This tutorial is intended to help users produce a multipart figure using Adobe Illustrator
Prepare images first
If you are using Adobe Illustrator to produce your multipart figure for publication, then it is important that the images being used are at least 300dpi. You shouldn’t have to alter dimensions, or crop images within Illustrator. This image editing can be done using Adobe Photoshop (see Photoshop tutorial).
The first step
When you initially open a new document in Adobe Illustrator, it will ask you for the initial dimensions and colour format of the artboard. Make sure you know whether the journal you will be submitting to prefers RGB or CMYK format (this is very important, particularly if you are going to be submitting fluorescent images for publication).
As a guide for the size of the artboard, normally journals allow images in 3 widths: 1 column, 1.5 column and 2 column widths. This will vary slightly between journals, but as a rough guide will be 8.6cm; 12.0cm and 17.6cm respectively. I would set the height to 22cm.
The second step
Having decided the colour format and size of your image you now have to construct the image. For more information about the various functions of Adobe Illustrator then there is a handbook in the Medical Genetics Section which is very helpful.
Some handy hints:
- Always use Arial font for the labelling.
- Try and keep the labelling between 8pt to 12pt. Sometimes journals are very specific about the final size of the text in images.
- Try and keep labelling on the image to a minimum instead using the figure legend.
- Try and keep things aligned.
Things you will definitely use
I will run through an example of making a 4 panel figure made up of fluorescent images. Firstly remember to add scale bars to fluorescent images as I describe in the Photoshop tutorial.
To import an image into Adobe Illustrator go to File_Place. Then browse for the image you wish to import and click OK. For this example I would repeat this 3 more times.
Obviously, when you initially import the images they will not align themselves as in the image above. However, you can easily align images by clicking on an image and then using the ‘Transform palette’ to position the images (see below).
So in this example the top left hand corner is at position 0.5 on the x axis and 21.074 on the y axis. You can then use this to alter the other images. Alternatively for a short cut, look up the alignment tool in the Illustrator handbook.
For this example I’ll need to label each panel and also put the scale on the scale bar. To add a label, select the text tool (it’s a little T on the left hand palette – see below)
Once selected click anywhere on the artboard and a text cursor will appear. Make sure that the font is set to Arial, 12pt and bold and for my example I’m using a white fill colour (see below).
It is very simple to change the formatting of the text, by changing the different font aspects from this top menubar. Also positioning the text is simple as it is done the same way as we for the images. Just change the numbers in the transform palette. I always indent the text 0.1cm, so in this example the top left corner will be 0.6cm and 20.974cm. Now you do labels B to D.
Now can you add the text for the scale bar? It’s just the same as before but I’d use Regular and not bold text at 10pt not 12pt. Also remember that you should align the scale bar numbers. Your finished image should look like this.
Saving and exporting
I would always recommend saving your file initially as an Illustrator file (.ai). Therefore, you will always be able to come back and make minor edits without having to do the whole thing again. However, this package is very flexible and you can use it to produce pdfs, tiffs, jpegs, eps all the sort of files required by journals.
I’ll run through how to export the image as a tiff. For further information on exporting or saving as other formats consult the handbook.
Export as a TIFF
Select File_Export from the menu. Select ‘tiff’ from the ‘save as type’ drop down menu and label your image. Then click save.
You will then be given a dialogue box (see below)
You can use this to set the resolution at whatever level you wish, as well as the colour mode (CMYK, RGB or greyscale). I would always keep the LZW compression on as it will reduce your file size slightly. Click OK and hey presto your tiff image is complete.
Unlike in PowerPoint there is not an arrow drawing option. But never fear it’s still really easy to do. Just select the line tool from the left hand toolbar and use it to draw a line just like in PowerPoint or Photoshop.
You can change the weight or colour of the line using the top toolbar, like we did for altering the text.
Once you have a line you like then go to Filter_Stylize_Add Arrowheads (see below)
You can then choose your preferred style of arrow head, and place it at the start or end of the line (I personally like number 4).