Following my recent Photoshop and InDesign reviews, I’ll cover a few of the many new features Illustrator CS5 has to offer.

Dash Adjustment
Dashes that don’t exactly fall where you want them can now be altered to fit correctly. Illustrator will calculate the dashes to make them flow around the artwork. The options are in the stroke panel. Segments where paths containing dashes meet no longer look awkward, and the dashes will adjust to corners and path ends, adjusting their lengths to fit.

[Dash and gap lengths are preserved]

Dashes are shown adjusted to corners

Variable Width Strokes

By selecting the new Width Tool, a single path will be able to include many different stroke widths. Strokes can be saved in the Width Profile panel for future use.

[Variable Width effects]

[Saving a new Variable Width Profile]

Arrowhead Adjustments
Arrowheads can now be scaled more precisely in Illustrator CS5.

[Various arrowheads modified using Arrowhead Adjustment options]

Scale art brushes
The new scalable art brush can define any piece of art as a brush and then stretch the art along a path according to user options.

Artwork to be made into a brush is selected and via the Brushes Panel, Define New Brush is chosen.

This brings up an Art Brush Options dialog box. New to CS5 is Stretch Between Guides. This window will show two repositionable guides used to determind what part of the brush will or won’t scale. Anything between the guides gets stretched; anything outside the guide will not. Artwork will only be distorted in the area specified.

The Shape Builder Tool is great for building up artwork from simple shapes.

[Shape Builder before modification]

Clicking and dragging on the shapes will merge the shapes into one. It’s a major upgrade to the Pathfinder tool that’s much simpler and more intuitive to use.

[Shape Builder in action]

Double-clicking on the tool brings up the Options dialog box. Selecting cursor swatch preview brings a small cursor to the scene, showing a preview of what color combinations can happen if you drag the mouse over them.

[The Cursor Swatch Preview option]

[Cursor Swatch Preview Tool]

[Artwork now complete after Shape Builder modification]

Perspective Drawing Tools
With this new handy tool, you can both draw directly in perspective and bring existing art into perspective, using the normal drawing tools found in the program.

[Working with the Perspective Selection Tool]

There are two major components to the drawing tool set: the Perspective Grid tool and the Perspective Selection tool. The Perspective Grid is customizable and can be positioned as desired, with 1, 2, or 3-point perspective options.

The Perspective Selection Tool allows you to grab any existing artwork in perspective and move it anywhere in the document, keeping the artwork in perspective. If you move it towards the vanishing point, it will decrease in size; away from the vanishing point will cause to object to get bigger. You can also use this tool to transform multiple instances of the object and by doing so, the perspective will also change the size of the objects, depending on where they’re drawn in relation to the grid.

When one of these tools becomes selected, a Perspective Widget shows up to choose which plane you’d like to draw on. Select one of the planes and any flat artwork brought onto that plane will get drawn in the correct perspective.

Bristle Brush
This new tool allows for more realistic painting with vector graphics, mimicking the behaviour of natural media brushes. You can choose from options such as a round or flat brush shape and style, the length of the bristle, its thickness, density, opacity, etc.

[The Bristle Brush dialog box]

Draw Inside (bottom portion of tool bar) allows you to mask the area you draw on (creating a clipping mask from the selected object). It’s only enabled when there’s a single selected object (e.g. path, compound path, or type). A very cool feature!

[The Draw Inside masking feature]

[Painted Iris using Bristle Brush]

Anti-aliasing text for the web
By setting your type’s anti-aliasing to Sharp, Crisp, Strong, or not anti-aliased, Illustrator will now optimize type rasterization for the web (or mobile devices).

[Anti-alias option box circled on bottom of screen shot]

CS5 software updater
A very cool and unobtrusive way of Adobe to remind me when an update is available. No longer found in the dock (cycling around until the 100% marker is reached before spitting out a pop-up window with upgrades), the new Application Manager appears in the menu bar close to the system clock and wifi section of the computer (on a Mac).

[The new Adobe Application Manager interface]


  • Pingback by Adobe CS5: InDesign | ariane c design — May 30, 2010 @ 5:15 pm

    […] Here’s part two in a series of three reviews covering the latest features in the “big three” CS5 Design Premium programs: Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. […]

  • Pingback by Adobe CS5: Photoshop | ariane c design — May 30, 2010 @ 5:16 pm

    […] Millions of Adobe fans tuned in anxiously to the CS5 Launch event, and I was no exception. Having watched the multitude of new features across the suite packages that promise to make our creative lives more fun, easy, and productive, I thought it best to focus this review on the “big three” apps for designers: Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. […]

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.