WidthScribe Illustrator Plugin

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 Brush Adjusts 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 Selector Allows 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.

Until February 28 2013, existing customers can save £10 (about $15 US) on WidthScribe via Astute Graphics’ loyalty discount.

WidthScribe by Astute Graphics (£39 / $60 US) or try it for free for 14 days.

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

UPDATE: Astute Graphics has a full tutorial on How to Enhance a Technical Illustration with WidthScribe and Adobe Illustrator.

SubScribe Illustrator Plugin

Astute Graphics has done it again. In what seems like a quest to put all of Adobe Illustrator’s native tools to shame, they’ve released a new plugin suite called SubScribe. Included are tools for drawing circles based on 2 or 3 points, connecting and straightening lines, drawing arcs, rotating and orienting artwork and drawing tangents and perpendicular paths (as shown in the video above).

Time to reassign some hotkeys.

SubScribe is free to all Astute Graphics customers.

Astute Graphics VectorScribe

It’s been a great summer break, but now it’s back-to-school here at TechnicalIllustrators.org.

I thought I’d share what I’ve learned using Astute Graphics’ VectorScribe plugin for Adobe Illustrator (previously) over the past few months. I’ve put together a bit of a demo video highlighting some key features of the suite that I’ve found helpful.

This only scratches the surface—As mentioned in the video, be sure to check out Astute’s video tutorials to learn about all the features in detail. I think this package is a great, feature-rich and intuitive extension to Illustrator’s toolkit.

If you’re using VectorScribe or have tried the demo, let me know your thoughts in the comments!

The Complete Technical Illustrator eBook

Greg Maxson just announced that his book The Complete Technical Illustrator [previously] is now available for purchase as a PDF eBook:

Originally published internationally by McGraw-Hill, this 500-page full-color text is a comprehensive look at vector-based technical illustration. Several software products are featured including Adobe Illustrator and Autodesk’s AutoCAD and 3ds Max, but the procedures and approaches are easily transferred to CorelDRAW, inkScape, Maya, and Blender, among other graphic tools. This text also features numerous illustration tips and case studies of illustration taken directly from business, industry, and commerce. Written in a conversational manner and full of explanations, The Complete Technical Illustrator is a welcome addition to your illustration resources.

Dr. Jon M. Duff has written about and taught technical illustration for forty years and is Professor Emeritus of Engineering at Arizona State University. Greg Maxson has been a professional technical illustrator for over two decades and operates his own studio in Urbana, Illinois.

The Complete Technical Illustrator by Greg Maxson & Jon Duff [$20]

Twitter for Technical Illustrators

Twitter for Technical Illustrators

Greg Maxson, freelance technical illustrator and co-author of The Complete Technical Illustrator, recently wrote to share his experiences using Twitter as a marketing tool:

I saw Twitter as a sales tool with an immediate and pointed delivery, to be aimed at current and prospective clients. Free, direct, and uncluttered advertising to an audience with a common interest.

Using Twitter he reconnected with Popular Science magazine, a client he worked with regularly between 1994 and 2001. He had tried with hard-copy promos, emails and even voicemails with little response. Then he started following @PopSciGuy, art director Matthew Cokeley:

Each morning Matt would Tweet, “Morning tweeps! Let’s get to work!” After following PopSciGuy on Twitter for a few weeks, I decided to make a bold move. While having lunch at a local restaurant, I replied to one of these morning salutations with “Matt, put me to work in the next issue!”

Now, I certainly wouldn’t recommend this approach to everyone! But my gut told me that this direct, outside-the-norm tactic might just garner a favorable response from the A.D. of a leading science and technology magazine. This approach was destined to go either of two ways: bold, yet smart or, the dumbest move ever.

…and it worked—within two hours, Matthew got in touch with a project for Greg.

For those of you on the fence about it, this is what Twitter is for; Connecting with people with shared interests & goals, in a casual, personable way.

To get you started, you should follow Greg @gregdraws, the hilarious Matthew Cokeley @PopSciGuy, me @jamesprovost, the TechnicalIllustrators.org feed @technicilly and everyone on the the Technical Illustrators list!


2010 Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook

2010 Graphic Artist's Guild Handbook

The 13th edition of The Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines is now available [Amazon]. The 2010 edition includes an updated pricing survey, legal information and sample forms & contracts. As in previous versions, there is a section dedicated to standard trade practices and rates for technical illustration.

If this book isn’t on your shelf now is a great time to get it. If your copy, like mine, is out of date it might be time to update.

Antique Drafting Instruments

drafting instruments 1

Antique Drafting Instruments

“During the booming years throughout the revolutionary period of industrial productivity the apprentice trained skilled draughtsman was at the peak of his profession, regarded as being a person of professional status. The employment opportunities within this field of occupation were then enormous, as also was the stress factor of the job, there was always a ‘deadline’ for the drawings to be finished, which usually was the day before the draughtsman had be given the job.”

One part of that sounds familiar…

Full post at Fountain Pen Emporium

Illustration Podcasts

Illustration Podcasts

Sometimes freelancing can be like solitary confinement. Big projects, tight deadlines, (and if you’re in the Pacific Northwest, terrible weather) can all keep you locked up in the home studio. To ward off cabin fever I like to listen to a small selection of podcasts, some illustration-related, some business-related and others general interest to stay current with the rest of the world.

Sadly, I haven’t found a technical illustration podcast, but here’s my playlist:

Illustration Related:

Escape From Illustration Island: The Podcast
In-depth interviews with illustrators, artists’ representatives and art directors. Companion to Escape From Illustration Island, a resource portal and illustration community.

Big Illustration Party Time
A conversational podcast about the ins and outs of freelance illustration and cartooning.

Hawk and Squirrel
A brand new podcast searching for its voice. As manic and entertaining as its hosts (and friends of mine), Chad Covino, Juan Solon and Nimit Malavia.

Freelance and Business Related:

Freelance Radio
Official podcast of FreelanceSwitch.com covering work and life issues of freelancers.

General Interest:

The Monocle Weekly
A mix of discussions, interviews and field reports on world events and culture.

Stuff You Should Know
Official podcast of HowStuffWorks.com, explains how everyday things and not-so-everyday things work.

Have any podcasts to recommend, illustration-related or otherwise? Let us know in the comments!

Nuclear Reactor Cutaways

Candu 3 Nuclear Power Plant

Candu 3 Nuclear Power Plant by John Way

Noah wrote in to share some cutaways of nuclear reactors found on the Wired Science blog. Apparently these posters were published by Nuclear Engineering International during the 1970s and 1980s. Illustrator John Way seems to be responsible for most of them, with one by Dick Ellis, and one uncredited.

Guangdong Nuclear Power Plant by John Way

Guangdong Nuclear Power Plant by John Way

Click through to the U of NM link for very high resolution versions. Apparently there are about 100 posters waiting to be scanned so if you’re interested, keep an eye on that link!

Wired via BibliOdyssey via University of New Mexico. Thanks for sending this in, Noah!