Most of my digital artwork tasks have been simple things made for my own amusement on the web, and have been served by open-source programs.
However, I’d like to get something with a little more polish, as well as features, in the vector art field, but also something that’s not going to overwhelm my beginner-intermediate abilities with advanced print features.
There’s an awful lot to choose from out there, from Corel Draw Essentials onwards, so I’m hoping for suggestions on a program that I can grow with, that will provide plenty of use for someone who can take on the learning curve, and will have long legs when it comes to eventual more advanced web-level artwork.
Well, the standards for professional web development are Adobe Photoshop (bitmap graphics) and Adobe Illustrator (vector graphics). The other vector graphics program we sometimes use is Quark Express. And then there are all of the Macromedia programs for motion graphics - Flash, Shockwave, Director, and so on. We don’t really use vector graphics much, except for initial page layout. Most of what we do is jpg and gif images in Photoshop.
None of these programs are really designed for beginners; they are professional tools with very long lists of valuable features. However, they are all very well designed and approachable. I am self taught in Photoshop (I’m a programmer first, manager second, and an artist of last resort) and I feel like I got the hang of it in just a few years.
Yeah, you can’t go wrong with Adobe stuff for graphics work. You don’t have to use all the features, but if you want to you can. You ought to be able to find a version you can afford on e-bay, even if it’s not the latest product.
The nice thing is you won’t need the latest product since you’re still a beginner. And there will probalby be more self-help books for an older version (as long as it’s not too many versions back).
I’ve struggled with Adobe Illustrator on and off for several years using it for minor jobs on a very occasional basis. Each time I’ve gone back to it, I’ve had to yank out the manual again (same with Photoshop). However, I recently bought a copy of Adobe’s “Classroom in a Book” Workbook for Illustrator, and spent a weekend going through the first 150 pages (out of 550 pages!). I found it made a huge difference. I feel like I have a much better handle on how Illustrator works. If you do get Illustrator, I highly recommend Adobe’s “Classroom in a Book”.
I think Freehand has an easier learning curve than Illustrator, but I don’t use either very much. A friend of mine swears by it, though.