Illustrator Workspace

 By: Tom Gillan
If you already use Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Indesign, the workspace we are presented with in Adobe Illustrator will be familiar to some extent.

There are basically eight elements to the interface. The first is, of course, the graphic image itself on the art-board. This sits on the Canvas, a white or grey area surrounding the page. Here we can create extra elements of the artwork, to be used or discarded later.

The third is the toolbox on the left. Some of the tools may be familiar from Photoshop and Indesign, like the Type tool and the Pen tool. Most tools, however, are peculiar to Illustrator since they pertain to creating vector shapes and applying effects. Holding the cursor over any of these tools for a second or two will reveal a tool tip describing that particular tool, together with its keyboard shortcut letter in brackets.

The fourth element is the Control panel, also known as the Options panel, at the top of the workspace. These options will change depending on the tool selected. Various options are also available when a created shape is selected with the Selection tool.

Above this is the Application bar, showing a row of standard drop-down menus familiar from other Adobe programs. Many of these represent the slower methods of performing the various functions. One menu which is very useful, however, is the Window menu. This shows a list of all the panels available to the program. So if you have lost a panel, simply choose it from this list and the panel will appear on the right-hand side.

On the far right of the Application bar is the Workspace Shifter which allows the user to choose a particular configuration of panels and tools, depending on which function is required. For example our output may be for print media, or for web display; we would then choose the appropriate workspace. For a general workflow a good choice is the Essentials workspace - to reset it choose Reset Essentials. It's also possible to create your own customized workspace by moving the panels around, and opening and closing other panels. We then choose Save Workspace, whereupon it will appear in the Workspace Shifter list in future.

Below the Control panel we see the document tabs, showing any other open Illustrator documents.

On the right-hand side of the interface are the panels, also known as palettes in older versions of Illustrator. Each of these provides many different functions depending on which shape is selected, for things like colour, line weight, brush type, transparency, etc. Like the other Adobe programs, each of the panels has various main options displayed at the bottom of the panel, but a more complete list of options can be found via the top right options button. This opens a fly-out list of options.

At the bottom-left of the screen is the Status Bar showing the zoom magnification level of the document, and the current art-board. If there is more than one art-board in the document these can be found in the drop-down menu under the arrow icon.
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