If you’re just starting to learn a new skill, you can find dozens of tips and resources online; learning Illustrator is no different. Illustrator is the most commonly used vector graphics design tool available, and it allows users to create resizable digital designs using points, lines, and shapes. Users can build graphics and logos that are frequently re-used in promotional material, branded merchandise, product packaging, and advertising. If you’ve always wanted to learn Illustrator, there are plenty of options at your fingertips. From free tutorials to live classes, your options are outlined here so you can decide how to learn in a way that works best for you.

What is Illustrator?

Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics design tool used in several industries, including graphic design and web design. The program allows users to build graphics and illustrations out of vectors, meaning they are composed of lines, shapes, and points. These illustrations are easily resizable with minimal decay in graphics quality (unlike pixel-based graphics, which do not resize without becoming blurry or blocky). Images designed in Illustrator are perfect for packaging, advertising, or branding endeavors that allow the same image to be placed on both a business card and a billboard.

Illustrator is also a key part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, a collection of creative tools that give graphic designers a wide range of tools for creating stunning visual imagery. These programs are seamlessly integrated and built to allow optimized crossover. Illustrator is frequently used alongside Adobe Photoshop (a program with a similar but distinct function) and Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro, video editing programs that utilize Illustrator to create animated effects.

Read more about what Illustrator is and why you should learn it.

What Can You Do with Illustrator?

Illustrator is a vector graphics design tool that lets users create their own illustrations. Using points, lines, shapes, and text, the program lets users build vector graphics illustrations designed to be infinitely scalable, letting users resize them at will. Therefore, Illustrator is ideal for drawing images that will be mass-produced and placed in multiple contexts, such as art prints, company logos, branded merchandise, official letterhead seals, and many other uses. Illustrator lets users build an image once and repurpose it on everything from water bottles to billboards.

Using Illustrator, creatives can build recognizable logos and iconography to help define a client’s brand identity. The most common uses of Illustrator are within the graphic design and advertising industries, though other industries, such as the fashion industry, have their uses for Illustrator. In these professional settings, users can construct illustrations that quickly and effectively convey meaning and help consumers recognize the products being sold. Almost all product packaging is made using vector graphics, meaning that almost every company selling a product to consumers will use Illustrator.

For non-professionals or aspiring entrepreneurs, learning InDesign can help users build their online identities. Small business owners, crafters looking to break into Etsy, local musicians looking to sell decals, or even activists wanting to build memorable logos and signage for their organization all benefit from learning Illustrator. Quick, efficient graphic communication is vital across many fields, and Illustrator can make building these graphic designs faster and more efficient.

Live Online Illustrator Training

For students who aren’t located near a major city or students who don’t want to commute to learn Illustrator in-person, one option to receive training is by enrolling in a live online course. These courses are taught by professional instructors and are formatted so students can interface with their instructors in real-time, asking questions and receiving feedback on their exercises and projects. These courses allow students to learn Illustrator from the comfort of their own homes and on the devices that they are most likely to use the program. Students will be responsible for maintaining their technology and Illustrator access, which can be difficult for some students.

Noble Desktop also offers a wide range of live online Illustrator classes, from introductory courses emphasizing basic Illustrator skills to intensive professional training certificate programs. This diversity of choice will let students pick the classes that are right for them, but all of these classes are taught in real-time by experienced instructors who are ready and willing to help students succeed. In addition, all of Noble’s live online classes offer a one-year free retake option, so students can find time to brush up on their Illustrator skills or focus on the subjects that have been giving them trouble.

Noble also provides students with their Classes Near Me tool, which students can use to locate and compare the options for live online Illustrator training offered by other service providers.

On-Demand Illustrator Classes

Some students may be unable to align their schedule with the rigid structure of a live instruction course. Others may simply prefer the flexibility that comes with self-paced learning opportunities. These students may wish to consider on-demand, asynchronous online Illustrator training. These courses, which range in style from free on-demand lecture recordings to paid modules that guide students through advanced Illustrator skills, are ideal for students who want more flexibility in their Illustrator training.

These courses carry the downside of requiring students to be more self-motivated than other learning options. Since there is no curriculum or schedule to adhere to, it can be difficult for students, especially those with less open schedules, to avoid falling behind by putting off work and training. Beyond this, the lack of an instructor means that students won’t be able to ask questions directly and will need to turn to other sources on the internet to find help, which can be difficult.

Free Intro Courses & Tutorials

For students looking to gain familiarity with Illustrator but aren’t yet sure that they want to enroll in a paid training course, there are a handful of free options available to help in learning the basics of the program. These tutorials won’t replace guided hands-on instruction, but they are opportunities to develop a familiarity with the program before enrolling in a training program.

Noble Desktop’s resources blog provides students with brief articles and introductory material to learn the basics of Illustrator. Two introductory courses, Intro to Adobe Illustrator and Creative Effects with Adobe Illustrator, provide students with basic lessons in the illustrations for which Illustrator is most suited. Noble’s Graphic Design YouTube Playlist also provides students free introductory lessons in specific graphic design tools and design philosophies.

Students can also find more detailed information about Adobe Illustrator at the Learn Adobe Illustrator on Noble’s Learn Hub.

Additionally, as part of their free trial, the first time a user opens Adobe Illustrator, they are provided with a brief tutorial of some of the program's basic features. This tutorial concludes with directions to Adobe’s free Illustrator tutorials.

