Our guide to Illustrator

Our guide to Illustrator

First published date April 25 2014 Amended date May 27 2014

Are you a graphic designer? Do you aspire to become an illustrator or enjoy using your creative talents? Then sign up for one of our illustrator courses and learn how to use Adobe Illustrator. Illustrator is great for any career or even personal use; it can be used to create all types of images and creative designs from logos to go on your website to functional architecture drawings.  


What is Illustrator?

Illustrator is a computer programme used by professional illustrators and graphic designers that allows them to create illustrations, icons and logos using complex design features. Illustrator is developed by Adobe Systems and can be used by both Windows and Mac users, so there is no excuse for not using this programme if illustration is your dream job.

Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics editor. Vector graphics is the use of features such as points, lines, curves, and shapes to represent images, these are all made by the use of mathematical expressions. This means that the features of Adobe Illustrator will allow you to accurately draw out illustration and cartoon images. The great thing about Illustrator using mathematical equations to create the images is that it doesn’t use a grid of dots to store the information, unlike bitmap images. This means that you can scale your images up and down with ease, without ever losing resolution. The programme offers the ability to create, and print, high resolution illustrations making it a favourite choice amongst professional illustrators.


What is Illustrator used for?

Illustrator can be used for a variety of different computer design and illustration purposes in many different career routes:

Draw cartoons: fun cartoon characters can be made for websites and business. They have both a branding or entertainment value.

Drawing lifelike objects: Illustrator tools such as gradient are great for making objects look real. This can be used by architects.

Create logos: You can use the pen tool to accurately draw pictures and shapes; this is a great feature to create your logo. It’s a fast and effective way to help brand and market your company or website.

Resizing images: Vector graphics allow for resizing without losing image quality. You will be able to scale up and down easily, without distorting the image.

Creating infographics: Infographics are a fun way to display information and statistics with the use of drawings to make them more exciting and easier to understand.  You can draw images and create charts to make information easier on the eye.

Saving as vector EPS files: Illustrator allows you to save your work as an EPS file. This allows for good quality print outs that won’t distort your hard work.


What will I learn on an Illustrator course?

An Illustrator course will be very hands on; the tutor will use presentations, demonstrations and exercises to teach you how to create eye catching illustrations. The course will be very practical and you will be given frequent feedback from the tutor on where you can improve. You will learn effects and styles such as; colours, gradients, layers, fonts and photos to build a portfolio of stunning illustrations.

On top of learning how to use different tools to create your illustrations you will also learn about illustrating for different mediums. You will be taught how to create different graphics for a variety of mediums such as; video, web, print and mobile devices. Many Illustrator courses will be Adobe accredited and offer an official certificate from Adobe which will be a great addition to add to your CV.


Careers as an illustrator

While a course will help you in your pursuit of an illustration career, and sometimes a degree is necessary, more often than not, you will be predominantly judged on your illustration portfolio. Taking a blogging course will show you how to create a website and showcase your portfolio and build a name for yourself. This is particularly important as many illustrators will work as freelancers. You may be able to specialise in something specific such as comic book illustration or business illustration but you will more than likely work for more than one company and have to juggle multiple projects at the same time.

Illustration is all around us – from business adverts to books –  and there are plenty of career routes for an aspiring illustrator. If you don’t go the freelance route then you will probably need an undergraduate illustration or undergraduate graphic design degree, alongside a strong portfolio to put you ahead in this highly competitive field.

Illustration jobs include:

Concept art for film, television and video games

Fashion illustration

Comic book illustration

Illustrating picture books for children

Illustrating book covers

Promotional illustration

Product illustration

Technical illustrators, such as illustrating for an instruction manual

Medical illustrators, providing illustrations for human or animal anatomy

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