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Adobe Illustrator CS2Vector illustration software
Recommendation: Strong Buy (standalone version); Must Buy (in the Creative Suite 2 bundle); Neutral (as an upgrade from Illustrator CS)
Users: Primarily graphic design professionals, but also video editors, compositors and motion graphics artists.
Platform: Mac OS X and Windows
Price: $499 (full version); $169 (upgrade); $899 as part of Creative Suite 2 Standard edition; $1,199 as part of Creative Suite 2 Premium edition
More information: http://www.adobe.com
The story with Adobe Illustrator CS2 is one of refinement. Unlike Photoshop CS2, Illustrator CS2 isn't a gigantic update packed with eye-popping new features. In fact, it's not even as major an update as Illustrator CS was (with its introduction of 3D effects). It's a moderate update, one that does include a few new creative tools, but it gains mainly in the area of workflow features.
But it's an important update nevertheless. The new creative features do, in some cases, bring much-needed functionality to the program, and the workflow features are also of note, particularly in the area of color management.
In the category of creative features, there are two in Illustrator CS2 that I consider to be major in terms of added functionality. The first of these is Live Trace, a feature that, at long last, allows users to vectorize raster artwork right inside illustrator, without resorting to a plugin or third-party application to get the job done. This, I think, is a feature that's been sorely lacking, one that other products--including (former) chief rival Macromedia Freehand--have been offering for years. Fortunately, Live Trace isn't just an exercise in catching up with (former) competitors; it's a leap-frogging of the technology, taking a new approach to the problem of vectorization.
This approach, essentially, is that of keeping the vectorization process "live" until you're ready to commit to the conversion. Here's how it works.
First, I place my image in Illustrator.
Then, in the Control palette, I can hit the Live trace button, or apply the tracing from the Object menu. When you use the Object menu, you can set Live tracing options beforehand. Otherwise, the default settings will be applied (in this case black and white with a threshold of 128).
But, if I wish, I can make changes to this by selecting a preset from the Live Trace Control palette. Or I can access the more detailed controls within the Live Trace Settings dialog, also accessible from either the Control palette or the Object menu.
And here's the final traced result.
And I can continue to make changes to this if I wish, or commit the image to "non-live" vectors by expanding the traced image.
The other major new feature is Live Paint. This is a feature designed to be used in conjunction with Live Trace for scanning line art or sketches and then doing things like colorizing the image. But it can also be used in place of Pathfinder commands for generating complex objects from simple objects and allowing you to treat object intersections as if they were separate objects. For example, let's say I overlap two star-shaped objects.
I can then convert them to Live Paint, and then use the Live Paint Bucket tool to fill in each segment individually, without having to do any complex Pathfinder operations first.
Related Keywords:adobe illustrator cs2, live trace, live paint
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