Learning new technology can be fun, and interesting - not to mention the professional benefits you can often receive from becoming more knowledgeable.
It’s one thing to learn a new piece of technology. It’s another thing entirely to be able to put that skill to good use.
For instance, the Adobe programs. You’ve probably heard of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, but what industries actually use those programs? And what are they doing with them? These questions are important to consider as you think about whether you want to invest your time and money into learning them.
These seven industries are using Adobe Illustrator the most, and here is how each uses the program.
The fashion industry. Best known for its beautiful, sometimes eccentric, clothing and accessories.
All of these textiles, from shirts to dresses to hats to handbags, begin with a drawing. Fashion designers used to begin designing with pencil sketches. These days, most sketching and designing is done with technology. There are fashion-specific design programs, such as Digital Fashion Pro, but many designers prefer Adobe Illustrator in their daily professional workflows.
Some common Illustrator tasks in the fashion industry include fashion flats & tech sketches, textile & pattern designs, and presentation boards.
Fashion Flats & Tech Sketches
Fashion flats are flat, 2D sketches of a garment. Think of it as a way to visualize the design when it’s laying flat on a table. Also called CADs or Technical Flats depending on the information included, these drawings are included in larger Tech Packs that provide instructions for the garments to be constructed. These black and white sketches are often done in Illustrator because of the ability to draw minute details, yet keep the crisp, scalable lines of vector art. It’s also more versatile and affordable than fashion industry design softwares.
Textile Design & Patterns
Within the fashion industry, there are many details designers must think through as they’re designing clothing, as well as patterns. Who hasn’t seen a shirt with a gorgeous pattern that makes you immediately want to wear it? These patterns are created from the beginning, as designers are considering the shape of the particular piece of clothing or accessory. Illustrator excels at these details, and makes it easy to create beautiful patterns—a natural fit for this particular need in the industry.
Fashion presentation boards set the tone or mood for presentations within the industry. They visually represent a trend or idea and can be used for internal or external presentations and pitches. Common aspects of presentation boards include: overarching theme, color palette, fabric options, graphics & images representing the style, and typeface for lettering that fits the theme. Illustrator is great for creating sketches, graphics, color palettes, and typefaces for these projects.
Graphic design can feel somewhat mysterious as an industry because there are many types of tasks a professional in this role can take on.
At the most basic level, Graphic Designers are professionals who communicate through visual representations. They can inform, inspire action, and connect directly with their audience through beautiful graphics.
There are graphic designers who specialize in almost every type of design work and work within different industries. Some work on business branding like logos & letterhead. Some design promotional materials such as flyers. In a growing digital market, there are virtually limitless options for skilled graphic designers.
With creativity being at the heart of what they do, Illustrator comes in handy for everyday work, particularly with any types of graphics that may need to change size. A few common tasks within the graphic design industry are: logos, icons, business branding, infographics, posters, and flyers.
Logos, Icons, & Business Branding
Think of some of the biggest brands you know - McDonald’s, Starbucks, Walmart. All of these have a specific set of logos and icons representing their business. These graphics represent the business and make it easily recognizable for customers. One of the best places to design these types of graphics is in Adobe Illustrator because of the vector graphic aspect - any drawing or graphic created in Illustrator can scale to whatever size you need without having to save multiple files. Illustrator can also be used to create other branding like letterhead within the graphic design industry.
Infographics, Posters, & Flyers
Infographics are visually pleasing and share information in a logical way that the viewer can understand. Whether explaining numbers and statistics or a specific progression of information, their purpose is to capture the audience’s attention and inform them in a palatable way. Graphic designers are often in charge of creating these assets because they have an eye for the artistic, but are used to explaining concepts with a combination of visual and text elements.
Illustrator provides a great place to design infographics because of the vector graphics aspect (which makes it easy to size logos and branding), but also because there are many features to draw directly into the program and have it translated into a clean digital form. It is, after all, designed for illustration, which means the artwork capabilities are quite advanced. The program offers similar perks for posters & flyers.
Marketing & Advertising
Marketing perhaps gets a bad reputation due to the sales-y nature of advertising. Although the two are not the same, they usually work together, which is why many people don’t see a clear differentiation between them.
Marketing is the industry, and advertising is a practice that falls within it. The reason this is an important distinction is because a marketer’s job is to figure out what customers want and need, and how to best meet those needs. Advertising plays a role, but more often than not, marketing is a strategy-based industry used for more than simply sales.
Because professionals in the industry work with many types of graphics and visuals, Illustrator can be a helpful and desirable skill for future clients or employers. Some of the most common tasks the marketing industry uses Illustrator to complete are: social media graphics, website mockups, branding elements, and print collateral.
Social Media Graphics & Website Mockups
Social media sites and websites are digital hotspots for bringing in customers and clients. With numerous platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, professionals in the marketing industry have to be able to design striking graphics in all sorts of sizes and formats. Not to mention websites designed to produce sales.
