Learn the basics of working with images and effects in Adobe Illustrator, including how to add and edit effects, apply brush strokes, and more.
Discover the difference between vector and raster and see how to add images to your projects.
Adobe Illustrator is a vector drawing program, which means that artwork you create in Illustrator like this shape can be resized and still have crisp edges, but you can also bring raster images like a photo you take with your phone into your Illustrator projects. Raster images are made of pixels that are aligned on a grid and together they form an image. Unlike vector art, images can quickly lose quality when you scale them up or down. In this video, you'll add an image to an Illustrator project, learn about image linking and resizing, as well as cropping an image to remove parts of it. You can open this file from the practice files for this tutorial if you want to follow along. With the document open, to see all the screens in the app design, choose View, Fit All in Window. In Illustrator, when you bring an image into a project, you're placing an image file. To do that, choose File, Place... In the Place dialog box that appears, navigate to the practice files you downloaded to select the image or another image like a JPG or PNG for instance that you have. On Mac, you may need to click this Options button to show this Link option. On Windows, you shouldn't need to. Make sure this Link option is turned on which it should be by default. That means that the image you place – Nepal.jpeg in this case - will be updated in your Illustrator project any time you edit the original linked image file in a program like Adobe Photoshop. If you deselect the Link option, the image is embedded in the Illustrator project. That means a copy of it is placed in the Illustrator file and it won't update if you edit the original image file outside of Illustrator. So, leave the Link option selected and click Place. To place the image in your document, move the pointer around and click somewhere to place the image at its original size. When you place images, you can transform them in a lot of different ways. With the Selection tool selected, drag the image to put it into the upper left corner of this artboard. Magenta smart guides will show when it's aligned with the board. So did the images behind all of the other content, you'll change its stacking order. In the Properties panel to the right, click the Arrange button and choose Send to Back. The Send to Back command sends it behind all of the other content in the document. You can also easily resize an image you place, but you want to make sure you resize the image without distorting it. To do that, drag a corner of the selected image and notice that you can change it to any size. As you drag, press the Shift key to constrain the resizing proportionately, so you don't distort it. When it's about the size of the artboard, release the mouse button and then Shift key. After placing images, you may need to remove part of the image to better suit your design. For instance, maybe you place an image in the header of a web design and you only need to show part of the image, or you add an image to a brochure and the image would fit better in the design if it were more square in shape. To permanently remove part of an image, you can crop it. With the image still selected, click the Crop Image button in the Properties panel to the right. The image can't be linked to the original when you crop it, so Illustrator will embed the image in your Illustrator file. That means if you edit the original image in Photoshop for instance, the image will no longer update in this project. Click OK. Now you can see the crop edge around the image. Come to the bottom middle crop handle here and drag to the edge of the artboard. Do the same for the top handle. Drag to the top of artboard. When the image looks like you want, click Apply in the Properties panel to the right to permanently delete part of the image. So that you can see the final design, choose Select, Deselect. Being able to place and make some edits to images in Illustrator allow you to create projects that use raster images alongside vector artwork. Whether you're designing a brochure, flyer, web or app design, adding and transforming your images can help you create uniquely creative designs.
What you learned: Add images
- In Illustrator, you can bring raster images — such as those taken with your phone — into your projects.
- Choose File > Place to place an image into your document. In the Place dialog box, selecting the Link option creates a link to the original image. If the image is updated outside Illustrator, the image will be updated in your Illustrator document automatically. Deselecting the Link option when placing an image embeds the image in the Illustrator document.
- Select the Selection tool in the Tools panel and Shift-drag a corner to resize the image. When finished, release the mouse button and then the Shift key.
- Click the Crop Image button in the Properties panel on the right side of the document to crop parts of an image. Drag any handle around the image to remove an unwanted portion. Click Apply in the Properties panel.
Learn what effects are, and how they are added and edited using the Appearance panel.
