Adobe Illustrator CS

$499; $169 upgrade. Also available as part of Adobe Creative Suite, $1,299 Premium, $999 Standard. Academic pricing available.

The eleventh version of Adobe’s award winning scalable vector graphics illustration software is an integral part of Adobe’s Creative Suite. Adobe’s latest promotion, “TOYBOX” with offers an invitation to PLAY with the Creative Suite and have FUN. Illustrator is arguably the most FUN of the Creative Suite applications.

By experimenting with the 3D effect tools that are fully functional in Illustrator CS, one can let one’s typographic fancies soar. When you have typed a word or words and are viewing it/them as an object, creating a three dimensional effect is as simple as going to the Edit menu and choosing 3D> Extrude and Bevel. From there you can create the look that does what you need it to do while viewing your changes on the fly. Combine this freedom with the more 100 OpenType fonts and 200+ templates (everything from restaurant menus to DVD covers) that come with Illustrator CS and you will be well on your way to being a graphic artist.

The hard work of being a graphic artist is also attended to. A graphic artist needs to get the job out on time and have the finished results look the way he or she intended. Illustrator CS helps with a host of improvements to the ways it deals with type, fonts, PDFs and printing (We all have printing isssues).

As always, Illustrator works seamlessly with Photoshop, and is becoming completely integrated with Acrobat, InDesign, and GoLive too. This ability to work with other applications has recently been extended to Microsoft Office. Illustrator CS is also able to open and edit a wide array of file kinds including such specialty formats as .dwg and .dxf which are created by architectural drawing software.

Illustrator CS can be purchased separately or as part of the Adobe Creative Suite. For those working in groups, the addition of Adobe Version Cue to the Adobe Creative Suite must be an incredible boon. Version Cue is an application that keeps track of what everyone is doing with the various files involved in a project, and even prevents overwriting of different versions of the same file.

I use Illustrator from time to time to create web graphics, and I wish I had more time to master it for the wondrous things it seems to be capable of. If you do graphic design for a living, you know you need Illustrator. If you don’t but want to have some visual play, give Adobe’s come-on a look-see and have some FUN.

– John Maas
Adobe Illustrator CS
System Requirements: PowerPC G3, G4 or G5, Mac OS X v.10.2.4 through v.10.3, 192MB of RAM (256MB recommended), 470MB of available hard-disk space, CD-ROM drive. For Adobe PostScript printers: Adobe PostScript Level 2 or PostScript 3.
Copyright ©2004 by John Maas. This review appeared in the October 2004 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.