The Breakroom

Our Top 5 Adobe Illustrator CS Pet Peeves

August 23, 2006

By Webmaster

Having recently made the switch from Freehand, the workers are slowly learning to love Illustrator while coming to terms with some of its limitations. So in an effort to improve our creation tool of choice, we want to give a shout to the talented folks at Adobe with a list of five things in Illustrator CS that are keeping us up at night. If anyone can offer workarounds for any of the items here, please drop us a line, we would love to hear about them.

5) Inflexible Radial Fills – Coming from Freehand, we were spoiled with radial fills that were completely customizable. Artists could adjust the fill to make it elliptical, change its radius, angle, origin and more quickly and easily. In Illustrator, without doing some serious workarounds, or using gradient meshes, you get circular radial fills… and that’s it. Although we love circles to death, we’d still like to be able to create ellipical or conical radial fills with ease.

4) Finicky Printing – We’re not quite sure what the problem is with printing in Illustrator, but sometimes we have the hardest time. We suspect it might have something to do with certain fonts and the art board, but to be honest, we’re just not sure. All we do know is that sometimes we just can’t get Illustrator to print, and that’s a problem.

3) Forgetful Clipping Masks – Illustrator’s clipping masks are cool once you get the hang of them, although creating them takes more steps than Freehand’s old “Paste Inside” feature. The main problem is that if you take the time to set a stroke, fill, etc. on a shape and then turn that shape into a clipping mask, it would stand to reason that you want that clipping mask to retain its style settings. This isn’t the case however, and the extra steps it takes to re-set a mask’s style takes precious time and mouse clicks.

2) Lazy Multiple-Window Support – As our techniques evolve with ever growing icon sizes we appreciate the ability to view actual size pixel previews in a second window beside our “as-big-as-we-can-get-it” working window a la Photoshop. However it is extremely annoying to have to switch layers on and off again after reopening a file to get it back where it was when we closed it. It would be nice if Illustrator remembered that I want my 1200% window with the grid, my 100% window with no background layer and my 25% window with just the background layer. Oh, and can we please fix the rendering artifacts?

And the top thing about Illustrator that we think needs improving…

1) Selecting Stuff – Without question, the thing that slows our productivity down the most when creating in Illustrator is the simple action of selecting stuff. Even Illustrator veterans like our own David Lanham sometimes have trouble clicking and moving points or determining when to use the “Selection Tool” and when to use the “Direct Selection Tool”.

Want to select and move a single point? Well that involves a minimum of two to three mouse clicks, not a single one like in Freehand. We cannot tell you how many times we’ve had to “Undo” an unintentional move because what we thought was about to happen turned out not to be the case. Some Illustrator users have learned to live with these extra steps and just accept the need to shift-select a point before you really select it. We say, “Come on Adobe! We can do better!”. Just by changing the Direct Selection tool so that we can 1) Click the shape to select it and 2) Click and drag a point would go a long way to helping us get rid of those sleepless nights.

So what do you think? Are you feeling the workers pain or do you agree with that Jedi Master who said “You must unlearn what you have learned!”. Or perhaps you might even have your own additions to the list! Take a minute or two to drop us a line and let us know.

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