Home » Software

Adobe Illustrator CC Review 2021

What is Adobe Illustrator CC (Creative Cloud)?

Adobe-illustrator is an industry-leading and industry-standard tool used for vector drawing and editing. It is targeted towards professional designers to create artwork. Creativity has no boundaries, and hence, what you can do with Adobe Illustrator is also not limited.

Users primarily use Adobe Illustrator for graphic designing jobs. Those designs can be used just about anywhere from websites, to print, to social media, to even video games. Where else can you use the artwork created using Adobe Illustrator? Bus wraps, clothes, billboards, business cards, flyers, packaging material, brand logo, etc. You name it and you will find artworks created by Adobe Illustrator everywhere.

The application allows creating illustrations, typography, sketches, and just about anything your creative mind can think of. These can be used for video, web, print, mobile, etc. There are a wide range of tools, effects, and filters to work with.

Illustrator is mathematically defined and it is independent of resolution. It has a thorough collection of thousands stock art – all royalty-free. To create a complete design workflow, projects can be loaded from Illustrator into InDesign. You can find integrations with apps like After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Animate CC.

In short, Adobe Illustrator and the entire suite of Adobe apps are seamlessly integrated into Adobe Creative Cloud, thereby enabling users to access, organize, and share all their creative works or assets across Adobe’s desktop and mobile apps and even with other users.

Yes, you read it right! Adobe also have mobile apps that include things like Illustrator Draw, Comp CC, and Capture CC. Users can use these apps for capturing creativity using their mobile devices and use them directly on their desktop by Adobe Illustrator CC.

Technical Details of Adobe Illustrator CC

In case you are wondering whether you can use Adobe Illustrator CC or not, here is a set of technical details that will help you find the answer to the question you have (Summary – yes, you can use it):

Who can use it?

If you belong to any of the following categories, you can use Illustrator CC:

  • Hobbyist
  • Student
  • Freelancer
  • Small Business
  • Medium Business
  • Large Enterprise

Which platforms are supported?

Remember that Adobe Illustrator CC is cloud-based. CC stands for Creative Cloud. Because it is cloud-hosted and offers and open-API, you can use Illustrator as long as you are using the following platforms:

  • Windows
  • macOS
  • Linux
  • Window Mobile
  • Web-based

Supported Languages

The application is available in the following languages:

  • English
  • Czech
  • Swedish
  • Turkish
  • Polish
  • Dutch
  • Ukrainian
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Hungarian
  • Italian
  • Hebrew
  • Dansk
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Japanese
  • Simplified Chinese
  • Traditional Chinese
  • Korean

System Specifications

You should know system specifications if you are planning to install the app on your computer. If you intend to use the web-based interface, your computer should be powerful enough to support modern browsers and all their features.

Here is a table laying down the system specifications for Windows users:

Windows Users
OS versionWindows 10, 64-bit versions 1809, 1909, 2004
Versions 1507, 1511, 1607, 1703, 1709 and 1803 are not supportedWindows Server versions 1607 and 1809 are supported
RAM8 GB minimum, 16 GB recommended
Storage2 GB for installation for additional free space, SSD storage is recommended
GPUOpenGL 4.x [You should have 1GB VRAM minimum, 4 GB is recommended]
Screen ResolutionMinimum 1024 x 768, Recommended is 1920 x 1080
ProcessorMulti-core Intel processor (64-bit support) or AMD Athlon 64
InternetNecessary for activating software, validating subscription, and getting access to online services.

If you are a macOS user, here is what you should have on your computer:

macOS Users
OS versionSupported versions – Mojave (10.14), Catalina (10.15), Big Sur (11.0)
RAM8 GB minimum, 16 GB recommended
Storage2 GB for installation for additional free space, SSD storage is recommended
GPUOpenGL 4.x [You should have 1GB VRAM minimum, 4 GB is recommended]
Screen ResolutionMinimum 1024 x 768, Recommended is 1920 x 1080
ProcessorMulti-core Intel processor (64-bit support)
InternetNecessary for activating software, validating subscription, and getting access to online services.

Supported Video Adapters

NVIDIAINTELAMD
Quadro K SeriesHD Graphics 4600 SeriesRadeon R9 Series
Quadro 6xxxHD Graphics 4000 SeriesRadeon R7 Series
Quadro 5xxxHD Graphics 6000 SeriesRadeon HD 7000 Series
Quadro 4xxxIris Graphics 5000 SeriesRadeon HD 8000 Series
Quadro 2xxxIris Pro Graphics 5000 SeriesFirePro V Series
Quadro 2xxxDIris Graphics 6000 SeriesFirePro W Series
Quadro 6xx
GeForce GTX Series (4xx, 5xx, 6xx, 7xx, 9xx & Titan)
Quadro M Series
Quadro P Series
Quadro RTX 4000

Adobe Illustrator CC Features

The features available on Adobe Illustrator CC are too many, and it can be overwhelming for rookies. It is needless to say that once you overcome the learning curve and understand everything that Illustrator has to offer, you will find it an immensely powerful tool for your graphic designing projects.

