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Graphic design & publishing software Reviews
15,670 Reviews

Adobe Illustrator CS4 review

£522.73 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Adobe

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

Illustrator Creative Suite 4 (CS4) enjoys a revamped interface, new gradient tools and much, much more.

Illustrator Creative Suite 4 (CS4) enjoys a revamped interface, new gradient tools and much, much more.

Illustrator is the oldest of all of the applications in Adobe's Creative Suite. And while the company has steadily updated the drawing application since its debut in 1986, Adobe continues to find important improvements with every release.

Illustrator CS4 is no different, with its revamped interface, new gradient tools, the Blob brush, and more. Packed with changes, the new version promises to be a great upgrade for users of all levels.

See also: Adobe Creative Suite 4 (CS4) review

INDIVIDUAL CS4 APPS REVIEWED IN DETAIL:

Adobe InDesign CS4 review

Adobe Photoshop CS4 review

Adobe Illustrator CS4 review

Adobe After Effects CS4 review

Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 review

Adobe Flash Professional CS4 review

Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 review

Adobe InCopy CS4 review

Adobe Version Cue CS4 review

Adobe Contribute CS4 review

Adobe Soundbooth CS4 review

Adobe Fireworks CS4 review

THE SIX ADOBE CS4 SUITES REVIEWED:

Adobe CS4 Master Collection review

Adobe CS4 Production Premium review

Adobe CS4 Web Premium review

Adobe CS4 Web Standard review

Adobe CS4 Design Standard review

Adobe CS4 Design Premium review

New interface

Like the rest of the CS4 suite, Illustrator version 14 (for those who are counting) features Adobe's new Application Frame, a large window that holds all documents and palettes, and provides you with a neutral-coloured background. A new Application bar that sits above the Options bar of the previous version gives you window management tools and an easy mechanism for switching between Workspaces (different window layouts).

Windows in Illustrator CS4 can be kept as tabbed documents within the Application Frame, and the program includes many new commands for automatically re-arranging and organizing the different tabs.

Drag-and-drop manipulation of objects is much more sophisticated in Illustrator CS4. For starters, you can copy an object from one illustration to another by simply dragging it from the source document to the tab of your target document. The target document will take focus and you can position and release your object.

You can also manipulate an object by simply dragging and dropping it on a tool palette. For example, if you drag and drop an object onto the Transparency palette, it selects and you can alter its transparency.

Introduced in Illustrator CS3, the Isolation mode - which allows you to easily isolate a single path for manipulation without having to lock or hide surrounding paths - has been improved. Now, when you put an object into Isolation mode, Illustrator displays the object's hierarchy as a series of clickable "breadcrumbs" at the top of the screen. This simple mechanism allows you to navigate through the grouping hierarchy of an object, isolating any part as you go.

Other interface improvements include clipping masks that now only show their clipped area when you're editing them, and improved Smart Guides which display on-cursor readouts of dimensions as you create shapes, guides that indicate when shapes are aligned, and additional displays which show rotation angle and rotation relative to other objects.

Finally, working with Graphic Styles and Appearances is much easier thanks to interface improvements that make it possible to hide the visibility of complex, render-intensive components of an appearance, among other changes.

NEXT PAGE: multiple Artboards

See also: Adobe Creative Suite 4 (CS4) review

INDIVIDUAL CS4 APPS REVIEWED IN DETAIL:

Adobe InDesign CS4 review

Adobe Photoshop CS4 review

Adobe Illustrator CS4 review

Adobe After Effects CS4 review

Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 review

Adobe Flash Professional CS4 review

Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 review

Adobe InCopy CS4 review

Adobe Version Cue CS4 review

Adobe Contribute CS4 review

Adobe Soundbooth CS4 review

Adobe Fireworks CS4 review

THE SIX ADOBE CS4 SUITES REVIEWED:

Adobe CS4 Master Collection review

Adobe CS4 Production Premium review

Adobe CS4 Web Premium review

Adobe CS4 Web Standard review

Adobe CS4 Design Standard review

Adobe CS4 Design Premium review

PLUS:

Adobe Illustrator CS4 Expert Verdict »

2GHz or faster processor
Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (Service Pack 3 recommended) or Windows Vista Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise with Service Pack 1 (certified for 32-bit Windows XP and Windows Vista)
512MB of RAM (1GB recommended)
2GB of available hard-disk space for installation
additional free space required during installation (cannot install on flash-based storage devices)
1,024x768 display (1,280x800 recommended) with 16-bit video card
DVD-ROM drive
Broadband internet connection required for online services
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

Illustrator is 22 years old this year, and with the release of CS4, most users should consider it a very happy birthday when the final version ships next month.

  • Adobe Flash Professional review

    Adobe Flash Professional

    Flash CS4 features a radically revised animation environment.

  • Adobe Fireworks review

    Adobe Fireworks

    New features in Adobe Fireworks CS4 provide designers with advanced tools to create websites, applications, and interactive designs.

  • Adobe Soundbooth CS4 review

    Adobe Soundbooth CS4

    Adobe Soundbooth CS4 is something more akin to a professional audio editor than its predecessor ever was.

  • Adobe Photoshop CS4 review

    Adobe Photoshop CS4

    Adobe Photoshop CS4, the latest version of Adobe's flagship image-editing program, will hit the streets practically on the heels of Photoshop CS3, which debuted a little less than 18 months ago.

  • Adobe After Effects CS4 review

    Adobe After Effects CS4

    Just when you thought there was nothing more to add to After Effects, Adobe has crammed a large number of new features and enhancements into the CS4 release of its flagship visual effects and motion graphics software.


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