Feature summary | Illustrator | 2018 releases

Learn what's new in the 2018 releases of Illustrator CC.

The March 2018 and October 2017 releases of Illustrator CC (version 22.x) roll out exciting new features for designers and illustrators. Read on for a quick introduction to these features and links to resources offering more information.

For a summary of features introduced in earlier releases of Illustrator CC, see Feature summary | earlier releases.

Import multi-page Adobe PDF files

 New in the March 2018 release

You can now use the Open command to import a multi-page Adobe PDF file into Illustrator. Use the Import PDF Options dialog box to link or embed a single page, a range of pages, or all pages of your selected PDF file in an Illustrator document. You can also view a thumbnail of a page in this dialog box before you import them.

 For more information, see Import Adobe PDF files.

Adjust anchor point, handle, and bounding box display size

 New in the March 2018 release

Now, Illustrator lets you control the size of anchor points, handles, and bounding boxes. You can increase the size for better visibility and control while working on high-resolution displays or creating complex artwork.

  1. Choose Edit > Preferences > Selection & Anchor Display (Windows) or Illustrator > Preferences > Selection & Anchor Display (macOS).
  2. In the Anchor Point And Handle Display area, move the slider to the right to increase the size of anchor points, handles, and bounding boxes.
  3. (Optional) To specify the display of handles as solid or hollow, choose the desired option.
  4. Click OK.

Data merge using the Variables panel

 Enhanced in the March 2018 release

Using the Variables panel, you can now merge a CSV data source file with an Illustrator document to create multiple variations of your artwork. For example, instead of manually modifying objects in a template, use the data merge functionality to produce hundreds of template variations for different output surfaces quickly and accurately. Similarly, you can change the names of participants on event badges, or vary images across web banners and postcards, without having to redo your artwork. Simply create one design and then quickly produce variations by importing the names or the images from your data source file.

Create custom variations of your design template for different projects, such as printable posters, web banners, and event badges, using the Variables panel.

 For more information, see Data merge using the Variables panel.

Properties panel

 New in the October 2017 release

The new Properties panel in Illustrator lets you view settings and controls in the context of your current task or workflow. This new panel has been designed with ease of use in mind, ensuring that you have access to the right controls right when you need them.

The Properties panel is available by default in the Essentials workspaces. You can also select Window Properties to view it.

Properties panel

 To learn how to use it, see Properties panel.

Puppet Warp tool

 New in the October 2017 release

Puppet Warp lets you twist and distort parts of your artwork, such that the transformations appear natural. You can add, move, and rotate pins to seamlessly transform your artwork into different positions and stances using the Puppet Warp tool in Illustrator.

Access this new tool from the Tools panel. To learn how to use it, see Puppet Warp.

Plot pins on your artwork using the Puppet Warp tool

Move or rotate the selected pin to transform your artwork

Artboard-related improvements

 Enhanced in the October 2017 release

Artboards are much easier to work with in this release of Illustrator CC. Also, you can now create 1 to 1000 artboards per document depending on the size of your artboards.

Select multiple artboards

Do one of the following:

  • Shift-click the artboards.
  • Shift-click the canvas and drag the cursor to select multiple artboards using a marquee control.
  • Press Control/Command+A to select all the artboards in your document.
To select multiple artboards using a marquee control, hold down the Shift key while dragging the Artboard tool.

Align and distribute artboards

You can now align or distribute the selected artboards in Align panel or the Control panel. Do the following:

  • Select the artboards you want to align or distribute.
  • Do one of the following:
    • Click Align in the Control panel and then click the icon for the type of alignment or distribution you want.
    • Choose Window > Align and then click the icon for the type of alignment or distribution you want.
Align artboards

 For more information, see Artboards.

Variable fonts

 New in the October 2017 release

Illustrator now supports Variable Font, a new OpenType font format supporting custom attributes like weight, width, slant, optical size, etc. This release of Illustrator ships with several variable fonts for which you can adjust weight, width, and slant using convenient slider controls available when you click   in the Control panel, Character panel, Character Styles panel, and Paragraph Styles panel.

