Switching to Illustrator - Roadmap for Freehanders?


There have been a few instances over the last couple of years where I have given up fighting for what I thought was "right" or "better" in order to simplify my life or take advantage of interoperability of software tools.

One example was bowing to the forced organization of OS X - that wasn't too hard because I already kept my Applications and Documents directories pretty well organized under OS 9. Another example was giving up Entourage's one or two superior features for the overall better experience (especially when using .Mac synchronization) of the Mail/Address Book/iCal triumvirate.

So I find myself at another one of these crossroads as Adobe prepares to feast upon the carcass of Macromedia. I hold that for the majority of the work that I do, Freehand (despite the warts of the last few versions) is still superior to Illustrator, but given Freehand's likely demise (or FTC-forced sale to a company that will let it wither under small marketing and R&D budgets), I figure it's time to buckle down and learn Illustrator. In other words, How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Blend.

I've kept my Illustrator versions current up through 10 (I'd have CS2 already if Adobe didn't have such an idiotic upgrade policy), but every time I've tried to use it, I ended up frustrated and angry at how weird everything was and how difficult it seemed to get fairly simple tasks done.

The point of this long-winded first post to these forums is this: I find myself in a position similar to what I imagine many folks switching to Mac from Windows must experience: everything looks so similar, yet I can't seem to do a damn thing. Simple tasks end up with me cursing and threatening to give up design completely.

Does anyone know of a resource on the web (or elsewhere) that provides a roadmap or "the ten most important things you need to know" for switching from Freehand to Illustrator?

Here's an example of what I'm talking about: What the hell is the artboard FOR? It doesn't seem to do anything useful. There's already a "scratch" area that's the equivalent to Freehand's pasteboard, and the document "printable/nonprintable" dotted lines (I'm still getting my head around the page tool) seems to cover Freehand's page metaphor... so what purpose does the Artboard serve? Just a pretty solid line to put around your page?

Sorry for the verbosity, I've been fighting Illustrator for most of the day and between the on-screen help and the manual, I'm still not much further than I was this morning.


Although I know of no resources ... there probably are some if you do a google search. Find a tutorial to help familiarize yourself with the the way AI works (I agree with you that it is a frustrating experience if you come from freehand).

In my experience, there are some things that have remained exclusive to the two programs. I use them both together, since they are both incomplete (Illustrator more so.)

If you have both programs, be prepared to use them both. I have Illustrator 10 and Freehand 9. Incidentally, AI 10 doesn't seem to run in Tiger. It might run in classic, but I haven't tried it yet.


Thanks for the response, Theodour.

I've done some cursory Google searches, but have yet to strike upon the right set of search terms because I haven't found anything like that yet.

As for Illustrator 10 under Tiger, it does work - I'm using it (well... sort of using it... ;) ) right now.

If you have experienced any crashes or weirdness since upgrading to Tiger, I'd recommend re-installing Illustrator. That seems to fix things for a wide variety of programs.