Hello, Illustrator 25. Hello.

Or Illustrator 2021 if you want the marketing name. Or 25.3.1 if you want to be precise – 25.3.0 came out a few weeks in ten countries, none of which were the US; a couple weeks later, 25.3.1 fixed all the killer bugs that early adopters in those ten countries found and screamed about. Experience has taught me to avoid releases of AI (or any major software, to be honest, but especially AI) that end in .0, so I wouldn’t have been one of those anyway even if it had been available globally.New splash screen. Don’t love it. Don’t hate it. Will probably replace it soon. I’d been seeing the splash screen credit for “Jade Purple Brown” next to the betas and thought that was just a placeholder fake name but evidently that is the name/alias of an actual person who has their own domain and everything. It’s a decent piece of flat art, which sure does beat that one year the splash screen was a creepy drowned-looking face. (Also I have noticed that the anti-aliasing between the purple and red/yellow shapes is completely fucked up and that is gonna drive me crazy until I change this image, so I guess replacing it just went up my priority list…)

seriously I can’t unsee this

Anyway. In terms of features this one is both really small and really huge – the detailed feature summary lists all of three things. I think that might be a record. But two of these things are actually huge changes that probably ended up with touching every single part of the program: they finally added the ability to rotate the canvas view like I’ve been asking for since I first found the old feature request form in like 2007, and they updated it to work on the new Apple CPUs.

My last version was 24.2.3 so there’s also all the changes from 25.0 (a new Recolor Artwork that probably doesn’t play well with global color swatches so I’ll never use it, cloud document upgrades I won’t use, and some minor type handling changes that sound vaguely nice to have), 25.1 (simplified repeat/mirror stuff that I might use, if I can actually apply it as an effect instead of it being a new kind of weird object that I have to use Isolation Mode to dig into – I hate how Isolation Mode dims everything else so I generally avoid it), and 25.2 (more cloud document stuff, minor type handling changes extended to Japanese glyphs, a very annoying “system compatibility report” that tells me to update my perfectly-functioning Wacom drivers every launch, and “stability and performance fixes” which are always a good bullet point for a feature list in my book)

seriously this is annoying, at least it doesn’t actually disable the driver like it implies it has done. I am reluctant to update my Wacom drivers because I am using old tablets and there’s always that risk of them deciding to end support for stuff that still works perfectly fine…

(edit: yep. new driver is 6.4.43, last driver that supported the Intuos 4 in my laptop bag is 6.3.41-2, so even if I upgrade I will keep getting this every time I restart my computer or restart AI after it crashes. Yes, Illustrator starts when I boot up my computer; I know I’m gonna be using it on a pretty much daily basis.)

Anyway. Rotate view works.

Fuck I could have used this so much when I was working on this spread. Maybe I’ll go back in and add a little more love to it now that I can easily rotate the canvas.

The default hotkey for canvas rotation is of course already assigned to something else. I’ve assigned it to J, one of the few hotkeys left – but I’ve also read the section of the manual about it and discovered that shift-space will summon it from any tool. Which is a little awkward as shift is also used to constrain its angle, so there is a little dance I may end up doing a lot: shift-space to summon rotation, let up shift for a second, which thankfully does not shift into canvas panning, then hit shift again to constrain the angle. For something like the spread above, I may also consider making a few reference shapes somewhere and using the new “rotate to object” menu item. Which maybe merits a hotkey. Dunno. We’ll see how it shakes out.

Initial tests are that everything looks good, I know Astute worked really hard to have all their plugins ready for rotate view/M1 compatibility before the initial AI25.3.0 launch so there’s not much fear on that front – their suite is pretty essential for my current workflow. Time will tell if there are any serious bugs lurking in this upgrade.


More on the tablet situation:

Huh. I don’t think the current medium Intuos Pro is gonna fit in my laptop bag, either.

Well. I’ll worry about it when I finally have to lose the current drivers because I bought a new machine that they won’t work on. And make sure I budget $2-600 more for one or two new tablets – I wouldn’t be surprised if the Intuos 5 on my desk stops working in a year or two.

I am really not happy about the way modern Wacom styli no longer seem to be compatible with the spring nib, I love those things and loathe all the varieties of solid nibs that you have to constantly gouge into the surface of the tablet with. Solid nibs, IMHO, are a subtle but definite contributor to hand strain. Blaaagh. I wonder how insane it would be to try and turn a modern solid nib into a spring one. Probably very.

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