Best Buy
  • Price: 485 . 139 . 895 . 1409

  • Company: Adobe

  • Pros: Live Color’s one-click colour correction is great. Interface enhancement, new path and anchor editing tools, Flash integration and SWF/SVG export, Isolation mode, Intel Mac and multi-processor support.

  • Cons: Fairly steep learning curve, relatively expensive as a standalone.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10 We rate this 9 out of 10

As we’re looking at Illustrator here as part of both the Design and Web bundles of Creative Suite 3, it’s worth mentioning a key new feature common to all CS3 applications – the panel-based interface and a new keyboard shortcut. Clicking the Tab key instantly hides and shows the docked or floating panels, while a mouse click reduces them to single icon mode. This proved to be extremely useful, especially when working with large document sizes.

As we’re looking at Illustrator here as part of both the Design and Web bundles of Creative Suite 3, it’s worth mentioning a key new feature common to all CS3 applications – the panel-based interface and a new keyboard shortcut. Clicking the Tab key instantly hides and shows the docked or floating panels, while a mouse click reduces them to single icon mode. This proved to be extremely useful, especially when working with large document sizes.

Illustrator’s palettes have all been updated to this CS3 panel mode and there are some notable additions to the set. There’s an expanded Control Panel, which is still context-sensitive, but offers more options for tools and so saved us from getting bogged down in menus. New in CS3 is the Kuler panel, which offers an online resource of user-generated colour themes that you can add to your Swatches panel.

A new Color Guide panel provides an area to control and create your own themes – once a base colour is chosen a host of variations appear to build on, all based on colour-harmony rules. Clicking on an icon on the Color Guide panel summons up Live Color (above, right), where you can shift an artwork’s entire tone interactively by playing with the colour wheel, or by adjusting a single colour.


Document handling is well served by the new Isolation Mode, which segregates groups of sublayers so that it’s easier to select and edit specific objects or parts of objects. The process is further enhanced by a new set of path-editing tools and anchor point selection and alignment controls. Multiple crop areas are another useful addition.

It’s obvious that Adobe intends Illustrator to be an integral part of the Web and mobile design workflow. As well as links to preview projects in Adobe Device Central, Illustrator offers welcome integration with Flash, usurping the role of FreeHand.


You can export a SWF or SVG file directly from Illustrator, preserving integrity, grouping and position of critical elements and layers. Text can be set up in Illustrator to have dynamic or input properties in Flash, so supporting data-driven projects, while Symbols created in Illustrator can be saved as Movie Clips for Flash export.

In the absence of an updated FreeHand, CS3 consolidates Illustrator’s lead of the vector pack. Live Color is definitely the standout tool and serves to push Illustrator ahead of cheaper alternatives such as Xara Xtreme Pro in terms of features. It’s expensive as a standalone, but it’s good value as part of the Web Premium suite.