Lately I've been curious about other artist's tools and processes. It's fascinating how you can tell 10 designers to draw a cat and each one would be completely different, partly because of style, but mostly because of tools and process. My process is very simple and clean and cheap (err, I mean cost-effective). I don't like to use a lot of tools and lately I've been trying to use only one computer program as well. It makes my life more organized and is easier when I have two littles who get into everything (like yesterday when they almost flooded the bathroom...yikes).
The first thing I would save in a house fire would be my wacom tablet...okay, maybe not, but it would certainly be the first thing that I repurchase. People don't believe me, probably because I don't show them, but I cannot draw with pencil and paper. My high school art teacher required pencil sketches before we painted anything and mine were mostly stick figures...I'm not sure how he let that slide. Anyways, I don't know how drawing with a tablet makes drawing any different, but it does! I'll save you some of the stress that I felt when researching which one to purchase--get the Wacom Bamboo Fun tablet ($99). You'll find that you really don't need a huge drawing space or any buttons. I don't even know how the button feature works. I bought a cheap protective film on Amazon to cover the drawing space and save it from scratches. The only issue I have is that the cord is very short. After three years of complaining about the short cord, my husband finally said, "You do know that they make USB extension cords?" Well, now I do. :/ The extension cord is cheap and now my only problem with the tablet is solved. It does take a lot of time to get used to. I would practice by pulling photos into Illustrator and tracing them with the pen or pencil tool. Don't get frustrated, keep practicing because it will be worth it!
(Update 2019: I upgraded to the next highest model and I love it! Bigger drawing space!)
I know that you are probably thinking, duh, why would she include this, but I do have a point. When you look on Pinterest or read other famous blogs, every single designer will have a sleek white cordless Mac. I would love to one day be super rich and buy myself an Apple desktop/computer in one. Unfortunately that day has not come. The good news is that my HP desktop computer and LG monitor work perfectly fine for a fraction of the cost of an Apple. It doesn't take a fancy computer to start designing, just one that can run your programs and isn't I'm-going-to-throw-it-out-the-window slow. A note about monitors-buy the best one you can afford. I've had problems with cheap monitors and accurate color representation. I don't like laptops for design because they are slower, don't have as much space (Photoshop files are HUGE), and the keyboard gets in the way of the tablet.
This may seem odd considering I just said that I don't sketch very well, but a sketchbook is handy for when you are away from the computer. Inspiration always strikes in unlikely places and a sketchbook is a cheap and mobile tool for documenting a great idea, no matter how stick figure-ish it looks. :) Many pages in my sketchbook are filled with lists and notes while other pages document composition for different pieces.
(Update 2019: I bought an Ipad Pro and Apple Pencil and I can't recommend these enough. Procreate has changed the way I work. It's so nice to be able to digitally sketch from anywhere.)
I love my iphone. It's my camera (besides the recent shop photos, I've had no need for a DSLR) and my access to the designer world. I use it to check emails, check etsy, make to do lists, schedule events, and connect with customers. I especially love instagram these days. I love peeking into other artist's process and getting inspired by their photos. I'm on instagram as @citrusandmintdesigns.
(Update 2019: I did finally buy a fancy camera. I got a Sony A6000 mirrorless camera. I only got it because now I take so many product photos, though honestly, my iphone photos still turn out great.)
adobe illustrator and photoshop
Every graphic designer is different. Some use only Photoshop, others only Illustrator, or InDesign. I don't know enough about any program to use it without the others so I use Illustrator and Photoshop, however I'm using Illustrator more and more as I learn more of what it can do. I draw, select and modify colors and composition in Illustrator, and then I copy and paste it over to Photoshop to save as a .png or .jpeg. I also use Photoshop to clip layers together (something I can't quite figure out in Illustrator yet) or add textures if needed. I love Illustrator because it has a huge design space and the files are quite small. Also each part is vector so I can edit and resize it unlimited times without losing quality. Some designers draw in Photoshop, which scares me because your revisions are limited. I tried using other vector drawing programs and I didn't like them. Nothing quite compares to Illustrator!
There are a million versions of Adobe programs and now creative cloud. Don't get anything below CS3. I have CS3 and CS6 (for Illustrator only). Photoshop CS3 has been fine for everything I've needed to do. Illustrator CS6 is better because it has the pattern making tool, which can save you hours on designing repeating patterns. You can find cheaper used versions of both programs on Ebay or Amazon.
(Update 2019: Now that I know Illustrator better I use it by itself. No need for Photoshop anymore. I use the free Lightroom app to edit my photos (even the ones from my fancy camera!))
This is just as important of a tool as my computer. The fountain of life and energy. I don't keep diet coke in the fridge because then I know I'll drink it nonstop. I take a warm can, put it in the freezer and 45 minutes later drink little sips of heaven. There are only two rules: only one can a day, and you have to drink it before 3PM otherwise you will be up all night.
(Update 2019: Sadly the aspertame in Diet Coke started to make me sick so I switched to regular Coke. Hopefully I'll be off of all of it soon. It will be good for my autoimmune diseases)
The internet is a fabulous resource for aspiring designers and illustrators. Lynda, Skillshare, CreativeBug are a few excellent websites with a variety of classes for good prices. I highly recommend Adobe Illustrator classes by Alma Loveland and surface pattern classes by Bonnie Christine.
What do you think? Do you have designer tools that you can't live without?
Hi! I'm Rachel and welcome to Citrus and Mint! Here you will find unique hand drawn illustrations for yourself or someone you love.
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