Illustrator CS Accelerated - A Full Color Guide, by, ISBN 8931435045

Reviewed by: Mario Georgiou, September 2004, send e-mail
Published by: Sybex, Inc., go to the web site
Requires: N/A
MSRP: US$29.99, CDN$41.95, UK£19.99

YoungJin have produced several lovely books on Adobe products and this one is no exception. Illustrator CS Accelerated—A Full Color Guide is lavishly illustrated throughout. My first impression was "Wow!" I sat down with the book, started working with it and I could not help but smile in appreciation. The book covers pretty much everything you need from Illustrator. I was actually surprised by the amount of information provided.

The author takes a project based approach to the coverage of Illustrator's features. The initial chapters begin with feature by feature analysis and include explanations of the conventions and constraints on dealing with vector image creation. All tools and menus are explained here, with illustrations clearly expressing their use. The use and features of all palettes are also covered, with descriptions about how to work with them and tips on using the palettes effectively. This section also very briefly covers the use of color, strokes, 3D and text. Although the coverage in this section is very brief it is nonetheless done well.

The book next covers the extensive set of drawing techniques and tools found in Illustrator CS. The coverage of the tools found in these two chapters is nicely illustrated with appropriate examples and explanations. Each feature is extensively explored with a lot of coverage given to the use of keyboard shortcuts with very effective examples provided to explain each shortcut. The coverage of the transform tools is very nice again, with comprehensive examples of the various options each tool offers.

Each exercise in this book is well thought out, and although the projects look simplistic in style they effectively convey the power of this latest incarnation of Illustrator. The section on drawing tools is lovely as it does a good job of demonstrating the tools available. The next chapter covers the use of color, blends and masking. The exercises are again excellent and very effectively convey the value and usefulness of these simple but very powerful features.

The use of layers has long been a fundamentally important feature in Photoshop and in Illustrator it adds another dimension to your Illustrations, allowing you a level of control which makes you wonder what you ever did without them. Again the use of illustrations tells all.

The next couple of chapters cover filters and text. The same illustrative approach has been taken and provides a great analysis and application of these features. The filters are nicely contextualized with emphasis placed on the differences between bitmap and vector specific filters. As is demonstrated by this book, Illustrator CS is no longer just an illustration program, but can be used to create some very sophisticated page layouts.

The book continues by touching on symbols, meshes and brushes, all of which really allow Illustrator CS to shine and again here the book does a great job of demonstrating how creatively useful these tools really are when applied effectively. The examples in this section quite nicely demonstrate the production of quasi 3D illustrations. The coverage of brushes is excellent as it explains the differences between the different types of brushes and the constraints affecting them. This includes the use and creation of patterns (which I enjoyed thoroughly as I enjoy creating repeating textures).

The final chapter covers some of the more advance features with coverage of transparency, effects and the program's 3D features. Layers feature heavily in this chapter also and again the book doesn't let us down. The examples do a very good job of explaining the blending modes, opacity, bevel and extrude effects. I especially enjoyed the section on the appearance palette and its use. The exercises very effectively apply the features as explained. This final chapter does a nice job of capping this very good introduction to this very powerful program.

Cons: Not many really. The book lets itself down with the use of photo illustrations on the cover, and it would have benefited from a couple of variations in the illustrative style used for the tutorials. Some of the illustrations could have been a little larger and some more advanced or elaborate examples could also have been provided.

Pros: Comprehensive coverage of all Illustrator CS features and tool sets. Lavishly illustrated with nice examples and excellent tutorials. The illustrations very effectively convey each function covered in this book. Clear language throughout, making a very well presented book.

I highly recommend this book if you want to learn Illustrator CS. It will not turn you into a great artist but it will teach you Illustrator CS and how to use it as an effective part of your creative artistic toolkit.

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