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what are peoples thoughts on illustrator software please?

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EddieMohan

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Post Tue Dec 18, 2007 12:44 pm

what are peoples thoughts on illustrator software please?

hi
i've been using photo shop for a while now and exporting to flex to plot the cut paths, a bit silly i know, but flexi is just so horrible to use. not to mention slow. the problem is i can't open any vehicle outlines in photo shop (amongst other problems that is).
is illustrator the answer?
is it hard to use?
where would be the best place to purchase this software?
so many questions.


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Jason Xuereb

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Post Tue Dec 18, 2007 1:30 pm

I use illustrator. What format are your vehicle outlines in?

Once you get used to it its like photoshop in the sense of using it. But its a vector based program. It's not for photo retouching or adjusting photographs. i mix and match depending on what my artwork is.

Where I can I use illustrator to create my vector components and then either take them to photoshop if I want to add effects to them ie air brushing etc or I bring photos into illustrator. Personal preference I guess.

But I do all my files that need cutting in illustrator. I've never dabbled in a specific sign making program.
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Jon Marshall

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Post Tue Dec 18, 2007 2:24 pm

Re: illustrator?

eddiemohan wrote:hi
i've been using photo shop for a while now and exporting to flex to plot the cut paths, a bit silly i know, but flexi is just so horrible to use. not to mention slow. the problem is i can't open any vehicle outlines in photo shop (amongst other problems that is).
is illustrator the answer?
is it hard to use?
where would be the best place to get a copy?
so many questions.


Flexi slow? You're kidding. Especially compared to Photoshop which is not ideal for text layout.
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John Childs

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Post Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:28 pm

Re: illustrator?

jonm01 wrote:Flexi slow? You're kidding. Especially compared to Photoshop which is not ideal for text layout.

Yes. Slow. A diabolical bit of software. I hate it, I hate it I hate it. :evil:

Illustrator plus the CADtools plug-in is the way to go.
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Alan Drury

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Post Tue Dec 18, 2007 6:05 pm

Out of interest John what is the largest page size Illustrator can go to?
Alan D
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Post Tue Dec 18, 2007 6:25 pm

would ou be 227.5 inches square?

Peter
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Jon Marshall

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Post Tue Dec 18, 2007 7:23 pm

Re: illustrator?

John Childs wrote:
jonm01 wrote:Flexi slow? You're kidding. Especially compared to Photoshop which is not ideal for text layout.

Yes. Slow. A diabolical bit of software. I hate it, I hate it I hate it. :evil:

Illustrator plus the CADtools plug-in is the way to go.


Absolute bilge!


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Future posts made in this fashion will result in the post being deleted.
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David-Foster-

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Post Tue Dec 18, 2007 9:20 pm

Whats bilge? Flexi or Illustrator? I am looking to convert from Corel to something on the Mac.
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Warren Beard

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Post Tue Dec 18, 2007 9:40 pm

I use Illustrator CS3 and it is very good and you can do everything with it, I think some of the sign specific software's can so some of the things a little easier but it can still all be done with Illustrator. It takes a short while to get used to it but once you got it it is great software.

Oh and I am on an imac and will never go back to PC
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David-Foster-

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Post Tue Dec 18, 2007 10:27 pm

I have been on Macs since the first ones in 1985 :lol1: Unfortunately I have to use boot camp now to use Corel and Sign Tools 3.
I need to get Illustrator and a Plug In so I can ditch Windows completely, but £1000 for Adobe Creative Suite and £200 for a Plug In... ouch!
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John Childs

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Post Wed Dec 19, 2007 1:31 am

Re: illustrator?

jonm01 wrote:Absolute bilge!

Well, everybody's entitled to their opinion. Would you like to expand on yours Jon?

My views on Flexi are well known, but I'd be happy to run through them again, and back them up with a practical demonstration, for anybody that's interested.
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Bryan Cabrera

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Post Wed Dec 19, 2007 4:30 am

Re: Thoughts on illustrator software, please?

eddiemohan wrote:hi
is illustrator the answer?
is it hard to use?
where would be the best place to purchase this software?
so many questions.

Both Illustrator and CorelDraw are excellent products and while I wouldn't consider them hard to use they there is a learning curve to become proficient in them. I have worked in Illustrator on both a Mac and Windows and there really is no difference so that should not be an issue.
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Jamie Wood

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Post Wed Dec 19, 2007 8:45 am

David-Foster- wrote:I need to get Illustrator and a Plug In so I can ditch Windows completely, but £1000 for Adobe Creative Suite and £200 for a Plug In... ouch!


