What is an Ai File?

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Adobe Illustrator, Ai for short, is part of the massive Adobe Creative Suite and is a vector-based creative program designed for graphic design use. Unlike Adobe Photoshop, where it uses bitmap images to store data, Adobe Illustrator draws shapes using mathematical algorithms allowing vector graphics to be scaled to any size and maintain their quality.

Adobe Illustrator is best used for creating logos, vector illustrations, web graphics, motion graphics, and business cards/stationary. It is great for front and back flyers or trifold brochures. When brochures or marketing materials start requiring more pages, such as a college’s course catalog, Adobe InDesign would be a more efficient choice.

Adobe Illustrator should not be used for image editing, pixel graphics/effects, books, newsletters, reports, video, audio, or animation. These would be better done in Adobe Photoshop or InDesign, depending on the project.

Helpful features Adobe Illustrator includes in-panel editing, which allows for multiple images to be worked on at once. It has multiple page outputs giving a complete feel of a design. It can output very realistic photo-quality drawings, but it requires much time and effort. It works on just about any computer system, even from the early 2000s. It also has relatively small file sizes saving space on computers.

Drawbacks to Adobe Illustrator include having a steep learning curve and requiring much patience. However, Adobe programs do have similar interfaces, so if you’ve already learned Adobe Photoshop, figuring out Illustrator will be easier. If you want a simpler program to create designs faster, Canva is an intuitive graphic design program used to create marketing materials. Canva has many pre-created templates to get you started.

Though equipped with excellent functionality, Adobe Illustrator is not the least expensive option. Alternative programs to Adobe Illustrator that offer close to the same functionality would be Affinity Designer for about a fraction of the price.

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