This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

January 30, 2019

Why teaching Adobe Illustrator to art students is so easy

One of my favorite computer graphics software programs is Adobe Illustrator, which is the complement to Adobe Photoshop. I use them both, and have taught them both, but by far my favorite program to teach to art students is Illustrator.

Adobe Illustrator is a vector program, so it can be used by both artists and serious engineering-type people. Luckily, I got to teach it to artists. If you're someone that people have often called "right-brained", Illustrator will be a breeze for you. Unfortunately, if your brain is more normal (I call these normal people "left brainers") it will be a challenge, and you may never understand it, and just give up. I'll see if I can explain.

With Adobe Illustrator, I don't tell, I show. And I've found that the more words I use, the more confusing it gets to my art students. I demonstrate a bit, give a project, then more demonstration and another project, and then a much larger project. People who want step 1, step 2, etc., get in trouble. People who want to write down complex names and formulas usually just end up getting themselves angry, and tangled. I often said that if I could "put fingers in the clay" (so to speak), then Adobe Illustrator would reveal itself. Yes, I do a lot of comparisons, and analogous thinking, so the more literal-minded people (normal left-brainers) will just wonder why I'm talking about clay? What kind of clay? A mineral? Will the teacher be telling us what kind of clay we need to buy? And what will it cost? And so on. I've seen these people, and they're so busy thinking about the wrong stuff that they don't have time to just play with the program. And that's what I mean by "getting hands in the clay". This is art, and this is how it's taught, by doing, not by memorization.

If you've read this far, you may be one of those normal "left-brain" people who are frustrated with Adobe Illustrator. You may have already asked about vector, and whether they're the same as outlines, and how they compare to rasters. If you're an artist, you stopped listening to me a long time ago, and are already using Adobe Illustrator.

Image at the top of this post: cartoon in Adobe Illustrator.

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