You may be able to get a cross grade from Coreldraw to Illustrator. I know
they do it in the USA, but I'm not sure here. May be worth speaking to your supplier. An Illustrator CS3 upgrade is about £165.00 inc VAT.

If not, I might have an old unregistered version of Illustrator which could
be used for an upgrade. I'll have a look and post it to you if it's any help.

Cheers,
Jamie.
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Martin Grimmer

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Post Wed Dec 19, 2007 10:40 am

Hi Eddie,

I have Illustrator and Flexi. Illustrator is a fantastic piece of software and would recommend it. Illustrator CS2 has live trace which is pretty good for vectorising - but you still need to do work on it. Other than that, an earlier (cheaper) version would probably suffice. (you could use http://vectormagic.stanford.edu/ to assist vectorising a bitmap instead of going CS2 route - a great link from someone here on the site).

I don't use in any plug ins for Illustrator - but think Flexi also a great bit of software - and use that for 95% of my cutting - cannot understand why it is easier out of photoshop exporting paths etc than using flexi. Surely you just type, size as required, highlight and let the production manager do the rest? Vectorising I find easier in flexi as well rather than illustrator. I do sometimes design in Illustrator, save as version 3 and then cut from flexi but not often.

Good luck.

Martin
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David-Foster-

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Post Wed Dec 19, 2007 10:59 am

Jamie Wood wrote:
David-Foster- wrote:I need to get Illustrator and a Plug In so I can ditch Windows completely, but £1000 for Adobe Creative Suite and £200 for a Plug In... ouch!


You may be able to get a cross grade from Coreldraw to Illustrator. I know
they do it in the USA, but I'm not sure here. May be worth speaking to your supplier. An Illustrator CS3 upgrade is about £165.00 inc VAT.

If not, I might have an old unregistered version of Illustrator which could
be used for an upgrade. I'll have a look and post it to you if it's any help.

Cheers,
Jamie.



Thanks for the offer Jamie, very kind. I will have a look into the cross grade and upgrades. My wife might have bought it me for Christmas :lol1:

Get back to you in the New Year, Merry Christmas!
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Jon Marshall

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Post Wed Dec 19, 2007 12:19 pm

Re: illustrator?

John Childs wrote:
jonm01 wrote:Absolute bilge!

Well, everybody's entitled to their opinion. Would you like to expand on yours Jon?

My views on Flexi are well known, but I'd be happy to run through them again, and back them up with a practical demonstration, for anybody that's interested.


I think your problems with Flexi were to do with production manager and how you couldn't get it to do what you wanted.

I fail to see how, seeing as in all the versions of Flexi I've used I just select the make of cutter I have and one or two basic options and away it goes.

You're welcome to give us some other examples though or a demonstration.

For general signmaking I can't see how Illustrator can be quicker than using a proper sign program when you are jumping through hoops just to do basic stuff like outlining, welding, shadow etc.

Illustrator is primarily aimed at the print market.
Last edited by Jon Marshall on Wed Dec 19, 2007 8:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Alan Drury

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Post Wed Dec 19, 2007 8:01 pm

Peter, am I understanding you correctly? Illustrators biggest page size is under 20ft, seems a little small unless you have to work to scale all the time.
Alan D
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Post Wed Dec 19, 2007 8:08 pm

Well that's the biggest size I can make it, Alan (CS3)
That's why I still prefer to use signlab whenever possible,

Not checked, but what does Corel X3 page size go to?

Peter
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Alan Drury

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Post Wed Dec 19, 2007 8:28 pm

90ft - 100 ft plus, trying to zoom out will give warning but will still display
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John Childs

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Post Thu Dec 20, 2007 1:30 am

Jon,

Basic stuff like outlining, welding and shadowing are not a problem in Illustrator. I will accept that they may be a little easier in a dedicated sign package but, once you have mastered Illustrator's tools, that sort of thing is very simple and quick to achieve.

My gripe with Flexi is not the cutter set-up because, as you say, that is just a matter of selecting the right cutter and changing a few parameters and away we go. Anyway, that is only a one time operation and if it took half an hour I wouldn't care. With Flexi we could make the cutter cut vinyl, no problem. We just didn't know what it was going to cut. One job would be fine, the next one would miss out the middle of all the "o"s. Another wouldn't separate the colours correctly. And so on. Frustrating.

It is everyday use where Flexi falls down. It is far more complicated than it needs to be, forcing the operator to go through loads of pointless choices, every stage of which is an opportunity for a mistake to creep in, before anything useful happens.

