Skip to main content

From humble beginnings, Adobe Illustrator evolved into graphics powerhouse

The Story Behind Adobe Illustrator (Part 1 of 3) | Adobe Creative Cloud
The tool that helped usher in a new era in digital design is now celebrating 30 years — and 180 million graphics crafted every month. This month, Adobe Illustrator — now Illustrator CC and part of the Creative Cloud — will have officially been around for three decades.

Publicly launched in 1987, Adobe Illustrator was received with mixed reactions — some called it magic, while others said it was the end of good design. “Everybody said, ‘You’re going to ruin good design because now anybody can do it.’ But with Illustrator, the cream rises to the top,” said John Warnock, Adobe cofounder. “The creativity is in the designer. The creativity is the person who uses the tools.”


At Illustrator’s launch, it was a novel tool that allowed artwork to be both more precise and easily adjusted. The program evolved from PostScript, the precursor to modern desktop publishing, which used computer programming to describe a design on a page. It was, of course, limited to computer programmers, not graphic artists.

Illustrator allowed artists to create without knowing code by using a set of tools and drawing on the screen. Graphics and layouts went from hands-on cutting and pasting with actual scissors to the digital definition of cut and paste. At the earliest launch, however, Illustrator didn’t even have an undo button.

Adobe says Illustrator has evolved from that early version to the current Creative cloud option largely through user feedback from forums, events, and focus groups. The latest version incorporates the ability to create content across varied screen sizes and mediums, with an “export for screen” option and Scalable Vector Graphics. The pause in the workflow to share graphics and style guides is being shortened as Creative Cloud access expands.

Illustrator is also creating spinoff programs, like Adobe Experience Design, a platform the company is currently beta testing for putting design, prototyping, and sharing websites, plus mobile apps, into one program.

Designers are now using the CC program to create roughly 6 million graphics every day.

Editors' Recommendations

Hillary K. Grigonis
Hillary never planned on becoming a photographer—and then she was handed a camera at her first writing job and she's been…
Illustrator teases tool to recolor an entire graphic in a few clicks
girl studying at computer

Adobe Illustrator Sneak at OFFF | Adobe Creative Cloud

Designers struggling to find the perfect color palette for a graphic could soon have a new tool at their disposal -- and it only requires a photograph. On Thursday, April 25, Adobe released a sneak peek at a potential upcoming Adobe Illustrator feature that recolors entire graphics in just a few clicks, using a photo as the inspiration.

Read more
Paper designs digitize in real time using an Illustrator-connected paper tablet
moleskine paper tablet creative cloud connected adobe illustrator  1



Read more
Adobe’s Premiere Rush is a video-editing app designed for social media projects
biggest announcements at adobe max 2018 conference ge tablet

Adobe is making sweeping updates across all the Creative Cloud applications, announced on October 15 at the company's annual Adobe MAX show. In addition to updating existing programs, Adobe launched entirely new additions to its Creative Cloud suite, including Premiere Rush CC, a social-focused video editor, and Project Gemini, a Photoshop-like tool designed just for digital painting and sketching.

Additionally, the company teased a full version of Photoshop for the iPad and renewed its focus on Sensei, Adobe's artificial intelligence engine, which now powers more than a dozen new features across multiple apps.
Premiere Rush CC
Teased earlier this year, Project Rush is finally debuting as Adobe Premiere Rush CC. Premiere Rush is a cross-platform video editing tool (desktop and mobile) designed strictly for outputting to social media. The program takes some of the power of Premiere and simplifies it for non-professionals.

Read more