The Active Network

Product: Illustrator 8.01
Company: Adobe Systems
Estimated Street Price: $379.00 Upgrade: $119.00
Review By: Julien Jay


Table Of Contents
1: Introduction
2: Setup & Installation
3: Features
4: Compatibility
5: Conclusion

Adobe Illustrator 8 hopefully comes with brand new features. As I wrote, Illustrator includes a very useful Navigation Palette that allows to zoom in/out or to locate special areas on large graphic contents easily. At least users can save their layers when exporting Illustrator files to PhotoShop to create amazing graphics in combination with the advanced special effects of Photoshop. You can incorporate CAO files in DXF files format. Now users can copy/paste or drag & drop illustrator pictures into Microsoft Office, or other OLE 2 compliant software. However on our test computers when we drag and drop an object from Illustrator 8.01 to Word 2000, each time we received a ‘not enough memory’ error (the test PC has 256Mb of Ram). It’s supposed to speed up your work! The copy/past feature works great. As always the illustrator files are perfectly compatible with PC or Mac and as they are vector-based the file’s size is always small (even with gradients) except if you incorporate huge pictures in an Illustrator document.  Now Illustrator includes the same smart link feature than PageMaker uses. That is to say that with the link palette, users can check instantly which resources files are missing (useful before sending files to the printer). 

Also other smart features are included: if you rotate for example a Photoshop file and relink it to new file picture illustrator will retain the rotation effect! Smart guides help users to accurate move, transform, and align their objects in the page.

No you’re not in Hollywood, however Illustrator 8.0 uses the Actions palette that was first introduced in PhotoShop 4. That is to say that you can select automated actions in this palette that will be applied instantly to your creation in just one click! Well if software do our job, what will we do next? ;-)

Cube.jpg (6838 bytes)

It’s simple to use. Click the action tab in the palette and select an action. For example ‘3d’ cube and push the play button. In a few seconds Illustrator will draw itself the wonderful cube you can see on top.

Adobe Illustrator 8 includes new innovative creative tools: the Art brush and the Scatter brush. Both of these tools let users paint a graphical object along a path—the Art brush arranges the graphical object evenly along a path, while the Scatter brush applies the artwork randomly using settings that the user specifies. Here is an example of an Illustrator 8 scatter brush where the artwork follows the line:

Cats.jpg (14713 bytes)

Illustrator 8 also contains a gradient tool  (like in InDesign) that blends colors in any way! Choose a gradient beginning and a gradient end color then apply it to an object and select the gradient line tool that will do the gradient along the line you’ll draw. (Note: you can use a linear or radian gradient).

IllCi.jpg (3932 bytes)

Drawing as never been so easier: Adobe Illustrator 8 contains a brand new pencil tool that allows users to draw their ideas freely like if they were using a pen. Electronic artwork now looks like paper artwork! Illustrator 8 also includes new revamped eraser tools to easily remove anesthetic bumps or to change the look out of forms. 

Finally the new feature, that adobe is probably the most proud of, is the gradient mesh tool that allows users to blend colors on multiple directions in a single object. This new tool will effectively enhance the users’ creativity and will expand the range of shading, lighting.

 You can add special effects to your documents by using filters. One of the new effect filter, named ‘Photo Crosshatch’ filter will transform your photos in textured sketches. It will give your photo a ‘printed’ effect like on the newspapers.

  Finally the PathFinder’s palette is intended to create complex objects by associating, splitting, and isolating the different object’s parts. We found this feature very useful.

Surprisingly Illustrator 8.01 contains a graph feature that allows users to create automatically a graph depending on the data they provide. Users can choose a lot of graph types (histograms, pie charts, etc.) and change the colour, apply special effects and much more! Your corporate meetings won’t be the same when you’ll show amazing diagrams!

Graph.jpg (22478 bytes)

Adobe Illustrator 8.01 also includes the Adobe Online extension like all the other Adobe software. It allows user to access tips/tricks/support by simply pushing the ‘Lady’ button of the tools palette. However we regret that the Adobe Online doesn’t download & provide updates to the software like the Symantec ‘LiveUpdate’ feature.

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