What is Adobe Illustrator and what does it do?

What is Adobe Illustrator and what does Illustrator do?

Illustrator is vector graphics software which uses Bézier curves to edit or create illustrations, graphics and artwork for print documents or web sites, e.g. logo designs, diagrams, illustrations, infographics, graphs.

Illustrator can design small documents such as posters, leaflets, greetings cards, book cover designs, technical information sheets, etc.

Red hearts pattern on golden background
Red hearts pattern on golden background

What does Illustrator do that Photoshop doesn’t do?

What is the main difference between Illustrator and Photoshop?

Illustrator works with vector graphics (images created from lines or paths), creating graphics and illustrations. These images can be easily scaled (made larger or smaller) without losing detail.

Photoshop works with non-scalable, pixel-based images, such as photographs. These images cannot be scaled significantly without affecting image quality (at high magnification, individual pixels become apparent).

What is Illustrator normally used for?

Illustrator creates vector art, where shapes and lines are created with paths (rather than pixels, as in photographs). Here are a few examples of the type of work for which Adobe Illustrator can be used:

  • Graphic design
  • Logo and artwork design
  • Illustrations and diagrams
  • Infographics

Who uses Illustrator?

Users of Illustrator include:

  • Graphic designers
  • Desktop publishers
  • Artists and illustrators
  • Web designers

A brief history of Adobe Illustrator

The first version of Adobe Illustrator arrived for Apple Mac in 1987. Version 2 was released for Windows two years later.

The early versions were not easy to use and looked quite primitive, compared to the later versions of Illustrator. However the software worked in a way which was new and exciting and it was obvious that it had the potential for something amazing.

Prior to the release of Illustrator 7 in 1997, there were different releases for Mac and Windows (versions 1, 88, 3, 5 and 6 for Mac, and 2, 4 and 5.1 for Windows). Illustrator 7 was the first cross platform version which offered compatibility between Mac and Windows versions of the software.

Illustrator gradually developed over the next few years. By the late 90s, with Illustrator 8 and 9, there were many more features and Illustrator had become much easier to use.

In the October 2003 the first version Adobe Creative Suite was released, with Illustrator CS. After six versions of the Creative Suite, Adobe Illustrator CC was released in June 2013, as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.

Adobe Illustrator version history

Illustrator for Mac
Illustrator 1
Illustrator 88
Illustrator 3
Illustrator 5
Illustrator 6

Illustrator for Windows
Illustrator 2
Illustrator 4
Illustrator 5.1

Mac and Windows
Illustrator 7
Illustrator 8
Illustrator 9 (*adc, *apc)
Illustrator 10 (*adc, *apc)
*adc = part of Adobe Design Collection (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Acrobat)
*apc = part of Adobe Publishing Collection
(Pagemaker, Illustrator, Photoshop, Acrobat)

Adobe Creative Suite
Illustrator CS (Illustrator 11)
Illustrator CS2 (Illustrator 12)
Illustrator CS3 (Illustrator 13)
Illustrator CS4 (Illustrator 14)
Illustrator CS5 (Illustrator 15)
Illustrator CS6 (Illustrator 16)

Adobe Creative Cloud
Illustrator CC (Illustrator 17)
Illustrator CC 2014 (Illustrator 18)
Illustrator CC 2015 (Illustrator 19)
Illustrator CC 2015.3 (Illustrator 20)
Illustrator CC 2017 (Illustrator 21)
Illustrator CC 2018 (Illustrator 22)
Illustrator CC 2019 (Illustrator 23)
Illustrator CC 2020 (Illustrator 24)
Illustrator CC 2021 (Illustrator 25)