Conquer Adobe-Phobia: Translate Existing Skills to Make Vector-Based Custom Icons, Graphics, & Animations in Illustrator

Concurrent Session 2
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

In this session, we will demonstrate Adobe Illustrator basics, advantages of vector images, and how anyone can design custom icons and graphics for their projects by translating existing skills. Attendees will gain an understanding of how vector images can be edited, combined, and branded to create a cohesive course design.


Ashley Law is an Instructional Technologist with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Office of Online Education. She has considerable experience developing custom graphics and multimedia for educational initiatives. For the development of the modules containing custom graphics, Ashley led the design process, serving as creator, designer, animator, and editor.

Extended Abstract

Educational materials often require large amounts of specific imagery to accurately convey complex concepts and depict realistic scenarios learners might encounter. Standard stock image libraries generally lack diversity of environments, subjects, and equipment and often do not have the content-specific images needed. This session will offer an alternative to traditional stock images and photographs: vector images created using Adobe Illustrator.

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  1. Use basic functions of Adobe Illustrator
  2. Communicate the difference between a vector image and other image types
  3. Explain the advantages of using custom vector images in education/learning projects
  4. Identify the ways in which vector images can be created and customized
  5. Consider incorporating custom vector images into their own projects
  6. Employ existing animation functions in authoring tools to create simple animations

Often when designing a course, we cannot find stock photos or take custom photos that support the content. Additionally, many of the stock images available for complex concepts, such as scientific protocols or medical procedures, are not accurate and would have to be altered. For example, people may not be depicted wearing personal protective equipment correctly. However, using vector images, we can create such an image or easily alter a stock vector image to accurately depict this. Having the ability to create and use vector images in circumstances such as these will give the participants the ability to improve the quality and workflow of their projects. The improved project quality will also be beneficial to learners using the content, by allowing instructors to teach more effectively and providing an authentic learning experience, which can lead to increased learner comprehension.

In this session, we will translate the attendees’ existing knowledge of shape creation and editing in software like PowerPoint into skills that can be used in Adobe Illustrator. We will demonstrate the most commonly used tools and provide tips for downloading and using pre-built vectors. The attendees will be introduced to powerful tools in Illustrator like recolor and will learn how to produce more inclusive images.

After sharing with the attendees the basics of Adobe illustrator, we will introduce them to vector images, and the advantages of choosing this type of media including changes to color, content, and size. We will give examples of how they can employ vector images and pre-built animation functions in PowerPoint and other authoring tools to add basic animations to their courses. Additionally, we will demonstrate a technique for creating a series of vector images to build a simple stop motion animation that can be used in authoring tools, such as PowerPoint, Storyline, or Captivate, or in video-based projects.

Furthermore, we will establish how this process enables designers to customize and personalize the experience for the learners in their organization using branding elements, as well as create representations of people with low representation in stock photo libraries.

We will cover all of the details included in the workflow including the timeline, costs, and technology involved to ensure that attendees walk away confident that they can employ the process in their own work at their institution.

This session will be very interactive, and employ a combination of strategies to engage the audience. Polling will be used to gather data on the audience’s current knowledge and experience, and they will also have the opportunity to provide real-time feedback. Specific examples of vector library options and vector editing software will be shared. Samples from final projects will be demonstrated, and a link to course samples and a selection of project practice files will be offered to participants to access on their own, during and after the session.