What is Illustrator?

Illustrator is lots and lots. But, in the first place Illustrator uses a vector-orientated drawing to illustrate how to draw with it. Hence the name Illustrator.

Next question is, what are vector-oriented graphics?

There are basically two types of graphics: bitmap and vector.

An example of a bitmap image is a photograph, an example of a vector image is a drawing. The simplest form of a vector image is a circle, a rectangle or something.


Vector files are composed of loose objects. Each object has several properties such as color, fill and stroke type. Vector files are, in contrast to bitmap images, resolution independent. What that means is that they achieve the highest quality.

An example makes this clear.

Vector illustration

Bitmap Image

The difference is clear when a size scale is “zoomed in” in the image.

The vector image always remains sharp(1).
The bitmap image is displayed with all blocks (2), we call these pixels.

The Welcome Screen

When you open Illustrator, you are automatically on the welcome page.
In the welcome screen, on the left we find a column of recently opened files (a) in Illustrator and on the right a column with different standard profiles (b) for documents.
At the bottom we find a number of help options (c).

A new document

The benefit of opening a new document with one of several standard profiles, is that the “New Document” dialog has a number of options prefilled.
So you see, in the image below, the difference between the settings for a document for the Web (1) and the settings for a document for printing (2).
For professional printing, the CMYK color mode and a high resolution, while an image for the Internet requires a low resolution and RGB color mode.

If you would rather open a document in which you will set all these options yourself, click the “File” button (F) in the toolbar and select “New” in the dialog. The hotkey for this is Ctrl N on your keyboard. Every time you open a new document, you get to see the “New Document” dialog.
In the next lesson, I will explain more on this.

Open a document, then the welcome screen disappears automatically.
If you do not wish to see the welcome screen every time you open Illustrator, then check the box for the text “Dont’ show again” (D) at the bottom left of the welcome screen.

If you later wish to see this welcome screen every time Illustrator opens, click the “Help” button in the menu bar (E) and select “Welcome Screen” in the drop-down menu.
This opens the Welcome screen where you remove the check mark next to the text “Don’t Show Again” by clicking on it.

You've completed Lesson 1