What is Adobe Illustrator?

Adobe Illustrator is a vector-based design software for graphic designers, web designers, and illustrators at all levels. Adobe Illustrator is usually used for logo designs, branding visuals, typography design, infographics, and illustrations. 

Adobe Illustrator is a monthly or yearly subscription with Adobe Creative Cloud. There are different pricing options available starting from $22.99/month, and it comes with a 7-day free trial and 100GB cloud storage

In this article, you’ll learn everything about Adobe Illustrator including what it is used for, who uses it, how much Adobe Illustrator costs, and its features. 

Can’t decide if Adobe Illustrator is right for you? This article will help you find out.

Adobe Illustrator History 

Originally, Adobe Illustrator was developed for Mac users between 1985 and 1987 (source), a couple of years after Adobe was founded. Two years later, they released the second version that runs on Windows computers as well.

In 2003, Adobe released version 11, known as Illustrator CS. The Creative Suite (CS) also includes other programs like InDesign and the famous Photoshop

You might have heard of Illustrator CS6, the latest version of Illustrator CS released in 2012. It has already developed a lot of new features that we see in our Illustrator version today. 

After Version CS6, Adobe introduced Illustrator CC, known as Creative Cloud. You can learn all the differences between Adobe Illustrator CC vs CS versions here.

What Can Adobe Illustrator Do

So why do graphic designers use Adobe Illustrator? Generally, we use Adobe Illustrator for creating logos, illustrations, typefaces, infographics, etc. Most importantly, Illustrator creates scalable vectors that won’t lose the image quality as we scale the artwork. 

For example, I’ve been using Adobe Illustrator for more than 12 years, and I use it mostly for branding designs, like creating logos, business cards, company websites, and printable products. From time to time, I get some illustration work as well. 

I love its vector editing and color tools like the Shape Builder Tool, Mesh Tool, Pen Tool, Blend Tool, and Direct Selection Tool, just to name a few. I can use them to create anything that I can think of. 

For example, here are four amazing things that the Blend Tool can make: 


Here’s a quick overview of some popular features in Adobe Illustrator.

Direct Selection ToolAllows precise editing of anchor points and paths.
Pen ToolUsed to draw precise paths and shapes.
PathfinderOffers tools for combining, dividing, and manipulating shapes and paths.
Eyedropper ToolPicks up colors from existing objects for use elsewhere.
Blend ToolCreates smooth transitions between shapes, colors, and shading.
Clipping MaskMasks an object using another object to control visibility.
Pathfinder PanelProvides access to various path manipulation tools.
Appearance PanelManages the appearance of selected objects, including fills, strokes, and effects.
Image TraceConverts raster images into editable vectors.


Adobe Illustrator runs on both Windows and Mac devices. There’s also an iPad version, which is easier to use. 

Adobe Illustrator supports a lot of file formats and integrates with many other design apps. 

For example, I use other Adobe apps like Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and InDesign, so I can quickly integrate my designs into different apps. Plus, I love how it supports so many different file formats. 

Import File Formats:

File FormatDescription
AIAdobe Illustrator Artwork (native format).
EPSEncapsulated PostScript, a versatile format for print design.
PDFPortable Document Format which supports vector graphics.
SVGScalable Vector Graphics, web-standard format.
DXFDrawing Exchange Format, commonly used for CAD drawings.
DWGAutoCAD Drawing Database, another common CAD format.
PSDSupports importing Photoshop files with layers.
PNGPortable Network Graphics supports raster graphics with transparency.

Export File Formats:

File FormatDescription
AIAdobe Illustrator Artwork (native format).
EPSEncapsulated PostScript, suitable for print production.
PDFPortable Document Format, widely compatible across platforms.
SVGScalable Vector Graphics, ideal for web use.
DXFDrawing Exchange Format, commonly used in CAD and CNC applications.
DWGAutoCAD Drawing Database, widely used in CAD software.
PNGPortable Network Graphics, suitable for web use.
JPEGJoint Photographic Experts Group, commonly used for web graphics.

Adobe Illustrator vs Other Tools

I know, there are a bunch of vector editors out there, so how is Adobe Illustrator different from other tools? 

