Charts in Adobe illustrator

pie chart

I love statistic, charts & infographics. Infographics to me are like fine art. Up until now, on the rare occasion i’ve needed to compile charts i’d just use excel spreadsheets. Not ideal because you have little control over design & colour coordination for example. If you’re saying to yourself there must be an alternative… there is…

Adobe Illustrator

I first got started with photoshop in February 2009. I bought a ‘photoshop for dummies’ book and scanned it cover to cover in a few hours. That was enough for me to ‘get’ photoshop. Up until then i’d found Photoshop to be a really akward tool to use. Incredibly awkward. Layers were locked by default… some images weren’t in RGB colour which meant  i couldn’t edit them… it was stupid. It still is. It could be much more user friendly.

The only reason i’ve recently started using Adobe illustrator is because of it’s charts feature. It basically allows you to enter numbers in an excel-like spreadsheet and then it automatically compiles bar charts and pie charts based on the figures.


Lets say I carry out a survey…. it’s called “Do you like this question?”.

  • (a) Yes
  • (b) No
  • (c) I don’t know
  • (d) Possibly
  • (e) Spoiled Vote
I get the responses back… 40,30,80,60,10 respectively. I just want to punch the responses in to a computer and have the computer build me a chart, right? Well, amazingly, that’s what Adobe Illustrator allows you to do.

How it works…

1. Open up Adobe illustrator. No, screw that… make sure your computer is plugged in, switch it on etc…

2. Create a new document for the web, whatever size you want.

3. Go over to the control panel and about 75% down the panel you’ll see a chart icon… hover over it and it will say ‘bar chart’ or something to that effect.

adobe illustrator charts

4. Left click down on it (don’t just click, click and hold down as you click) and you’ll get a variety of charts. I picked pie chart.

5. Create a chart on the blank page

6. Up pops this box…

adobe illustrator charts

7. Fill in your figures horizontally, then click the ‘check’ symbol.

8. Congratulations, admire your new chart.

adobe illustrator charts

I’m a photoshop user get me out of here!

One problem i have with Adobe illustrator is that i’m not used to working with it. I don’t have my photoshop custom shapes, my gradients, my patterns and all the crap i’ve spent years building up in photoshop. That ‘crap’ has made me lazy so i don’t like working with a ‘default’ or ’empty’ toolbox. I need to get back in to Photoshop asap when i’m designing anything because that’s where i’m most comfortable.

So what you can do is save your illustrator document, then import it in to photoshop as a ‘smart object’ or you can just ‘copy’ the chart and ‘paste’ it in to photoshop. No saving necessary. That’s what i prefer to do but that’s the lazy way of doing it… if i need to go back and correct something at a later date, i’m screwed which is why you should always save & organise important stuff.

Once back in photoshop, i’m on familiar territory so this chart is gonna get pimped out to the max. Clickity click here, clickity click there, and walla… we end up with something like this…


3 thoughts on “Charts in Adobe illustrator”

  1. Awkward tool? It was made for photographers first and foremost and not for web designers which you seem to think you are. Use it for more than 2 hours and you’ll soon learn it…

  2. i’ve been using it almost daily for the past year or more… i know pretty much every feature inside out and it’s a breeze to get around now but only because i’ve been using it for so long…

    for someone new to photoshop, i still think it’s intimidating and not very user friendly…. the interface hasn’t really changed all that much over the years compared to something like microsoft office or windows itself, maybe that’s why it’s so popular…

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