Tired of losing work to Adobe Illustrator’s random and spontaneous crashes? You’re not alone.
This tutorial on Vector Tuts+ will show you how to roll your own Auto-Save function using the Actions palette. It’s really easy and lets you set a custom interval and name & location for the auto-save file. So easy, you’ll wonder why Adobe hasn’t added it as a feature.
One caveat is that this workaround means an action is running constantly, and that you can only set one interval for all your actions. This effectively disables your other actions.
Scott Robertson is a concept artist well known for his educational books, DVDs and workshops. Every Friday he posts a free video tutorial to his YouTube page. He covers a wide variety of topics including sketching, inking, marker rendering and Photoshop painting. What I like about his videos is that they’re not strictly technical, he’s really good at explaining the thinking and process behind everything he does.
Astute Graphics has released a new version of their VectorScribe plugin for Adobe Illustrator. The new version adds some really useful features to their existing tools, as well as a few new tools that technical illustrators might find handy.
The Dynamic Corners tool now detects previously expanded or non-dynamic corners and makes them dynamic again. Similarly, the Dynamic Shapes tool can restore dynamic status to expanded artwork or even convert shapes created with Illustrator’s default shape tools into Dynamic Shapes.
New to the suite are the Smart Remove Brush and the Path Extender/Trimmer. The Smart Remove Brush makes it easy to clean up artwork that is overly complicated, LiveTraced or expanded. The Path Extender/Trimmer works as expected on straight paths, but its real power is intelligently extending curved segments.
There are many reasons to specialize as a creative freelancer: Clients trust experts, word of mouth works better, and your marketing becomes more straightforward. For your inspiration, and to give you a little push to specialize, I interview graphic designers, illustrators and web designers who already have chosen their niche.
What’s your niche?
I specialize in technical illustration, the visual communication of technical information. I work with magazines, advertising firms and corporations with projects in the automotive, aerospace, architecture, engineering, energy, science and robotics fields.
How did you originally break into technical illustration?
My first job in technical illustration was an internship with Toronto’s Transit Commission where I produced instructional illustrations for their training department. During my final year of school I started receiving freelance work which enabled me to continue freelancing fulltime after graduation.
Nowadays, how do you find new clients in this niche?
My marketing strategy is simply to do the best work I can and get it in front of the right people by sharing it as widely as possible online. Personal projects, where I’m pursuing my curiosity or exploring new techniques, tend to get the best response and bring in the kind of work I like to do.
What advice would you give a fellow illustrator/graphic designer about to choose a niche?
Be the best at what you do. Define your niche narrowly enough that you are among the best providers of your specific service. This may limit your job prospects, but clients who need your specific service will find you, and you will be prepared to provide exactly what they’re looking for.
You should compete on quality, not price. In a global economy you will lose a price war. But if you provide the highest quality service to your niche, they will receive the best value for their money and keep coming back to you.
Martin Woodward, also known as tecmedi, is a British technical & medical illustrator. He has been producing illustrations for publishing, manufacturing & advertising clients for over 20 years. His portfolio features a broad range of subjects as well as tutorials and a quite sensible style & pricing guide.
In Illustrator CS 4, Adobe added a bunch of features to Smart Guides that made them, well, dumb. Moving an object in even a simple drawing became a tug-of-war against seemingly random alignment guides and snapping points. Sure, these features could be adjusted or turned off, but the only way to get something approaching the legacy behaviour is to hold the Command/Ctrl key while dragging. And even if Smart Guides happen to snap to the desired object, switching to Outline mode (Cmd/Ctrl+Y) often reveals that the snapping wasn’t accurate.
Once again, Astute Graphics to the rescue. Their new ColliderScribe plugin for Adobe Illustrator makes snapping a snap. It enables precise snapping, consistent spacing and tangential alignment easy and painless. It’s a small, easy to learn, affordable but powerful addition to your toolset.
Astute Graphics is holding two webinars tomorrow, Wednesday, March 13 at 3:00PM and 5:00PM GMT (10:00am and 12:00PM EST) to demonstrate ColliderScribe and SubScribe. Only 25 spaces are available in each session, so reserve now:
Research & Knowledge Communication
Illustration commissioned for the purpose of undertaking research and communicating knowledge. Illustration that is used as a research or investigative tool and that represents, explains or seeks to understand information or data. Includes but is not limited to… natural history illustration, wildlife, scientific illustration, forensic imagery, architectural imagery, illustration supporting academic research (for example in archaeology, geology, paleontology, natural sciences, biological sciences), visual informatics, data-visualisation and graphic facilitation.
The description may be vague and wordy, but this is a big acknowledgement of information illustration. The rise of photography in mass media largely redefined the role of illustration to be something more abstract, emotive and symbolic, more in the world of fine art. This schism between Art and Science meant that for decades illustrators who depicted things from reality, subjects of non-fiction, couldn’t find recognition from the larger illustration community. The inclusion of information illustration in these awards is an acknowledgement of the importance, relevance and indeed the enjoyment of the work that we create.
This is also a great promotional opportunity. Your work will be judged by a panel of influential industry professionals, and if selected, it will be published in the 2013 awards catalogue, promoted online and exhibited in the AOI Awards show.
The deadline for entry is February 28, 2013. Thanks to Kathryn Chorney for the tip!
Astute Graphics has released another amazing plugin for Adobe Illustrator. WidthScribe adds a tremendous amount of ease and control over the Width Tool added in CS5.
WidthScribe consists of:
Width BrushAdjusts the width on existing strokes by brushing over them.
Width Gradient Applies width by clicking and dragging, much like the Gradient Tool for colors. Perfect for creating depth and perspective.
Width SelectorAllows for marquee selection and group adjustment of any number of width points, including quick and easy tapering, smoothing and averaging of line widths.
…and that’s just scratching the surface. As with all their plugins, Astute Graphics allows for very granular control and customization, both through tool preferences and additional panels. For more information, check out all of the demo videos.
In an effort to contribute more to the site I thought I would experiment with creating short tutorial videos on tricks and tips for Adobe Illustrator. This one is dealing with how I use the Live Paint tool to create custom arrows. Thanks to my friend Loren Brinton for the intro movie.
Let me know what you think in the comments or if you have suggestions on other videos you would like to see in the future.