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Review: Illustrator CS3 Visual Quickstart Guide: Resource for Beginner and Intermediate Software Training

Adobe Illustrator CS3 Visual Quickstart Guide is part of the software reference series published by Peachpit Press which follow the basic premise of presenting simple instructions and easy visuals. The benefit of using Visual Quickstart Guides is the short descriptions with a brief number of visuals to aid in learning. These books are excellent for beginners and intermediate users.

While other books can do a great job to help a user learn a software program via tutorials and sample projects, Visual Quickstart Guides focus on the functions of the various features and explain how to accomplish specific tasks.

Illustrator CS3 Guide Content

Adobe Illustrator CS3 Visual Quickstart Guide is set up in 31 chapters, covering different topics such as the program interface, drawing tools, type creation and editing, graphic effects, printing, and more.

Each chapter explains a number of features relevant to the topic and breaks them down into subtopics with explanations. Plenty of visual cues and diagrams are placed within the text to aid a reader in understanding a concept. Even though the examples shown are not going to be exactly what a user may be attempting to do in their current situation, the explanations are well-written and can be understood in the general context of a given situation. Each topic is given enough space to convey the instructions on how to understand it, and is explained in one or two (and rarely, three) pages.

Sidebar boxes are placed throughout the book to explain special features and tips, such as the “tool tips” which appear when you hover over a tool icon for a few moments, or how using the Option (Mac) or Alt (Windows) keys with the arrow tool can change an incremental choice from 1 to 10 units at a time, thus speeding up a change you make.

Improved for Users of Previous Versions – and with Color

Illustrator users who have upgraded to version CS3 and used the Visual Quickstart Guide for CS2 will find the new features of CS3 highlighted with stars in the Table of Contents and noted with “New” throughout the book. Whether it’s a change to a dialog box setting (e.g., the New Document window’s expanded choices), expanded features of a tool (anchor points enlarge when a direct selection tool hovers over them), or new features (Live Color – a whole new chapter), experienced users of Illustrator will find plenty of references to new CS3 features.

This newer edition also includes color pages where appropriate. The publisher understood the need of color illustrations in sections that explained the use of color.

Missing Graph Tool Section

One subject does not get explained in this book: the Graph Tool. Readers who want to understand this tool will find one index page reference: the page where all the tool icons are shown and identified. Illustrator has provided some good tools for creating nine graph styles with so much design possibilities, so it seems a strange omission from the book. And previous editions of the book didn’t include it, either.

An Illustrator CS3 Users Manual?

Illustrator CS3 Visual Quickstart Guide is an excellent reference tool with its simple explanations and diagrams. It’s an essential guide which allows users to find what they need to know, and get right back to work, saving them time and keeping the creative process rolling. It’s too bad that this book doesn’t come bundled with Illustrator because it would make a great user’s manual.

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