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what is the best software for simple outline drawings?

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by baxterbasics, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. baxterbasics

    baxterbasics Senior commenter

    I'm currently writing an instruction manual for the guitar in spare time.
    It will need some simple outline drawings of the guitar (obviously original, copyright free).
    What's the best program for me to use?
    I did think of paint, but maybe that's too primitive.
    Do professional illustrators use some sort of pen and tablet linked to the computer?
  2. autismuk

    autismuk New commenter

    You need a vector graphics program. Paint is a bitmap program, which means it works like painting does, you through colours on a white background.
    With vector graphics you build things up from lines, squares and boxes. Vector graphics also scale and so on much better.
    Have a look at Inkscape (www.inkscape.org) which is free and runs on Windows. (I am a Linux person almost always, so I don't know other free Windows ones)
    For your drawings have a look at http://www.openclipart.org/ which is a pile of free drawings that will all load into Inkscape and that you can tinker. There are two pages of guitar graphics. Don't be fooled by the small size of the samples, if you click on them you will find some are very detailed.
    Some of them are outline, and some are colour - it is possible to remove the colour fill from the coloured ones giving you an outline, incidentally.
    The openclipart is all under 'public domain' licensing so you can use them in your manual without worrying about it.
    If you are a professional you can buy a graphics tablet which is a bit like using a pen as a mouse - you move it about the tablet and the cursor follows the pen, and there are buttons to click on the pen. You can get these fairly cheaply, probably from about £30 up. I have a Bamboo one which has a drawing area about postcard size - but they can be any size you want, depends how much you want to pay.
  3. baxterbasics

    baxterbasics Senior commenter

    Thanks so much for that detailed reply
    I will follow all the leads you have given me and hopefully they should lead me down the right path. The drawing tablet is also an idea - never realised thaye were so cheap.
  4. autismuk

    autismuk New commenter

    Tablets get more expensive with quality and size.
    Had a look on Amazon and they are selling a Trust 5.5 x 4 inch tablet for under £22. How good it is I don't know, but the reviews aren't bad.
    If you are planning to do a lot of drawing for your manual it's much easier than a mouse.
  5. baxterbasics

    baxterbasics Senior commenter

    yes, drawing with a mouse is a very frustrating exercise.
    I will have to do some drawing inevitably and maybe I will use the tablet. I have downloaded Inkscape as you suggested.
    One more question if you don't mind
    Somebody told me that Word is inadequate for proper publishing needs. Is that true? Am I better off with a DTP publishing program? Is MS Publisher one of those, or should I try another?
    I will either publish my book as a downloadable PDF or send it to a proper publisher for consideration or both, but either way I want a reasonable quality.
    thanks again

  6. autismuk

    autismuk New commenter

    I would have thought Word would be fine. I think quality would be okay. I wouldn't have thought you'd need DTP unless you had a lot of diagrams.
    Experiment and see how it does.
  7. Flash needs the .svg via illy, and it's true there can be issues (obviously Adobe wouldn't want to fully support an actual open format) within both illy and inDesign. The best results I've had is to open the .svg with illy and then copy and paste the object into a new illy document, then save the document as .ai/.eps, like you say though dependent on the complexity of the art work ymmv.

    While we're on the subject, back in the day Macromedia (who were bought out by Adobe) were a lot better at supporting open formats, fireworks still uses .png as its native file format. It seems a shame the buy out wasn't the other way around, I preferred Freehand to illy anyway, for example a gradient from colour to alpha/transparency still requires annoying masking techniques in illy, in flash or freehand it was/is a doddle.

    P.S. as I said before though, if you want a print worthy output file (and to a degree a decent web file) I'd steer clear of layout in word.
  8. If you are thinking of an eBook as the primary usage scenario, you might want to consider epub, it's a format for electronic books that can reflow the text to fit with different screen sizes. If it's to be a commercial eBook based on a (fixed page size) high quality print file that you wish to be able to send to a publishers and/or printers, I'd consider something like inDesign, which can also create ePub files. There are also tools for converting open office .odt documents e.g. jutoh although its £20 it may help you with creating an eBook quickly, but as with word making a decent print file is often a pain.

    You should understand, laying out for a fixed page size book is a little different to designing for a screen reader. Wilst the .pdf route is OK for print most eBooks are going towards reflowable file formats ePub or kindle .azw (although .pdf can do reflow a bit now).
  9. Why bother with words and a book. Most students can't read or write properly anyway these days, thanks to a decade of dumbed down education at the hands of Labour.
    Why not publish your book as a series of videos - quicker to explain, produce and demonstrate. You could create a channel on e.g. YouTube and away you go. All you need is a cheap video camera like the one that comes with many difital cameras, or something like a flipvideo camera, and use some free video editing software.
    Have a look on the Internet. There are thousands of how-to video guides for the guitar.
  10. baxterbasics

    baxterbasics Senior commenter

    It's going to be a technical guide for home and college use, not something to be used to used in schools.
    I sort of agree with what you're saying about reading skills and having to appeal to everybody with dumbed-down videos.
    Discipline has failed (in terms of self discipline and in the classroom) because commercialism has succeeded. That's my thought for the day, for what it's worth...

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