Search for variable in the font list to look for variable fonts. Alternatively, look for the   icon  next to the font name.

Move the slider to adjust the Weight, Width, and Slant of the font.

Font list: Some variable fonts

 For more information, see Fonts.

OpenType SVG fonts

 New in the October 2017 release

Illustrator now supports OpenType SVG fonts that provide multiple colors and gradients in a single glyph.

OpenType SVG fonts: Multiple colors and gradients

To use OpenType SVG fonts, follow these steps:

  • Create either a text object using the Type tool.
  • Set the font to an OpenType SVG font. These fonts are marked with  in the font list.
  • Select specific glyphs using the Glyphs Panel. To view the Glyphs Panel, select Type > Glyphs. Alternatively, you can open the Glyphs panel by selecting Window > Type > Glyphs.

Using Emoji fonts, you can include various colorful and graphical characters, such as smileys, flags, street signs, animals, people, food, and landmarks in your documents. OpenType SVG emoji fonts, such as the EmojiOne font, let you create certain composite glyphs from one or more other glyphs. For example, you can create the flags of countries or change the skin color of certain glyphs depicting people and body parts such as hands and nose.

Combine glyphs to form the flags of countries

Combine single-person characters with skin colors

 For more information, see Fonts.

Use the Touch Bar with Illustrator

 New in the October 2017 release

Illustrator now supports Touch Bar, the multitouch display at the top of the new MacBook Pro keyboard. Using the Touch Bar, you can access Illustrator features and controls right in the context of your current task on the main screen. The Touch Bar supports familiar gestures, such as tap, drag, and slide.

By default, a part of the Touch Bar interface is reserved for macOS system controls. Controls for Illustrator are displayed in the app-specific area in the middle of the Touch Bar interface.

Touch Bar interface

 For more information, see Use the Touch Bar with Illustrator.

Apply stylistic sets to text

 New in the October 2017 release

A stylistic set is a group of glyph alternates that can be applied to a selected block of text. When you apply a stylistic set, the glyphs defined in the set replace the font’s default glyphs in the selected text. The name of the stylistic set provided by the Font Developer is shown in various places in Illustrator. For some fonts, Illustrator displays the stylistic set names as Set 1, Set 2, and so on. You can apply multiple stylistic sets to a range of text.

To apply stylistic sets to your text object, do the following:

  1. Select the text block or the text range to which you want to apply a stylistic set.
  2. Choose Window Type OpenType to open the OpenType panel. Now, do one of the following:
  • Click the Stylistic Sets icon  at the bottom of the panel and choose the desired set.
  • Select Stylistic Sets from the panel menu and choose the desired set.
Apply stylistic sets using the OpenType panel

To add stylistic sets to a character or a paragraph style, do the following:

  1. Choose Window Type Character StylesParagraph Styles to open the Character Styles panel or the Paragraph Styles panel.
  2. Choose the New CharacterParagraph Style option from the panel menu.
  3. Select the OpenType Features tab on the left of the New Character/ Paragraph Style dialog.
  4. Click  and choose the desired stylistic sets from the list.
  5. Click OK.
Add stylistic sets to a character style

 For more information, see Special characters.

Enhanced export experience

 New in the October 2017 release

Now, you can collect objects in the Asset Export panel for export as a single asset or multiple assets. Simply drag your artwork to the Asset Export panel. Alternatively, right-click a piece of artwork and then choose Collect for Export > As Multiple Assets from the context menu.

While exporting assets, Illustrator creates subfolders at the export location by default based on the scaling options you choose. For example, if you select multiple scale formats in the Asset Export panel, say 1x 2x, and 3x to export a file as PNG, Illustrator creates subfolders named 1x, 2x, and 3x for the exported files. For formats that do not support scaling options, Illustrator names the subfolders based on the file formats selected for exporting—for example, SVG and PDF

Illustrator also exports raster objects accurately when you do one of the following while exporting assets using the Asset Export panel or the Export For Screens dialog box:

  • Define a non-integral scale—a scaling value that is not a multiple of 72 pixels.
  • Specify the desired width and height that’s not a multiple of 100 pixels.

