About James Provost

James Provost is a freelance technical illustrator & editorial illustrator and co-founder of Technical Illustrators.org. Say hello on Twitter @jamesprovost.


24
Sep 14

Mapbox – Design Beautiful Maps

Mapbox Sample Map

Mapbox enables you to easily design and use beautiful maps, selecting your own colors, typography, imagery, textures and line qualities from their vast and flexible toolbox. Then you can add points of interest and data from Pinterest, Foursquare, Github, spreadsheets and more.

This looks like it would be great for everything from an on-brand locator map to some serious big-data number crunching.

Hat tip to Davvi for the suggestion!


10
Mar 14

Business of Illustration

Business of Illustration

Business of Illustration is dedicated to educating new and aspiring artists to the field of illustration from a business perspective. Its primary focus is on the nuts and bolts of being an illustrator and what it takes to create a sustainable career in this challenging, creative field.

Subjects covered include finance, promotion, contracts, rights, and general knowledge for a career in illustration. Updated every Monday (work-permitting) it should be a great resource for anyone interested in working in the field.

 


2
Jan 14

Connector & Fastener Libraries

Fasteners Library Power Connectors Library Computer/AV Connectors Library

Matthew Jennings wrote in to let us know about his illustration libraries. For £10-15 (USD $16-25) you get a set of fasteners, power connectors, or computer/AV connectors, all in vector format ready to use in illustrations, instruction manuals or parts diagrams. The illustrations show a nice attention to detail and line weight.

Kevin Hulsey offers a similar fastener library (USD $50), with a smaller selection of parts but a greater variety of angles.

Scoop all these up and you’ll never have to fuss with drawing a connector again!

Update: Matthew has added two new libraries. The Fixings library (£15.00) is a collection of 23 common fixings in varying degrees of rotation, and comes complete with placement guides for precise positioning. The Measuring and Marking library (£7.50) contains a variety of measurement tools. Get them here.

Industrial Artworks Fixings Library Industrial Artworks Measurement & Marking Library


16
Dec 13

Adobe Illustrator Bugs, Gripes & Feature Wishlist

Three years ago, members of the Adobe Illustrator team got in touch with me to gather feedback from the Technical Illustration community. While they couldn’t promise any new features, or that any issues we had would be addressed, they were at least reaching out and willing to listen.

Since then, Illustrator has seen two releases: Illustrator CS6 in April 2012, and Illustrator CC in June 2013. Having just recently upgraded to Creative Cloud, I thought it might be time to revisit our list and see what’s been addressed, what problems persist, and what more could be done to improve Illustrator in the future.

Continue reading →


28
Nov 13

Auto-Save in Adobe Illustrator Using Actions

Auto-Save in Adobe Illustrator Using Actions

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.


23
Nov 13

Scott Robertson’s Free Tutorial Fridays

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.


30
Oct 13

Astute Graphics VectorScribe 2

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.

Astute Graphics’ YouTube Channel is a great way to see VectorScribe 2 and all their tools in action.

Full disclosure: As a beta tester I received a complimentary copy of this plugin.

Also of note to Mac users, Astute Graphics has updated their whole product lineup for compatibility with Mavericks (OS X 10.9).


28
Oct 13

Choosing a Niche

Technical Illustration by James Provost

Flaunt My Design interviewed me about specializing as a creative freelancer. Here’s an excerpt:

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.

Read the full interview.

 


3
Sep 13

Things Cut In Half

HalfPics - Things Cut In Half

@HalfPics serves up pictures of things cut in half. Quality and subject matter varies, but always something interesting.

 


22
Apr 13

Featured Illustrator – Martin Woodward

Martin Woodward - Jet Engine Martin Woodward - Engine Martin Woodward - Water Turbine

Martin Woodward - Eye Martin Woodward - Vein Repair

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.