Learning Illustrator: The First 3 Tutorials I Used (& The Results!)

This isn’t my first time up against the Adobe Monstrosities, but it is the first time in over a decade. My previous design experience is a bit all over the place with very little formal training. I always had an interest in making things on the computer growing up, using programs like Microsoft Paint and Powerpoint. Kidpix, I believe, predated that, but it’s impossible to pinpoint which one came first.

In tenth grade I took a graphic design and web design course which covered, in the following order, Microsoft Paint, Microsoft Publisher, and Photoshop. What is so frustrating is that at one time I knew where every tool was in Photoshop, but essentially only created what the teacher said to down to the shape and color. We didn’t cover choosing colors, layouts or any design theory at all. Then, without access to Photoshop, or a real reason to use Publisher, the skill just dissolved.

When I started working in social media, I quickly became part of the group of Canva “designers.” While I mostly used templates, there were some situations where I worked on projects from the beginning using elements that were available. I began to read more about design theory and best practices.

Now, I’m back in school, taking Introduction to Graphic Design, which is quickly barreling through the various super-dense Adobe Creative Suite programs over the semester. The one that I’m most interested in is Adobe Illustrator. The projects we did in it were quite simple, making quotes and shapes. I decided it’s time for more.

I’ve committed to following one simple tutorial every weekday, along with my other classwork and projects. Note: I prefer following written tutorials with screenshots, rather than video tutorials. The first few that I have bookmarked came from Pinterest, where I tried to choose things that would be immediately useful to me.

  1. Isometric Text
    What I Learned: Color Filling, Creating 3D Text, and Creating Patterns

    Difficulties: There is supposed to be a shadow to give more depth to the pattern, but I missed or flubbed a step in the beginning that made it impossible to figure out by myself. Also, I don’t completely understand how I turned the text into individual object faces.
  1. Vector Avatars
    What I learned: Shape Tools, Deleting Portions of Shapes, Live Paint Bucket, Background Gradients, Scissor Tool, Changing Stroke Thickness and End caps,

    Difficulties: The Dang Scissor Tool. I had so many problems with it, because I don’t understand the ways intersections work. Then when I got to the painting part, I realized the way I made the lines connect cleanly affected how I could color the icon.
  1. Clipping Mask
    What I learned: How to Super Impose an Image onto Text

    Difficulties: When to stop editing, or fixing, or adjusting the individual pieces. I had to stop myself after an hour because I realized I would never think it was perfect.

The Results of Hours of Effort and Frustration (& Learning!):

Special thanks to Spoon Graphics and Her Creative Studio for sharing their tutorials for free online. These are resources I will be continuing to use as I learn more about Adobe Illustrator.

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