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Could Adobe have a new Challenger?

For years Adobe hasn’t had much competition in the photo editing, vector drawing and desktop publishing application space. Adobe software has been the pinnacle of desktop publishing software for as long as I can remember. A few years ago they switched their software model to subscription-based which upset a lot of their core customers. Now a company named Serif has come out with a new product called Affinity Designer to try to change all that. Serif Ltd. is an independent developer founded in 1990 and a publisher of design software. Serif was founded with the aim to develop low-cost alternatives to high-end desktop publishing and graphic design packages for the PC. Despite developing exclusively for PC and Windows for over 25 years, their new product, Affinity Designer, is turning that all on its head. Built for the Mac, Affinity Designer is the first of a new line of products by Serif aimed at anyone who’s not a fan of Adobe subscription model. Affinity Photo and Affinity Publisher will be coming out over the next 12 months to complete the new suite of design applications. Affinity Designer is available now in beta and you can grab your copy for Mac at https://affinity.serif.com/.

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Affinity Designer’s site says that “Affinity Designer is the fastest, smoothest, most precise vector graphic design software available.” Whether you’re working on graphics for marketing materials, websites, icons, UI design or just like creating cool concept art, Affinity Designer will revolutionize how you work.” and “Working in Affinity Designer is always live – pan and zoom at 60fps, transform objects in correct z-order, make adjustments or apply effects in realtime and always see live previews of brushes or tools. Whether it’s a 100 megapixel image or the most complex vector drawing with thousands of curves, it’s still the same and never runs out of memory.” When Affinity Designer is out of beta it will be available exclusively on the Mac App store for $49.99.

We are still a long ways from seeing if Serif can knock off Adobe’s crown but it’s nice to see that some alternatives are starting to pop up. If you’ve tried Serif’s new vector drawing application, please let us know what you think about it in the comments. I will be trying it out soon myself and giving a report on OUaS.

About the author

  • Norm GrockNORM GROCKContributor, Founder

    Having grown up on the shores of Maui, Hawaii, Norm has always had a love for drawing. Since leaving the Islands’ beautiful beaches and landing in Oregon he went to college and received a degree in graphic design. Now living in Beaverton, Oregon, Norm has been working as a full-time graphic designer and illustrator for the last 12 years. He has spent countless hours perfecting his craft as a freelance illustrator working on several children’s books, a few video games and creating numerous educational products. His ability to draw has given him the chance to do the thing he truly loves — Create.

Adobe Illustrator Tip – The Free Transform Tool

In this video we have a quick tip for you about using the free transform tool in Adobe Illustrator. The free transform tool isn’t as easy-to-use as you might think. There’s a trick to get images to distort, if you don’t know the trick the free transform tool behaves very differently.

About the author

  • Norm GrockNORM GROCKContributor, Founder

    Having grown up on the shores of Maui, Hawaii, Norm has always had a love for drawing. Since leaving the Islands’ beautiful beaches and landing in Oregon he went to college and received a degree in graphic design. Now living in Beaverton, Oregon, Norm has been working as a full-time graphic designer and illustrator for the last 12 years. He has spent countless hours perfecting his craft as a freelance illustrator working on several children’s books, a few video games and creating numerous educational products. His ability to draw has given him the chance to do the thing he truly loves — Create.

Inking and coloring artwork in Adobe Illustrator

When I first started doing the Once Upon a Sketch Screen Casts I created a series of two videos about how I ink and color my drawings in Adobe Illustrator. Well, it’s been over a year since I created this set of videos so I thought I would share them again for those who haven’t seen them yet and even if you have seen them you might like a refresher. I just watched these videos again and learned things from myself that I had forgotten (which is really funny).

Some might ask why you would want to create inked looking vector lines in Illustrator when you could use another tool like Photoshop, Sketchbook Pro or Manga studio to get the same look. My answer to them would be, even though the two lines might look the same on the surface they are two very different things. The main difference between the two would be that vector lines are infinitely scalable and raster images are not. Example, a company hired me to design mascots to promote one of their programs, I created these characters using the same techniques shown in these videos and most were created at around 8.5in x 11in. With these images being created in a vector format it was no problem when the company asked me to create a billboard using the same artwork with no loss in quality when the images were blown up to about 600 times the size that they were created at. This would not have been the case if the images were created in the other programs. Now that you know why you would want to create this type of drawing, here are the two videos. The first is how to create inked looking lines in Illustrator and the second is how I fill in those lines using the Live Paint Tool.

The first video is about how I set up my brush tools in illustrator to get and inked looking vector line. I also use the blob brush tool to show you how to create a different type of line and describe the difference between the two tools. Continue reading

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Creating a vector graphic from a bitmap image in Adobe Illustrator


In this edition of the Once Upon a Sketch screen cast we show you how to use the live trace tool in Adobe Illustrator. In Adobe Illustrator CS two Adobe added a handy tool called the live trace tool which allows you to convert bitmap images into a vector based image very easily. Check out the video to learn how.