How to Start an Infographic Project with Adobe Illustrator

There is rarely just one way to create an infographic. However, Illustrator is arguably the best place to start your project. For one thing, Illustrator’s vector shapes are very easy to scale, which makes this program a good choice for things such as creating logos, which may need to be reused at many different sizes.

Also, Illustrator handles type really nicely. If you start your graphic in Illustrator, the process can be easier at the outset and also more flexible throughout.

The Symbols function is also something to bear in mind at the beginning of your process. If you have navigation buttons in your interactive graphic, simple numbered bullets in your flat graphic, or even an arrow style that may need to be changed at the end of the process, using Illustrator symbols makes the changes a simple matter.

Starting an Illustrator wireframe can vary a little depending on whether your graphic is for print, web, or other, but the process is basically as follows:

  1. Create a new document, and set your artboard size to reflect the final use size.

    If your graphic is going to be for web use, set the document profile as Web.

  2. Set all units to pixels.

    Everything is easier if your measurements match between all your design programs.

  3. Turn on pixel-grid alignment for objects.

    The corners of your vector shapes will be anti-aliased — smoothed out rather than pixelated — but lines stay crisp.

  4. Set up your guides.

    This could involve margins, columns, headline locations, or some other measurement important to your project.

  5. Set up your layers.

    You’ll want

    • A guide layer

    • A background layer

    • Layers for elements that are “fixed”

      A fixed element could be an icon that appears on every page or layer of your information graphic.

    • Layers for any content parts that you want to affect separately

  6. Start to organize the visual and narrative hierarchy of your information.

The figure shows the set-up process in creation.

Because Illustrator makes all these upfront nuts-and-bolts setup steps easy and fast, try starting there regardless of whether your design incorporates graphic vector elements.

Working with Illustrator layers.
Working with Illustrator layers.
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