Learn Illustrator Online

Illustrator helps you create vector artwork for use in many venues.

Adobe Illustrator CS5 is a program that allows you to create vector artwork for logos, branding, graphics, animation, banners, web pages and multimedia sites, as well as for any other use of graphics. The software, created for design professionals, has a higher learning curve than other, more basic graphics software packages. Thus, if you want to learn to use Illustrator online, you have three choices. Consult free online tips, tutorials and videos; pay for a subscription to online training tools and videos; or take online courses, some free and some requiring paid registration.


Free Sites

1. Visit Adobe TV’s “Learn Illustrator CS5” video series. The series of 23 videos, each running from around two to 10 minutes, begins with “Getting Started: What Is Illustrator CS5?” and ends with “Using Adobe CS5 Review.”

2. View the free tutorials available on Learnit2. The site offers step-by-step, on-screen instructions that include written directions and screen shots to walk you through the creation of various specific designs such as the Xbox 360 logo, a Web 2.0 badge, a credit card image, a Lego block, shiny text, a folder icon and a help icon.

3. Navigate to the Lynda.com Illustration Tutorials and Training site, which offers hundreds of training videos. Most require a paid subscription, but all underlined videos are free. For example, clicking “Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced” gives you access to 18 free video tutorials, and “Illustrator CS5 Essential Training” offers 14 freebies.

4. Choose and view one of many Illustrator tutorials on the Designer Today site. The tutorials employ on-screen text and screen shots to walk you through specific tasks you can complete with Illustrator. Included is help with abstract art, interesting backgrounds, pattern fill and dots effects, among others. Note that many of the tutorials on this site apply to the other versions of Illustrator: 9, 10, CS, CS2, CS3 and CS4. Not all features are the same from version to version.

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Pay Sites

5. Sign up with Lynda.com; as of January 2001, prices start at $25 per month or $250 per year for access to all Illustrator tutorial videos. For $37.50 per month or $375 per year, you get access to all videos plus exercise files. Monthly memberships do not have a long-term commitment.

6. Try a free demo and then sign up for Illustrator tutorial videos with Apex Web Media. The plan, $30 per month as of January 2011, includes access to tutorials for PC or Mac and working files that you can download for use on your home or work computer. Apex Web Media’s site offers 107 Illustrator CS5 videos with a total duration of 8 1/2 hours.

7. Sample one or more of 15 free demos on Software Training Tutorials, and sign up to view the rest if you feel the information is useful. As of January 2011, a $99.94 one-time fee gives you CD or download access to more than 10 hours of video tutorials and practice projects.

Online Courses

8. Learn via instructor-led tutorials by signing up for an online class with Lifetime to Learn’s “Learn Adobe Illustrator Online.” Courses run for 32 hours and start every other month or so.

9. Enroll in DesignMentor Training’s “Adobe Illustrator Training Online.” This site offers basic and advanced courses in Illustrator and digital illustration. Each class is available to students to begin at any time, lasts 30 to 60 hours and allows students to work at their own pace, as long as they finish the course within six months. An instructor offers personal feedback and mentoring as students complete exercises, lessons, quizzes and discussion board posts. Complete the “Ask Us a Question” form on the “How Classes Work” page to request information about pricing.

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10. Purchase a $199 annual or $24.95 monthly (as of January 2011) subscription to KelbyTraining.com and get access to all of its online training courses, including all CS5 programs, photography, Corel Painter, video, lightroom and other graphic design-related courses. “Illustrator CS5 Power Session” explains the changes from Illustrator CS4 to CS5. The other courses instruct on CS4 software, but most of the information works on CS5 as well, and modifications for CS5 are explained in the power session course. The first lesson from each class is free for those who want to try it first.