GCIP 152: Vector Graphics with Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is the industry standard illustration program for print, multimedia, and online graphics. Whether you are a designer or a technical illustrator producing artwork for print publishing, an artist producing multimedia graphics, or a creator of web pages or online content, the Adobe Illustrator program offers you the tools you need to get professional quality results.

First developed in 1986, Illustrator's power and simplicity derive from the use of mathematical formulae to define elements. This means that vector drawings are resolution independent; they print or save to the highest resolution of the device rendering them. As a result, vector artwork can be scaled up or down to infinity without loss of quality - portraits have been drawn on the head of a pin, then blown up to fill a poster. In vector artwork there is infinite freedom to experiment and modify, without knowing where and how the artwork will be used, at what sizes, and at what resolution. In this class, you will learn not only the freedom and creative power of Illustrator, but the pure joy in creation without consequence.

Vector Graphics

Vector graphics is the use of points, lines, curves, and shapes or polygons, which are all based on mathematical equations, to represent images in computer graphics. Illustrator uses points connected by lines of various shapes, and the lines that define the vector shapes are known to as paths.

Images made up of shapes, such as line drawings, illustrations and logos, are are best created in a vector program like Adobe Illustrator. The mathematical formulae that define the points and paths that create vectors results in images that are infinitely scalable to any size and detail, yet the file size of vector data generating the image stays the same. Mathematical operators in the Illustrator software are used to manipulate component objects in the picture with tools that are intuitive and easy to use through the graphical user interface of the computer.

Vector graphic software such as Illustrator is made possible by Bézier curves. The most basic Bézier curve is made up of two end points and control handles attached to each end, or node. The control handles define the shape of the curve on either side of the common node. The curve is named after the French engineer Pierre Bézier.

Pierre Bézier (1910 – 1999) made lasting contributions to computer aided design and graphics as well as to mathematics. Bézier was the son and grandson of engineers and his sons are engineers, five generations of engineers. Forty-six years after receiving his degree in mechanical engineering from the Ecole des Arts et Mètiers, he was awarded a Doctor of Science in mathematics from the University of Paris. Bézier joined the ranks of academia in 1968 as Professor of Production Engineering at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Mètiers, a position he held for 11 years. He wrote numerous papers, four books and received many awards and honors.

After university, he joined Renault and remained with them for 42 years until his retirement in 1975. He started as a tool setter and eventually became managing staff member for technical development, a position he held for 15 years.  Bézier’s interest in Computer Aided Design began in the early 1960s. The result was his UNISURF system, which was founded on his inventions of Bézier curves and surfaces. That system is still in use today.

Gregory Kelley, MA
Palomar College, Adjunct Faculty
Graphic Communications Department

Adobe Illustrator Creative Cloud Revealed offers you comprehensive coverage in all areas of Adobe Illustrator. Beginning with fundamental concepts and progressing to in-depth exploration of the software's full set of features, these step-by-step lessons offer you a guided tour of all the program's great features - including an illustrated tutorial on "how to draw with the Pen tool" that you won't find in any other book. This new edition highlights extensive coverage of important and exciting new features, including dramatic improvements to Illustrator's built-in tracing utility and a major upgrade for creating patterns.