Adobe Illustrator CC 2021 – New Features Summary (including iPad)

Adobe Illustrator CC 2021 got some updates to its Desktop version and a brand new release of Adobe Illustrator for iPad. Yes, it has finally arrived and it seems almost too good to be true. In this article I will list a summary of the Desktop version updates and a look at the brand new version for the iPad.

Adobe Illustrator on the Desktop (version 25.0)

Here is a list of the new features and enhancements in the October 2020 release of Illustrator on the desktop (version 25.0).

Recolor artwork

One of my favorite tools in Illustrator and I used it a lot, from recoloring patterns to setting up color combinations for branding projects to making an artwork print ready with Pantones, believe me, I click this small Recolor Artwork button a lot. So it makes me happy to see improvements to it. You can now pick a color palette from an artwork or images using the Color Theme Picker and then apply those colors to your artwork. The cool part is that you can extract the colors of another image and then apply them to your design.

Enhanced cloud documents

Three main enhancements have been added to cloud documents:

  • You can now embed Adobe Photoshop cloud documents into Illustrator documents
  • You can preview, mark and revert already saved cloud documents to earlier versions
  • You can make cloud documents available offline

Smart glyph snapping

What a handy thing I tell you! Now you can snap an object precisely with the text or glyph bounds. Either x-height, baseline or glyph-bound. Such an improvement for people that need to have perfect alignments!

Type enhancements

Illustrator has again received some needed type enhancements such as aligning text vertically to the top, middle, or bottom of a text frame. Another new feature is found in the Character panel. Illustrator now lets you set the actual font height reference. It is so useful when you want to align your stuff precisely with the text. And last but not least you can now align objects precisely with the visual glyph bounds. Again for perfectionists and pixel pushers a welcome alignment addition.

Adobe Illustrator on the iPad (version 25.0)

Create absolutely anywhere! That’s the most important feature, really, haven’t we all been waiting for this? But can it hold up to the expectations. Let’s explore.

Illustrator for iPad is part of the Adobe Cloud so if you already have a subscription you are good to go. Simply download the app on your iPad. Once you’ve installed it, just open it up and start creating.

Touch Shortcuts and Gestures

Working with the Apple Pencil together with the gestures and touch shortcuts lets you create quite fast and in a fluid way. All of you who create with Procreate know how fast one can draw with the combination of both. To no surprise Adobe Illustrator for the iPad has similar features.

Checkout all of the touch shortcuts and gestures here

Drawing with with Apple Pencil

Naturally, drawing in Adobe Illustrator on the iPad with the Apple Pencil is just pure fun. It’s just as responsive as you would imagine and the way to find yourself around the app is pretty easy too. Using the Pen, Pencil or Blob Brush (although I wish they would add the Brush tool soon) is super easy. Even manipulating paths and anchor points is easy.

Repeat & Mirror

The Grid Repeat, the Radial Repeat and the Mirror Repeat makes copying and creating patterns across the canvas super easy. Now this isn’t a full pattern creation like we know on the desktop version, but nevertheless impressive for creating illustrations where you need repeating elements. I see a huge potential for creating artwork for POD sites.

Check out all repeat feature here

Typography & Fonts

Access and activate the fonts you already have on your iPad. Create text boxes, use advanced type features and even use outlines to add more design options to your text. This is all possible on the iPad now. Plus, if you have a keyboard with your iPad, it makes working with type in the app even better.

Check out the type features here

Photoshop and Illustrator Integration

I often combine my artworks from Illustrator with Photoshop and Illustrator for the iPad let’s you easily open Photoshop files and add extra design elements to it. Now this is super cool and super easy, plus with the cloud, just save the file and then open it up on the desktop version for further work.

On the Go

It goes without saying that Illustrator for iPad is the way to stay mobile without carrying a laptop around. Even offline works as your files are synced to the cloud and your updates will get auto-synced when you go back online.

Live Stream

Now this feature is super neat to all of us that share our designs and knowledge. Livestream directly to your community on Behance, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. All you have to do is tap “Start Livestream” and then you can share your workflow and knowledge with your followers!

All in all, the new features in Adobe Illustrator 2021 are super cool, but for me the most exciting is Illustrator for iPad and even though some important features are still missing, the promise from the Adobe Team is that they are coming soon. So we will see, until then, just try it out and maybe this is the last incentive you needed to get a new iPad 🙂

For more detailed features go to Adobe and read all about the new Illustrator 2021.

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Simona Pfreundner has been teaching Adobe Creative Suite since 2008 through written tutorials, instructional video courses and classroom teaching. With 15 years experience in the graphic design field as an agency, in-house and freelance designer, her love for art and drawing has enabled her develop an approachable and intuitive style of teaching that helps people learn graphic design software in a fun and easy way.

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