Illustrator provides a great place to do these tasks because of the illustration capabilities and artboards feature. An artboard is essentially the design canvas you’re working on within the program, similar to a piece of paper you might take notes on. With up to 1,000 separate artboards available, you can easily mock up websites or other projects for marketing campaigns.
Marketing professionals are often in charge of developing and maintaining a company’s brand - how they appear to their customers and clients. This includes items such as logos, icons, color palette, fonts, and any variations the business might need. Illustrator is helpful because of the vector quality of its images, and because it’s the best program within the Creative Cloud at typography (the style and characteristics of text).
Have you ever been to a presentation and received a brochure or flyer? Or attended an interview and received a business card? That’s print collateral. In the marketing industry, print collateral is given to an audience (even if it’s a small 1-to-1 meeting), usually for informational or promotional purposes. Other common forms of print collateral are posters and mailers. Illustrator is an effective tool for creating these kinds of highly designed printed materials because of the flexibility in design and the easy access to high quality graphics—you can even create the graphics in Illustrator and use them on your print design.
Living in a world where there are millions of products competing for your attention, product packaging has perhaps never been more important.
Almost every product comes in some type of packaging, whether it’s beautiful and delicately crafted, or strictly utilitarian. Some packaging needs to protect the item, and some is there purely to catch your eye. All packaging begins with a design.
Intricately designed packaging might include patterns and illustrative typography. Simpler packaging may only have a logo or a stylized label. Either way, Illustrator is a great tool for creating these designs.
Common Illustrator tasks used in the packaging design industry include: patterns, detailed illustrations & typography, dielines, and labels & hang tags.
Patterns are a straightforward way to grab your attention when you’re looking at a product. Sometimes patterns can even become iconic to a brand, such as paisley print and Vera Bradley. Adding even simple patterns to a packaging design can make it feel more interesting and set it apart from competitors who’ve opted for plain packaging. Illustrator excels in patterns and makes them easy to create, which means it’s an excellent tool for industry use.
Detailed Illustrations & Typography
Another way to make packaging more appealing is to add graphics and change the typography. Illustrator was built to do illustration, so if you’re designing a package and you have a specific goal in mind (for instance, a cartoon woman washing her hair for a shampoo bottle), you can draw it in Illustrator where it will become a crisp vector image you can use on any size packaging.
Typography is the style and readability of the text. Ideally, text will be not only aesthetically pleasing, but also easy-to-read. Illustrator is the “king” of typography for Adobe products because you have access to all the Adobe fonts, but you can also draw your own, which Illustrator will digitalize—perfect for creating pleasing packaging designs.
Dielines are important to packaging because they tell you where the packaging needs to be cut, perforated, and folded. They’re used on the outside shape of the packaging, and anywhere that needs to be folded or perforated like the stub of a movie ticket. Illustrator’s ability to create layers and color code the dielines is critical to creating accurate markings on your design so it will turn out correctly when you print, cut, and/or fold it.
Labels & Hang Tags
When you purchase an item of clothing or accessories, you see labels and hang tags on each product. The label usually gives information about the brand, the size, and sometimes the materials used to create the product as well as how to care for it. The hang tag is the one you see with the price and barcode. Although we take for granted that these are staples of most products, they’re all designed specifically for each brand to convey a message to the customer. Illustrator is an effective tool to create these items because of the ability to manipulate typography and small details for any size design.
Although many people may think of math and calculations as their first impression of architecture, there’s also a good deal of creativity and art in play.
Buildings and bridges and structures architects build must first be designed. There are a number of calculations involved, and blueprints, but there are also more illustrative drawings to give investors and project stakeholders a feel for the vision of the project.
Although the architecture industry does use other software, such as AutoCAD, Adobe Illustrator is a helpful tool to add a creative flair to designs, diagrams, and marketing proposals. Common uses of Illustrator in the architecture industry include marketing proposals, artistic elements, drawing architectural diagrams, and concept diagrams.
Marketing Proposals & Artistic Elements
Before an architectural project begins, the architect must first submit a marketing proposal that reflects their vision of the project. The vision includes blueprints and technical details, as well as illustrations of what the project will look like when it’s complete. Illustrator is useful for creating or digitalizing the designs, as well as adding color and illustrated features to help create a comprehensive picture.
Drawing Architectural Diagrams
An architectural diagram is an overview of the stakeholders and communication process for a project. The goal is to help all team members collaborate effectively and provide an at-a-glance view of the project building blocks, making it easy for everyone to remain on the same page. Illustrator is a helpful tool for creating these diagrams because of the flexibility of shapes, colors, and layers.
Within the architecture industry, concept designs show how different pieces of a design fit together. They show different layers of a structure, as well as how the structure will look when it’s completed. Illustrator’s ability to use layers and crisp, scalable lines is a great asset for professionals who are creating illustrative concept diagrams.
