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  • Sasa Elebea

Top tools I wish I knew about when I started illustrating

Around 2007 I decided I wanted to be a full time illustrator. I had a regular computer with windows XP and one of these mouses with a wire and a ball. I started working with Corel Draw because I had no idea about Adobe or any illustration tool.

A lot happened since then and I learnt so much on the illustration subject. That's why I wanted to make a post to share with you the top tools that improved the quality of my work since I started, because it's important to practice, but if you have the right apps and devices, life can get easier and work will be done much faster with better results.

iPad and Stylus

I tried many different tools to illustrate and nothing gets better quality and faster results than the iPad with the Stylus. I had a Wacom before, ant it does work better than drawing with a regular mouse, but it's much less accurate than the tablet and if I want to go out to draw I would need to take my laptop with me, and sometimes I want the freedom of taking a small handbag. Whit the iPad and the Stylus, you don't really need much, just some space on a table and that's it.

ipad illustrations

If you want to trace images, the iPad has an amazing camera, so you can take a picture and trace it right away, when you are done you can save the jpeg and send it on an email to a client or post it on instagram, is very fast and simple!

Adobe Creative Cloud Apps

Adobe has the finest programs to work on the computer, even though they are not 100% necessary when you work on iPad, a program like Illustrator is a great tool to make the perfect vector file to print on the right size.

If you are wondering why do I need a vector file when I can print on JPG? First, vector files are much easier to store because they are lighter than a big JPG, they are easy to send, if you are printing outside of your studio and they don't pixelate when you make them bigger. This means you can basically print in any size and the quality is still the same.

illustration tools

My favorite Adobe apps are Illustrator and Photoshop.

On my iPad I still use Adobe draw but it has been discontinued, I would recommend to try Illustrator for iPad instead.

The amazing part of using this apps is that you can work on your iPad (illustrator on iPad is a free app) and send the files to your Creative Cloud account, or even open them straight on the desktop apps.

The process I follow is: I send the image to illustrator and I edit the nodes there, I change colors to make it fit my color palette and I add the texts.

After I finish this, I work on the perfect size on Photoshop, here I work with transparencies to publish my products on my Redbubble shop.

photoshop illustration tutorial

The price per month is worth the investment. There is nothing like a perfect polished file to print or to create a post. Plus if you have your own business you might know that you need to spend wisely, this counts as a business expense and for me that is always something to take in consideration.

You can download the Adobe Creative Cloud here I suggest to get a 30 day free trial first to see explore the tools and see which one feels the best.

I got myself an anual plan paid monthly for all the apps, because I use Photoshop and Illustrator on my computer. Another great thing is that I get the apps for free on my phone and I edit my pictures for instagram on Lightroom, so it's the best value.

Apple products

I started my career as an industrial design student, so Windows was enough for that.

After I moved countries and had a salary as a designer, I decided to make an investment and to move to Apple.

Now I have my phone, desktop computer, laptop and iPad, they all connect to each other and they LAST, I had good quality products also before, but it does not compare, specially the interface.

If I would knew that while I was studying I would have invested on an apple computer before and save myself so much time and problems.


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