Category: Illustrator

Advice: Building the best graphic design toolbox

There is no perfect set of tools for graphic designers. We’re all unique, we all work in different ways, and budgets always come in to play. I’ve put together a breakdown of major factors when building the best graphic design hardware and software toolbox based on my experience. Consider the following as a guide, rather than a set of absolute rules.
Design Toolbox

Keep it simple

I’ve been a graphic designer for 30 years, using the Macintosh the entire time to produce work for some great clients. I’ve worked for ad agencies large and small, a design firm, printing companies, and I’ve freelanced full and part time. Over the years I’ve learned a few short rules as it pertains to building my design toolbox and getting things done—and it has held true everywhere I’ve worked. Those rules are: keep it simple no matter the cost, don’t get caught up in software trends and gimmicks, buy a little more than you think you need, because you will grow into it. The following is more specific advice for building your design toolbox. (more…)

Has the Adobe Illustrator “killer” finally arrived?

Tomorrow marks an important day for long-time Windows developer, Serif. They’re launching Affinity Designer, their first foray into Mac software. And they’ve set their sites on one of the largest and most important Mac developers in the world: Adobe.

Affinity Designer is a vector art design tool rivaling Adobe Illustrator in the same way that Pixelmator is an alternative app to Adobe’s Photoshop. Which is to say, it’s the real deal.

Affinity Designer
I’ve been using Affinity Designer on and off for the last month or so and I must say that I’m extremely impressed. With a price tag of only $40 (special price until October 9th), and a most-impressive feature set, I’m betting that it will find a home on quite a few Macs.

Affinity Designer can import AI, PSD, PDF, and SVG files, and save/export as EPS, TIF, JPG, PNG, GIF, PSD, and PDF. It also offers both RGB and CMYK color modes, including 16-bit color support.

All the tools you would expect can be found, and are easy to use. And the app fully supports Apple’s iCloud, Spaces and Full Screen mode. Some pretty cool features include the ability to use pixel-tools to your vector art and have it remain editable. And the best part, Affinity Designer is fast. Really fast.

If you’ve used Pixelmator, you’ve no doubt come to believe that there actually IS a true replacement for Photoshop. I’m here to tell you that as of tomorrow, there will be a real replacement for Adobe’s Illustrator as well. And rumor has it, they’re working on a page-layout app to compete with InDesign.

Now I’m not a fool. I don’t expect designers everywhere to suddenly dump their investment in Adobe software. But true professional-grade alternatives are out there. Watch out Adobe… you’ve been king of the hill for a long time, but the competition is heating up.

The story of Adobe Illustrator

When Adobe Illustrator first shipped in 1987, it was the first software application for a young company that had, until then, focused solely on Adobe PostScript. The new product not only altered Adobe’s course, it changed drawing and graphic design forever.

Free cloud computing vector art: Part 1

Free Cloud Computing vector art

When I’m searching for a piece of vector artwork, one of the first places I start looking is Vecteezy. There are plenty of sources for vector art online, but Vecteezy is definitely one of the best. It offers a great mix of free and premium vector art you can download immediately and start using.

Today I offer the first set of exclusive cloud computing vectors from Vecteezy – perfect for use in infographics or any other cloud computing-related design. (more…)

Font management with Suitcase Fusion & Adobe Creative Cloud

Font Management Webinar
A reader asked me if a downloadable version of the webcast was available for a recent font management webinar from Extensis.

At the time, I was not aware of one. Fortunately, Extensis has made that webinar available for viewing by everyone.

View this recorded webcast to learn proven techniques to help you focus on design rather than font management. You’ll learn how Suitcase Fusion 5 takes the work out of managing your fonts in Adobe Creative Cloud to improve your creativity.

Learn how to:

• Remove corrupt fonts from your workflow
• Dispel the dreaded “missing font” dialog box in Creative Cloud apps
• Efficiently organize your font collection
• Speed font prototyping
• Remove font duplicates
• Clean font caches
• And more…

Extension compatibility with Adobe Creative Cloud 2014 apps

Adobe Creative Cloud 2014

If you’re an Adobe Creative Cloud subscriber, you’ve no doubt downloaded and installed the latest versions of the CC apps. Adobe has smartly opted to install the apps beside existing CC apps, so you now have two versions of the main apps. This is important because many extensions and plug-ins are not yet compatible with the latest versions of InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator.

Extensis has announced that Suitcase Fusion 5 font auto-activation plug-in updates are on the way (they currently don’t work in CC 2014) and will be free.

One of my favorite Photoshop plugins, GuideGuide, has been updated to work in PS CC 2014. AlienSkin’s EyeCandy, BlowUp and Bokeh (no longer sold) plugins appear to work fine simply by copying the plug-ins from the old PS CC plugins folder into the new version’s plugin folder.

I’m still waiting on an update for the incredibly useful FlatIcons extension to be updated.

If you rely on an extension or plug-in that hasn’t been updated to work with the new Creative Cloud 2014 versions, you can still use them in the older CC versions of the apps which are still installed on your hard drive – unless you un-installed them.

Import free assets into Photoshop and Illustrator with BlendMeIn

BlendMeInBlendMeIn is a nifty new Photoshop and Illustrator extension that allows you to search thousands of assets, including popular icon packs, without leaving Photoshop or Illustrator, and place them in your document directly via a Panel.

Unlike FlatIcons, which I recently reviewed, the artwork available in BlendMeIn is free via Creative Commons Attribution license. Unlike FlatIcons, it works in Adobe Illustrator as well as Photoshop. I still prefer FlatIcons, but this is a great option.