Here is a quick list of various features you will get with Illustrator CC:

  • Touch type tool
  • Font search
  • Cloud libraries
  • Images in brushes
  • Color syncing
  • CSS extraction
  • On-art free transform tool
  • Auto-corners for patter brush
  • Sync settings
  • Live corners
  • Expanded links panel option
  • Unembedded images
  • Exchange panel
  • Typekit integration
  • Path segment reshaping
  • Rebuilt pencil tool
  • Setting import and export
  • Custom tools panels
  • Close path with control
  • Enhancement of anchor points
  • Pen tool preview
  • Live shapes
  • Touch workspace
  • Creative cloud libraries
  • Windows GPU acceleration
  • Snap to pixel, grid, and point
  • Join tool
  • Curvature tool
  • Responsive SVG export
  • Auto-sizing of area-type
  • Asset management
  • Collaboration tools
  • Image editing
  • Synchronous editing
  • Data recovery
  • Drag-and-drop interface
  • Third-party integration
  • Design management
  • Multiple projects
  • Projections
  • Search function
  • Image library
  • File management
  • Document imaging
  • Data synchronization
  • Content management
  • Activity tracking
  • Activity logging
  • Smart guides
  • Dynamic symbols
  • Shapes (lines, ellipses, polygons)
  • Shaper tool
  • Freeform merge
  • Fast zoom
  • Integration with Adobe Stock marketplace
  • Custom brushes

There are many more! What you do with these features and how you use them is totally dependent on what you are creating and what you want to achieve.

Adobe Illustrator CC In-Depth Review

Before I start with the detailed review, I will like to clarify that this is a review and not a tutorial. There can be hundreds of thousands of tutorials for Adobe Illustrator CC. It is virtually impossible to put them together in a single article.

More importantly, the tutorial you are looking for will depend on your objective. I cannot assume something and create a tutorial. The most important of all is that random tutorials don’t make sense. You need to learn the basics of Illustrator CC and understand what the different tools can do. Once you learn everything, you can use these tools in whatever fashion you want to work on your project.

So, don’t expect tutorials in this review. That’s not happening!

Okay, back to business…

Adobe Illustrator has been Adobe’s flagship vector graphics editing application. It has been so for over three decades now. It is extremely powerful and only a handful of other applications can compete with it in terms of features and capabilities.

You can use Illustrator CC for just about anything that requires graphic designing. It can be something as simple as creating a website design to something more complex like creating a memorable logo that reflects brand ideology.

The application allows great precision, and especially in the hands of a professional, it can do unimaginable wonders! Because of it geared more towards professional designers, rookies can find it extremely difficult to use. The learning curve is too steep, and I will always recommend taking a full professional course to learn the application.

If you want, you can also find thousands of tutorials online to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator CC, but that can be extremely time consuming and often frustrating.

Mastering the tool can take months or even years, but hey, Rome was not built in a day. Even designers are not made in a day. You may have extreme creativity, but giving your creativity a shape using Illustrator will require a lot of knowledge!

The Interface

It is wrong to assume that you know and use Photoshop (one of the programs in Adobe suite), but it is likely that you have looked at its interface at least one. The interface of Adobe Illustrator CC looks nearly the same. The tools are present on the left panel. At the center is the artboard (workspace) where you creating your amazing designs. On the right are different options depending on the modifications of your workspace.

You can modify the workspace using different presets. You can use them or you can create your own modifications depending on your style or approach. If you know your way around the application, the degree of customization allowed is extremely user-friendly (I will repeat – it is user-friendly only if you know how to work with it).

Illustrator will give you the ability to move windows, tools, panels, etc. to create a completely customized look for the interface that can be dramatically different from what Adobe provides.

The customizations you perform can be undone and everything can be returned to the default settings with only a couple of clicks. This flexibility of program makes it perfectly suitable for everyone.

The Tools & Features

By default, the tools are all located on the left side of the interface. There are many tools available and such a large selection of tools can be absolutely overwhelming for novices. You need to learn the functions of each tool.

Once you select a tool from the left, you can see the right panel changing depending on your selection. The right panel will give you various controls and settings for the selected tool.

Some tools will show popup animated tutorials, too! Here is a quick example of what you see when you select the gradient tool:

One of the most extensively used tool is the Pen tool. No matter what design you are creating, you will be using this tool at some point in time. However, getting used to the Pen tool is not so easy. You have to spend some time to master this tool.

Not only the Pen tool, you have to spend a significant amount of time to master any tool that you find on Illustrator CC. Almost all tools can be used for accomplishing simple tasks to extremely complex ones.

Then there are grids, guides and rulers that you can use for achieving symmetry in your design. You can activate them or deactivate the whenever you want.

There are dozens of features that you can use to achieve something truly unique for your design project. For instance, if you have a raster image, you can use Illustrator CC to trace it and convert it into a vector image. To use the image trace feature, you can import a raster image into Illustrator CC and select it. Once you have selected the image, you can go to Object >> Image Trace >> Make (or Make and Expand).

