Illustrator CS6

Illustrator CS6

Summary: The new features in Illustrator CS6 concentrate on making the program faster, better organised and easier to work with. Tracing and creating patterns, in particular, get big improvements.

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  • User interface
    The other main area of improvement is the interface, from the overall look to customisation options. Acknowledging that Illustrator is used with both image editing in Photoshop and video work in After Effects and Premiere Pro, the interface is similar enough not to be jarring next to either of them. You can even change the interface colours, picking from the same four shades of grey and black as Photoshop CS6 or using the same custom slider to get the same brightness as After Effects. And if you want a white canvas you can now set that, whatever shade you chose for the interface.

  • Arrange and clean up panels
    There are dozens of tools tucked away in different panels in Illustrator, only a few of which are available from the panel well down the right side of the screen, which stacks them neatly or shrinks them to icons. The fastest way to get the tools you need is by switching between the eight preset workspaces using the Essentials dropdown; you can also design your own custom workspace with the panels you need open on-screen and with the tools you need from the toolbar torn off and dragged out for quick use. If you close, open and move panels while you're working, the Reset Essentials command puts everything back where it belongs.

  • Simpler, bigger colour tools
    Drag the colour panel out of the dock and you can resize it to make it easier to pick the colour you want quickly. Use the menu to switch between colour modes, including full RGB and Web-safe RGB. If you know the hex value of the colour you want, you can type that in directly on the panel; alternatively you can mix the colour here and copy the hex value out to use in a web authoring tool. If you find it easier to pick from existing palettes of colours, there's a wide library of swatches — from natural colours based on vegetables to gradients designed to look like gems and jewels.

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Topics: Apps, Reviews, Software

Mary Branscombe

About Mary Branscombe

Mary Branscombe is a freelance tech journalist. Mary has been a technology writer for nearly two decades, covering everything from early versions of Windows and Office to the first smartphones, the arrival of the web and most things inbetween.

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