An Adobe Illustrator pre-release is available for download

Digital Arts | 12 April 15

Artwork from Adobe's celebrations for Illustrator's 30th birthday back in March.

To fix issues with macOS High Sierra, Adobe is letting you download a pre-release version of Illustrator CC 2018, which also gains a Puppet Warp tool and a new Properties panel.

This hasn’t been a great month for Mac-based users of Adobe Illustrator – but it’s about to get better for artists and designers on both Mac and Windows.

A couple of weeks ago, Adobe discovered issues between Illustrator and the new version of macOS (10.13, aka High Sierra) – issues that could lead to Illustrator being unusable, with creatives unable to roll back to macOS 10.12 as Apple doesn’t allow that. This prevented Illustrator users upgrading, or buying a new Mac (as you can only buy new Macs with the latest OS).

(Similar issues affected Wacom tablets and InDesign – though these have been resolved through a new Wacom driver and a minor macOS update.)

Rather than releasing a fix to Illustrator CC 2017, Adobe is letting you download a pre-release version of Illustrator CC 2018 (for both Mac and Windows). You can download it here. Slightly oddly, you may need to give yourself a Adobe Forums Name before getting to the download page.

On that page. Adobe says that “the information discussed within the program is confidential” – but as this is from a publicly available link on Adobe’s support site that invites you download the software, we feel that it’s fair to pass this information onto you.

Illustrator 2018 new features

First off, Illustrator 2018 runs happily on our MacBook Pro with macOS X 10.13. It installed and ran fine, and we didn’t see any issues with even the GPU preview. However, as we’ve heard from some users who were using Illustrator 2017 on High Sierra perfectly happily, we can’t say that this will apply to everyone.

Beyond this at first glance, there appears to be only a couple of obvious new features. The online help system hasn’t been updated so we’re going entirely on what we can see from comparing Illustrator 2018 toolbar, menus and panels directly to Illustrator 2018 – there may well be some more 'under the hood’ improvements.

There’s a new Puppet Warp tool under the Free Transform tool (below). We’re assuming this is a vector-specific version of the tool of the same name in Photoshop, which was added in Photoshop CS5.

Here it lets you warp individual objects by placing pins on elements and pulling these around.

For more info on the Puppet Warp tool in Photoshop, see our tutorials Mix 3D with fashion illustration and Create a stunning pin-up collage.

A new Properties panel is also kinda drawn from Photoshop, combining tools and parameters linked to the tool or object you’ve selected with what previously would sit in the Control bar (though that’s still there if you want it) and some related Quick Actions that can range from Document Setup to access to the Pathfinder panel.

We don’t know when Illustrator 2018 will be formally released, but based on Adobe’s past behaviour we suspect a new version of Illustrator will be announced at its Adobe Max conference in Las Vegas next week (which we'll be reporting from live) – and released some time between then and the end of November.