Adobe Illustrator CS2 review: Adobe Illustrator CS2

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.0
  • Setup and interface: 8.0
  • Features: 9.0
  • Service and support: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Improves painting and tracing; collaborates with Photoshop CS2 and other Adobe offerings; better type handling broadens page-creation options.

The Bad Lacks the natural painting options of Corel Painter; doesn't make vector graphics more intuitive; less-than-perfect help system and Flash support.

The Bottom Line Vector graphics buffs will find this Illustrator upgrade worthwhile, especially to work with SVG-t art for mobile devices.

CNET Editors' Choice Apr '05

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Adobe Illustrator CS2

If last year's upgrade to Illustrator CS seemed minor, then Adobe Illustrator CS2 takes a major jump. New are professional features such as support for the PDF/X standard, long used in ad creation and prepress, which should open the application to a new constituency, especially with the welcome support for underline and strikethrough text styles. Thanks to the focus on integration across the Creative Suite 2.0, you can easily make your Illustrator CS2 projects flow across other Adobe design and layout apps, whether you're designing for print, the Web, or even mobile devices. The interface of this Illustrator upgrade remains familiar, while adding a handy Control palette to locate common tools. The new Live Trace feature turns pixel-based images into vectors, a gift for artists who want to start with a photo or sketch as their canvas. You can pair Live Trace with the new Live Paint tool to repurpose entire libraries of bitmap graphics, and it's easier than ever to add colors to shapes, but this upgrade doesn't soothe the headache of drawing with vectors. Still, because the enhancements, such as mobile design support, outweigh the drawbacks, we consider Illustrator CS2 to be the best tool of its kind. Installing Adobe Illustrator CS2 with the Adobe Creative Suite 2.0 requires four CD-ROMs' worth of data, but you can select elements or individual applications, easing the burden on your hard drive. Previous versions of Illustrator can coexist on the same computer, a relief for any firm that needs to tinker with legacy files.

Experienced users of Adobe graphics products will feel comfortable with Illustrator CS2's interface, as its control set mirrors the overall look and feel of other Adobe apps. One enjoyable new feature is a Control palette, a context-sensitive bar across the top of the screen. Whenever you use a tool--for example, if you click text with the Direct Selection tool--the Control palette displays related option menus such as Font and Font Style. This spares you the time and screen space otherwise wasted by digging among a host of floating palettes.

Illustrator CS2 also shares Photoshop CS2's ability to set and save custom work spaces, allowing you to designate and save the color, layers, and other settings appropriate to your project. However, Illustrator lags behind Photoshop here; where Photoshop CS2 comes with preset work spaces and customizable menus, Illustrator CS2 has neither, so you must create them yourself.

Adobe Illustrator CS2 provides a bevy of useful new features. In addition to its integration with Adobe Bridge , a thumbnail-based file manager for better work flow, Illustrator CS2 gets pro-friendly enhancements such as support for PDF/X (an expansion of the portable document format), and help with printing overlapping tiles for oversize documents. Artists will appreciate "at last" additions, such as support for Wacom drawing tablets , improvements to type and color handling, and the ability to export text and objects as Macromedia Flash files. While these changes won't woo Web designers away from the advanced animation capabilities of Macromedia Flash, Illustrator CS2 can speed the development of basic animation for Web sites. Illustrator CS2 also creates and optimizes SVG-t graphics for mobile devices.


Illustrator CS2's new Live Trace feature obviates the need for a separate application, such as Streamline, to make vector art out of raster images, such as photographs.

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Where to Buy

Adobe Illustrator Creative Suite 2.0 (Mac)

Part Number: 16001500 Released: Apr 19, 2005

MSRP: $499.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Apr 19, 2005
  • Category creativity application
  • Compatibility Mac