The user interface

What we see when we start a new document.

In the middle of the application window we find the drawing area. If you have multiple, you will see all these of course in this window. The drawing area is lined with black by standard. In this way we can easily see where the drawing area begins and where it ends.

If you work better without this border click the “View” button in the menu bar and select “Hide Artboards” in the drop-down menu. To display them again, repeat the same actions, only then choose “Show Artboards” in the drop-down menu.

Notice that when you have a document open, this is indicated by a tab at the top (1), where the name of the document is displayed.

If you have opened multiple documents, and they are over each other, you can click on the tabs to bring a specific document to the forefront.

At the top of the application window we find the “Application Bar” (A).

On the left of the Application bar, we have three buttons. With the first we can resize the application window. With the second you open Adobe Bridge, and the third determines layout of your open files. For example, next to each other or underneath each other.

In the middle we have a downward pointing arrow with which we can choose a workspace. More about workspaces in the next lesson.

We also have a search box that lets you search the online Help files on a particular keyword. And to the far right, we have the “Minimize” “Maximize” and “Close” buttons.

Under Application bar we find the menu bar (B). In the menu bar, we find all the options available to us in the Illustrator. I’m not going to discuss all of them here, we will discuss them when we get to use them.

Below the menu bar we have the “Management Panel” (C), also called the Options bar. At least by those of us who do a lot of work with Photoshop.

The options in the “Management Panel” depend on the tool selected in the “Tool Bar” (D).

The Toolbar contains tools to create and edit all images, artwork, page elements, etc. All these tools, are grouped depending on their function and displayed in the toolbar.

For example, the first four buttons, which all have something to do with the selection of objects. But more on the toolbar in the next section of this lesson.

On the right side of the application window, we find the open panels (E). We can unfold or fold panes. Just click the double pointing arrow at the top left of the panels (F).

The panels that are opened depend on the chosen workspace. Default is set to “Essential Elements” (2), but you change the downward pointing arrow button, and choose another space.

We even have the opportunity to create our own workspace, but more on that later.

And at the bottom we have the Status Bar (G).

The status bar displays the current zoom level, the number of the drawing area selected, or time, or the selected tool, or some other options. To set this up, click the right pointing arrow next to the status bar, choose “Show” pop-up menu and make a choice.



The Toolbar

Let me talk about the “tool bar”.

At the top of the toolbar you have a dark bar, with a double right arrow and an X icon.

By clicking and dragging the dark gray bar, you can position the toolbar where you want.

By clicking on the arrows pointing to the right you can fold the tool bar so all tools appear on one line below.

By clicking the X icon closes the toolbar. To display it again, click the “Window” in the menu bar and select “Tools” in the drop-down menu.

As you can see in the picture, the different tools are divided into groups.

You’ll find, all selection tools in the first group, all the drawing tools in the second group, all transformation tools in the third group and so on.

Discussing all these tools here is unnecessary work, we will discuss them as we use them.

What I can say is, if there is a a triangle to the right, under a tool icon, this indicates hidden tools.

To display hidden tools place the mouse pointer on the visible tool and hold the mouse button.



Private Workspace

If the current workspace is not the most suitable for your work, you could create one yourself.

We can create a custom workspace by moving and manipulating document windows and panels. You can then save the custom workspace and when you open this, you can work in it.

No matter which workspace is open, the first thing you do is close all panels.

Click and drag the dark gray bar above the top of the panels to the center of the window (1).

There is an X-icon at the top of the panels (2).
Click this icon and all panels disappear.

Do not panic, now we can open the panels we desire in our workspace.

Just click “Window” in the menu bar.
This opens a drop-down menu in which all panels are indicated.
Click the pane you want to open.
Repeat this process for all panels you want in your workspace.


As an example, I open the panel, “Color”, “Gradient” and “Layers”.

This opens the three panes.

You now have the opportunity to move them wherever you want, Illustrator will remember this when you save the workspace.

To move, click and drag the tab of the pane.

To post panels in a group, click and drag the tab of one panel next to the tab of the other pane.

When a blue drop zone appears, release the mouse button.

To place one pane below the other panel, drag one panel under the other, when a blue drop zone appears, release the mouse button.

If you wish to move the whole group of panels or just one pane to the edge of the application window, then drag it over to the edge of the application and release the mouse button here when a blue drop zone appears.


If you are satisfied with the workspace, save it.

This is done by the downward pointing arrow button in the “Application Bar” and choosing “Save Workspace”.
This opens a dialog window where your can give a name to your workspace and click the OK button.

When we click the downward pointing arrow in the “Application Bar”, we see that our newly created space appears in there.

You've completed Lesson 4