How to Set Up Illustrator to Work on Infographics

By Justin Beegel, MBA, The Infographic World Team

Adobe Illustrator is the gold standard for graphic design across print and digital media. Infographics created in Illustrator are easy to resize, which makes it appealing for web graphics. Illustrator features allow you to polish and improve your art, lending your infographics some added polish and visual appeal. This full-featured and robust program can appear overwhelming, but with some practice, you’ll come to appreciate its many user-friendly features.

When completing an infographic or illustration, it’s important to keep the details as simple as the information will allow. This way, the artwork gives way to the message you are trying to convey. The message is forever the most important objective.

That said, there is plenty of room left for a good drawing. Many times, simple shapes can bring home the point better than a photograph.

Illustrator can be intimidating, yes, but with a little patience and a goal, you can surely tame the giant and get it to work to your benefit. Taking the time to arrange your workspace can dramatically improve your efficiency. Illustrator includes a lot of tools that you can tailor to your own work habits and preferences. Start off by taking a look at how to use them.

Navigating the Illustrator workspace

Arranging the workspace (work area) simply means arranging panels and other workspace elements to best suit your needs. The Illustrator workspace allows you to organize elements so that your favorite tools are the most accessible. You can even make your own custom workspace. And, if you are working on multiple projects at one time, you can run more than one workspace.

Windows and tools can be moved, deleted, or added to match the way you work. Spending some time upfront getting to know your way around Illustrator’s workspace can save you time down the line.

The first window you will see has a configuration that is straight-out-of-the-box standard. After you open the program and start a new document (by choosing File→New), a standard, letter-size page will appear.

Working with toolbars and palettes

Illustrator organizes its tools into a few bars. Here’s a look at where you can find some of the program’s main features.

The tools panel

This area is a one-stop-shop for creative tools you need to produce art on the artboard, which is the blank white space that functions like a piece of paper. It has the selection tools, the Pen tool, and the Shapes tool. As you work, you’ll have to select a tool before you can use it.

The application bar

Across the top of the screen are application controls, including a workspace switcher. You can hide it by opening the Window menu and deselecting Application Bar.

The panel title bar

You can organize, stack, and rearrange palettes and panes in this area (typically on the right side where palettes sit) to best suit the requirements of each project. For instance, if you’re drawing, you could put the Color pane on top because you’ll be using that frequently. Or, if you’re working on something like a newspaper graphic, you could put the Text pane on top.