Thursday, April 5, 2012

Book Review: Adobe Illustrator CS5 One-on-One

Authors: Deke McClelland
Published by: O'Reilly Media / Deke Press
Published: November 2010
Print ISBN: 978-0-596-80801-3
ISBN-10: 0-596-80801-1
# of Pages: 512
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This book is beautifully designed, and uses timeless typography techniques. The chapters include:
  1. Starting a Document
  2. Lines, Shapes, and Color
  3. Using the Pen Tool
  4. Creating and Formatting Text
  5. Transform and Reshape
  6. Pathfinder Operations
  7. Blends, Masks, and Gradients
  8. Working with Transparency
  9. Bruches and Symbols
  10. The Amazing World of Dynamic Effects
  11. Live Trace, Paint, and Color
  12. Printing and Exporting
I enjoyed the subtle design details, such as how the figures are positioned on the page organically, and not always relegated strictly to the sidebar. Some of the large artistic figures even bleed off the page, which is unusual for a technical book. This type of graphic treatment makes the book feel more fun and magazine-like, and less like a technical software book.

Each chapter has a different color scheme. The color in the headings, figure numbers, and page numbers are consistent within each chapter, so even when flipping through the book, it's easy to tell when you've reached the next chapter. Each chapter deals with a different topic, and provides a corresponding project to work through the lessons. Lesson files give the reader a starting place, so he can work through the book step-by-step and follow along with Deke. The chapter on the Pen Tool alone is worth the price of the book. If you're a designer who has struggled with understanding or mastering the pen tool, this book would be worthwhile investment.

The book also covers some general typography concepts, such serif versus san-serif type, and the different parts that make up letterforms, such as: bracket, shoulder, cross-stroke, bow, terminal, and counter.

I think this book would be a great resource for anyone wanting to learn the various techniques with Illustrator. If someone took the time to work through the entire book, they would have a great foundation for becoming a master in Illustrator. The lessons and video provide an exposure to Illustrator's capabilities. The book is a software book, not a design handbook. The graphics examples are playful and sometimes over-the-top. But because the graphics are so exaggerated, it's easy to see the different techniques in action.

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