The Field Guide to Future Craft


Adobe Illustrator has become the industry standard for creating vector artwork. As such, it is used for the production of infographics, diagrams, artwork creation, and refinement of drawings to name a few use objectives. It’s strength lies in internal or imported creation and modification of shapes and strokes with compositions arranged on artboards. Being apart of Adobe Suite, it also allows for the incorporation of pixel based assets to add to your designs.

In this section, you will learn:

* Basic Navigation
* Document Creation
* Panels and Workspaces
* Layer Management
* Base Tools Sets
* Importing and Exporting
* Saving and Output types


Illustrator defines artboards as areas where which artwork is populated.

The artboards typically reflect the document size or preferences defined at the launch of the program, however they can be redefined via document setup or through the layers/artboards menu which is by default docked on the lower right of the software interface.

Broadly speaking, within the essentials workspace setting of Illustrator, the center comprises the artboard or canvas to populate art work, while the left side holds core tools and the right core menus. At the top of the interface are the drop down menus for expanded access to tools, preferences and settings, and below this are generally expanded, visual, preferences and calibration for any one tool, command or artwork that is currently being selected.

Reference pdf


These workflows will help you get started.
  • Creating a document
    • File → New File: Name, Size, Orientation, No. Artboards, Output
    • File → Document Setup: Adjustments, units,
    • Artboard Panel → Create, Delete, Management, Adjustments
  • Setting up your interface
    • Workspaces → Essentials
    • Windows → Control, Tools, Docked Panels
    • Menus / Tabs → Edit, Object, Type, Select, Effect
    • Tools → Nested Menus, Expandable, Double-Click, Color
    • Panels → Artboards, Layers, Stroke, Color

Rigor within the layer stack is a core fundamental to mastery within Illustrator.

Within Illustrator it could be characterized that you are either producing native artwork or importing artwork. Either of which, will be managed and organized by layer association. The layer stack, has a direct correlation to the visual stack, or layering, of artwork - i.e. if a red square overlaps with a blue square and the red square is a layer different from the blue square, whichever layer is higher in the layer stack, that square will be full visible, on top of the other square. Dragging and rearranging the layer stack, alters the visual stack, hence dictating which square would be on top and fully visible verse which would be underneath and only partially visible.

Reference PDF
These workflows will help you manage assets.
  • Importing Content
    • Place : Into Existing Document, Compatibilities, Types
    • Open : New Document → Copy and Paste, Workflow
  • Asset Management
    • Layers → Create, Name, Delete, Duplicate, Stack Order, Edit, Show/Hide, Lock, Layer Nesting, Change Layer, Layer Select All
    • Selection Tools → Selection (V), Direction Select (A)
    • Selection Menus → Select same : Color, Stroke, Appearance, etc.
    • Select, Right Click → Arrange,
    • Group and Ungroup

Toolsets & Techniques

Tools, docked on the left, are the main creators or transformers of content while menus, dock on the right, are the main calibrators, editors or expanded parameters of any one tools or artifact produced.

The core foundation of Illustrator can be viewed through its stroke and fill relationship in content creation. Strokes define line work, while fills, are the enclosed space within closed line work. Both of these two elements can be calibrated from line weight, line type, end conditions to color, swatches and gradients. Tools are a means to and end, and calibration of those tools or of artwork is the standard operating procedure to produce quality output from illustrator.

As a rule of thumb, seek to keep your fill and stroke calibration independent of one another either through individual manipulation or through the layer stack in order to maximize control and effect through these core elements.

These are the core toolsets to create and manipulate assets.
  • Tools
    • Line → Stroke, Color, Wt., Length
    • Pen → Anchor, Shift, Appearance
    • Shape → Presets, Fill/Stroke, Anchor,
    • Text → Styles
    • Brushes → Libraries, Styles
    • Live Paint → Menu, Strategy, Use
    • Eye Dropper → Use
    • Scissors → Use
  • Transformations
    • Move, Scale, Rotate … → Select, Right-click, Transform, Inputs
    • Anchor Points and Handles → Use, A & V keys
  • Saving a Document
    • Save As → AI., PDF. (Artboard Output), EPS., SVG.
  • Output
    • Export → Types, Compatibility
    • Print → Settings, Resolution, Formatting, Print Range, Paper Type
  • Help Menu

    Use it. Seriously!