Posts in Category "History"

May 14, 2014

The Adobe Illustrator Story

When Adobe Illustrator first shipped in 1987, it was the first software application for a young company that had, until then, focused solely on Adobe PostScript. The new product not only altered Adobe’s course, it changed drawing and graphic design forever.

Watch the Illustrator story unfold from its beginning as Adobe’s first software product, to its role in the digital publishing revolution, to becoming an essential tool for designers worldwide. Interviews include cofounder John Warnock, his wife Marva, artists and designers Ron Chan, Bert Monroy, Dylan Roscover and Jessica Hische.

You can watch the full movie below or view it by chapters after the jump.

The Adobe Illustrator Story — full movie


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September 19, 2013

Times Square by Bert Monroy

Panoramic View of Times Square by Bert Monroy

Panoramic View of Times Square by Bert Monroy

“Adobe Illustrator was crucial for Times Square because of the sheer size. Everything being resolution independent, everything was planned in Illustrator. It’s a 25-foot file. If I had done it completely in Photoshop, it would have been a 130-foot file—which Photoshop can’t handle.”

Artist Profile

Bert Monroy has had a long career in the graphic arts. His first printed piece appeared in 1963, and by the early 1980s he and a business partner had their own ad agency. It was his partner who had the idea to computerize. “I told him fine, get your computer, but don’t expect me to be entering data,” said Bert.

Soon enough, though, Bert was experimenting with early graphic arts programs like MacPaint. “I got hooked,” he remembered, and he even created one of the first graphic arts packages, “Human Forms,” a clip-art collection of more than 1,000 human forms in different positions.

When Illustrator 1.1 debuted in 1987, Bert got hooked once again. Illustrator was “clean and sharp,” and without the “pixelated look of MacPaint.”

“I just went crazy with Illustrator. I started using it for all kind of things. Everything I could, I would do in Illustrator. That became my major tool.”

Bert kept up with every new version of Illustrator, and his own evolution as a digital artist kept pace. One of his favorite tricks became playing with the resolution-independent capabilities of the program: “I could create as much detail as I wanted and then shrink it down as much as I wanted, yet preserve the detail and integrity. I once made a drawing of a Mac Plus into a tiny dot. It added 20 minutes to the processing time on a Linotronic 300—but to be able to do that!”

At Photoshop World 2006, Bert unveiled what was, at the time, his largest and most ambitious work: Damen, a digital painting of a Chicago train stop created in Illustrator and Photoshop. A massive work, it measured 40 inches by 120 inches and 1.7 gigabytes. It took nearly 2,000 hours over the course of 11 months for Bert to create it, and Illustrator was integral to his process.

The complete Damen, a 1.7-gb digital painting.

The complete Damen, a 1.7 GB digital painting.

“These little arches are a perfect example of the blend tool. To get that perspective, I would create a single arch, put it closer to the viewer, then I would duplicate it and shrink it and put it in position at the end. The blend tool was crucial.”

Just a few years later, Bert would outdo himself yet again with his painting Times Square. But through it all, Illustrator was the foundation of many of his paintings. “I don’t touch traditional media anymore,” he said. “With Illustrator and Photoshop, I can get more detail, I can change my mind, I can change colors. It’s enhanced my workflow. My imagination just flows—it’s not hindered by tools.” With traditional media, Bert “would lose the feeling for an image after changing colors and cleaning tools.” Running out of tools would never be a problem in Illustrator.

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September 5, 2013

Spotlight on Teri Pettit–a “developer’s developer”

Does the name Teri Pettit sound familiar? Many Illustrator customers remember seeing her name from the Illustrator splash screens over the years. For Throwback Thursday here’s a look back to an incredible engineer who’s has been associated with Illustrator since Illustrator 88.

Teri Pettit small

Teri Pettit joined Adobe Systems in 1987, but she’d already spent eight years at Xerox shaping the way we use (and see) our computers. As one of the original developers of the Xerox Star system, Teri helped introduce desktop icons and multiple windows to personal computing.