Because of that it takes forever to train a new employee to use Flexi properly. With Illustrator and a simple cutting plug-in they can be productive in a fraction of the time and waste an awful lot less vinyl whilst they are learning.

That's not just my opinion. The girls here who cut vinyl all day every day, and who I doubt either of us could teach much about the subject, will tell you the same. In fact it was after their comments and complaints that I took a perfectly good four month old cutter out of service and replaced it with a different make that we could run with Illustrator and FineCut. That action wasn't taken lightly but after that length of time of running the two systems side by side it was painfully obvious which was the most efficient, and that Flexi was costing me too much in lost production and that something had to be done.

As I have said elsewhere, I will accept that Flexi might be a useful tool in the hands of a one or two person business where the operators have time to learn it's foibles, but in a semi production environment it has too many problems for us to consider using ever again.

Finally, until somebody buys it, I still have the cutter, and Flexi loaded on the computer. If you would like to come over here we will happily demonstrate the two systems together. We'll show you the difference in simplicity of operation and the difference in time between loading a file and getting the blade to start moving. You might be very surprised.



Alan,

This has been discussed before and, yes, Illustrators page size won't allow you to work on vans at full size. That's why you need the CADtools plug-in. Then you are working to scale without necessarily knowing it.
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Martin Grimmer

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Post Thu Dec 20, 2007 10:55 am

[quote="John Childs"][/quote]Jon,

One job would be fine, the next one would miss out the middle of all the "o"s. Another wouldn't separate the colours correctly. And so on. Frustrating.

John,

Not trying to convert you or anything - and it sounds like there may be no turning back - but are you importing from Illustrator and then cutting? Have never had the problem you describe in Flexi for basic text created in Flexi, whereas imported text from Illustrator into Flexi after outlining/compunding etc will have the problems you describe. As for seperating the colours, if you press 'D' this will bring up all the colours, and you can click and highlight (and change colour if necessary). Useful if you are importing two sets of artwork with both RGB and CMYK mix.

Martin
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M Brown

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Post Thu Dec 20, 2007 10:56 am

Hi John,

Can I ask what version of Flexi did you have. It doesn't sound nothing I've used in the past. I've used Flexi since 5.6 and Signlab since 4.95. Corel and Illustrator.

I never found a problem knowing what Flexi was going to cut and the way it shows how its going to lay it out on the machine was very good. Also never had it miss the middles out. Are you sure your pc was set up correctly or your driver.

eddiemohan

Flexi has never been slow for me, isn't that down to your pc.

Oh yea, Merry Christmas to you all.

From Mark
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John Childs

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Post Thu Dec 20, 2007 9:58 pm

Martin,

Text created in Flexi was no problem. It was nineteen years of accumulated Illustrator files that gave us the problems described. We know how to separate colours and I think that was the trouble. Flexi was seeing the centres of compounded letters as a different colour, and therefore didn't cut them as expected.

Another gripe, once, by mistake, one of my girls saved a file back in Flexi format and then it wouldn't open in Illustrator. What Einstein decided that a graphics programme that couldn't work with industry standard files would be a good idea? :banghead:



Mark,

7.7v2 build 0856.

I tried FlexiCut years ago, back in the days of Mac OS9, and dumped it after a fortnight in favour of Cutline, which we used satisfactorily for many years. I had hoped that a newer version would have been streamlined, but sadly I was wrong.
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Kevin Flowers

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Post Thu Dec 20, 2007 11:06 pm

Hi
i've used Flexi on a PC for best part of 10 years & as much as i have CS2 i very rarely use anything but Flexi even run Alien skin plugins in it & don't have any problems opening & cutting AI files. As to designing a software that doesn't use industry standard it does, you can export all types of files, its default saving is no different to how Corel or Signlab etc saves.

Kev
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Jon Marshall

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Post Fri Dec 21, 2007 1:37 pm

Well there you go. You're cutting illustrator files in Flexi. If I had a pound for every time I've been told I don't need to do the artwork as 'we've already done it' - only to be sent an illustrator file that is a mess of overlapping strokes and effects......

You can't blame Flexi for that. As a signmaking program it is probably more straightforward and quicker than anything else. Should be too for the price!
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John Childs

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Post Fri Dec 21, 2007 2:54 pm

Jon.

You really don't get it do you?

Of course I'm cutting Illustrator files in Flexi. What do you think Graphtec give you when you buy one of their cutters? Yes, it's a Flexi plug-in for Illustrator.

