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Introduction

Introduction

Stop! If you're looking for the definitive desk reference on every nuance of each Illustrator tool and menu item, don't buy this book!

This book is not about teaching you software. This book is about showing you practical, efficient, and fun ways to use a tool, Adobe Illustrator CS2, to complete real-world, on-the-job projects and get your job done with as little wasted effort and as few headaches as possible.

Most people don't learn effectively when shown disconnected tasks utilizing generic subject matter.

Learning how to type text in one chapter, draw a flower with the Pen tool in another, and create envelope warps on a triangle in a third chapter, with hundreds of pages in between, will not teach you how to design a logo. Such books are wonderful for augmenting an existing workflow and finding new techniques. They don't, however, help you get the job done quickly if you have to spend most of your time flipping through the book, trying to decide if this section is more applicable than this other section to the project your client needs by 5 o'clock.

When I walk into a classroom I ask my students one simple question: Tell me about your job. Then I build a curriculum on the fly to answer the specific needs of my students.

I can't do that in a book; therefore, I looked back through my career in design and illustration, at my current and former client work, and at the myriad projects created every day in Illustrator by the people I've trained throughout the world. From hundreds of designs I culled the 11 most common types of projects, projects that nearly every creative pro has to complete every day at work.

Illustrator @work is not a list of tasks or features turned into projects. It was planned first as the 11 projects most often faced by professional users in today's marketplace, and then each project was broken down into its constituent tasks.

Neither is this book organized by tool or by the complexity of techniques or by your skill level. In any given Illustrator project one uses numerous tools taught in educational curricula and task-based books for novice, intermediate, and advanced users. Those labels have no application outside a classroom; when you're using a tool like Illustrator, you will never think to yourself, Wow! I've just used an intermediate-level function!

In any given chapter you will learn to productively use tools for work, without irrelevant skill-level labels. You will learn advanced mesh warp techniques in the step immediately following drawing your first rectangle, all in easy-to-follow steps that don't condescend.

Each chapter in this book contains a project or a group of closely related projects that will take you, start to finish, from a blank page to a polished drawing or design that's ready for output. Where possible I've provided tips and options for a variety of scenarios, though most projects include in the main flow of text the efficiency, productivity, and, of course, creativity techniques I've learned over the course of a 20-year career as a creative professional.

This book is tailored to the needs of nearly every Illustrator user—novice or old hand. I can't be there in person, spouting lame jokes and tailoring the instruction to your specific project, with your digital asset files, so I've done the next best thing by writing project-based instruction instantly adaptable on the fly to your project, with your assets, while you're doing it on the job.

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