Product Review: Page (1) of 8 - 11/19/03 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at MyDmn.com).print page facebook

Adobe Illustrator CS

Vector illustration software By Dave Nagel
Adobe Illustrator is such a mature product and has been so fixed in its ways for so long that I never expected Adobe to take it any further than it's already been. The last time I reviewed a major upgrade of the software (version 10), I explicitly told you that the most you could expect out of future updates would be improvements under the hood--tweaks to the workflow, improvements to existing features, etc. But I was wrong, and Illustrator CS has shown me just how much a mature application can still grow.

Like many of the applications in Adobe's new Creative Suite, Illustrator CS (nee Illustrator 11.0) has undergone a major transformation in its latest incarnation. This is not to say that the application is unrecognizable from its predecessor. To the contrary: It's retained all of its lineage, but it's been expanded and refined so much that there's no doubt as to its authenticity as a full upgrade.


The big one: 3D Effects
Most obvious among the new features is Illustrator's 3D functionality. Undoubtedly in response to the addition of 3D in Macromedia Freehand MX, Illustrator's new approach to 3D is nevertheless no mere "me too" enhancement. It's a completely different approach. Actually, it's three completely different approaches.

The first and most simple form of 3D in Illustrator CS is the Extrude & Bevel function. Like the same feature found in countless applications, this one provides you with the ability to apply basic depth to any object (including live text), add any number of basic bevel structures to the extrusion (or no bevel, if desired) and adjust lighting for optimal results. The two examples below show different extrusion methods in Illustrator CS with two different kinds of bevels. (Note in the second example, one stage shows a wireframe view. There are three different ways to display shading in Illustrator CS: wireframe, diffuse and "plastic." Most of the examples in this section show the plastic lighting option.)





Like all of the 3D functions in Illustrator CS, Extrude & Bevel is applied as an Effect and can be removed at will through the appearance palette.

Far more interesting is the new Revolve Effect. This one allows you to take any path or piece of text and literally wrap it around itself to generate a 3D object. For example, if I create a path like this:



I can then apply Revolve, and it will wrap around itself to create this:



The effect is, of course, fully editable, so at any time I can double-click on the effect in the Appearance palette and make any changes I wish. In the case of Revolve, as with Extrude & Bevel, this includes a variety of lighting and material options, offset, perspective, blending and other parameters. I can also add multiple lights and set their intensity and position (including the ability to place lights behind the object), and I can adjust the X, Y and Z rotation of the object interactively by clicking and dragging on the representational cube at the top of the Options dialog.




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Related Keywords:Adobe Illustrator CS Vector illustration software Adobe Illustrator is such a mature product and has been so fixed in its ways for so long that I never expected Adobe to take it any further than its already been. The last time I reviewed a major upgrade of the software (version 10), I explicitly told you that the most you could expect out of future updates would be improvements under the hood--tweaks to the workflow, improvements to existing features, etc. But I was wrong, and Illustrator CS has shown me just how much a mature application can still grow.

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