By default, Illustrator will convert it into a black and white tracing result. The result you will get will be a vector that you can expand or shrink at your whims without worrying about pixelation.

However, the Image Trace feature may not always be perfect. You will have to often retouch the image you converted to make it pixel perfect.

It is possible for you to use (import) an image in Illustrator and use the content-aware scaling. However, it will not allow you to achieve pixel adjustments in photos. Adobe never wants Illustrator to do that. Instead, Photoshop is the application that handles tasks like color correction, panorama stitching, HDR imaging tools, automatic lens correction, noise removal, etc.

No wonder, Adobe wants you to use Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign together to get the best results.

If you don’t feel like creating vectors and graphics from scratch, you are always free to purchase from Adobe Stock library. The templates and designs you buy from Adobe Stock will be royalty-free, and you can use them just about anywhere you want. The only downside is that someone else can buy the same thing. If that happens, you will lose originality.

What’s more?

With Illustrator, you can use masking tools for adding or removing elements from your design. You can even create animated GIFs, batch-process for creating same effect across multiple documents, and more. With all the tools and features, the possibilities are virtually limitless. If there is anything that will put a limitation is your own creativity. That’s it!

Compatibility and Export

While using graphic designing tools, you have to worry about compatibility. Luckily, Adobe Illustrator CC is capable of handling most of the widely used file types like SVG, BMP, TIF, PNG, JPEG, GIF, AI, EPS, etc.

Unfortunately, you will not get the provisions for saving files as PSDs or working with XLS files and RAW files.

Barring these limitations, you will get everything you will need for your printed projects as well. You will be allowed to use bleed setup so that you can remove unwanted white spaces from the physical or printed creations. If you want, you can also add printer marks so that you can know exactly where to cut the printed document.

If your settings aren’t right, Illustrator CC will give you a warning and let you know that something is off before the file is sent to the printer.

Adobe Illustrator CC Pricing

Adobe has more than 20 applications. You can use them all, or you can use only the once you need. For instance, I use only Photoshop and Illustrator. I don’t work with After Effects, InDesign, etc.

In case you want to purchase only Adobe Illustrator CC, you can do that. You have to buy a monthly or a yearly subscription that will keep renewing at the end of the selected billing cycle. If you go for the monthly subscription, you have to pay $20.99 a month. If you go for the yearly cycle, you will have to pay $239.88 a year.

In case you want access to all the applications that Adobe has to offer, you can pay $52.99 a month or $599.88 per year.

There is no way you can accomplish a one-time purchase and get the application(s) for life!

Adobe Illustrator CC Support

When you buy subscription of any or all of the Adobe applications, you are eligible for email, ticket, live chat, and phone support. They also have one of the largest databases of support articles that you can find for any graphic designing suit.

In case you want, you can visit their support forums or one of the many user-created forums where you can find help from pro users.

Alternatively, you can also look into various YouTube channels where you will get tutorials created by the company and general users.

Adobe Illustrator CC Alternatives

There are many alternatives available for Adobe Illustrator CC. For instance, you can work with Corel Draw (Premium), Inkspace (Free), Affinity Designer (Premium), Gravit Designer (Freemium), Sketch (Premium and only for Mac), etc.

The only two options that come close to Adobe Illustrator CC are Corel Draw and Inkspace. In fact, both Corel Draw and Inkspace are so powerful that you can use them as a complete alternative to Illustrator. Inkspace has slow development because it is an open-source option. It works best in conjunction with GIMP (open-source answer to Adobe’s Photoshop).

Corel Draw is pretty expensive and it will set you back by $1000+ for a one-off purchase! By strength, Corel Draw is the true competitor of Illustrator CC. It is feature-rich and can accomplish everything that Adobe Illustrator CC can do. However, using it is not easy. You have to go through a steep learning curve to use it with confidence.

Adobe Illustrator CC Pros and Cons

Here is a quick list of the pros and cons of Adobe Illustrator:

The Pros

  • Customizable interface. Users can rearrange windows and change their sizes, remove or add windows, and more.
  • Provides highly professional output.
  • Compatible with a wide range of file formats.
  • Offers many advanced features.
  • Mobile application available.

The Cons

  • Steep learning curve.
  • No amateur-friendly.
  • No buy-for-life option. You need to have a monthly or yearly subscription.
  • Lack of uniformity in commands when compared to other Adobe applications like Photoshop. This makes remembering the shortcuts difficult if you are using multiple Adobe programs.

Conclusion

Adobe Illustrator CC is a powerful vector graphics editing application. It has become the industry standard tool despite having powerful opponents or competitors like Corel Draw. Illustrator remains the application of choice for designers across the world.

The application’s power and its versatility allow for limitless creativity. Though it is best suited for professional designers, amateurs can still use it. All they need is a bit of patience and the desire to learn. At the end, the time spent in learning the application is a time well-spent.