in the Windows Start menu or in the Mac Applications folder.
Step 2. Click Create New
If you don't see this option, you can press Ctrl + N (Windows) or ⌘ Cmd + N (Mac) to create a new project.
Step 3. Select the Printing tab or Web.
If you plan to print your creation, click To print at the top of the New Document window. If you want to use the online chart, select Web.
Step 4. Select your document size
There are several preset document sizes to choose from. You also have the option of creating a custom-sized canvas by adjusting the values in the right panel.
- All customization options for document size, resolution, orientation, and color mode are in the right column.
- If you want to specify the resolution of a printed document, select that resolution from the "Raster Effects" menu in the right pane.
Step 5. Click Create to open the new document
Now that you have created a document, you can learn about the most common tools in Illustrator.
Method 2 of 5: Draw Shapes
Step 1. Click and hold the Shape Builder tool
It's the rectangle on the toolbar that runs along the left side of the screen. A menu with different shapes will appear.
Repeat this step every time you want to switch between different shape-making tools
Step 2. Click the Rectangle Tool
This selects a tool that allows you to draw squares and rectangles.
Step 3. Click the mouse on the canvas and drag it in any direction
The rectangular shape will appear as you drag the mouse.
If you want to draw a perfect square, drag the mouse until you see a pink line diagonally across the shape, indicating that the square is symmetrical on all sides
Step 4. Click and hold the Shape Builder Tool and select Polygon Tool
This tool allows you to specify the number of sides you want the shape to have.
Step 5. Click once on the canvas to enter the number of sides
Clicking on the canvas will bring up a dialog box. Enter the number of sides you want the shape to have.
For example, if you want to draw an octagon, type 8
Step 6. Click and drag on the canvas to draw the shape
Just like you did with the rectangle, drag out until you have made the shape of the desired size.
You can also create circles and stars from this menu in the same way as you did with rectangles and polygons
Method 3 of 5: Draw Straight and Curved Lines
Step 1. Click and hold the Pen Tool on the toolbar
It's the button that looks like a pen and is located on the right side of the screen. A list of different Pen Tool options will appear.
The Pen Tool can be used to create strokes using straight or curved lines. Unlike using a real pen (or a digital brush tool), you can create lines and curves with the pen tool by creating individual segments joined by anchor points
Step 2. Click Pen Tool
It will be the first option in the tools menu.
Step 3. Click the mouse where you want the line to start
Start by drawing a series of straight lines. This will add an anchor point (which looks like a small dot or square) on the canvas. Don't drag the mouse as if you were drawing, just click once.
Step 4. Click the mouse where you want the line segment to end
At this point the line segment will appear.
If you see directional lines around the segment, this means that you accidentally dragged the tool instead of clicking on a new anchor point
Step 5. Click on additional anchor points to add additional segments
The most recent anchor point is displayed as a filled square, while the previous points are hollow.
Step 6. Close the stroke (or leave it open)
When you finish making a particular line or shape, you have a couple of options to move on to the next exercise:
- If you want to create a closed shape, hover over the first anchor point you created, then click the small point that appears next to the pen pointer. This shape can be selected and edited in the same way that you would with shapes created with the Shape Builder tool.
- If you don't want to close the stroke, simply select a different tool or press Ctrl (PC) or ⌘ Cmd (Mac) while clicking a blank area on the canvas.
Step 7. Click and hold a new point to start a curved line
If you've deselected the Pen Tool, go back and select it again first. Don't lift your finger from the mouse after clicking on the canvas.
Step 8. Drag the cursor to set the slope of the curve
To do this, simply drag the mouse in the direction you want the line segment to curve. Lift your finger from the mouse cursor once the slope is set.
Step 9. Click and hold the desired end point of the segment
Don't move your hand yet.
Step 10. Create a curve that is in the shape of a “C” or “S”
The direction in which you drag the cursor depends on the type of curve you want to create:
- Drag the cursor in the opposite direction from the previous line to make a curve that is shaped like a “C” (an arc).
- Drag in the same direction as the previous line to create a curve that is shaped like an "S".
Step 11. Add additional curved segments
Click and hold a new point to add the next segment, and then drag the mouse in the direction of the desired slope just as you did before. Keep adding curved segments until you've finished making the stroke.
Step 12. Close the stroke (or leave it open)
You can either close the stroke or choose to leave it open, just like you did with the straight segments.
Method 4 of 5: Edit the shapes and objects
Step 1. Click the Selection tool
It's the arrow at the top of the toolbar that runs along the left side of the workspace. This is the tool you will need to use when you want to select and manipulate existing objects on the canvas.
You can use this method to manipulate shapes, lines, and text that you have added to your document
Step 2. Click on the object you want to edit
When you select an object, it is surrounded by a border that has handles.
To select multiple objects at once, hold down the Shift key as you click each object
Step 3. Drag any of the outer handles to the desired size
Dragging a handle will extend (or reduce) the size of the object in that direction.
Hold down the Shift key to constrain the proportions if you want to avoid changing the actual shape
Step 4. Drag an object from the center point to move it
This is the most basic way to move an object. You can also use the arrow keys on the keyboard if you want.
- To move selected objects a specific distance, click the menu Object, click Transform, and then click Move to open the dialog box. Enter the desired position and click To accept.
- Another option is cut and paste. Click on the menu Edit at the top and select Cut to delete the selected object and copy it to the clipboard. Then click on the menu Edit and select Paste to insert it back into the document.
Step 5. Add color to a selected object
Double click on the box Filling in the Properties panel (usually located in the lower-right corner of the workspace) to display the color palette, then click the desired color to fill the selected object.
- To change the color of the surrounding outline of the selected object, double-click the box Stroke in the Properties panel, then select a color.
Method 5 of 5: Trace an Image
Step 1. Import the image you want to vectorize
One of the most common uses for Illustrator is creating vector images based on images from other applications (such as hand-drawn artwork that has been scanned into, or creations made in Photoshop). Vector images can be scaled to any size without distorting the image, making them ideal when designing printed materials. Follow these steps to import an image:
- Click on the menu File on top.
- Click on Place
- Select the image you want to edit.
Step 2. Click the Selection tool
It's the arrow-shaped button at the top of the left toolbar.
Step 3. Click the Window menu
It's at the top of the screen (Mac) or at the top of the application (PC).
Step 4. Click Trace Image from the menu
This adds the Trace Image panel to the workspace.
Step 5. Check the box next to "Preview."
It's in the lower-left corner of the Trace Image panel.
Step 6. Select the desired color mode from the "Mode" menu
This menu is also on the Trace Image panel.
- For example, if the image is black and white, select Black and white on the menu. If it's grayscale, select Grayscale, etc.
Step 7. Drag the slider to the desired color depth
The slider will be labeled either "Color," "Grayscale," or "Threshold." The preview will adjust to show the results.
Step 8. Click Advanced in the Image Trace panel to adjust other options
Those are some of the things you can do in this section:
- Drag the "Strokes" slider until the image looks clear.
- Drag the "Corners" slider until the edges of the image look sharp (but not sharp or scraggly).
- Drag the "Noise" slider to reduce the number of extra pixels included in the final image.
Step 9. Click Trace
It's at the bottom of the Image Trace panel. This draws the image based on the settings you have entered.
Step 10. Save the image as a vector graphic file
You can do it this way:
- Click on the menu File.
- Click on Save as.
- Select a destination location and enter a file name.
- Choose Illustrator (*. AI) as the file type to save as an Illustrator file, or SVG (*. SVG) to save the vector in a more web-friendly format.
- Click on Keep.