Adobe Illustrator includes a series of effects in the Effect menu at the top of the screen, that you can use to manipulate shapes in some really creative ways. You'll explore what effects are including understanding the different types of effects, see where they're found and understand how to apply and edit an effect. Open this file from the practice files for this tutorial if you want to follow along. Looking out in the document, you can see this Artwork labeled NONE. The circle behind this lion artwork is just a circle, it doesn't have an effect applied, but the rest of these lion illustrations started with a circle in the background behind it, and each has a different type of effect applied to that circle. For instance, with the Selection tool selected in the Tools panel, in the illustration labeled ZIG ZAG, click on the blue shape behind the lion. When you select the shape, you can see that it's actually still a circle, but the applied effect called Zig Zag is manipulating that shape. To see what effects are applied to selected artwork, look in the Properties panel to the right of the document. In the case of this shape, the effect called Zig Zag is applied. If you click the effect option to the left of the Zig Zag name, you'll see a listing of the effects available. In Illustrator, there are two types of effects. Vector effects labeled Illustrator Effects at the top of this menu, and raster effects labeled Photoshop Effects at the bottom of this menu. Vector effects are meant to be used on vector objects like the circle, and raster effects can be applied to either vector or raster objects like images. After applying an effect to artwork, you can edit that effect. Effects are essentially live, which means the effect options can be edited after they're applied, they can be temporarily hidden or even removed. To edit the Zig Zag effect, click the words Zig Zag in the Properties panel to see the options you can change. In the Zig Zag dialog box, select Preview so you can see the changes, then make a change. When you think it looks good, click OK. You can also temporarily turn off an effect or delete it. Click more options here in the Appearance section of the Properties panel to open the Appearance panel. In the Appearance panel, you can see what's selected. See the main formatting options like Fill and Stroke applied, and also any effects applied. By clicking the Eye icon to the left to the effect name, you can temporarily hide it. Maybe you simply don't want the effect applied right now or you want to more easily edit the original circle shape without the effect applied. And you can show the effect on the object by clicking in the same area of the Appearance panel. To close the Appearance panel, click the X at the top, then click in a blank area to deselect the artwork. Effects in Illustrator give us a lot of unique and creative ways to transform artwork. Now that you know what effects are, how they're applied and how to edit them, try exploring the effects applied to some of the other artwork in this practice file.
What you learned: About effects
- Under the Effect menu, see the various Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop effects. Illustrator effects are vector effects. Photoshop effects are raster effects.
- To apply an effect, click Choose An Effect in the Properties panel.
- To edit an effect, click the name of the effect in the Properties panel to open the effect options in a dialog box.
- To open the Appearance panel, choose Window > Appearance or click More Options in the Appearance section of the Properties panel. The Appearance panel shows what is selected in your document and the appearance attributes applied to that artwork. To temporarily hide an effect applied to artwork, click the eye icon to the left of the effect name in the Appearance panel. To edit an effect, click the name of the effect in the Appearance panel.
Add creative effects to your artwork using effects and the Appearance panel.
Effects in Illustrator give you the ability to manipulate shapes quickly and easily. You can use them to apply a drop shadow, warp artwork and a whole lot more. Using the lion artwork in this practice file, you'll see how to apply effects and experiment with variations. You'll start by applying an effect to artwork, so select the Selection tool in the Tools panel on the left and click the pink circle behind the lion in the top row. Now to apply an effect to artwork in the Properties panel, click the fx option to see the Effect menu. Then, in this case, choose Distort & Transform and then Pucker & Bloat... In the dialog box that opens, select Preview if it's not already selected so you can see the artwork change, and if the dialog box is covering the artwork, you can drag it by the title bar at the top to move it out of the way. Drag this slider left and right to see how it changes the circle. Dragging to the left puckers the shape and dragging to the right bloats it. When you think it looks good, click OK. Now you will try a different effect on some other artwork. Click to select this blue circle in the bottom row. To make the circle easier to see against the background, you can apply different effects like a glow or a drop shadow. With the shape selected in the Properties panel, click the fx option to see the Effect menu, then choose Stylize and you should see the Drop Shadow... option. That's an effect a lot of us will use, but in this case, you'll apply Outer Glow... because the color of the artwork is a little darker, so choose Outer Glow... In the dialog box that appears, you can change the color of the glow around the shape and the amount of glow. To change the color, click the color box to open the Color Picker. In the Color Picker, drag in the Color Spectrum bar here and choose a color. Maybe a blue. Then click in the color field to select the exact color you want. You can see the color you selected here. To apply the color, click OK. To see the change, select Preview, then try changing the Opacity and also the Blur. When you think it looks good, click OK. Once an effect is applied, you can always edit that effect in the Properties panel. With this shapes still selected, you'll see the Outer Glow effect listed in the Appearance section of the panel here. Click Outer Glow to edit the effect properties. Try changing some of the options again and see what happens. Again, make sure that Preview is selected so you can see the changes. When you think it looks good, click OK. Effects in Illustrator give you a wide variety of creative options for your artwork. Try experimenting with different effects to get a sense of all the distinctive ways it can impact your content.
