History of Illustrator a la Mordy

DekeItarians, you know how it is. You have a system that works. You have deadlines villainously looming over you. And you know there might be a better way to do certain tasks, but you don’t even have the context to know what questions you need to ask, let alone time and mental bandwidth to ask those questions.

Over at lynda.com, our good friend Mordy Golding has a series designed specifically for seasoned users of Adobe Illustrator—Illustrator Insider Training. The latest episode of the series is called Drawing without the Pen Tool, and this particular entry is close to my heart, due to my well-documented bouts of penophobia. The idea of the series is to provide Illustrator veterans a chance to refresh their insider knowledge and workflow habits, without having to start from scratch.

Maybe it’s the failed grad student in me, but one of my favorite parts of Mordy’s approach to helping rethink Illustrator is to provide each course of the series with a movie that explains historical developments of the software. (I like these movies so much I made sure they were all free to everybody; you can catch the latest one above; links to the others appear after the jump.) This historical context, besides solidifying your graphic software geek education, can really help identify where the learning gaps may have occurred for long-time users of the program. By providing an understanding of where key paradigm shifts might have happened in color, transparency, or drawing tools, Mordy paves the way for you to get back up to speed while maintaining all your hard-won experience and creativity. (You’ve earned those gray hairs!)

In this new course, my own trepidations are comforted to some extent by the discovery that—when the pen tool was invented by John Warnock—Adobe released a VHS video featuring Warnock demonstrating how the thing was supposed to work. You can actually watch it here if you really want a blast from the Illustrator past. Check it out; I’m thinking of instituting a policy for design courses at lynda.com that require Deke and Mordy to wear ties.

Mordy also gives the broader strokes on how the various vector drawing tools have evolved over the years, including the birth of Pathfinder and the advent of the Blob brush. It’s geek history at its finest. And it’s free.

I thought I’d also gather Mordy’s earlier history lessons from the other courses in the series.

  • In Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials, Mordy’s timeline movie reveals how some instabilities in the earliest versions of Illustrator 9 might have meant designers missed out on some of the innovations that came with that particular version, and explains the foundation of the entire series.
  • In his Seeing through Transparency course, Mordy takes a closer look at the advent of vector transparency, including an explanation of his Illustrator Historical Eras: B.T. (Before Transparency) and A. T. (After Transparency). 
  • And in the Coloring Artwork course, Mordy takes a close look at how color control has developed over the iterations of Illustrator.

(Of course, if you want to watch more of Mordy’s insider insights, you can sign up for a free week of lynda.com by going to lynda.com/deke. Shh…don’t tell Deke you’re going to spend most of the week watching Mordy.)

Illustrator has been around for almost 25 years, and in that time, it’s gone through an understandable amount of change. Mordy’s approach in Illustrator Insider Training series is to acknowledge that AI veterans don’t want to start from square one, but do want to make sure they’re getting the most out of the most recent developments to the program.  It can be hard to keep up when you’re doing your best to thrive creatively and meet deadlines. With a little context and a whole series of instruction from Mordy, you can rebuild your own Illustrator infrastructure without completely closing down your design highway. And next year when Adobe celebrates 25 years of Illustrator, you can hold court with all the other wise ones who’ve watched it grow up. Get out your coat and ties!

Next entry:Yeah, But Will It Print?

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