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Some of us have been eagerly awaiting it, others have been casually disinterested, and some have even expressed irritation. The fact of the matter is, though, that this September 23rd saw the official announcement of Adobe's latest release of their Creative Suite. Here at VECTORTUTS we thought it fair to give vector fans a taste of what's new in Illustrator CS4.
Workflow and Efficiency
Our screens are getting bigger, platforms are offering us space-saving window and desktop dynamism, but Adobe felt we needed further assistance with our workspace and workflow. Most of Illustrator's new additions aim to improve the way in which we interact with it.
Up to 100 separate artboards within the same document. Your artboards can be displayed side by side, overlapping or stacked. They can be saved, exported or printed as a group or individually. Previous versions of Illustrator offer multipage PDF publishing from page tiles; Illustrator CS4 also allows multiple artboards to be published in this way.
The familiar modern way of working with multiple documents or windows. Cascading or tiled tabs will allow you to switch between and move objects across to other open documents with ease.
In-Panel Appearance Editing
Reducing the need for ever-present panels appears to be have been high on the list of priorities for CS4. The introduction of 'In-panel appearance editing' gives complete control of an object's characteristics, fill, stroke, effects - all in one (small) place.
Actions on the Artboard
Another new feature providing relevant menus wherever your cursor is on the artboard. Playing with options within panels at the edge of your screen is therefore reduced.
The essence of our working with Illustrator; they help us make our marks, add our text and give us color. CS4 presents a few welcome tool additions.
The way in which gradients are created hasn't really changed much over the years and this has received it's fair share of frowns from users. Adobe will be looking to silence the critics with the gradients annotator. Total intuitive control of your gradients direct from the object you're working on. Angle, position, and (also newly introduced) elliptical dimensions, all editable with sliders giving direct feedback.
Transparency in Gradients
Further tweaking of Illustrator's gradient tools! Those of you familiar with gradients in Photoshop or Flash will be glad of this new feature; allowing you to define the opacity of any given stop in an object's gradient.
Blob Brush Tool
Another feature which may ring a bell with Flash users. Paint with the Blob Brush tool to create a single, clean vector object. Further interaction with the Eraser and the Smooth tool allow fluid path creation.
Illustrator helps us deliver our files to an increasingly long list of media. This time round, it was the turn of print for a little attention.
The printers among you may be more accustomed to checking your color output with Acrobat. Illustrator now provides a Separations Panel to ensure your document is composed only of the colors you intended and that they will be printed exactly as you plan.
Also new to CS4 is what Adobe are calling the 'Bleeds document attribute'. Choose to work with bleeds when setting up your document, or later on.
Adobe Community Help
Search Adobe's product help online with improved search facilities. Help contributions from 3rd party community members keep this resource growing and current.
Anyone who read 5 Ways to Customize Adobe Illustrator will remember Kuler™, the color palette feed available from Adobe Labs. Not surprisingly this has been made a permanent feature of Illustrator's CS4 edition, giving you access to color, theme and swatch contributions from a huge online community.
Now it's Your Turn
Let's hear it then, are you impatiently drumming your credit card on the desk, waiting for CS4 to be made available? Or are you quietly resentful at the thought of investing more hard-earned cash for tools which you'll rarely make use of? We want to hear your thoughts.