Illustrator CC 2017 Review and New Features
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Published on November 10, 2016
Adobe has updated their professional drawing and illustration tool. As you will find in this Illustrator CC 2017 review, the new features borrow heavily from capabilities previously available in Adobe InDesign. Many InDesign users will see more convergence between the apps, which are now providing very similar functionality. As these are mostly incremental updates, they will be rolled into the Illustrator courses offered at American Graphics Institute.
New documents can now be created from either a blank canvas or templates that use artwork and illustrations. The new Illustrator templates provide starting points for customizing and creating your own artwork.
The user interface has been updated, with new icons for many of the tools, and the ability to change the background workspace color to either a lighter or darker color. This may help some users with vision impairments or simply reduce eye strain. Use the workspace customization options within the preferences to access these changes, just as within InDesign.
Another area where Adobe Illustrator CC 2017’s new features borrow heavily from InDesign is the handling of text. For example, InDesign has long included the ability to fill a text frame with placeholder text, and this capability is now also available in Illustrator.
The idea of importing text into a shape, such as the inside of a circle, will also be nothing new for users of InDesign that also work in Illustrator. Now Adobe Illustrator graduates to InDesign-level text-handling functionality by adding the ability to import text directly into a custom shapes, and also import text onto a path. While it was previously possible to place text onto a path or in an object, importing text directly from a file wasn’t an option until Illustrator CC 2017.
Locating fonts has also been made easier in Illustrator CC 2017 using functionality that also exists in InDesign. Font families can be marked as favorites with a star icon, or selected from a recently used fonts section that has now been added to Adobe Illustrator. Illustrator has made some new improvements to working with type, making it possible to narrow fonts by broad categories such as serif or sans serif, as well as locating visually similar fonts. Illustrator also provides a new font preview for any selected text by placing the cursor over a font name in list of available font list available fonts found in the Control panel or the Character panel.
Relating to fonts, you can also select special characters and symbols, such as variations on hyphens and dashes, white-space characters like the en dash or em dash, and characters that break a column or line. These options are available while working with text, either from the Type menu or the context menu in Illustrator CC 2017.
The zoom tool doesn’t generally get much attention, but there have been some refinements to the process of zooming in this version of Illustrator. Zooming now retains focus on selected object, just as within InDesign. If working on small objects, select them then increase the magnification, either via the keyboard or menu commands, and the display will center automatically on the selected object.
Adobe Illustrator has also improved the precisions with which layouts can be generated. Precision is especially useful for UX and UI designers who need to create artwork that is pixel-perfect. Adobe Illustrator CC 2017 adds the ability to align objects along with individual path segments and anchor points that comprise them. Objects can be drawn or created so that they align to the pixel grid, and retain this alignment when moved or scaled.
While the list of Adobe Illustrator CC 2017 new features is less than overwhelming, and is not likely to make it attractive to new users, it shows a set of incremental enhancements that benefit long-time Illustrator users.
About the author
Jennifer Smith is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.
Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, and Balsamiq.