female graphic designer

Adobe Illustrator – The Essentials to Get Started

When I first started doing graphic design, I was using Microsoft Image Composer and PowerPoint! I can’t even imagine doing what I do now using those tools. The problems with using Adobe products was that they intimidated me. There are so many tools and I had no clue where to even begin. With the seven videos below, you can do a good majority of the basics in Illustrator so you look like a pro, not a Joe Schmo.

I’ve been doing web and graphic design now for over 11 years. What started as a hobby has become my full-time job and I freaking love it. No one person taught me how to use Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, and it has taken me years to get to a level where I am comfortable using both tools and knowledgeable enough that I can share some basic information that will save you hours of head scratching.

Instead of typing out these instructions, I’ve taken the time to find the best tutorials on YouTube so you don’t have to wade through the crap and waste your time like I did. If you are new to Illustrator, watch these vides and start using this amazing tool with confidence.

Adobe Illustrator – The Pen Tool

For me, this is the most useful tool in illustrator. You can take existing art and modify it so easily. As a beginner I used to purchase really simple things, like silhouettes and other items that I can now draw pretty easily in Adobe Illustrator.

Adobe Illustrator – The Curvature Tool

It is similar to the Pen Tool, and it might be even easier to use in some cases. I absolutely love this one as well. It is new and so if you don’t have the latest version of Adobe CC then you may not have this option. If you aren’t subscribing to Adobe Creative Cloud then you need to do that immediately if you plan to use their tools longterm. I love Adobe and I’m so glad I don’t have to pay $2000 up front every two years to get the latest software.

Adobe Illustrator – Warping Text

This is hands down one of the coolest tutorials you will find on how to warp text. It not only shows you how to quickly trace and create a vector shape, it also shows you how to warp text quickly and easily to make it look hand drawn.

Adobe Illustrator – The Pathfinder Tool

This took me forever to figure out, but once I learned out to use this amazing panel it really made a difference in my illustration because I could draw a shape, merge it with another shape and delete one of the shapes to make something new. Watch this fantastic tutorial to learn some great techniques that I wish I had known years ago.

Adobe Illustrator – The Appearance Panel

If you are like me and you started your graphic design career using Photoshop then you may have gotten used to the styles panel. I love to overlay colors and play with various drop shadows, but where is this in Illustrator? It is there, just go to Window -> Appearance and you have so many options all the while keeping your text in vector format. This tutorial is awesome and will even show you how to save graphic styles so once you have created a cool affect you can save it like a template and use it for later!

Adobe Illustrator – Using the Image Trace Tool

Image Trace is why I started to use Illustrator. I used to buy most of my vectors and then I learned about Image Trace and I started just using it to make the things that I drew by hand and turn them into vectors. When I first started doing graphic design I would draw things and scan them in. I once crumpled up a paper bag and scanned it in to use as a background. Wow. Now I can create so much more with Illustrator and I no longer crumple bags to create cool textures. 🙂

Adobe Illustrator – The Shaper Tool

Sometimes you need to be able to get something done quick and dirty. That is where the Shaper Tool comes in. Quickly and easily draw circles, squares and triangles with ease. The cool thing about this is that I used to try to just use the shape tool for this, but Adobe Illustrator has realized that sometimes you need to be able to quickly draw a square, a triangle or a circle without having to go back and forth to the tool panel. This tool is new and with the Adobe Creative Cloud you constantly get all the updates and latest tools and for just $49 a month, or $29 a month for students, this price can’t be beat.

Featured Photo on this page by Domenico Loia on Unsplash