Illustrator effects panel

by Design Workshop Sydney

Adding effects to shapes in Illustrator is straight-forward, and easily edited later. We explore all these features in our Adobe Illustrator courses.illustrator-effects-panel
Firstly, we create some shapes in a new document. The example shown here is our froggie greetings card image. See a previous blog post to find out how we created the basic shapes. We now want to add a roughen effect to the green ellipses which make up the head and eyes of the frog. So, select the shape, shapes or group with the Selection tool (the black arrow). Then go to the Effect drop-down menu situated above the top Control panel.
Note that there are two types of effects: Illustrator effects and Photoshop effects. Illustrator effects basically add an aesthetic effect whilst keeping the vector look of the image. Photoshop effects, on the other hand, give the image the appearance of adding a Photoshop filter – see another blog post on filters in Photoshop itself. Often the latter give a more bitmap art appearance.
There are two basic types of images in computer graphics: bitmaps and vector-based imagery. Bitmaps are grids of pixels, or maps of bits of information. These are also known as raster images, and this is the best method for representing photographic information on a computer screen. Each pixel has a number for colour and brightness, and this is how the software stores and manipulates the image – by changing the numerical values of the pixels. And the high-end program for working with pixel-based imagery is Adobe Photoshop.
In contrast to this we have vector-based imagery, which is what Illustrator creates. These are mathematically produced artwork, each line and circle (for example) having certain properties, like length, angle, x and y positions on the screen. This type of artwork works best for diagrams, illustrations, logos, type.
So in the Illustrator effects panel we get both types of image manipulation – vector and bitmap distortions. The best way to explore the effects is just to take time and apply them to simple shapes, like we’ve done here. We applied the Distort & Transform > Roughen effect. Note that a dialog box will appear in which you can modify the effect.
After you’ve applied an effect you can later edit it in the Appearance panel – simply click on the object and the Effect will be visible in blue text in this panel. To edit the effect, simply double-click on the blue label and the Effects panel will open again.
Whether you’re a complete beginner or self-taught, our courses will help you gain self-confidence in your Illustrator workflow, as well as adding to your professional skill-set. See many examples of our Illustrator clients’ work on our Facebook page.
Other related Illustrator Blog Posts:
Illustrator workspace
Illustrator basics
Illustrator clipping masks
Illustrator live trace
Illustrator brushes