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You are here: MacNN Forums > Enthusiast Zone > Art & Graphic Design > Good resources for learning InDesign and Illustrator?

Good resources for learning InDesign and Illustrator?
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Cybersparrow
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Sep 10, 2007, 03:20 AM
 
How did you all learn to use InDesign/Illustrator/other CS products? Trial and error? Books? Web resources? Also, if you used books or web resources, which ones would you recommend?

Thanks for any advice,
- Stephen
     
quid
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Sep 10, 2007, 11:44 PM
 
In my college design courses.

It would also help a lot to get the Adobe Classroom In A Book series, it starts you out with very basic projects but it is helpful to have a goal when learning rather than aimlessly poking around.
     
iREZ
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Sep 11, 2007, 12:47 AM
 
i learned illustrator while being trained for prepress, but ive gone through the adobe one on one series (books) and theyre pretty great.
NOW YOU SEE ME! 2.4 MBP and 2.0 MBP (running ubuntu)
     
Thorzdad
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Sep 11, 2007, 12:01 PM
 
Well, you start with v3.5 for Ultrix on an SGI Indigo. Then, you move on to v4 for Windows. After about a week of that hell, you quickly move to v5 on the Mac and never look back.

That's the long way of saying they plopped a computer in front of me and told me to get to work. I pretty-much had to use the total-immersion method, with the occasional bit of research when I came across one of those "How did they do that?" moments.

Luckily, I started long-ago enough to where Illustrator was a mere shadow of its bloated, contemporary self.
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Zanshin
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Oct 8, 2007, 03:41 PM
 
Lynda.com training online: buy the "Premiere" all-you-can-eat training package (approx. $300, tax-deductible if self-employed) that includes the downloadable training files, and sit back and LEARN just about every feature and trick in every program a graphic artist can need.
( Last edited by Zanshin; Oct 8, 2007 at 03:42 PM. Reason: brain-fart)
     
art_director
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Oct 10, 2007, 11:57 AM
 
In my case InDesign learning was baptism by fire (IMHO the best way to start learning an app). I had a huge project land in my lap and the client demanded it be done in ID CS2. Many sleepless nights later I saw the light.

Now I only use Quack when clients demand it. My preference is ID CS3. It's also what most of my clients expect.
     
JonoMarshall
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Oct 10, 2007, 12:18 PM
 
Jumped straight in and looked for help when stuck.

For InDesign, try to re-create a couple of magazine spreads, look into how to place images within shapes, work with large bodies of text, use page masters, guides, each tool, etc.

For Illustrator, the hardest initial thing will be understanding how to make different kinds of selections, perhaps google this, then play with the pen tool and the pathfinder to try and make some complex shapes, look at masking, layering, colour management, etc.

Both apps are similar, which will help when learning, although over time you'll come to use them in very different ways.
     
Oisín
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Oct 10, 2007, 01:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by art_director View Post
In my case InDesign learning was baptism by fire (IMHO the best way to start learning an app). I had a huge project land in my lap and the client demanded it be done in ID CS2. Many sleepless nights later I saw the light.

Now I only use Quack when clients demand it. My preference is ID CS3. It's also what most of my clients expect.
For me, the biggest hurdle probably will not be learning the actual apps themselves (I’m sure I can pick that up pretty quickly), but learning the theoretical background needed to use them. I’ve messed around with InDesign and Illustrator a bit and my biggest problem is that I literally have no idea what I’m doing. I have no idea what half the options/things in InDesign even mean, and the percentage is probably even higher in Illustrator.

I need some basic graphic design/production courses—unfortunately, despite the fact that I’m studying Digital Design and Communication at the IT University of Copenhagen, no such courses exist for me.
     
JonoMarshall
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Oct 11, 2007, 05:30 AM
 
"Background" as in Typography, layouts, graphic design, understanding how we perceive information, etc?

Graphic design/production courses? For me the two are very much apart: Graphic design is creating a ideas-based solution for a given problem ("Objective art" if you prefer), then you have stylistic design which IMO is just "Commercial art" or "Subjective design" (same difference).

Production is the process used to go from sketch/idea to final product, it is important to have an understanding of the processes involved, but as a designer you would normally work with a production assistant, print supplier, engineer, etc.

The software is your tool, the theoretical background is your course in design, which bits don't you understand within the software? The print side of things? Gah, I've confsed myself now...
     
Oisín
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Oct 11, 2007, 01:53 PM
 
Yup, background as in typography, layouts, graphic design, etc. All the terminology, how everything relates, and so on. That’s why I’m in need of both graphic design and production classes (I’d think), to get the bigger picture and learn the basics of what I’m doing, as well. And for InDesign especially (it seems to me), it’s important to know lots of things that (again, to my uneducated mind) seem to be more on the production side of things, like printing options or bleeds (I still can’t figure out how margins and bleeds are different).

My entry into learning Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Flash, all these apps, has just been trial and error, with absolutely no theoretical background. Started learning when I was about 12 or so, and learned quite a bit of English along the way, too (I had no idea what the word ‘crop’ meant when I began, for instance, much less what the function actually did). So everything that doesn’t make sense if you just randomly click on it and see the result is pretty much a mystery to me, still. Plus, all those different ways of controlling colours (hues, saturations, levels, curves, colour balances, channel mixers, and whatever else there may be) are still pretty much a muddle to me, since I’ve never learned what they actually are and how they differ. I can just tell by using them that they produce different results in how they alter the colours, but I have no idea how or why.
     
JonoMarshall
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Oct 12, 2007, 04:39 AM
 
Ok, that makes sense, you can find books or online content for grids, typography, hierarchy, etc and also for more practical elements such as bleeds, preparing for professional printing, proofing, etc too (less important IMO).

