This tutorial will provide an introduction to Adobe Illustrator. Illustrator is a vector program used to create information graphics. It’s important to note that there is a huge difference between Illustrator and Photoshop, two Adobe programs that do very different things. Photoshop is a photo manipulation program. And although you can do some very rich illustration work in Photoshop, the output will be a raster image, based on pixels.
Illustrator is a vector based program which allows you to draw vector items. In a general sense, the term vector refers to a straight line. However, vector graphics are based on points, lines, shapes, curves or polygons. Because they are based on continuous, solid shapes, vector graphics can be easily re-sized without jeopardizing the quality of the image. However, because raster images are based on a predetermined number of pixels per inch, the image quality will be dramatically reduced as you enlarge the image. And this can be particularly detrimental if you have type in your image.
Information graphics should generally be created in Illustrator. And type that is included in an information graphic should always be set in a vector-based program so that it does not become “pixelated” when you attempt to print or reproduce it.
The tutorial provided here offers a solid introduction to Adobe illustrator, while also allowing you to practice your chart-making skills.