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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2009
Ever since I got my hands on Adobe products, I find that Adobe's Classroom in a Book (CIAB) series always delivery quality instruction that would bring me from any level to at least intermediate level. The latest Illustrator CS4 is no exception.

I bought this book for a user who has never had any experience with Adobe products, within hours, the user was able to finish the tutorials without breaking a sweat. I further assigned the user some tasks, and the results were quite to my satisfaction.

Before CIAB, I borrowed "Illustrator CS4 for Dummies", honestly, the book has made both the user and I dumber. The author has spent lengthy time discussing various different concepts in chapter 1, the information has nothing to do with getting hands on with the software. In fact, the information is way too technical to be suitable for its "Dummies" title.

I would recommend this book to those who wish to get hands on with Illustrator, which is an excellent piece of software to learn after you have reasonable skill with Photoshop.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2009
I downloaded the trial version of AI CS4 and ordered this book to see if I (a non-artist with no experience with this software) could learn to use it well enough to create decent looking covers for work projects.

The book is well laid out and got me up and working right away. The directions are clear and easy to follow. It is also lots of fun to see what I can do with this program.

As a complete novice, I cannot assess how helpful this book would be to an experienced user, but it does a first-class job of making an extremely complicated program usable by a beginner.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2009
This attempt to teach CS4 is supposed to be aimed at a newbie trying to get a hang of the software. I bought this book to get a new employee started before any outside classes were undertaken.

The lesson plan is complicated, some instructions in the lessons don't follow the actual software, and after about a week of using the book, we abandoned it for another method.

Don't be confused, this is not a book that should be purchased to replace real classroom experience.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2009
I've been using Classroom in a Book since they first came out, it was kind of my bible, for both my class and my practice, always easy to use/ follow instructions till this last version. It not only skips steps, in some cases it skips whole lessons for example Chapter 6 "Painting with gradients and patterns" the pattern part is ok, but they never got to the gradient part, which is one of the most important updates of this version! Then the constant "for more info got to adobe help menu" I'm sorry but if I'm buying a workbook it should have all the instructions or troubleshooting i need IN the book, for that matter, we would be better off consulting the Help menu. I don't think this version met with their old standards by any change.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Ruth Johnson "graphic designer" (Whistler, BC Canada)

The book 'Adobe Illustrator CS4 Classroom in a book' contains 15 in depth lessons on Adobe Illustrator CS4. Each lesson is 20-30 pages long and additional files and instructions are contained on the included CD.
The book covers the areas: the general work area in CS4, selecting and aligning, creating and editing shapes, transforming objects, drawing with the pen and pencil tools, colour and painting, working with type, working with layers, blending shapes and colours, working with brushes, applying effects, applying appearance attributes and graphic styles, working with symbols, combining illustrator CS4 graphics with other Adobe applications and output in Illustrator.

Adobe Illustrator is such an in-depth program that the book is a great training manual for a beginner but will also teach experienced users new tips and tricks. It is very easy to follow due to the small steps and illustrations to guide. The lessons are great for people who like to work at their own pace and they can be stopped and started at any time. At the end of each chapter there are Review questions and answers to summarize what you should have learnt throughout the previous chapter.

The book is a great as a training manual if you follow the lessons step by step however it does not cover every tool included in Illustrator and it is not very good as a point of reference, if you have a particular question.

I had prior knowledge in Adobe Illustrator before reading this book and it helped expand my knowledge, teach me shortcuts and realize the full potential of the tools, I have only completed a few of the lessons so far, and look forward to learning more.

Overall the book is a great training manual for beginners and users with some prior knowledge, a lot cheaper than an Illustrator course and you can learn at your own speed. The book not only gives step by step tutorials but also summarizes what you should have learnt, which you can take and apply to your own projects.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2009
I've read many books in the Classroom in a Book series for Adobe Creative Suite 4. And I must say that this book was well worth the money. It provides enough detail and good examples to get you started with Illustrator. You will not be disappointed.

It guides you step by step from selecting, aligning, transforming and editing objects to drawing with the pen and pencil tools. Then you begin working with color, type and layers, all very good chapters. Then you start the more advanced topics, blending colors and shapes, working with brushes, and applying effects, which was my favorite topic. Moving on you will apply appearance attributes, work with symbols, learn to integrate with other Adobe products and finally consider output to printers.

Once you've finished this book, I recommend you build your knowledge with a more detailed book called "Real World Adobe Illustrator CS4" by Mordy Golding.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2009
Adobe Illustrator CS4 Classroom in a Book comes complete with a CD filled with practical examples of using Illustrator. The book walks you step-by-step through each lesson and you practice all the techniques on the files included in the CD. The Cd also includes acompleted file for each project so you know what your result should be. And you can work at your own pace and at whatever time is convenient for you.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
I've been using Illustrator and Adobe CS2 for 4 years and I am trying to get up to speed on my new CS4. I chose to use this book to learn the details of Illustrator. I found it very helpful, systematic, and clear. Good illustrations. Good lesson files.

The first few chapters exercise real details of basic tool function. Most of this was not new to me, for instance holding down various keys while dragging or clicking change the characteristics of the tool, but I still learned a few things I had missed by my earlier "seat of the pants" education.

More challenging exercises come later in the book. I haven't gotten through every exercise yet, I've been picking and choosing as my interest sends me.
I've had quite a few revelations. I appreciate being exposed to the new features in Illustrator CS4 in a systematic way.

This is a great book for learning. I will use it as a reference tool, too. The review questions/answers are helpful, particularly to review a section after some time has passed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2009
I tend to learn better with an instructor, so I was a little apprehensive about the classroom in a book series. But I was very impressed. Lesson are planed and mapped out very well and it's easy to fallow along with the lessons on the disc. I have some other books that are more like user manuals. They're great, but they couldn't help me figure out how to get started. I would highly recommend this book for someone who has no experience with the software and is ready to learn.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2010
This book covers a lot of ground and it features real world projects (flyers, business cards, etc.) to provide a hands-on experience. Unfortunately the book goes too far in its hand-holding and it calls for lots of arbitrary do-this and do-that in an attempt to educate the user about nuances of the product. For example, in Chapter 4, the book calls for resizing an artboard to legal and then back to letter, just to show how this is done. This contributed nothing to the project at hand and practically nothing to the educational experience. If someone can't figure out how to use a dropdown menu, or doesn't understand the difference between letter and legal sized documents, they are not going to become proficient in Illustrator no matter how much the author tries to spoon-feed it to them!

The fact that the book throws all of these curveballs can make the reader lose track of what they are doing in the first place, which, for a project-based curriculum, is not the right approach! The verbose text and all of the hand-holding make it hard to remain focused, yet the very regimented approach to completing these exercises does not lend itself to skipping over things. As a result, the student/reader has to slog through the verbosity and arbitrary steps to complete the lessons.

I understand that Illustrator is a serious and complex product designed for professionals and as such it has a steep learning curve. That doesn't bother me. However, this book made learning such a fascinating product into a chore. I often felt like I was being talked to by the droning teacher from Charlie Brown TV specials. The book does cover most of the bases of learning IE 4 -- some of them many, many times! -- and, if one is patient and dedicated, one can learn a good deal from it. A lot of the arbitrary back-and-forth is not likely to stick, though. If this book accurately represents the learning philosophy espoused by Adobe's "Classroom in a Book" series, I am not likely to try any more books from this series.
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