Home | About | Online Map Examples | Basic Introduction | Exercise 1 | Exercise 2 | Exercise 3 | Exercise 4 | Exercise 5

Basic Introduction

Set Up Your Page
Define the Work Area
Vector and Bitmap Graphics
Design for Resolution
Link and Embed Files

You will be using Bigmap.jpg and Nmap.jpg files in the below exercises.


Set Up Your Page

Creating a Document

Illustrator does not automatically open with a new document.
To create a new document, select New from the File menu.
A dialog box opens in which you will select the document color space (CMYK or RGB) and the Artboard Size (the document dimensions). The default page size is 612 pts x 792 pts which is equivalent to 8.5” x 11”.
To return to this dialog, choose File/ Document Setup

Choosing Color

The computer screen's color is measured in RGB, Red, Green, and Blue. What you see is what you get on the screen.
A document prepared for printing is measured in CMYK, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black color. When using CMYK, your color will vary from screen to the printed page.

Read More About Color Differences between Print (CMYK) and Web (RGB).

Preparing for Screen versus Print Graphics

  Screen Print
Measurements Pixels Inches
Orientation Landscape (more wide than high) Portrait or Landscape
Resolution 72 dpi 300 - 2500 dpi

Using Rulers and Guides

To view measurements around the document area choose View / Show Rulers or Ctrl+R in Windows to toggle by default, you might not be able to see your Guides. Guides are straight lines you can drag from the rulers edge onto the document to draw straight or line items up. You will inevitably want guides as you create your document. Choose View/ Guides/ for your guides options.

To create a Guide, place the arrow cursor over either the horizontal or vertical ruler, hold down the left button, and drag into the document space. A blue guide line should emerge from this process. To toggle Guides, press Ctrl+;

To learn more about guides see Help/ Illustrator Help/Search type Guides.

Work Area

In Illustrator, the work area occupies the entire space within the Illustrator window and includes more than just the printable page containing your artwork. The printable and non-printable areas are represented by a series of solid and dotted lines between the outermost edge of the window and the printable area of the page.

Imageable area

The imageable area is bounded by the innermost dotted lines and represents the portion of the page on which the selected printer can print. Many printers cannot print to the edge of the paper.


The artboard is bounded by solid lines and represents the entire region that can contain printable artwork. By default, the artboard is the same size as the page, but it can be enlarged or reduced. The U.S. default artboard is 8.5" x 11", but it can be set as large as 227" x 227". You can choose to show or hide the artboard.

Scratch area

The scratch area is the area outside the artboard that extends to the edge of the 227-inch square window. The scratch area represents a space on which you can create, edit, and store elements of artwork before moving them onto the artboard. Objects placed onto the scratch area are visible on-screen, but they do not print.



Vector and Bitmap graphics

Graphics Overview

Computer graphics fall into two main categories--vector graphics and bitmap images. Understanding the difference between the two helps as you create, edit, and import artwork.

In Illustrator the type of graphic image can have important effects on your workflow. For example, some file formats only support bitmap images (BMP, JPG, PSD) and others only vector graphics (AI, EPS, DWG, PDF, SVG).

If you choose File/Save, this document will be saved in its native format, *.AI. You may open this AI file in AutoCAD, Adobe Photoshop, and any other program that supports Adobe Illustrator AI files. You may also save the file as an EPS if you want to open and edit the file in another program that does not support AI file format.

Graphics Overview

Graphic image types are important when importing or exporting graphic images to and from Illustrator. Linked bitmap images cannot be edited in Illustrator. Graphic formats also affect how commands and filters can be applied to images; some filters in Illustrator will only work with bitmap images.

Vector Graphics

Drawing programs such as Adobe Illustrator, AutoCAD, and ESRI GIS create vector graphics, made of lines and curves defined by mathematical objects called vectors. Vector graphics are scalable without loosing quality.

You can move, resize, or change the color of the above drawing without losing the quality of the graphic. A vector graphic is resolution-independent--that is, it can be scaled to any size and printed on any output device at any resolution without losing its detail or clarity. As a result, vector graphics are the best choice for type (especially small type) and bold graphics that must retain crisp lines when scaled to various sizes--for example, logos. Because computer monitors represent images by displaying them on a grid, both vector and bitmap images are displayed as pixels on-screen.