When she joined Adobe (and the Illustrator team) in 1987, she was joining other former Xerox employees like fellow developers Dick Sweet and Doug Brotz, making the switch because she wanted to work for a company where the contributions of her team were a little less… invisible. And Adobe wanted her to do that work on Illustrator.

Teri Pettit and Russell Brown from a booklet on Illustrator 88’s many uses.

Teri Pettit and Russell Brown from a
booklet on Illustrator 88’s many uses.

“It was getting pretty frustrating to feel that the work we were doing at Xerox was so invisible, with most of the public having no idea that our team had invented the whole desktop/icons/windows metaphor for personal computing,” said Teri. “The interview process felt more like they were trying to sell me on Adobe rather than probing my programming skills.”

Teri joined the team during the development of Illustrator 88, and remained a key member of the Illustrator team until she retired from Adobe in 2012. Teri is a developer’s developer, building the features she most wanted to see. Her favorite feature? Group blends, from Illustrator 8.

Teri not only understood the ins and outs of Illustrator, she helped others understand them, too. As a regular contributor to Illustrator user forums, her name became well known among Illustrator’s fans as she popped into forums, answering questions and providing technical insight.

Though she retired from Adobe in 2012 after 25 years on the Illustrator team, Teri’s legacy lives on anytime someone opens Illustrator or double-clicks a desktop icon.

teri-pettit-group-blends“[Group blends were] inspired by a postcard that Russell Brown made as a marketing giveaway for AI 88, with an angel made of lots of little strokes morphing into a devil in a similar style. Since AI 88’s blends could only be done one path at a time, the illustration required using the blend tool separately on each pair of matched strokes. So when I got the assignment to make blends ‘live’ in Illustrator 8, I took the opportunity to lobby for my pet group blends idea.”




Teri as Magenta at Adobe Halloween Costume Contest in 2002

Teri as Magenta at Adobe Halloween Costume Contest in 2002


If you were an Illustrator tool, which one would you be?


Mordy, you ask the oddest questions. Nobody wants to be a tool.



Want to polish your Illustrator Blend tool skills? Check out the tutorials below.


vector tuts Illustrator blend tool guide   veerle's blog -- Illustrator full-spectrum spirographSunset blend tutorial by Teri Pettit

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August 29, 2013

The Illustrator Pen Tool

The debut of Adobe Illustrator in 1987 introduced the world to what has since become an icon of graphic design: the Pen tool.

Adobe Illustrator CC pen tools

The Pen tool was first shown widely to users in a video tutorial by Adobe cofounder John Warnock in 1987. Some users found the Pen tool difficult to master at first.

For designers used to analog tools, the new digital Pen tool in Illustrator was confounding, as it was not used to draw and sketch freely, but was used to plot and adjust “anchor points.” But for other designers who struggled to master the technical skills and techniques needed to control a traditional artist’s pen, the Pen tool in Illustrator was their new best friend, allowing them to create, edit and perfect their designs endlessly.


“The advantage of the Pen interface is it gave you absolute control over the curve. You didn’t draw a whole bunch of points and then hope the curve would look good. You could manipulate the curve to get the finest detail. It took some getting used to, but Illustrator is the tool of choice for graphic artists.”
—John Warnock


In many ways, the Pen tool is the most important tool in Illustrator. It is used to create the anchor points that form the basis for designs created in Illustrator, and to connect lines to those points that will create the curves and shapes that are the building blocks of Illustrator.

Like any artistic tool, the Pen tool takes some time to learn. But also like other artistic tools, it encourages creativity. The Pen tool is flexible and inspiring in its broad functionality.


Adobe Illustrator Pen tool icons

Want to polish your Illustrator Pen tool skills? Check out the tutorials below.

pen-tool-vector-tuts pen-tool-veerle-blog pen-tool-adobetv

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