I would like to learn to use Adobe Illustrator. I want to go from start i.e learn using each tool first and then move on.

Where can I find tutorials for this (Youtube is a good source).

I cant afford video tutorials from Lynda.

  • What's your background? Do you know anything about similar programs (Corel, Inkscape), layers, vector curve editing etc?
    – takeshin
    Commented Nov 8, 2011 at 10:51
  • Draw something simple like a flower on paper or take a picture of something simple then upload/open it in Illustrator. Try and trace the lines and create basic shapes that make up the drawing/image while googling to fill in the gaps of your understanding. Trying to learn how to use Illustrator solely from a book sounds terrible.
    – user72517
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 10:27

8 Answers 8


While experience is important, sometimes you don't even know what you don't know, so with something as complex as Illustrator I don't recommend "sink or swim" learning.

I like the "Classroom in a Book" series; I found a Kindle edition on Amazon (U.S.) for about $29. I LOVE the "Teach Yourself X in 24 Hours" books, and the "Missing Manual" books are usually good, but neither seems to have a current edition for Illustrator.


There is no substitute for experience. In my opinion the best way to learn a new program is to just start using it and use google if you get stuck. If you want some tutorials on the basics, there are a number here: http://www.adobeillustratortutorials.com/free/index.php?cat=1


Here's what I recommend, in the order I think you should do:

The Adobe Illustrator CS5 Wow! Book This isn't free, but I highly recommend it if you're serious about getting good at Illustrator. It's one of the best books out there. The early chapters guide you through the basics, this is something you don't find often on the web. Once you're a few chapters in, move on to VectorTuts.com

VectorTuts.com contains high quality vector tutorials, mostly Illustrator. But majority of them may be slightly advanced for someone new to the tool. I recommend reading the following two guides first:

Illustrator’s Pen Tool: The Comprehensive Guide Pen tool is essential for creating more complex shapes in Illustrator. It's also one that takes a bit longer time to get used to. This guide is very very good, also contains links to exercises that are well put together.

A Comprehensive Guide: Illustrator’s Paintbrush Tool and Brush Panel

Also good to knows:

Adobe Illustrator Shortcuts

7 Things You Didn’t Know Adobe Illustrator Could Do


The most helpful thing I ever did when learning Illustrator was mastering the Pen Tool. At first I didn't really get it and couldn't use it effectively. Now it is one of my most powerful weapons.

How to learn it? Place as a background image a fairly complicated image. I chose the Queen of Hearts from a deck of cards. Trace it using only the Pen Tool and by the time you are finished everything else in Illustrator will be easy.


First thing that I do, I read the manual or the help of the software. Learning by what the people that made the software gave me it is a great step.

Second thing, spend a lot of time on it, trying to do the most simple thing, or the difficult ones, just to try to get familiarised with the tool and what I am able/not able to do.

Third and last, google "illustrator tutorial" that I search on google :)


You can check out some lynda.com video tutorials. They're very long, very detailed and will teach you virtually everything Illustrator (or any other Adobe product of your choice) can do.

I myself prefer video tutorials over any other type of learning when it comes to specific applications, especially anything graphically oriented, because you can see how you're supposed to work. Lynda's tutorials are definitly worth the price.

Reading books can only teach you some theory, but you also need a lot of pratcies and watching someone work is going to save you a lot of time rediscovering things.

  • I agree Lynda is a great source of the stuff he's looking for, but the question said "I cant afford video tutorials from Lynda" - so I think that's probably why somebody gave a -1.
    – Wilka
    Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 13:25

If I was starting use Illustrator now I would do this:

  1. Search the Internet for real works to do.
  2. Try to make it with what I know.
  3. Search on YouTube, Google, Creative Bloq, ask here what I don't know.
  4. Try again


Because if you just see tutorials on the Internet to learn to use Illustrator you are going to see a lot information you don't need now and you will forget what you see. If you search what you need you learn it and never forget.


Try redesigning a popular logo. Making posters for events. Making patterns for decoration. Maybe try drawing a character from a popular animated series.

Look, the point is this: You will learn this best by doing. So get to it a start designing stuff. If you hit a snag, search Google for the solution. This way you will remember what to to the next time you encounter a problem. Play around with the interface, read the help manuals and draw random shapes. The more time spent using Illustrator is the better you will get.

Structured tutorials are only good to get passing familiarity with some features because you will easily forget what you learned unless you have an opportunity to practice. I know this because I got good at Illustrator, not because I looked at video tutorials, but because I had work that needed to be done and it was the best tool for the job.

Good luck!

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