Looking for online adobe illustrator classes? Illustrator is part of the Adobe Suite of creative programmes. It is a vector drawing programme that allows for illustrations, cartoons, diagrams, charts, logos. It uses mathematical equations to draw out shapes, making vector graphics scalable without loss of definition. I learnt Illustrator a few years go, my son was taking an online course in Illustrator for High School and I thought that if I did it too, I could help him if he got stuck. He didn’t get stuck, but I achieved a new skill. This mind map is a simple illustration from Illustrator. Easy to achieve but way more interesting to use images to reinforce your articles on line, or, a new skill to offer up on websites like Fiverr or Etsy, doing vector illustrations for other people. A great new skill turned into an online thread of income.

Its allows images to be scaled without losing resolution, lines are crisp and sharp at any size, so perfect for logos and billboards alike. Prints at high resolution with smaller file sizes. The only drawback (no pun intended?) is that its not so easy to create photo realistic drawings. Illustrator is perfect for logos, posters, realistic drawings, infographics, diagrams, illustrations for almost any purpose.

This was designed for a website that I manage – a baby scan centre.

Can You Learn For Free?

Generally there is a monthly fee for using Illustrator ($20/month, first week free) and a monthly fee for any tutorials. So can potentially add up to a tidy amount.

But as a beginner you can trial the tutorials for a month and the Illustrator software for free for a week. If you have a student in the house, like I had, you can get a free version to use. Ultimately you need to pay for it, if you find that you want to use it for business, you will need a paid version.

Do You Need ‘Follow Along’ or Notes?

When I was learning Illustrator, I used a tutorial online, and followed along at the same time. I had my laptop with illustrator software loaded and the tutorial on my iPad at the side, so I could see what was going on and follow it and learn at the same time by doing it. I found for me this was the easiest way to learn. Odd things like key strikes for various effects, I noted down on a card for later use. Over time I remembered them but a crib sheet at the beginning was ideal.

This course is run by www.lynda.com and a guy called Deke Mclelland. Remember the first month is free. I followed this and quite a few other courses run by Deke and found them all to be top notch and worth every penny I paid ( I went on many months after the initial free month)

Alternatively you can use a follow along in note form…. This also is a free 30 day course that guides you through the basic intricacies of Illustrator with vectordiary.

This Illustrator 30 day free crash course is at www.vectordiary.com
Its split into 30 days – 5 days a week, 20 minutes a day. They run through the fundamental techniques, which are easy and simple. Nothing is in great detail, mainly the essential tools and ideal for beginners. I would recommend this as a start up and going onto the follow along course with Deke at Lynda.com afterwards.

Don’t forget that you will also find tutorials for free on YouTube. These can be instead of or supplemental to the courses recommended above. It might be that there is a particular tool that you want more training, some are challenging – the reflection tool I found tricky, YouTube was excellent.

Can’t Afford Adobe Illustrator?

Adobe Illustrator might be too pricy on a monthly basis however its not the only software out there that will do the job. Affinity is software that is almost identical to Illustrator, with many of the same functions, but at a fraction of the price. Rather than being by adobe, its designed by Serif and costs $40 in total for lifetime so no monthly payments.

Affinity V Illustrator

  • Affinity offers most things Illustrator has.
  • Learning curve getting used to the key commands moving from Illustrator to Affinity, not a problem if you don’t know either !
  • Techniques are called different things.
  • Some instances when one outperforms the other.
  • Easy to switch from one to the other when used to both softwares.
  • More settings on Illustrator – many however unnecessary for the beginner.
  • Affinity has plenty of configurations, but not as many as Illustrator.
  • Artboard and document presets, more on Illustrator than Affinity.
  • Illustrator’s colour picker is much more straightforward than Affinity, which takes some getting used to.
  • Affinity has fewer colour swatches than Illustrator.
  • Illustrator has just about every tool you can imagine, Affinity has fewer.
  • More shape defaults on Affinity than Illustrator
  • More text options on Affinity.

Upshot of Comparison

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence… in patches ! Neither stands taller than the other, to be totally fair, except on price where Affinity wins every time. A one-off purchase for Affinity rather than a monthly payment for Illustrator.

As far as the graphics are concerned, neither one is better than the other, you can achieve high end graphics using both softwares.


Affinity (Serif)

  • 10 Day Free Trial with Serif
  • $39.99 one-off payment
  • Free one month trial – Affinity Online Training – www.lynda.com
  • Impressive, low budget, but powerful enough for graphic artists.

Illustrator (Adobe)

  • 7 Day Free Trial with Adobe
  • $20.99 a month with Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Free one month trial – Illustrator Beginner Training – www.lynda.com
  • Comprehensive feature tools, high end graphics.

Neither software requires you to have a graphics pad at the outset. I don’t use a graphics pad even now, the mousepad on my MacBook works perfectly fine. If, once you have done all the training and you want to take it further, get certification to start designing for customers, a graphics pad will make the design process quicker, easier and more detailed. All graphics pads sync with macs and PC.

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