Read about more free Illustrator videos and online tutorials.

Comparing Online Methods with In-Person Learning

Students may look at the number of different ways to learn Illustrator and begin to feel overwhelmed. Even after committing to learning a new skill, deciding the best way to receive training can be difficult. Live training options, self-paced, and self-taught courses all have advantages and disadvantages, and students should consider what they want out of a course before enrolling.

Live instruction is the most immersive form of learning; most students find it the most effective. These courses let students interact directly with professional instructors who can guide them through the advanced features of a program like Illustrator. Whether in-person or online, students with the means and time to enroll in courses such as these will receive hands-on, guided experience in the intricacies of using Illustrator professionally.

In-person instruction allows students to interact with their instructor and a cohort of other students for socializing and networking purposes. In many graphic design fields, this networking work can be vital to landing a job. In addition, in-person learning will often provide students with the technology necessary to learn Illustrator. The drawback to in-person instruction is that it comes with hidden costs, including transportation, and many students will find that they just aren’t near enough to an in-person training course.

Online instruction provides an alternative for students who want to receive live Illustrator training but cannot attend in-person courses. These courses retain the ability for students to interface with live instructors who can answer questions and provide feedback. Since they aren’t tied to a physical classroom, students can enroll in various online courses without leaving their homes. However, to participate in these courses, students will need to have the required technology, and they may need to deal with issues that arise based on location, like being in a different time zone.

On-demand classes offer students much more flexibility in their Illustrator instruction. These courses let students choose when to engage with their classes and let students with less fluid schedules learn at the best times. The drawback is that these courses require students to be more diligently self-motivated, and students will have to troubleshoot for themselves when problems arise in their learning.

Tips to Succeed when Learning Illustrator Online

Succeeding in online learning can be a challenge for some students, particularly those who aren’t familiar with this method of instruction. Learning online comes with a number of challenges that students may not anticipate when they enroll in a course, and it is essential that they prepare themselves for this new experience. Depending on the structure of the course, students may need to deal with issues of isolation, environment, self-motivation, and on-the-fly troubleshooting.

First, students should consider their learning environment. Classroom-based learning spaces are built to minimize outside distractions and provide students with the equipment needed to learn Illustrator. Online students will need to ensure they have access to Illustrator and a system to run both Illustrator and their online learning platform, which can be difficult to maintain if students aren’t familiar with the system. They will also need to structure their environment to minimize distractions, assuming this is a problem for individual students. One of the easiest traps to fall into when learning online is to underestimate how important a distraction-free working environment is to student success, so students will want to make sure that they have a space in which they can work that helps them focus, which each student will have to define for themselves.

Self-motivation and overcoming isolation can also be issues that prevent student success. Sometimes, the very process of being in the same room as other students helps people focus and retain information. Being alone in a room can increase the temptation to zone out or open other tabs during an online lecture. This is increasingly true for students enrolled in on-demand training courses, which require them to control the pace of their learning. Students need to self-motivate to avoid putting off their lessons and letting their skills atrophy. While this might not be a concern for many students, it is important to consider how being too flexible with training can become detrimental if students aren’t fully committed to the course.

Finally, students should know how to troubleshoot their issues on the fly, particularly if they are in an asynchronous course. One of the advantages of being in a live instruction class is that students can ask questions and receive feedback on problems in real-time. Students trying to self-teach or learn through asynchronous classes will have to find alternative methods to respond to challenges or to better explain difficult concepts. Knowing where to turn to help with obstacles beforehand, such as Noble Desktop’s free resources, can be a boon to these students. This is a valuable skill to develop on your own because even professional Illustrator training won’t cover every possible issue that could arise, so learning how to effectively find answers to problems is a useful professional talent.

Learn Illustrator with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

Noble Desktop offers an array of Illustrator classes and bootcamps for students hoping to receive Illustrator training through a live online course. Noble’s Illustrator in a Day course offers introductory instruction in the basic functionalities of the program, such as the pen and pencil tool, the function of different layers and brushes, and the process of preparing a file for publication. This course is ideal for students who expect to work with Illustrator in the future but don’t imagine that they will do so every day or that they will need to engage with the complicated features of the program.

For students who do feel that they will need to work with the more advanced features of Illustrator, Noble’s Adobe Illustrator Bootcamp offers in-depth training in the tools that allow Illustrator to create complex and vibrant vector illustrations. Students will learn to work with masks, alter colors and gradients, and build custom patterns. They will also create practical sample designs such as T-shirts and signage to include in a design portfolio. These exercises mirror the projects that professional Graphic Designers undertake, and this course is an ideal place to learn how to use Illustrator professionally.

Aspiring career Graphic Designers can build their skills in many different design programs by enrolling in Noble’s Graphic Design Certificate program. This program confers upon students a state-approved certificate in the mastery of Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop. Beyond learning the functionalities of these programs, students will receive lessons in theories of design and composition. They will work towards building various sample designs to be included as part of their sample portfolio as a prerequisite for completion. Students looking to expand their design skills further can enroll in Noble’s Digital Design Certificate program, which covers all of this information, plus lessons in user interface and web page design for digital publications.

These Design Certificate programs are career-focused courses that provide students with one-on-one career mentorship. As a student’s final project, they will build a sample design portfolio to showcase their skills to prospective employers. By the end of these programs, students will be prepared to enter the workforce in a new, high-paying career.

Key Takeaways