IT Enquirer reviews Adobe Illustrator CS6: The dark interface rises

“When I started to review Illustrator I was charmed by the ability to draw in perspective, create strokes with alternating thickness, the shape builder tool, the new image tracing capabilities, pattern creation, the ability to apply gradients on strokes, and last but by no means least: Illustrator’s performance,” Erik Vlietinck reports for IT Enquirer.

“The first thing that I would like to cover is Illustrators new interface. The interface is now dark, supports multiple workspaces, and overall just looks better,” Vlietinck reports. “The best part of it is that you can edit the names of layers, styles, and swatches directly in the control panel. And that the character panel shows glyphs that previously required multiple clicks to access. What I also found better about Illustrator’s CS6′s user interface is that you can control the background’s grey value to make it match the look of your tools or contrast your design.”

Advertisement: Design with speed and precision with Adobe Illustrator CS6. Full from $599. Upgrade from $249. Subscribe from $19.99.

Vlietinck reports, “The most spectacular improvement I found was image trace. Since Illustrator CS3 I can remember having traced images from photographs and other bitmap images. I always was mildly annoyed by the complexity of the conversion from bitmap to vector. In CS6 I found image trace to be as accurate as it gets. It’s also a lot faster.”

More info and screenshots in the full article here.


  1. To this day, my wife, a textile designer, runs an old G5 iMac alongside her new Mac Pro Tower. On her Mac tower is the usual set of Adobe CS6 solutions. On the iMac, she still runs Macromedia Freehand. The reason: despite all the advances in Illustrator CS6, Freehand is still much easier to use.

    From drawing beziers to pasting inside, she can get more done in less time on Freehand. She then saves as an Illustrator 88 file and moves it over to Illustrator to finish the file. And she’s not alone. There are a number of designers and illustrators doing this worldwide.

    If only the often arrogant product managers at Adobe would take a look at the simplicity and features Freehand. Of course, they can’t use the programming code. But Adobe’s systems analysts and product managers who work alongside their programmers could learn a lot from this now departed but wonderful old app. Adobe owns the intellectual property behind Freehand. It would be a travesty to throw away a set of great ideas.

    1. I fully agree. Freehand was and still is, far beyond Illustrator.

      It amazes me the way great programs, better than the competition, disappear. (I’m thinking of programs like FullWrite, still just about the best word processor ever, more capable and yet somehow a fraction of the size and complexity of Word.)

        1. Wholeheartedly DISAGREE. I’ve been using Illustrator since its original release – before FreeHand even existed.

          Illustrator’s workflow was/is more manual in some ways, but it was also much more likely to produce usable output and less likely to generate files that would create PostScript errors when you sent the file for output.

          FreeHand got better output-wise once it started to mature, but I never liked the FreeHand workflow. I have friends that are the same way.

          The FreeHand workflow and tools always reminded me of CorelDraw, which felt amateurish to me.

          So, I for one, would be really disappointed if Adobe made Illustrator function more like FreeHand.

          It’s really a personal taste thing, and depends on what “makes sense” to you. For some, it’s Illustrator. For others, it was FreeHand. For still others (which I’ll never understand), it was the POS CorelDraw.

          1. Totally understand your POV on output-especially on seps and print in the early days. Fonts too of course…BUT FH did improve and a lot of my work colleagues preferred it. As far as user design workflow I think it was more intuitive and let you design without too much technical menu distraction .
            I find i work way quicker in FH doing the exact same thing than I do In AI.
            Never thought i would say this but AI6 is pretty good though. I don’t necessarily want the FH workflow although I do prefer it, I just want some of the menus and tools:) Font manipulation could be improved and… more shortcuts dangnabbit…
            Corel Draw…jeez…non entity. AGREED.

  2. Anything Adobe makes annoys me. The price was one of the biggest but the biggest is the watered down late to arrive Mac versions.

    We haven’t even touched on Flash; the web moves on and Adobe is belly up in the water with this dead software. I want to see it buried soon. The stench is unbearable.

  3. Reviewer is amazed by the tracing features! It’s the usual that reviewers are often not regular users of illustrator. Play with the whizbang 3D and automated features, forget about the core tools that continue to diminish and be sluggish from the weight of the fluff.

  4. thing i resented the most was after many versions of keeping often used keys commands consistently the same, they went and changed them. THEY MOST ANNOYING THING AND I STILL HAVEN’T FORGIVEN THEM.

  5. What’s even worse is the severe lack of really decent third-party Illustrator-like programs on the Mac. For Photoshop replacements there are plenty now like Pixelmator, but where is the “Vectormator” we all want that costs $30?

    1. Exactly! I have CS5 and it is extremely annoying. Everything is so complicated. I pay a premium to have professional software, and simple processes are buried, or require a decoder ring.

  6. All of the CS6 craps are ugly, slow, bloated crap (well, Photoshop is OK). WTF is with the NASTY UGLY dialog boxes? Why can’t Adobe just use the standard OS X interface widgets?

    The best versions of Illustrator were: Illustrator 8 (Classic Mac OS) and Illustrator 10 (Classic/OS X). Once it got into the CS crap ALL the apps went to hell (on the Mac anyway – maybe it just took them a while to get their piles or legacy code over to a ‘modern’ Mac platform). I guess the CS3 apps weren’t bad (first Intel version), but they stopped working reliably on Snow Leopard, and stopped working altogether on Lion.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.