Poster art for Adobe.
Well it's been just over a year since I switched to Illustrator. You can read all about the real-world design project (shown above) that led to my switch and the back story of the move from Macromedia FreeHand to Adobe Illustrator here.
My first official design job from beginning to end in Adobe Illustrator was the above poster design. I've given myself a year to get use to Illustrators methods and functionality. You can see my entire process of creating the art above and my struggles to use illustrator for the first time beginning to end on this project via a free tutorial on my other site IllustrationClass.com.
I've noticed a few nick-names former FreeHand users have given Illustrator since switching and all prove to be accurate ironically enough. Here are some I've heard. (Feel free to share more in your comments below)
See a trend developing?
Bubbling ideas. Or as I like to call it, "Slow Boiling."
I've had a lot of FreeHand users contact me about switching. So I decided to share a few plugins for AI that I use which helps building vectors go a lot smoother and faster in Illustrator. It is kind of sad that these tools exist if you think about it. If an application was adequate why would anyone be motivated to create essentially the same type of tools that already exist in the app for the most part? It's because Adobes are found wanting pure and simple.
Plugins I suggest for Illustrator
- XtreamPath: These tools work better then Adobes own tools which says a lot about Adobes lack of progression with their base tool set and improving upon it. They simply never do and it shows. These tools speed up my build times greatly so it was well worth the price.
- Point Control: Adobe promised with CS3 that point control would be added and improved. At best it's still hinky and clunky. This plugin works great and I use it all the time and avoid Illustrators lame and lacking point control tools.
- Better Handles: Another excellent plugin for Illustrator. The whole idea of point control is what this plugin does so well and makes so easy. Sad that Adobe refuses to realize how wanting their core tools are to the point (Pardon the pun) that it's inspired other software developers to step in and make them work the way they should. Well done Nineblock Software.
A replacement for "Collect For Output"
- Art Files: In FreeHand it was easy to gather content for final production you simply used the "Collect For Output" feature and it would gather everything into one folder. I still can't believe Adobe doesn't have this simple feature in it's app? That is just stupid. But thankfully a company offers a great little app called "Art Files" and it works the same way. Sure it'll take longer just because it's not integrated into Illustrator but hey everything will take longer now that you're using Illustrator so stop whining. (Sorry, kind of reflected Adobes attitude towards FreeHand users there)
Setting up Custom Keyboard Shortcuts to Mimic FreeHand Functions.
I have set up a bunch of my own custom keyboard commands to make building go faster in Illustrator. Below is a list of the ones I personally use. This makes running the function one key press rather then a combination of keys. It also helps me do what I did in FreeHand even though Illustrator wasn't set up to do it that way.
F1: Paste Inside (Have both mask shape and content selected)
F2: Cut Contents
F3: Clone (An action Copies, and Pastes in place))
F4: Send to Back
F5: Bring to Front
F7: Fix Compound Paths
F8: De-Select All
All of these plugins and custom keyboard shortcuts are merely workarounds for a poor user experience in Illustrator. Of course Adobe fan boys will now feel obligated to post but frankly they don't know any better. Sure they are use to it and don't see it as a problem then again they have nothing to compare it too either. Kind of frog in the kettle if you will.
Bottom line Adobe has neglected Illustrator over time, they continue to stuff it full of new feature bloat which makes Adobe marketing
Will they improve the base building of vector shapes? I doubt it so it's my hope that another company will create a better drawing application and thus encourage Adobe to do what they should. My vote is Apple, but I know I am dreaming.