The first and foremost thing that you should keep in mind about Adobe Illustrator is that, it is the software that uses mathematical shapes, equations etc., to draw on the canvas and therefore the output will always be a vector based output.
Understanding Vector and Raster Image
Let’s look at an example to further clarify this point. Over here I’ve opened up the vector file of an illustration I’ve made recently in Adobe Illustrator and a Jpeg Image of that same illustration. If we pick up the zoom tool from the toolbar on the left and zoom in the vector design, the artwork remains clear. No matter how much we expand the artwork it won’t get pixilated.
Please note: You will notice our above screenshots pixels, it’s because of the web optimization of the image.
Now, if we zoom in the jpeg image you can see it’s made of pixels meaning that it is a raster-based artwork. The whole purpose of working with Adobe Illustrator is to make vector based illustrations, a common example will be logos.
Vector graphics are solely made up of anchor points and lines and there are unlimited ways in which you can alter the artwork according to your requirements. You can even choose different colors for individual objects on the canvas.
Now, on the other hand, if we click on the rasterized image you will notice that the whole image is just made up of one component, that means we can’t manipulate the artwork in any way since Adobe Illustrator works with individual vector based component and a raster image is treated as a single object. So, if you are working with an image, there’s very little what Adobe Illustrator can do to manipulate the artwork. On the other hand, there is an infinite number of possibilities when it comes to vector based artwork.
Different between Illustrator and Photoshop
Now, you if you’ve followed my earlier blog posts then you might be familiar that I mostly talked about Adobe Photoshop. And you might be wondering, what is the difference between Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator?
Like I explained above Adobe Illustrator is a vector based application whereas Adobe Photoshop is a bitmap or raster based application. And this means Adobe Illustrator is going to create designs which are called vector graphic whereas Adobe Photoshop is going to create and edit something called raster graphics.
Now, a typical vector graphic is something that is drawn using paths. It’s an object-based document and you can scale as big or small as you want and it would still maintain the edge fidelity whereas in Photoshop you are working with this raster graphics or bitmap graphics. A lot of standard graphics are created in Adobe Photoshop because it’s a very easy tool to use and you can push pixels around. It’s not as constrained and defined by these path-based object.
And with that ease, you can create effects like blur. But in Adobe Illustrator Blur is kind of a fake blur applied to a vector object that re-renders it every time you resize the artwork. So, it’s not really a true vector blur, it’s a blur based on a vector object. In Adobe Photoshop, you can do various things like select color channels, heal anybody’s skin tone etc.
Adobe Illustrator is an object-based editing tool, so in Adobe Illustrator you have stacks of the object and the object just has a bunch of attributes attached to it. For example: if you draw a little circle or ellipse, here the object is really that path and you can just attach a fill or any kind of effect to that object. You can scale it up or down and with this appearance factors change with the object, whereas in Adobe Photoshop you are always selecting chunks of pixels.
Another point to keep in mind is that in Adobe Illustrator when you have a stack of Layers it’s actually just a stack of objects. So, outside the actual object on that Adobe Illustrator layer, there isn’t anything. And in Adobe Photoshop, even when you have a layer with just a little bit of artwork and rest is transparent, that transparent layer is actually transparent pixels because Adobe Photoshop is a series of stacking raster images. Every layer is a new raster image that is being placed over the old raster image.