Adobe Illustrator’s pen tool is an extremely powerful tool. It allows you to create perfect shapes by drawing out paths and adjusting Bezier curves. You can also scan drawings, import them into Illustrator, and create perfect lines and shapes with the pen tool. Unfortunately, creating perfect art work with the pen tool takes a long time and it is a very difficult tool to learn to use well. Astute Graphics, a company from the UK, has developed a suite of tools that makes working with vector shapes in Illustrator much easier and faster. It is called Vector Scribe Studio. It allows you to work with dynamic shapes. You can drag out a shape and edit it as a shape, not merely a collection of points.
Currently I am working on a drawing of a classic car. I will probably color it with colored pencils and then scan it so I can edit it in Photoshop and print it. I could open it in Illustrator and trace it, but this tools does not work very well for me. I could select all the lines with the pen tool and adjust the Bezier curves until I got them just right, but this would take several hours of hard work. The Vector Scribe Studio should make the job go a lot faster. It only costs $106 in US dollars. I will report on my experience in using it in later posts.
You can read about the many features of Vector Scribe Studio, some of which work in Photoshop and watch videos of it in action here:
It is much easier for me to make a drawing by hand, scan it, and edit it in Photoshop or Illustrator, than to make the drawing in Illustrator in the first place. Actually, it’s infinitely easier for me to sketch a drawing with a pencil since I cannot create artwork in Adobe Illustrator. I have to admit that I have become a compulsive pencil artist. I usually spend an hour every night drawing and about two hours doing it every Saturday and Sunday. This link has lots of links to books on drawing:
Many designers, including me, are upset by Adobe’s announcement that henceforth its software will only be available through subscription for $50 per month. For PC users, Xara Designer Pro X9 might be an acceptable, though less powerful, alternative. I must make this disclaimer: I have never used this software and know nothing about it.
What if you are a Mac user like me? I only buy Macs for my personal use. Apple’s QuickTime Pro is a basic video editor that only costs $29. When you buy a Mac you get iMovie, iPhoto, and Garageband, which are pretty good programs. You can buy Adobe Photoshop Elements for the Mac pretty cheaply. You can download these 15 free apps for designers who use Macs.
This is an easy little trick I just learned. Let’s say you are painting with the Brush tool and need to make a 45 degree line. It’s very easy. Click on the beginning of the line with the Brush tool and hold down the Shift key. While holding down the Shift key, click on the end point of your line. Voila- a perfect 45 degree brush stroke.