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Why do I love Illustrator; why do I hate it?

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I have an ongoing love/hate relationship with Adobe Illustrator. Thought I’d write a journal page on why.

Why do I love Illustrator? (Why have I chosen to use it)

  • It’s a challenge. I like to challenge myself. I’ve been using Photoshop for 25+ years. I actually started with Illustrator but put it aside when I found Photoshop. I thought I’d pick it back up and see if I can use it in my illustration work.
  • It’s much easier to change colors. Since you’re dealing with vectors instead of rasterized pixels, every color is separate. Think of it like bits of paper cut out and placed one on top of another to create a complex illustration. Except that with AI, you can easily change the color of each scrap of “paper” anytime you need to.
  • It’s MUCH easier to scale your artwork (or motifs within) larger or smaller without any degradation of quality.
  • It’s an amazing tool to create surface pattern designs.
  • Once you get the hang of it, AI can be a great tool for creating the shapes you need for your illustration work.

But AI isn’t perfect and can actually be frustrating. What do I hate about it?

  • Probably the biggest thing I dislike about Illustrator is working with texture and pattern. The act of infusing texture, pattern and a hand drawn quality into your work isn’t intuitive. It doesn’t “just happen.” You have to really think about and consciously (almost force) the program to work with these types of design elements. There are definitely ways to successfully infuse texture and patterns into your illustrations using Illustrator, but it takes some creative wrangling to make it work.
  • And with that thought, probably what I dislike the most about working in Illustrator is the way it can look “fake” or digital. It’s very hard to make work created in Illustrator to look hand drawn and personalized. But going back up to why I like it, it’s a challenge. And I like a challenge.

So maybe the question is, why work in Illustrator instead of Photoshop or Procreate if I like using textures and patterns so much in my artwork?

Right now, I’m mainly using it because so many of the design partners I might want to work with require it. Not all, for sure. And as I get more experience and hopefully license some of my work, I might find the industries and partners I most want to work in don’t require it. So I can work in anything.

But for now, the truth of the matter is, it’s possible to move from AI to Photoshop without any initial loss of quality. But it can be almost impossible to move from a rasterized illustration created in Photoshop or Procreate and bring it into Illustrator as vector art. So for now, I’m sticking with AI.

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Hi, I'm Kerry

...of Curiously Designed. This blog documents my journey as I figure out how to finally pursue a long-held dream of being a working illustrator and designer.

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