What you learned: Add effects
- Click the Selection tool and click the artwork to select it.
- To apply an effect, click Choose An Effect in the Properties panel. In the Effect menu that appears, choose an option such as Effect > Distort & Transform > Pucker & Bloat to apply the effect. In the dialog box that appears, edit the effect options and click OK.
- To edit an effect, click the name of the effect in the Appearance panel. (To open the Appearance panel, choose Window > Appearance or click More Options in the Appearance section of the Properties panel.)
Explore how to add creative brush strokes to artwork using the Brushes panel.
In Adobe Illustrator, you can apply brush strokes, like you see on the leaves of this plant, to the strokes of paths and shapes to add interest, texture, and details to your artwork. Using the artwork, you see in this practice file, you'll apply brushes to artwork and learn about brush libraries in Illustrator and the limitless creative possibilities they provide. Open this file from the practice files for this tutorial if you want to follow along. You'll start by applying a creative border to this top shape, so select the Selection tool in the Tools panel, and to see the brushes that you can apply to artwork, choose Window, Brushes to open the Brushes panel. Here you see a series of brushes that you can apply. Each new document comes with a default set of brushes, but you can create your own or use other brushes included with Illustrator. Click to select this top path. To apply a brush to the stroke of the path, click the Geometric pattern brush you see in the list. There are five types of brushes you can create. The type of brush you just applied is called a pattern brush. It uses artwork you create to repeat along a path forming a pattern. Now try experimenting by applying some of the other brushes to see the effect on the shape. Make sure to apply this geometric pattern last. To close the Brushes panel, click the X at the top. Now to change the stroke weight for the selected object, in the Properties panel, change the Stroke weight 0.5 pt by choosing it from the menu. The width of the stroke is scaled along with the brush applied. After applying a brush to selected artwork, you'll now see the brushes listed in the Properties panel which is a great way to try applying another brush, for instance. In addition to applying brushes that appear by default, you can choose others from Illustrator Brush Libraries. To see the brush libraries you can use, with artwork selected that has a brush applied, you can click the Brush Libraries menu to the right of the Brush menu in the Properties panel or you can choose Window, Brush Libraries. All of the brushes you can use are listed by category. Choose Artistic, Artistic_ChalkCharcoalPencil to open that brush library panel. Now you will apply one of these brushes to artwork down here. So, click to select the paths on the armadillo toward the bottom of the Artboard. In the Brushes panel, click to apply the Charcoal - Varied brush and add it to the Brushes panel for this document. That way, you can easily apply it later to other artwork. Click the X in the corner of this panel to close it. To change the color of these paths, click the Stroke color in the Properties panel to the right, make sure the Swatches option is selected, and select the color called Armadillo stripes to apply it. To deselect the artwork, click in the blank area. Brushes are really an easy way to be creative with your Illustrator artwork. Try selecting other objects in this practice file or your own files and apply brush strokes. You can also experiment by changing the color and stroke weight of objects with brush strokes already applied.
What you learned: Add creative brush strokes
- Brushes are applied to the stroke of vector artwork in Illustrator.
- Choose Window > Brushes to open the Brushes panel, which contains default brushes and any brushes created in the document.
- Select the Selection tool and click to select vector artwork. In the Brushes panel, click a brush in the list to apply it.
- Change the stroke weight in the Properties panel; the brush size changes with it.
- Illustrator comes with a series of brush libraries. Click Brush Libraries Menu at the bottom of the Brushes panel to choose a brush library. With the library open as a panel, click to apply a brush to selected artwork.