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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Graphic Illustrators... Should I buy this?

ETA: Well my question is now moot. My sweetie pie hubby went out and picked up the intuos 9x12 tablet for me today as a surprise. LOL So I guess I'm set for now. Thanks for the tips though. I do appreciate those of you who took the time to post and email me your thoughts. I'll have to post in a couple of weeks as to whether the acclimation process was simple or complicated. Crossing my fingers that it just "clicks" and I can run with it.

I have a confession to make. You know the flirty illustrations I use on the blog and on my websites?

Well guess what? Guess how I make them? Some of you have probably always assumed I make them using the premiere illustration program Adobe Illustrator and a computerized drawing/graphics tablet like the Wacom Intuos3.

Um no. In fact this is rather embarrassing to admit but I actually use the premiere photo editing program Adobe Photoshop... wait for it... and my laptop trackpad to create my illustrations.

So wrong. I know. *blush* But that's the MacGyver in me. Making do with what I have and finding a way to reach my end goal. So perhaps I earn high points for tenacity, blind optimism and having a "can do" attitude.

But hold on... before I pat myself on the back I also have to acknowledge that by not using the correct tools I've wasted a lot of time and limited the ways I can use my designs as most high end print shops won't accept Photoshop files but will use Illustrator files.

When I bought my first computer back in 2002 the reality is that I took to Photoshop like a fish to water. My little PS 5.0 LE application, that came free with my high end photo printer, was so intuitive that I learned most of what I know on the fly. Illustrator, which I've had for years now, 2 versions to be exact, I've not been able to figure out with the same ease. So even though it's a better tool for my illustrations, the time it would take me to get through the learning curve to figure out how to use it has held me back. For too long. Beginning next week I am going to set aside some classroom time each day and study the Illustrator book my hubby got me a couple of years ago and learn it once and for all.

My own wedding invites created on my laptop in Photoshop.

My friend Holly who is working on illustrating her own, first, book of cat toys told me I will "soar" once I make the switch and learn how to use both the program and drawing tablet.

I want to soar. I want to be more efficient. I want to work smarter, not harder.

So with that said if anyone has any opinions if the Intuos 6x11 is the right or wrong product for me to use with my laptop and my 30" monitor... Please feel free to let me know why.


  1. two thoughts:
    1) if you're new to illustrator the *best* way to use it - for now - is to hand illustrate something (on paper) and scan it in. Then, using Illustrator CS3's "livetrace" tool to convert your scanned (pixel-based) illustration into a vector based illustration. (Livetrace can even understand colors so you can, theoretically, color your drawing with markers before you scan it in!)

    2)If you plan on buying a Wacom Tablet, don't get sucked into the idea that bigger is better. I have a 4x6 pad since... oh... I dunno... since Photoshop version 3.5 - whatever year that was. Like 1995? It works great.

    Bottom line, yes, I think you should buy one because it will expedite your processes - guaranteed. but you don't have to pay an arm and a leg for one.

  2. I've got the Wacom PTZ-630. The drawing surface is about 8" x 6". Z bought it for me based on advice from a friend who is a designer.

    I love it compared to using a mouse. It took only a few days to become fairly proficient.

    I don't actually use the whole surface area. In fact, I changed the settings to reduce the size. I think it might have to do with hand size. The person who recommended the bigger size is tall and has big hands, but my hands are about the size of a large child's. The larger surface is handy though when I switch to mouse mode.

  3. I had the same problem, I was much better at photoshop than Illustrator, but once I learned a few tricks in Illustrator I was hooked. I love it so much more than Photoshop now. :) Lucky for me, work is paying me to go to a training in it in November! Woo hoo!

  4. I, too, was trained in Photoshop and generally feel more comfortable in it than the other Adobe programs. There are even basic vector editing tools, so there's no absolute need to wander into Illustrator. Except for how it rule. No, seriously, once you get the hang of it (and I love how Adobe designs their producst so that if you understand a concept, like vector editing, in one, it's quite intuitive in the others), illustrations roll out.

    I'd suggest mini-projects where you copy and paste any image with clean lines into Illustrator and give tracing them a shot, that is literally the first thing that I did in the program. Good luck with your education!

  5. Thanks so much for the tips and comments everyone. Glad to hear that the process of learning Illustrator shouldn't be so daunting to me. Funny how once you know other people know it, it makes it less intimidating. Oh and Holly, I already have the classroom in a book (book). I just haven't used it yet. *blush*

    I swear the only reason I set my mind to learning how to make animated gifs was because all of the 15 year old kids were making them just for fun on Dogster.com. I figured if all of the teenagers could make them I should be able to as well. And then clung to that thought while I tried to figure it out. LOL


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