Bitmap Graphics

Paint and image-editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop, generate bitmap images, also called raster images. The images use a grid (also known as a bitmap or raster) of small squares, known as pixels, to represent graphics.

When you open an Illustrator file in Photoshop, you are rasterizing the image. You are turning the vector format into a raster format. Once you have done this, you can not go back to vector format. There are occasions when you will want to open an Illustrator document in Photoshop, perhaps to put the finishing touches on a graphic. Be aware of your resolution and don't save over your original Illustrator file.

When working with bitmap images, you edit pixels rather than objects or shapes.
Bitmap images are the most common electronic medium for continuous-tone images, such as photographs or images created in painting programs, because they can represent subtle gradations of shades and color.

Bitmap images are resolution dependent--that is, they represent a fixed number of pixels. Photographs are best as Bitmaps while Drawings are best as Vector. As a result, they can appear jagged and lose detail if they are scaled on-screen or if they are printed at a higher resolution than they were created for.


Design For Resolution

Resolution is the number of dots or pixels per linear unit used to reproduce artwork and images. Output devices display images as groups of pixels. The resolution of vector graphics, such as Illustrator artwork, depends on the device used to display the artwork. The resolution of bitmap images, such as digital photographs, depends on both the display device and the inherent resolution of the bitmap image.

Monitor resolution

The number of pixels or dots displayed per unit of length on the monitor, usually measured in dots per inch (dpi). Monitor resolution depends on the size of the monitor plus its pixel setting. A PC or Mac OS monitor can range from 60 to 133 dpi. Understanding monitor resolution helps explain why the display size of an image on-screen often differs from its printed size.

Printer resolution

The number of ink dots per inch (dpi) produced by an imagesetter or laser printer. For best results, use an image resolution that is proportional to, but not the same as, printer resolution. Most laser printers have output resolutions of 600 dpi to 1200 dpi and produce good results with images from 72 ppi to 185 ppi. High-end imagesetters can print at 1200 dpi or higher and produce good results with images from 200 ppi to 350 ppi.


Link and Embed Files into the Document

Illustrator can import many common graphic file formats, including EPS, CorelDRAW™, FreeHand™, GIF, JPEG, PICT, TIFF, SVG, DXF, Adobe PDF, and PostScript Level 1. In addition to these common graphic file formats, Illustrator can use artwork in any file format supported by an Adobe Photoshop-compatible file format plug-in filter, including Kodak Photo CD™, PNG, and TGA.


Use the embed option when you will not be working on the imported file independently, file size doesn't matter, or you might be moving files from folder to folder.

Both Linking and Embedding requires using the File/Place command. Place only supports pdf, gif, tif, psd, and jpg extensions. If you want to import AI or EPS it is best to open the document and drag it onto the layer.

1. Create a New document File/ New
2. Choose File / Place. A dialog box appears enabling you to search for the file you would like to place. In the left hand corner of the dialog box, you will see 3 options, Link, Template, or Replace. By default, the Link option is selected in the dialog box but is only apparent after you have made your file selection.
3. Choose to embed bigmap.jpg out of the Adobe Illustrator images file provided.
4. Click once to select the file, then uncheck the Link box. Click OK.
Bigmap.jpg is now embedded and independent of its original file.


Linked files remain independent of the Illustrator file, resulting in a smaller Illustrator file. Depending on a preference you set for updating links, the linked image in the Illustrator file may change when the artwork in the linked file changes.

1. Choose Window/ Links to view the Links palette window to manage Embedded and Linked images
2. Choose File/Place just as before.
3. Select Nmap.jpg out of the Adobe Illustrator images file provided.
4. Click once, then check the Link box. Click OK.

The Links palette lets you identify, select, monitor, and update, and replace images that are linked to external files, or images that are embedded in the Illustrator file. In addition, you can determine if an image's link to an external file is broken or missing, get information about linked or embedded image characteristics, and open a linked image's original file and application to edit the image.

1. In the Links palette, select the arrow on the top right corner and choose show all.
2. A list of the imported files appears. Double click on any one of the names in the list. See how the information about the document appears.
3. You can set a preference to specify how to update linked images when the original files change. To specify how to update links. Choose Edit /Preferences /Files & Clipboard
4 . Choose an update method from the Update Links pop-up menu

You are ready to Touch Up a GIS or AutoCAD map Continue to Exercise 1.