Let me rephrase…
I’m finally LEARNING Illustrator. But even after picking up the basics, I feel like I’ve grown leaps and bounds in the program. It doesn’t feel scary or overwhelming to navigate around. And if you remember that I’ve been using—(cough)—Microsoft Word to create all my graphics, well you know how excited I am to make a simple graphic like this for an upcoming girls trip with my sisters and cousins, and have it come together in just a few minutes:
I’m definitely still a beginner. But I’ll tell you how I got to this point…AND how you can learn Illustrator too. We’ve got an awesome giveaway at the end of my ramblings. Read on….
A couple months ago I was contacted by the ladies at Nicole’s Classes, asking if I wanted to take their Illustrator course. Yes please!
I took the Illustrator 101 course, which lasts for 4 weeks, with instructor Alma Loveland. It was awesome! And she was awesome—she has the most soothing voice (that alone is worth taking the course, right?)
If you’ve never heard of Nicole’s classes, definitely click over because they offer tons of creative courses aside from Illustrator, like Photoshop, InDesign, Photography, creating a Brand, typography, and other cool classes.
In four weeks, Alma takes you from the very basics to more detailed tools and applications. And I loved her basics because it helped me understand the concept behind Illustrator before jumping into the tools. I had that ah-ha moment when she explained why vector graphics (on the left below) are different from raster graphics (such as photos/jpgs, on the right)
I’m a big believer that understanding concepts first, leads to better application.
Here’s a turtle that Alma breaks down in the first lesson to explain the many layers and shapes that create one Illustrator object.
Throughout the 4 week course, she explains all the various tools, options, color palettes, brushes, how to make a custom brush, symbols, the pen tool. Oh the pen tool! She goes over Live Trace and Live Paint which are really cool. She’s using it below for this seagull:
She really wowed me by using invisible lines in Live Paint to create this cool seascape effect on the words:
Never would have thought to do that.
I guess that’s why she’s awesome and teaching the course, and assigning homework, and providing feedback each week to each student.
So here’s some of the stuff I tried.
The first week we made a typographic poster. And since it was near Father’s Day I did a nod to one of Casey’s favorite movies, Anchor Man:
I originally planned to print and frame these for his office, but haven’t made it that far yet.
This next graphic was inspired by 5 year-old Owen. He loves the Coldplay song Paradise and when we chose Clara’s name a year and half ago, we thought Paradise could be turned into Claradise. So now we sing the chorus that way. I think she’s singing along.
I never mailed an official baby announcement when she was born, but I can see how easy it is to make announcements and Christmas cards on your own in Illustrator. Too late to welcome friends and family to Claradise?
On Saturday I used Illustrator in a funny way….to help me make a new-home decision! I’ve been going back and forth on the bathroom tile colors and design. So I thought duh, I should do a mock up of the colors so Casey and I can visualize it better. Just another reason to love Illustrator. Subway tiles.
Then I got real fancy and made a mockup of an actual bathroom, practicing all the shapes I’d learned.
And when I couldn’t remember how to do a cut-out circle inside of another circle, I was able to reference it in the Illustrator book too. I should note that the book is not included in the course, but it’s super reasonably priced and worth it.
Even after going through all the coursework and re-watching some of the videos again, it’s hard to remember everything. So the book is nice to fall back on.
Of course the best way to learn Illustrator is to practice—which is why the homework is so valuable each week (especially because you get feedback from the instructor)—-and to practice on projects that motivate you. The REAL reason I wanted to learn Illustrator was to improve the look of my PDF patterns. I wanted the lines to be professional. So I couldn’t wait to try out my new skills on the KID Shorts pattern. It turned out better than I had hoped.
If you’ve made it to the end of this long post, I owe you a coke.
But maybe you’ll settle on a giveaway instead?
Want to try out one of Nicole’s Classes?
• For all MADE readers, we’re offering a 20% discount on any course from now till August 19th.
Enter coupon code: NCANDDANA20
This month’s courses just started today but it’s not too late to join for August. Or you can look ahead and sign up for September as well.
• For one lucky reader, we’re offering a FREE Illustrator 101 Course!
• Leave a comment, that’s it.
• Only one entry per person.
• Open to anyone!
• ONE winner will be picked via random.org
Giveaway ends, Saturday 8/10/13 at 10pm (Central Time).
GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
Winners will be announced next week.
And thank you to Nicole’s Classes for all the creative help and direction. I hope you guys enjoy their courses as much as I have!