I heart Illustrator

On: October 24, 2010
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About Lotte Woerde
Lotte Woerde graduated as a graphic designer at Willem de Kooning Art Academy and finished her BA in Television Studies at UvA. Since 2005 she is running her own graphic design company, called Lot concept & ontwerp bno, based in Amsterdam. As an independent graphic designer Lotte worked together with creative media companies like Glamcult Studio, Technicolor and NOS. Her area of interest concerns the intersection between new media and design concepts and solutions. Currently she is a MA student of New Media.


My first experience with Inkscape

Ever since I started Art Academy in 2000 I use Adobe’s vector graphics software program Illustrator to create logo’s, cards, brochures, posters and other kinds of hard-copy. But although I find it a great piece of software, Illustrator is an expensive product. It alone costs €855,61. Because of this, and also because of the fact that I don’t know any other designer that uses different software, I always believed that Adobe software like Illustrator is the best there is. When a software program is so expensive, there must be hundreds of the most talented software engineers working somewhere in a mysterious Adobe building to build and improve it. So the idea that there exists an other software program, similar to Illustrator, but for free, is hard to imagine.

I got to learn working with Illustrator in a small classroom on old-school Apple computers with small screens, it was a few years before the first iMac came out. At the time I wasn’t quite interested in learning software programs. I was fully confiscated by the experience of so many creative people together in one building, the whole atmosphere of it and of course living in a big city (Rotterdam) for the first time on my own. Although Illustrator was not the only software we got introduced to that year, I can say that Illustrator soon became my favourite. And it still is. Now I work for my customers I still use illustrator as the main software program for vector graphics. I like it because it works intuitive for me and it is compatible with other programs I use, like Photoshop, Indesign and AfterEffects (all Adobe). And honestly, it never came up to me that there would exist any other good alternative for Illustrator. So when I heard our next assignement was to make something in Inkscape – an open source vector graphics application – I was rather sceptical.

Of course I had heard about Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) before, but it never crossed my mind to use it myself. Above all I thought it was inferior to traditionally distributed software. My thought was: It is created by amateurs, so it can’t be good enough. Jay Pfaffman’s answer to that in his article It’s time to consider open source software (2007) is:

Two fallacies follow from this assumption. First, that open source applications are not developed by professional programmers. Second, that amateur programmers produce inferior work. Many F/OSS projects have teams of professional programmers. RedHat software distributes a version of GNU/Linux, an open source operating system that for many people obviates the need for Microsoft Windows (BECTA, 2005; Zetter, 2002). Other projects, like Firefox and OpenOffice.org, are based on commercially developed code (StarOffice and Netscape Navigator, respectively) that was subsequently released as open source (Raymond, 1997; Baker, 2004). Both of these projects have improved dramatically since becoming F/OSS.

So it was time to try out Inkscape. First I installed the software and then I searched for a tutorial on YouTube. I found this one: Create your own flourishes in Inkscape.

To follow the different steps in the tutorial wasn’t hard at all. And soon I created “a flourish”. After that I created the same artwork in Illustrator so I could compare both programs. The results are more or less the same, but I honestly believe the way I made it in Illustrator was more efficient. Of course, Illustrator is the software I know better, so maybe that’s the reason. But neverteless I’m impressed by the quality of Inkscape. Everything is a little bit different than with Illustrator, so I wouldn’t change easily, but I can imagine people use it who never used such a program before.

I already have fallen in love with Illustrator, but still, Adobe should be aware!

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