Module 2: Introduction to Graphic Design with Adobe Illustrator

In this week's lab assignment, we were introduced to Adobe Illustrator (AI). The purpose in learning to work with such a dynamic, high-capacity, graphic design software is so that we become acquainted in leveraging basic maps by turning them into pieces of publishable artwork. Adobe Illustrator allows us to have more creative control with our maps (as far as design) than ArcMap. The graphic enhancements provided by AI tools can make maps look more realistic. Learning these concepts of realism in graphic design, especially in our digital era, adds value to our skill set and makes us more competitive candidates in the growing field of GIS and data visualization.

Below is my final map product from this week's lab exercise. "Florida" is a whimsical state map exhibit intended for a children's encyclopedia. I first used ArcMap to create a very plain map by bringing in some of Florida's feature classes, such as major cities and important surface waters. My map was then exported to a .ai format to be usable within the AI software. In AI, I added some other touches, like using a playful font for the title and headings of the images; the images themselves have a "Drop Shadow" style effect; I added two rectangular boxes and used the "Fill and Stroke" tool to change the background colors; and finally I ran a script to change all of the major cities' symbology within the geographical extent of the map at once. The most vital lessons I learned while navigating through this week's lab instructions were the importance of grouping, un-grouping, and layer ordering within AI to achieve accurate results, as well as to maintain relative proportions of objects. This was my very first time ever toying around with AI. It was a very challenging and taxing experience, but I'm sure with time, speed and accuracy will become second nature.