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Chelsey Killen - Creative Services Manager, TP3

Visual communication is a growing trend, key to delivering information. A visual message accompanying text has greater power to inform, educate, or persuade an audience. Many of us don't have the luxury of a designer on tap so we find ourselves acquiring basic design skills in order to keep up. It’s probably not what you signed up for but you’re creative so, with that positive, innovative hat on, you give it a go.

The question is where to start? In this series of short articles, I will share tips across the Adobe Suite. Let’s call it Adobe Advice – your dose of AA. In this issue, I share my top tips in getting started with Adobe Illustrator

The Scary Pen tool

Pen Tool

The pen tool can be quite a terrifying tool to begin with, but with some practice it can take you anywhere with Illustrator. Don’t be afraid! I recommend you visit the awesome Bézier Game to help you master the pen tool. Challenge yourself, it’s worth it.

Clipping Masks

Hands down, this is my favourite tool in Illustrator. When I discovered this tool it was a game-changer for me because it saved me so much time.

To help you get started, I recommend you watch this simple and effective demonstration by Tyler on YouTube. It’s 15 minutes of your time but well worth it.

Example of using the clipping mask with type -->

For the love of Colour

Colour is key for effective communication. Thankfully Adobe makes it easy for us to experiment with different colour structures using the very helpful Adobe Colour CC tool.

If colour structure is confusing for you, I have jotted down some quick definitions for you to refer to when in despair:

  • Hue – Simply, hue is colour. The family of twelve purest and brightest colours. They form the full spectrum of colours.
  • Saturation – Refers to how strong or weak a colour is. High saturation is strong. Low saturation is weak.
  • Chroma – Is the purity of a colour. A high chroma colour has no added black, white or grey. It is colour at its most vivid.
  • Tints – A tint is created by adding white to a colour, making it lighter than the original. Example: Pink is a tint of red.
  • Shades – A shade is created by adding black to a colour, making it darker than the original. Example: Navy is a shade of blue.

Saving your artwork

Learn how to save your artwork correctly. This is key. Obviously.

  • How to save your original artwork: File > Save As. Save as Type drop down – Adobe Illustrator (*.AI)
  • How to save as PDF: File > Save As. Save as Type drop down – Adobe PDF (*.PDF)
  • How to save for web use: File > Save for Web & Devices. A handy dialog box opens a preview pane where you can test different file formats before you save the file. Select your file type and you’re in business.

Go forth and practice

You've got a world of resources out there, both within the Adobe Suite and beyond. Don’t give up. Practice, practice, practice. Your persistence will pay off.

Here are my tried and tested suggestions:

  • If you are visual or auditory learner: YouTube is great place to get started.
  • If you are a hands-on, kinesthetic learner: TP3 offer some cool 1 and 2 day design workshops with design experts from a range of different industries. They can also include some one-on-one coaching if that’s more your thing.


Article: Infographics in PowerPoint

Workshop: Illustrator Essentials CS5

Workshop: Illustrator Essentials CS6



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