Adobe gets creative

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First look: Illustrator CS2

Illustrator CS 2 packs some powerful new drawing tools, along with a new control palette that makes using the program much easier without altering any of the previous version’s palettes or keyboard commands.

Living Color

Click with the Live Paint tool and—just like a bitmapped paint program—Illustrator will automatically fill the enclosed area with the current color. Live Paint can even fill areas that aren’t completely enclosed, thanks to a user-customizable gap-detector that lets you automatically close paths that have gaps, or simply ignore the gaps and fill anyway.

Automatic Tracing

Adobe has finally updated Illustrator’s auto-trace tool. The new Live Trace feature provides incredibly speedy auto-tracing (black and white or color) as well as a unique, interactive interface. After importing a bitmapped image and telling Illustrator to Live Trace, you can tweak any number of tracing parameters, and your tracing will be automatically updated. You can change tolerances and thresholds, as well as tracing methods, and save these configurations as tracing presets. Tracing remains “live”—even across sessions—until you tell Illustrator to expand the tracing into normal Illustrator paths and fills.

Click image to open full screenshot

Taking Control

Just like the toolbars in Photoshop and InDesign, Illustrator’s new Control Palette (pictured at right) spans the top of the screen. But the Control Palette works more like an object inspector: Click on any object in your document, and the Control Palette will fill with simple controls for that object. Click on a path, for example, and the toolbar populates with fill and stroke pop-ups, Brush and Style controls, and dimension and position fields. The full palettes can be instantly popped out of the Control Palette, for quick access to secondary parameters.

Better Integration

When opening or placing a Photoshop file, you can now choose from among any layer comps that may be included in the document. You can apply Photoshop filters to placed images using the standard Photoshop Filter Gallery and remove or change these filters later. You can also now tint images directly within Illustrator to create duotone effects.

Teamwork

The new Live Trace feature converts grungy bitmaps into vectors practically instantaneously. Afterwards, the Live Paint tool can make short work of quickly dropping in color and gradient fills (pictured at right).

More Noteworthy Additions

• Workspaces, which let you define custom window and palette layouts that you switch between using a simple menu.
• Ability to align strokes to the inside, outside, or center of a path.
• Automatic printer tiling for printing out large images.
• Expanded support for mobile graphics formats.
• PDF/X supports and general PDF enhancements.
• Improved Macromedia Flash (SWF) export.
• Better support for Wacom tablets.
• Simple type enhancements

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