Not going to give you a full comparison guide here, but just to give you an idea of how it compares to some of its alternatives. 

For example, many designers use Photoshop instead of Illustrator. So what’s the difference between Illustrator and Photoshop? The biggest difference is that Photoshop is raster-based and Illustrator is vector-based

How about Adobe Illustrator vs InDesign? I know, InDesign is vector-based as well, but their functions are different. InDesign is mostly used to handle text-based publications

How Much is Adobe Illustrator

If you’re wondering whether you can get Adobe Illustrator for free, the answer is NO, there isn’t a free version, but you can try it out for a week to see if you like it. And if you do like it, see which pricing option is best for you. 

The individual plan is $22.99/month if you get an annual subscription, and you get access to Adobe Firefly, Adobe Express, and 100GB of cloud storage. The cheapest option is $19.99/month with all Creative Cloud apps, but this deal is only for students and teachers. 

How to Learn Adobe Illustrator

So, is learning Adobe Illustrator easy?

Yes, it’s easy to start and you can learn it on your own. With passion and dedication, learning Illustrator is not as difficult as you think, although it might take a while for you to get familiar with the tools, so it’s recommended to get proper training. 

Just to give you an idea of what the workspace looks like: 

There are different ways to learn Adobe Illustrator. You can take online courses, get graphic design books, get a graphic design degree, or simply watch my YouTube tutorials

Going to graphic design school or taking a systematic class will show you the whole creative process, which is quite essential if you want to become a professional graphic designer. Plus, you’ll get more chances to network with fellow designers or someone in the industry. 

On the other hand, if you only want to use Adobe Illustrator for your personal project or business, like learning how to create something using certain tools, then you might not need a graphic design degree. 

Now the question is: How can I make money with Adobe Illustrator?

Career Choices

As I mentioned before, Adobe Illustrator is a popular vector editor for graphic designers and web designers. Besides graphic design and web design, there are other career choices like fashion designers and illustrators

For example, you can become an art director, but usually, it requires years of experience. If you’re more interested in drawing, becoming an illustrator is a great career choice. You can become a children’s book illustrator (always in high demand), medical illustrator, digital illustrator, or fashion illustrator for fashion brands.  


Here are more questions you may have about Adobe Illustrator.

Is graphic design hard?

If you’re a fast learner and a creative person, graphic design is not hard to learn. All you need is a positive attitude and enough practice. 

Can I learn Adobe Illustrator by myself?

Yes, you can. You don’t have to go to school to learn Adobe Illustrator, because there are a lot of online courses, books, and tutorials. 

Is Adobe Illustrator for free?

No, but you can get a seven-day free trial version from Adobe and click Free Trial on top of the page next to Buy Now. After seven days, you’ll have the option to choose a monthly plan or annual plan depending on your budget and use. 

Is Adobe Illustrator good for logo design?

Yes! Adobe Illustrator is the industry standard for logo design, and it has limitless vector editing tools to create a professional logo. 

What are some Adobe Illustrator alternatives?

If you’re looking for free Adobe Illustrator alternatives, you can try Inkscape (my favorite), Canva, Vectr, etc. Otherwise, CorelDRAW is a great alternative for more professional projects. 

Is Illustrator Easier Than Photoshop?

For beginners, yes, it is less complicated than Photoshop. Especially, if you don’t like working with layers. Editing text and creating shapes are also easier in Illustrator. 

Final words 

Adobe Illustrator, the most popular design software for graphic designers, brings you incredible features for exploring your creativity. Play with shapes, lines, text, and colors, you’d be amazed at what you can create. 

If you want to become a professional graphic designer, I strongly recommend you use this industry-standard software. There are many alternatives to Illustrator (some are even free), but none offers the designer must-haves full package.

That wraps up this article, I’m sure now you have a clear understanding of what Adobe Illustrator is and what you can do with it. If you have any further questions about this design program, feel free to leave a comment below 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Jacqueline

    Hi, I run a small non-profit and have paid for an initial design to help animal welfare professionals. I’ll be purchasing illustrator next week. Your information is helpful. Thanks

    • June Escalada

      Hi Jacqueline! You’re welcome.