Adobe is producing updates of all of its software at the same time in what it’s calling the biggest release in the history of the company. On the whole, that’s probably true, but some packages are showing a greater range of new tools than others.
The most noticeable change in Illustrator CS3 is an improved interface. The toolbar is now a single row of tools (although you can switch back to the old two-row style) and the complex arrangement of palettes on the right has been squashed into a space-saving set of icons. This gives a great deal more room on the screen and means you don’t have to continually move palettes out of the way in order to see what you’re doing.
Live Colour is the star of Illustrator CS3 and is basically a way of dealing with colours together as a palette rather than individually. Even after you’ve chosen a set of colours for your artwork, you can alter them on their own or as one, changing the hues of a whole image to fine-tune the way your colours work together. It’s now a lot easier to experiment with colours that complement or contrast each other.
Also new is the Eraser tool that enables you to simply rub out parts of an image just as you would in Photoshop. Even with very complex objects, the Eraser moves or deletes the points you rub out and redefines your shapes to leave gaps.
To be honest, Illustrator CS3 isn’t the massive update it could have been. The new tools are useful and impressive but they’re not as wide-ranging or essential as those in Photoshop. However, the many small changes in the interface – particularly in the way you select and manipulate points, paths and groups – will make most artists’ work faster and easier.