If you want to do a course, that's great, but don't just do any course as you'll end up teaching yourself and absorbing from books anyway.

My background was a reputable 'ideas-led' Graphic Design course and then various jobs where I had to be on the ball with justifying what I was doing, print processes, budgets, eek. More initial print knowledge would've been useful for me, luckily I was passed some great printing contacts and a polite, attentive, interested approach allowed me to shadow their processes somewhat.

The printers and production folk do what they do extremely well and will always be mastering new techniques, processes, etc, it's good to be interested in it, but to some extent you can let them lead the way...
     
Oisín
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Oct 14, 2007, 01:02 PM
 
For my part, I’m not likely to actually be making a full-time career of this (never know, though). More likely, I’ll be doing some freelance stuff on a pretty low scale. Example: a colleague has asked me to help her and her fiancé design and make their wedding invitations. Since these will obviously have to be printed professionally to look proper, I’m feeling a bit insecure, since I know absolutely nothing about how to prepare for that—and I have no production people to help me, either!
     
Kevin
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Oct 21, 2007, 07:15 AM
 
Then just go online and follow the tutorials.
     
brightwindows
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Oct 23, 2007, 05:03 AM
 
I think you can find some tutorials on line.
     
chabig
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Oct 23, 2007, 10:29 AM
 
Adobe's Classroom in a Book series is also excellent.
     
art_director
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Oct 28, 2007, 10:21 PM
 
Originally Posted by JonoMarshall View Post
"Background" as in Typography, layouts, graphic design, understanding how we perceive information, etc?

Graphic design/production courses? For me the two are very much apart: Graphic design is creating a ideas-based solution for a given problem ("Objective art" if you prefer), then you have stylistic design which IMO is just "Commercial art" or "Subjective design" (same difference).

Production is the process used to go from sketch/idea to final product, it is important to have an understanding of the processes involved, but as a designer you would normally work with a production assistant, print supplier, engineer, etc.

The software is your tool, the theoretical background is your course in design, which bits don't you understand within the software? The print side of things? Gah, I've confsed myself now...
You confused me too. Sounds like I haven't been doing what I thought I'd been doing for the entirety of my career. Damn, another acid flashback.
     
art_director
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Oct 28, 2007, 10:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by Oisín View Post
For my part, I’m not likely to actually be making a full-time career of this (never know, though). More likely, I’ll be doing some freelance stuff on a pretty low scale. Example: a colleague has asked me to help her and her fiancé design and make their wedding invitations. Since these will obviously have to be printed professionally to look proper, I’m feeling a bit insecure, since I know absolutely nothing about how to prepare for that—and I have no production people to help me, either!
That would be a good, easy project to get yourself started.

I'll give you one Illustrator tip right now. If you design these in Illustrator, convert your type to paths BEFORE sending to the printer. Will save many headaches. Trust me on this one.

Let me add this. If you want to do the wedding invites, post here with any questions. Just trying to help a brother out.
     
JonoMarshall
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Oct 29, 2007, 05:34 AM
 
My description of production was gash... here's a revision:

Production is the process used to go from realised idea to final outcome, it is important to have an understanding of the processes involved, within print you'd work with a supplier & printer, video work would go to a production team, you can use paper engineers, ink managers, etc.

If you have an understanding of different print processes (colour modes, postscript, overprinting, font management, bleeds, ink merge adjustment, proofing, paper engineering, stock type advantages, etc.) then that would hold you in good stead, although IMO the most important aspect of graphic design is ideas and articulating your vision/outcome.
     
art_director
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Oct 29, 2007, 08:46 AM
 
Originally Posted by JonoMarshall View Post
... IMO the most important aspect of graphic design is ideas ...
Well said.
     
Oisín
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Oct 29, 2007, 04:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by art_director View Post
That would be a good, easy project to get yourself started.

I'll give you one Illustrator tip right now. If you design these in Illustrator, convert your type to paths BEFORE sending to the printer. Will save many headaches. Trust me on this one.

Let me add this. If you want to do the wedding invites, post here with any questions. Just trying to help a brother out.
Thanks, on both accounts

Meanwhile, I’ve been swamped with school projects and my colleague hasn’t contacted me again about this, so I think they decided to go with the ‘prêt-à-porter’ option instead (they were on somewhat of a schedule).

However, when at some point I manage to get a ‘start-up’ job like this (and actually have the time for it, too), I’m sure I’ll be back here pestering you all with plenty of dumb questions in no time

[Second typing—just lost Version I to the dreaded “Server too busy” announcement!]
     
MOTHERWELL
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Oct 30, 2007, 10:53 PM
 
Total Training made me a genius with all of Adobe's applications. Except Premiere. Don't need that garbage.
     
nickclarson
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Oct 31, 2007, 10:45 AM
 
if you want some good tutorials I know Veerle posts some awesome illustrator ones on: Veerle's blog 2.0 - Webdesign - XHTML CSS | Graphic Design
     
hart
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Nov 12, 2007, 10:52 AM
 
I'm actually hacking my way through Fireworks using the Help files online. Starting at the beginning and going through to the end. I try out everything the "book" discusses as I go. It's not the most user friendly but it's working. And it's free.

For the other creative suite apps I've been using Classroom in a Book and found it to be good for getting a basic sense of how to get around. Any fuzzy areas I look up in Help. The Illustrator book is over 400 pages long so there's a lot of stuff in there.

I took several classes but they were only good for getting the haziest glimpse of the programs' potential. Basically I've had to sit here and plow through each app step by step to get any proficiency. And set myself projects to create.

One thing I've learned is that these applications are multi-layered. You can go back and learn something completely new every six months that transforms your work pattern.
     
   
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