Illustrator CS4 – Blobs, lots and lots of BLOBS!
I should preface my comments by saying that I’ve never been an Adobe Illustrator guy. In the early days if digital illustration, I gravitated towards Aldus Freehand. While Freehand lacked many of Illustrator’s enhanced preview and screen redraw functions – I found it much more intuitive to use. Alas, Aldus was swallowed by Macromedia, then Macromedia by Adobe, sounding a death-knell for any future development of my favourite illustration application.
So what’s good about Illustrator? Well, for starters, like its sibling Photoshop, AI has become an industry standard and host for security, commercial printing and packaging plug-ins. The additional plug-ins greatly expand the scope of and enhance the functionality of AI within a familiar environment – more on that in a future blog. And, Illustrator has always had superior screen redraw, allowing the digital artist to accurately see the result of their doodling.
Earlier full releases of Creative Suite brought substantial new features, each time virtually redefining Illustrator. While CS4 does bring a few new features to the AI table, Adobe seemed to focus on enhancing productivity and improving the user experience in AI CS4. Workspaces have been rearranged, giving intuitive access to tools and frequently used functions.
From my perspective, the most appreciated new feature is the ability to build multiple art boards within a single AI file. Admittedly, I’m not an artist per se. I use Illustrator mainly for prepress purposes, including opening and editing PDF files. It’s always frustrated me that in order to alter a multipage PDF file I had to open each page individually, alter and re-save as a single page. I then had to combine the individual pages in Acrobat, due to Illustrator’s inability to create multipage documents. While multiple art boards isn’t really the same thing as multipage… it can awkwardly serve the same purpose. Individual PDF pages can coexist as art boards within the same AI document, then can be saved out as a multipage PDF.
In the “fun to play with” category, Adobe’s added a Blob Brush to Illustrator. The name pretty much says it all – this brush paints uneven, artsy blob shapes on one of your multiple art boards. By combining random angles, brush sizes and smoothing a skilled artist can create wonderful hand crafted shapes. I, on the other hand, can only make BLOBS… lots and lots of BLOBS.
I do like saying “Blob Tool” though…
Have a GREAT Hallowe’en, back on Monday with more Software Updates!