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FOSS for cartoonists and illustrators

Posted by: Anonymous [ip:] on November 13, 2007 01:21 AM
This is a terrible article. It is hard not to be insulting when confronted with so many inaccuracies, omissions and lack of experience by the author. The problems with the article are so bad that I doubt that the author has ever worked in any professional studio. I will have to take them on one by one.
1. Many Illustrators/illustration studios and animators have learned that you can work with one layer. This is not for everyone, but if you have experience with the process, it is possible to work with one layer and have an illustration coloured in five minutes. Not that these people are limited to one layer, just that they can be more productive on one layer for much of their work. 2. Every vector program handles objects a little differently. Some programs like Corel Draw are fast and most users can create full works of art on one layer. 3. If you know your software and have experience with many studio workflows, you can alter the colour of any part of an illustration at exactly the same speed, or faster than working with each colour on a separate layer. 4. There is nothing here to let beginners know that bitmap (sometimes called raster) programs are better for artistic expression, detailed colour work, are a lot faster, can be used with a scanner so the artist can work on paper to the point he/she wishes to switch to software, or that Vector is cleaner, can be scaled up to any size you want and retain its crisp lines, can be outputted to signwriters vinyl cutting machines, rubber stamp making equipment or as .dxf to huge plasma cutters to cut huge metal sculptures (or any other machinery that handles .dxf). There is no mention that some vector programs (looking at you Adobe Illustrator) sometimes stab you in the back by adding fills as a bitmap layer. This means that these files cannot be scaled up without a real degradation of quality. 5. No warning about antialiasing. Any illustrator worth his salt will know about the dangers of antialiasing too soon and too enthusiastically. If he includes animators in with cartoonists (some people do some people do not) then this makes it doubly funny. Animation studios learned in the early nineties that if you antialias every layer from the first process, you end up with an unwatchable mess on screen a month later when you put it to tape. 6. Overstating the abilities of vector tracing software. Studios will use tracing software in two places. If the resulting image is scaled down to thumbnail size for letterheads etc, or if time is very tight and an artist cannot spend the 20 minutes to three hours it takes to hand trace a logo or image. 7. Chen Nan Yang lies about colour being simple at any time. This is your biggest challenge as an illustrator. Unless you work in a dead end position outputting your graphics to the Xerox laser printer via a fiery that some tech set up for you, then you need to learn about every type of printing process, and how they handle colour. Bitmap programs can be used to create colour separations, but when you are working with one two or three colour processes as well, bitmap programs are always slower than vector. Many old school people will claim that CMYK is the best, and it is for offset printing, but it has a terrible time with blues and sometimes oranges (especially huge Xerox machines that fill an air conditioned room). Big office and printer size laser printers, as well as most bubblejets have spot on RGB to CMYK converters built in, so instead of having washed out sky in CMYK, you send an RGB to the printer and let it sort it out. There is a LOT to colour that I will not rant about here, but it is the one thing that gives more people more trouble long term. 8. Fill patterns are a tool for the amateur, or for very lazy or rushed illustrator. This is not being elitist, the end result nine times out of ten is pretty bad. There are always clients who think they are great, so you pull them out twice a year for those clients. I would advise for quality's sake, that clipart results in a better final product far more often than using pattern fills. 9. JPG is a great format. I would suffer if I did not have it in my arsenal. Unfortunately it is not the format most publishers like to see. Unless it is at 100% - 120% jpg artifacts. Even artifacts not visible to the naked eye can ruin a print run if you are unlucky. PDF for print and TIFF makes most printers happiest in my experience. 300 DPI is not always the case either. Many quality magazines print at 150 LPI (there is a difference between DPI and LPI) others print colour work at 300 DPI and black and white at 600 DPI. ALWAYS call ahead and find out the resolution the publisher or printer prefers to work at. 10. Back on the "Layers are the only way to be flexible" line.... Finally, the assumption that GIMP is up to the job is dishonest to the readers. Anything is possible, I have even created artwork on an 8bit word processor (like a computer with no tools except a word processing program in ROM) in my time, but if you are working commercially, speed is very important. You need more tools than GIMP has, and you need an interface that is not always hamstringing you. I could recommend alternatives, but few are FOSS, all but one is on Linux, and none are FOSS Linux. I would expect the inaccuracies that are in this article from someone who is inexperienced enough to believe GIMP is up to the job ... To the person who pointed out ktoon. Great link. They seem to be a quarter the way to an animation program an animator could take seriously. Unfortunately my quick review of the site and features shows that it has had no development for two years.


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