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March 25, 2009

Why Artboards and not Pages?

Contributed by David Macy, Illustrator Senior Product Manager

Great lead-in yesterday about the productivity enhancements found by using Multiple Artboards in Illustrator CS4.

So, why do we call these Artboards in Illustrator and not Pages? The word “page” is well understood in our language, and has implications based on its true meaning and on how it has been expressed in existing software applications. In printed materials, pages have a fixed sequence, and are typically read in the sequence they are presented. In electronic formats such as web sites, pages may be viewed in any sequence, but are still generally presented based on a hierarchy – usually with a “Main” or “Home” page that everything cascades from. In fact, when you are laying out a magazine or building a website, you will usually begin with a specification defining the structure of the final site or document. This kind of “structured workflow” is supported very well by Adobe’s main tool for document layout – InDesign, and Adobe’s main tool for website layout – Dreamweaver.

When we took a close look at what Illustrator users needed we saw that in most cases it was not the ability to create multiple page documents, and in fact it was very often based on an un-structured workflow with no particular sequence or hierarchy. Of course there are many very valid use cases for creating sequenced documents from Illustrator, but there are also a lot of compelling use cases where artboards are simply a collection of related assets with no particular sequence or hierarchy. Given the desire of many artists to work in Illustrator in a very fluid and creative way, unbound by a structured workflow, we decided to make an extremely flexible system for creating and managing artboards. In Illustrator, you can make artboards of any size and in any position on Illustrator’s canvas, all depending on what you are trying to do with them-

  • Two artboards of the same size can represent the front and back of a sheet of paper.
  • Three artboards side by side can represent a tryptich painting.
  • Five artboards of unique sizes can contain assets for a brand identity including treatment on a business card, brochure, product package, website and outdoor billboard.
  • Six artboards nested within each other can represent different viewport sizes for visualizing virtual displays.
  • Nine artboards in a grid can be used to illustrate a multi-screen display.
  • Twenty two artboards could make up a comic book lettering project.
  • Forty three artboards might be used for creating a board game, including the playing surface, top and bottom of the box, six playing pieces and 34 playing cards.
  • Fifty artboards in a row can define keyframes for an animation.
  • The possibilities are almost as vast as the number of ways in which people use Illustrator.

    Illustrator does continue to grow and evolve, so please let us know how you use Multiple Artboards in CS4 or how you would like to see them change over time.


    • By Tim - 6:00 PM on March 25, 2009  

      Well done on the artboards, the implementation is great, with everything just working as expected. This one feature was stopping me moving from Freehand to Illustrator.The only thing that bugs me is I often click on an object by mistake, and it makes a new artboard where I don’t want one. Other than that minor detail it’s fantastic.

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