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Adobe updates Illustrator

Version 8.0 features tighter integration with Windows and adds more design tools for artists and business users.

Adobe Systems today rolled out the latest version of its illustration software package which features tighter integration with Microsoft Windows, while adding more designing tools for artists and business users alike.

Priced at $375, roughly the same as the previous version, Adobe Illustrator 8.0 brings together tools that are common throughout the Adobe family of software applications in the company's effort to make all of its products more accessible to users.

"If you use one application you know you can use the other," said Teresa Tauchi, product marketing manager of Adobe Illustrator. "It's not just the common UI," either.

Four example, Illustrator 8.0 can now preserve layers of graphics or text when exporting to Photoshop, allowing users to enhance and manipulate these layers in Adobe Photoshop, ImageReady, or After Effects. In all, four common tools that are found in Illustrator 8.0 can also be used in other Adobe apps.

Along with trying to meet the needs of its growing non-artist user market, Adobe also has added a number of new features that meet the needs of the computer artisans out there as well.

A new calligraphic brush allows users to create images in, of course, calligraphy. The new scatter brush feature lets designers develop a random pattern of images with one click of the mouse. The gradient mesh tool allows a user to take an assortment of colors and mix and spread into different colors, almost like using water paints, Tauchi explained.

Another new feature called the photo crosshatch filter allows users to take photos and reproduce them as a sketch-like image, sort of like those found in the Wall Street Journal, she said.

Due to ship next month in the US and Canada, Adobe Illustrator 8.0 can be upgraded for just $129 by licensed users of PhotoShop and Pagemaker. In addition, users of competitive products like Draw and Macromedia Freehand, can get a copy of the new software for $199.

French and German versions of Illustrator 8.0 are expected to ship later in the fall, while a Japanese version is due by the fourth quarter.