Note: Exercise caution while exporting artwork or artboards not aligned to the pixel grid or containing strokes not aligned to Inside. The exported asset for such artwork may still have an extra pixel.

 For more information, see Collect assets and export in batches.

Add and share text assets using Creative Cloud Libraries

 New in the October 2017 release

Now, you can add text objects from your Illustrator documents to Creative Cloud libraries and then share them with other users and across applications. Text assets in a library retain the character/paragraph styles and other attributes originally applied to them. You can reuse text assets in libraries across Illustrator or InDesign documents. However, if a text object has effects and appearances applied to it, you must add it to the library as a graphics asset to preserve them.

 For more information, see Creative Cloud Libraries in Illustrator.

Microsoft Surface Dial support in Illustrator

 New in the October 2017 release

Illustrator now supports Microsoft Surface Dial on Windows 10 Anniversary edition and later or directly on Surface Studio. You can use Surface Dial to adjust settings and parameters for your Illustrator documents.

While using Illustrator, long press Surface Dial to access the following options:

  • Undo/ Redo
  • Arrange
  • Zoom
  • Artboard Navigation
  • Tools, including Rotate, Scale, Brush, Blob Brush, and Eraser.

 For more information, see Microsoft Dial support in Illustrator.

Other enhancements and fixes

March 2018 (version 22.1) release

Now, when you move an artboard, Illustrator doesn’t move locked or hidden objects with the artboard by default. If necessary, you may disable this experience and revert to the experience that Illustrator provided by default in the earlier releases. Go to Preferences > Selection And Anchor Display and select the Move Locked And HiddenArtwork With Artboard option.

Now, when you paste SVG code in Illustrator, the SVG object is displayed in place of the copied code.

You can now disable recent fonts displayed on the top of the font list. Go to Preferences > Type and choose 0 from the Number Of Recent Fonts drop-down menu.

Now, when you open a Dropbox folder in Illustrator using the File > Open command, only the files in formats supported by Illustrator are automatically synced locally.

October 2017 (version 22.0) release

You can now disable zoom to selection. Go to Preferences > Selection And Anchor Display and then deselect the Zoom To Selection option.

You can now create text objects, select text, or edit text in sequence without having to reselect the Text tool. 

You can now preview font characteristics, such as size, style, leading, and tracking in real time by simply hovering over the font characteristics in the Control panel and the Character panel. For details, see Fonts.

The Missing Font dialog is now enabled for Composite fonts. If your document has one or more fonts missing from the Composite font, an alert message appears when you open it.

The text caret is more responsive now. For example, the text caret now appears promptly on the screen as you type. The length of the text caret increases or decreases when you change the font size.

Now, when you triple-click anywhere in a paragraph or use Ctrl/Cmd+Up/Down Arrow keys, Illustrator selects the entire paragraph even if it contains forced line breaks.

When you convert a spot color into a process color (CMYK), Illustrator displays the correct CMYK values according to the standards communicated by the International Color Consortium (ICC).

Now, scripts in the Actions panel are preserved when you relaunch Illustrator.

A new swatch is now a Global swatch by default.

New Document dialog box improvements:

  • The New Document dialog box displays the units of measurement in the text boxes, such as Width and Height.
  • You can use the formulas: add, subtract, multiply, or divide for quick computations of the preset dimensions in the New Document dialog box. 
  • You can specify the Color ModeRaster Effects, and Preview Mode of your document.

You can now use the Path Join (Ctrl/ Command + J) command in Illustrator to join the endpoints of compound paths and artwork in different groups.

Now, when the folder containing the Illustrator document and the linked files is moved, Illustrator automatically finds and updates the linked files using the current path of the Illustrator document.

Fixed customer issues

To view the list of fixed issues in this release of Illustrator CC, see Fixed issues.

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