I'm not trying to cut customer files that are "a mess of overlapping strokes and effects". I can tell the difference between a file intended for print and one for cutting vinyl. I'm trying to cut perfectly good, designed for vinyl, files. Ones from which we have happily produced barrowloads of decals over many years. Cutline will do it. FineCut will do it. Practically any other package you care to name will do it. Flexi won't.
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Jon Marshall

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Post Fri Dec 21, 2007 6:36 pm

I do get it.

The software you are comparing it to is software that is designed to work with files made in programs like illustrator.

How about comparing how well Signlab deals with your .ai files?

I think it's ridiculous to criticise Flexi for something that is a very minor feature and something many of it's users would never use. How about trying to do a whole job from scratch with Flexi and then telling us how it doesn't live up to illustrator?
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Gavin MacMillan

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Post Fri Dec 21, 2007 8:50 pm

I've never had any problems with signlab cutting strangely from ai files (as described above), assuming they are set up correctly, but what designer ever sets files up properly?
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John Childs

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Post Fri Dec 21, 2007 11:27 pm

jonm01 wrote:I think it's ridiculous to criticise Flexi for something that is a very minor feature and something many of it's users would never use.

You think it ridiculous that a graphics programme won't work with an industry standard file format? Tell me you're joking.

A minor feature that the majority of users would never use? Am I really the only one ever to receive files from other parties? I don't think so. Take a look in the file swap forum on here and count the number of times .ai is used. Counting the Flexi ones won't take you long because there aren't many/any. So that's a file swap forum on a board used exclusively by signmakers and nobody uses Flexi format.
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Jamie Wood

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Post Fri Dec 21, 2007 11:35 pm

I've been reading this thread with interest, and have to say that I've had
similar experiences to John when using Flexi in the past. If I passed an ai
or eps file to flexi for cutting, it always knocked the centres out of the
text, sort of uncompounding them, so I had to re-make the compound
paths in Flexi, which was obviously time consuming. Never found out why,
but it's the only software I've had this problem with. I wonder if the people
who make Flexi are aware, because as John says, ai and eps are industry standard, so it should really be seamless.
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Alan Drury

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Post Sat Dec 22, 2007 12:26 pm

If the problem is say centre of o's being there but not displaying ie same fill colour even though they are combined it may be something to do with node direction, not sure how that helps much but that could be the reason. I've never had any problems with ai files in Signlab or Corel for that matter, I can work in Corel and just cut and paste straight into SL. From what I understand since version 9 or 10 ai files have been based on pdf, if Flexi has that import filter use that.
Alan D
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Jon Marshall

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Post Sat Dec 22, 2007 10:57 pm

John Childs wrote:
jonm01 wrote:I think it's ridiculous to criticise Flexi for something that is a very minor feature and something many of it's users would never use.

You think it ridiculous that a graphics programme won't work with an industry standard file format? Tell me you're joking.


Most of the .ai and .eps files in the swap forum are created by users of signmaking software. If I'm going to send a file to someone for vinyl cutting I'm going to use software designed for that purpose not something designed to produce printed output.
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John Childs

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Post Sun Dec 23, 2007 12:54 am

jonm01 wrote:If I'm going to send a file to someone for vinyl cutting I'm going to use software designed for that purpose not something designed to produce printed output.

What on earth are you talking about now? Any vector file is just a collection of lines and curves. Provided it is drawn with vinyl cutting in mind, it doesn't matter a toss what programme it was drawn in as long as the lines are in the right place.

I'm beginning to wonder if you are in the sign business at all. I reckon you're a Flexi salesman. *rofl*
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Chris Wool

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Post Sun Dec 23, 2007 2:12 am

is the plug in thing that comes with graphtec plotters flexy output. if it is i do not want to meet the rest of the program.
colour layers whats that all about then and why.
if its not flexy then ignore the previous having a bad night

chris
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John Childs

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Post Sun Dec 23, 2007 2:18 am

Chris Wool wrote:is the plug in thing that comes with graphtec plotters flexy output. if it is i do not want to meet the rest of the program.


:yes1:


But don't worry, according to Jon, it's the best thing a signmaker could aspire to. It must be you that's wrong. *rofl*


Hope your night gets better.
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Chris Wool

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Post Sun Dec 23, 2007 2:52 am

i feel like i am always wrong.
i use coral not sl or ilistrator
i use windows drivers not plug ins
i fit wet except print
so all in all I AM DOOOOMED
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John Childs

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Post Sun Dec 23, 2007 9:41 am

Never mind Chris.

Take the rest of the year off mate. :D
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Chris Wool

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Post Sun Dec 23, 2007 10:39 am

John Childs wrote:Never mind Chris.

Take the rest of the year off mate. :D


thats very sweet of you john thank you, i think i will :D

chris

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