Adobe Illustrator CC review: first look
Adobe has this morning launched its new suite of applications for subscribers to its Creative Cloud programme. We’ve already taken a first look at Photoshop CC: now we’ve turned our attention to the latest version of Adobe Illustrator, available only to customers who’ve subscribed to Adobe’s Creative Cloud programme. It’s an incremental change over Illustrator CS6, but depending on the sorts of design you create, some of the new features could be very useful.
The first new feature on Adobe’s list is the new Touch Type tool, which lets you resize, rotate, recolour and displace individual letters in a text element – while keeping them editable. It works fantastically: you can pretty much just dab at a letter with the tool, then drag it around and tweak its properties at will. You can’t adjust groups of multiple characters, though – it’s one glyph at a time, which might be frustrating for would-be logo-designers. We also have to say it’s something of a niche tool: those who need to mess around with editable text will be delighted, but we can’t help wondering how many Illustrator users that really is.
Although the Creative Cloud suite offers no fewer than three web creation systems (Dreamweaver, Muse and Edge), Illustrator doesn’t directly integrate with any of them. However, the new CSS Properties panel is a step in the right direction – click on a shape or some text in your scene and Illustrator CC automatically generates a CSS description of it, which can be pasted directly into a web document.
Another typographic improvement: at long last you can type in part of a font’s name and have all matching typefaces pop up for you to choose from. For anyone who works with type, this is a big improvement over the old, fussy, not-actually-alphabetical font dropdown.
It’s now possible to build brushes out of bitmap images, so you can, in Adobe’s words, “create complex organic designs quickly”. The bundled brushes work remarkably well (once you’ve got the scale right), but we wonder how many designers will consider it worthwhile to put in the effort to create their own custom brushes.
Place multiple files
It’s now possible to multi-select external files from the Place dialogue, and drop them into place on your document with a series of clicks. Once again it’s an improvement that will probably only be useful in a very small proportion of cases – but in those cases we’re sure it’ll be very welcome indeed.
Lastly, taking a leaf from InDesign’s book, Illustrator now supports packaging, so you can easily collect any linked bitmaps and fonts together in one place, for easy editing on a different computer. A simple touch, but one that could save you some tiresome leg-work.
Worth the upgrade?
Illustrator is so versatile a tool that probably no two users use it in quite the same way – so it makes sense that these updates address a variety of different usage models, with CSS support reaching out to one constituency, while improvements to external file handling address another. But we can see the packaging and font search features at least having wide appeal, so to that extent Illustrator CC is a welcome all-round update.
As with Photoshop CC, however, these really are small improvements to a fundamentally unchanged package. Existing users of Illustrator CS6 may well conclude there isn’t enough here to justify jumping onto Adobe’s Creative Cloud.
Stay tuned for our first-look review of Adobe Dreamweaver CC.