Illustrator is Adobe’s industry-standard vector graphic design application. It allows users to build resizable digital illustrations that can be placed on any number of different products and surfaces. Anyone hoping to work in graphic design or digital marketing can significantly increase their job prospects by learning Illustrator. When comparing types of Illustrator training, there are many factors to consider. Everyone learns differently, and choosing the right training is critical to your experience.

Keep reading to learn more about the different formats of Illustrator training, how they compare, and how to determine which is 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.

Training Formats for Illustrator

There are many options available for students hoping to learn Illustrator. Live instruction, taught by professional instructors, is available both in-person and online. For students seeking more flexibility in their schedule or their instruction, on-demand and asynchronous learning options are available. Finally, there are some free learning opportunities available to students, but these courses will only be able to teach students the basics of the program.

In-Person Illustrator Training

One of the most traditional ways to receive training in a new skill is through live, in-person instruction. Availability of this instruction will vary depending on where you live, but Noble Desktop offers a Classes Near Me search tool to help students find in-person Illustrator classes in their area. These courses may be ideal for students who want to experience communal learning with others or feel online learning may be detrimental to their motivation.

The drawback to these courses is that they are often limited to where a student lives. Most major training providers offer training in or around major cities associated with the technology sector, like New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle. Since many large firms and businesses are located in these cities, employees come to them to train for the jobs they will ideally receive. Noble Desktop offers Illustrator courses in person in New York City.

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.

Free Online 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.

On-Demand Classes

Students tend to find that the best way to learn a new skill is through live Illustrator instruction, either in-person or online. These courses provide students access to professional instructors who can respond to questions and provide feedback in real-time. In-person training seminars are ideal for students hoping to replicate the feel of classroom instruction as closely as possible. However, this can limit a student’s options, as they are restricted to the in-person training options near them. Live online classes can be taken from anywhere, giving students more control over how they learn. Live instructors can guide students through difficult sections and explain challenging concepts virtually.

For students whose schedule doesn’t allow them to take a live course or who feel that they will benefit more from a different pace of instruction, on-demand and asynchronous learning options may be ideal. These classes give students flexibility in how much time they spend training in Illustrator on any given day, which can be incredibly helpful for students with work or family obligations that keep them from attending regular classes. The downside to these courses is that they require a great deal of self-motivation on the part of the student, and while students have more freedom to pace themselves and repeat material, lacking an instructor can risk students feeling lost and overwhelmed.

Some free learning options are also available for students hoping to learn the basics of Illustrator. These tutorials and resources won’t be enough to replace professional instruction for students looking to use Illustrator professionally, but they can help students get accustomed to a new program. Noble Desktop makes many free Illustrator training resources available through their Learn Hub and the Graphic Design playlist on their official YouTube page.

Comparison of Illustrator Training Formats

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.

Is it Possible to Teach Yourself Illustrator?

Students may wonder how much self-teaching they can do when learning Illustrator. The short answer is that it will depend on how much effort they want to put in and how much they want to learn about the program. For users who only want to learn the basics of the program, self-teaching is an option, given all the free resources available. However, self-teaching might be a bit too complicated for users who want to use Illustrator professionally.

There are also hidden pitfalls when self-teaching a program. Since there are so many options online for helping students learn a program, it can be challenging to figure out which one is right for any given student. This is further compounded with free content, much of which may not be up-to-date or accurate to begin with. In addition, students who run into difficulty self-teaching will have to try and find answers online, which can be equally tricky.

How to Decide the Best Way to Learn Illustrator

Students who want to learn how to use Illustrator may find the number of options available slightly intimidating. While there are several factors to consider when choosing the correct training option, students should first consider what uses they intend to use the program for and how much training they want to receive.

Noble Desktop offers a wide range of options for direct Illustrator training both online and in-person in New York City. These courses range in time commitment, allowing students to gauge how much they will use Illustrator and make a course selection based on their assessment. Students looking for an introduction to the program may consider Illustrator in a Day, which offers accelerated instruction in the program's essential features, such as using the pen and pencil tools and building images with shapes and lines. This course is ideal for students looking to learn Illustrator's basics for personal use.

Students looking for a more detailed training program may consider Noble’s Adobe Illustrator Bootcamp, which provides in-depth training in Illustrator paired with practical exercises that allow students to build their own illustrations. This course covers the use of layers and the manipulation of colors and patterns and has students build practical examples of illustrator designs for logos and packaging. It is ideally suited for students who either already have training in other graphic design skills and want to build their resume learning Illustrator or for experienced Illustrator users trying to take their skills to a more advanced level.

Students seeking a career-oriented training program that pairs Illustrator with other professional skills may wish to consider a Noble certificate program, such as their Graphic Design Certificate or Digital Design Certificate. These programs provide students with industry-recognized professional training in various skills, including Adobe Illustrator. They are designed so that upon completion, students will be prepared to enter a career as a Graphic Designer or Digital Designer. These courses are best suited for students who want to build a graphic or digital design career and feel they would benefit from focused career training rather than more specific Illustrator instruction.

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.