It's worth it to upgrade to latest Illustrator version

Real-life requirements:
Win9x or NT; Pentium II CPU; 128M of RAM; 100M free storage; CD-ROM drive; video
card that can show 32-bit true color at 1,024- by 768-pixel resolution. Power Macintosh
version available. Latest Unix version is 5.5





Adobe Illustrator has a reputation for being powerful but difficult. It has loyal
followers, though many stopped following it at versions 6.0, 5.5 or even 4.1.


I liked Version 7.01 [GCN, Aug. 31, 1998, Page 37]. But Version 8.0 substantially
improves the interface for power illustrators and makes the power more accessible to
novice artists.


Illustrator 8.0’s Navigator window reaches into any part of an image. Earlier
versions required tedious repositioning to navigate, especially when zooming in at 400
percent.


Navigator displays a thumbnail representation of the art along with a red box to show
exactly where the artist is working. A slide bar controls the magnification level.
It’s that easy.


Some people can produce good art with pencil and paper. I have trouble drawing a circle
that’s not lopsided, flat or, if I’m really lucky, an oval. I’m out of luck
with illustration applications that expect users to be artists in their own right.


Illustrator 8.0’s pencil tool makes it easy to draw smooth curves without grabbing
hold of funky handles and twisting them around. In the pencil tool bar, a new smoothing
tool stretches segments into the desired arcs.


Accomplished artists will like the pencil’s quick editing. Just highlight the path
and trace it again, correcting any errors. The new section blends in.


A new erase tool, also part of the pencil tool bar, can shorten a line segment to
wherever the artist wants—no more struggle to move the anchor points on a segment.


The new Illustrator can add brush effects, including scattered objects and so-called
art on a path, that contour the art the same as a drawn line. I use Adobe Photoshop
extensively, and Illustrator 8.0 lets me export to Photoshop 5.0 while retaining all the
layers.


The improved gradient tool can make a mesh for intricate gradations of multiple colors,
which is helpful for generating 3-D highlights and shadows.


Illustrator 8.0 finally seems to be at ease—almost native—running under
Microsoft Windows operating systems.


Illustrator loyalists, whether using Apple Macintoshes or PCs, will find this new
version good enough to shed the old one. Neophytes will appreciate the easier initiation,
although further improvements in the Help menu wouldn’t hurt.

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