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Adobe Illustrator

The industry standard for creating vector graphics is Adobe Illustrator. Like Photoshop, this tool has a very powerful set of tools but specializes in creating vector images. If you plan on creating logos or line art, this is an important piece of software to have. It's also useful to own if you want to do Flash design. Flash works well with vectors — all the drawing tools in Flash are vector based. By adding Illustrator to your set of tools, you can create Flash‐friendly illustrations and other artwork. Figure 4-2 gives you a look at the Adobe Illustrator interface. Notice how it is very similar to the Photoshop interface. Another benefit of sticking with industry standards and especially products from Adobe is that their interfaces share similar features. They also work together to help users get the job done more efficiently. More about integrated workflows is discussed throughout this book.

Figure 4-2: The Adobe Illustrator interface.


Bitmap versus vector images, part 2

Vector images are made up of mathematical statements that define individual objects that are made up of points, lines, and fills. Think geometry class. Because they're created by math, they scale up and down very well. They're also relatively easy to edit because the elements are separate objects as opposed to a series of self‐contained dots. Designers can select an element, move points, and change properties of the lines and fills very easily.

Vector art works well for logos and other line art. Due to the nature of how they're created, they have very clean lines. The downside is that they don't do well with pictures and other types of images that require lots of tonal changes and soft transitions between those tones.

You will need to convert (or rasterize) vector graphics into bitmaps before using them on a Web page — with the exception of vector art created in Flash. The Flash player supports vector graphics where browsers don't. Some plug‐ins that are available can support vectors, but not many people download and install them. The main strength of vector art is that you can have very clean logos and line art that can be scaled to any size you need.

If someone sends you a graphic file, you can tell if it's a vector or bitmap by examining the pieces in your graphics software. Depending on the software you use and the software the graphic was created in, you may get a warning that shapes will be rasterized. This message is telling you that there are vector‐based shapes in the graphic that the software is having trouble dealing with and so the software will convert the shape into a bitmap. Another way you can tell the difference between vector and bitmap is by selecting the objects within the graphic. If a series of lines, curves, and dots appears all around the edge of the object, you've got a vector. If however, you get a box that contains the object or no lines at all, you've got a bitmap.

Note: Simply opening a graphic in a vector graphics program, like Adobe Illustrator, and then saving it as an Illustrator file does not make the graphic a vector. Remember, a vector is a math‐based graphic — think geometry class, lines, curves, and points.



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