If you’ve ever seen a film, TV show, or Youtube video, you’ve seen motion graphics. Motion graphics are simply graphics that are moving.
Whether short videos, or full length feature films, motion graphics are created using similar processes and software behind-the-scenes. Animators and illustrators used to draw everything by hand, but with the many creative technologies available, most of these tasks are now done digitally.
There are several programs used specifically for creating the animations and adding the motions within motion graphics, such as Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro. But before motion is added, the illustrations and artwork need to be completed. This is where Illustrator comes in. Common motion graphics tasks completed in Illustrator include: style frames, artwork creation, chart, graph, and infographic animations, and character design.
Style frames show how a particular moment will appear in the longer animation sequence. They’re essentially a snapshot of a particular point in the motion graphic, and are often used for client presentations and feedback sessions for everyone to give input before animation is added. Illustrator is a useful tool for creating style frames because of the large number of separate artboards you can use (up to 1,000), illustration capabilities, and high level of color management.
Artwork for After Effects & Premiere Pro
Adobe After Effects specializes in motion graphics creation, in particular, it excels at adding special effects and animation to graphics. Premiere Pro is the industry-standard for video editing, and allows you to take all of the elements of motion graphics (such as video, sound, and graphics) and put them on a timeline to create a polished finished video. Illustrator fits in with these programs because it’s excellent for creating the artwork—especially characters.
Most stories need a main character, which means character designs are of the utmost importance. These designs, usually flat 2D drawings, are often created in Illustrator because of the unique features such as image trace. Image trace allows you to import a sketch or even draw on the artboard and trace over it with vector lines, which will turn even shaky lines into clean, crisp lines. There are also a number of specially designed drawing tools, allowing motion graphics professionals to customize each character to exactly what they envision.
Charts, Graphs, & Infographics
Charts and graphs are important in many industries because they can visually represent data in a meaningful way. In terms of the motion graphics industry, animated charts and graphs can be an interesting way to tell a story with data and capture attention in a way that plain text documents may not. While Illustrator doesn't do animation, it’s a good place to create graphics and illustrations to use in charts, graphs, and infographics.
Artists & Illustrators
Artists and Illustrators create beautiful artwork for all kinds of industries and professions.
Some specialize in print mediums, such as books and magazines. Some do medical illustrations, and some even design solely for the web. Regardless of what they’re working on, these artists need tools to bring their ideas to life.
One of the most common and well-loved tools is Adobe Illustrator. Some common tasks Artists & Illustrators complete in Illustrator are magazine/editorial illustrations, medical illustrations, comic book lettering & layout, and webtoons & webcomics.
If you’ve picked up a magazine or newspaper recently, you’ll probably notice illustrations, or perhaps even comic strips. These types of drawings are often completed in Illustrator because of the number of artboards and level of detail you can add to designs. You also have the ability to sketch on paper and digitalize through Illustrator, which is handy for creatives who prefer a pencil or pen and paper.
Medical illustrations are those you see in textbooks, as well as posters on the wall in a doctor’s office. They show in close-up detail what a certain part of the body looks like - usually a part that you’re unable to see because it’s microscopic or because it’s inside your body. Artists create these illustrations in Illustrator because of the ability to work with minute details and easily manipulate lines which remain clear even when they’re scaled up or down.
Comic Book Lettering & Layout
Many people enjoy comic books and the seemingly tight knit community surrounding them. Comic book illustrators are like other artists in the respect that they create a visual story. They’re a little different from other stories because of the boxy layout and often exaggerated nature of the text. Illustrator is the “king” of fonts not simply because you can use any Adobe font, but because you can draw your own by hand—Illustrator will vectorize it for you. The artboard feature is also particularly useful for creating comic frames.
Webcomics & Webtoons
Webcomics are simply comics created for digital format. Webtoons are similar in format, although rather than reading from left to right, they’re read from the top down. Artists use Illustrator for the same kinds of tasks in webcomic creation as in print comic creation.
Where to Learn Adobe Illustrator
If you’re ready to learn Illustrator, there are several options for in-person instruction, live online learning, and comprehensive certificates.
Noble Desktop offers several Illustrator courses. If you’re looking to grow your skills in a short period of time, Illustrator in a Day could be an ideal option. For a longer, more foundational look at the program, Adobe Illustrator Bootcamp might be what you need. For those interested in starting a new career, or pivoting to something you know you’ll enjoy, there’s a Graphic Design Certificate option which includes Illustrator coursework.
For those who like the idea of learning from the comfort of their own home or office, live online courses are a great way to get instructor-led training without the commute to a classroom. You can find live online Illustrator courses using the Noble Desktop Classes Near Me tool. The Classes Near Me tool offers a simple and concise way to compare your learning options and see what’s available from reputable training schools near you. You can use the same tool to compare Illustrator courses in your area.