What is the Best Way to Learn Adobe Illustrator

There are many ways to learn Adobe Illustrator. But what’s the best way? I would say classroom, but it also depends on what you use it for. 

For example, if you’re looking for learning specific tools for the daily workflow you do, tutorials will be more than enough. If you want to become a graphic designer or illustrator, the best way would be to take classes.  

It doesn’t matter which platform you choose to learn, the best way to learn is practice

My name is June, I’m a graphic designer. I was an Advertising major (creative direction instead of management), so I had to take a good amount of graphic design classes, including Adobe Illustrator. 

I’ve learned Adobe Illustrator through different platforms like classes in the classroom, university online courses, books, and online courses that professors recommended to us.

In this article, I’ll share some of my learning experiences, what is each platform best for learning Adobe Illustrator, and some useful tips.  

1. Classroom

Best for: preparing for a professional graphic design career.

If you have the time and budget, I would say that classroom learning is the best. In a graphic design class, you’ll not only learn about the program but also do real-life projects that can be very useful for your portfolio. 

One big advantage of learning in a classroom is that you can ask questions or feedback anytime and get an immediate response from classmates or instructors. Learning from each other is the best way to improve your ideas and skills. 

Besides teaching the programs, the instructor usually teaches some design thinking as well which is essential for you to be a professional graphic designer or illustrator. 

Tip: If you want to become a graphic designer, learning Adobe Illustrator isn’t all about learning the tool itself, it’s more important to be the creative “idea person”, and then you can learn the tools to make your thinking into projects. 

2. Online Courses

Best for: part-time learning. 

The best thing about Illustrator online courses is that you can learn them at your own pace and the schedule can be flexible. If there’s anything you didn’t get the first time you watch the recorded course videos, you can always go back to see the videos again. 

I took an online Illustrator class one summer and the class was about making charts & graphs. It was somehow complicated (I’m talking about back in 2013), so it was actually nice to take the online class because I could go back and pause on the steps that I couldn’t follow at once. 

There are so many Adobe Illustrator online courses from universities, design institutes, agencies, or blogs and there are so many courses focusing on different niches. 

The difficult part might be self-discipline, so make sure that you practice on your own. 

Tip: I highly recommend choosing a project base course instead of a tool & basics based course because you can learn about the tools from other online tutorials. Learning about practical projects is much more important.  

3. Books 

Best for: learning graphic design concepts.  

Books can be the best way to learn design concepts and principles, which are essential if you want to use Adobe Illustrator like a pro. Once you’ve learned the concepts and principles, you can apply them to real-world projects.

Most of the Adobe Illustrator books come with hands-on projects, practices, and step-by-step instructions on how to use the basic tools & features. With creative ideas in mind, through doing projects and practicing, you’ll learn fast. 

Tip: Choose a book that’s project-based and has assignments, so that you can practice more “after class”. 

4. Tutorials

Best for: learning about how-tos, and tools & basics. 

A tutorial is the go-to when you run into new tools in Adobe Illustrator that you haven’t used before or when you want to ask a “how-to” question! Books or courses don’t always go too deep into the tools & basics. 

There are so many tools and features in Illustrator, it’s impossible to learn them all at once, so there’s always more to learn from the tutorials. 

Some of you might think, isn’t tutorials and online courses the same thing? 

Well, they are different. Tutorials are generally solutions to specific problems, such as how to use a specific tool or how to make something, while online courses are teaching you knowledge and skills. 

Let me put it this way, you need to know what you’re going to do first (which is knowledge), and then you can search for the solution (how-to tutorials) to make it happen.   

FAQs

Decided to learn Adobe Illustrator? Here are more questions about Adobe Illustrator that you might be interested in.  

Can I teach myself Adobe Illustrator?

Yes! You can definitely learn Adobe Illustrator on your own! There are so many self-taught graphic designers today, and they learn from online resources like online tutorials, online courses, and books. 

How quickly can I learn Adobe Illustrator?

It should take you about 3 to 5 months to learn the tools and basics. You should be able to create artwork using the basics tools. The difficult part is creative thinking (knowing what to create), and that’s what will take more time to develop.  

How much does it cost for Adobe Illustrator?

Adobe Illustrator has different membership plans. If you get the prepaid annual plan, it’s $19.99/month. If you want to get the annual plan but pay monthly, it’s $20.99/month

What are the pros and cons of Adobe Illustrator?

ProsCons
– Lots of tools & features for professional design
– Integration with other Adobe programs
– Works with a variety of file formats
– Steep learning curve
– Expensive
– Heavy program that takes up a lot of disk space

Conclusion

There are different ways to learn Adobe Illustrator and each method can be best for something. Actually, from my experience, I’m learning from all. No matter which way you choose, the key is to turn concepts into practice. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. 

About June Escalada
Graduated from Creative Advertising major, worked more than eight years as a graphic designer focusing in branding and Illustration. Yes, Adobe Illustrator is my best friend and I’m passionate about art and design.

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