|On the job training is the best way to build your professional skills and portfolio. When you first try to break into the job market, you will frequently hear the words "come back when you have some experience". But how do you get that experience, unless you have a job? This book by Gary Poyssick and Erika Kendra is like a mini-internship or summer job at a graphic design firm. |
The most impressive part of the book is the project-based approach the authors use to teach Illustrator CS3. As you work through each project, you are given insight into the decision-making, workflow and production aspects most commonly encountered in graphic design. You begin with a discussion of the client and his needs and then peek over the shoulder of the art director as decisions are made at each stage of production from document setup to production ready files. Then you jump into the project with step-by-step instructions and many supporting illustrations.
Of course, Illustrator is a complex software and there is a need to discuss the technical aspects of that software. But the authors handle this very well in special sections called Illustrator Foundations. Just as you would encounter in the workplace if you asked a co-worker to explain something new, they give you just enough information to achieve the project goals without overwhelming you with pages of technical details. Finally, at the end of each chapter is a portfolio project that is a "do it again" assignment.
So what are the projects? Beginning with an easy project to teach the basic Illustrator skills, you create a set of vector-based icons that will be used in several ways by the client. The kitchen planning guide project teaches precision drawing and text formatting. Next is a logo design and identity package which will teach how to create a design to meet printer requirements. The realty map project shows how to use Illustrator libraries to build and manage your design assets which will save hours in production time. Moving on to more challenging projects, you will learn how to design a project with folds and facing/non-facing pages. The cereal box project teaches how to work with die-cut templates supplied by the professional printer and incorporate pre-existing design elements into your artwork such as UPC bar codes. Most companies have a website and they want to be able to use the same artwork across both print and web. The last few projects show how to create designs with this goal in mind.
Gary Poyssick and Erika Kendra are authors and co-authors for many computer arts training materials.