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Playing around with Computer Graphics have been an interest of mine for many, many years. My approach to Design is a lot different than that of "a real designer", but what I lack in the "artist department" I'll try to make up with a technical approach and understanding of the process (after all this is probably what you would expect of a software developer <G>). Over the years I've done a lot of photo retouching/restoration, and when I got my first dSLR camera I got very interested about this area as well. Also over the years I have done a lot of various logos and illustrations.


I've never received any formal education in using these products, but being an interest of mine for many years, means I don't care spending a fair deal of my spare time learning new tricks and coming up to speed with new features and perhaps easier/better ways to solve various problems/tasks. Work wise its not an officially part of my job to work with graphics, but because I got the skills/the interest I've done a lot of work with graphics. Such as photo retouching and producing the icons, illustrations and other graphics we need in our software. Here at home I develop software myself, where I naturally also produce all the icons, illustrations and other graphics I need in that software. I welcome the change of pace, when the code can be pushed away for a short while, while working with graphics. Privately I occasionally, spend a lot of time watching tutorial-videos, and often I follow along these with my graphics software running, trying to do the same myself (there is always things you can learn from others).


Software wise I started out years ago with CorelDRAW and PSP (Paint Shop Pro), but then I moved to the full Adobe Creative Suite package. My strong point was PhotoShop and I’ve spend A LOT of time working with PhotoShop, but I have also done work with Dreamweaver, Illustrator, and InDesign as well. Switching job I lost my access to the Creative Suite package and for a few versions I dished out the money myself to stay aboard (CS4 was the last I got). But about 2010 or so I got a new PC, and refused to pay the high price for a new CS upgrade. So in stead I went completely open source. Replacing PhotoShop with Gimp, Illustrator with InkScape and InDesign with Scribus. These programs did not match the feature set of the Adobe Creative Suite, but at least I did not have to pay +1000€ every year to stay updated. I have stayed with these open source programs until 2020 and had become very proficient in both Gimp and InkScape. Even though these programs were updated with new improvements over the years, I have often looked at a subscription for the Adobe Creative Cloud, but $600 a year is simply too much for my taste. It was one thing if all you lost was access to new upgrades if you canceled your subscription, but in stead if you stop subscribe you loose all (“you only rent access to the software”).

Forward to 2020 I began to hear more and more good things about Affinity, and I started to watch tutorials for Affinity Designer, -Photo and -Publisher to learn about the features they had. It was obvious to me that their feature set was more in line with the Adobe software than the open-source I had been using, and the price of $50 for each of the 3 programs seemed fair (you buy each major version, in stead of “rent” on a monthly basis). I had planed to “play it cool” and wait for them to go on sale, but in the end I couldn’t resist so I went for Affinity Design and Affinity Photo at full price. Publisher was added to the collection a week later (again, couldn't resist). I love the way publisher's studio link lets you edit both vector and raster content directly from within Publisher (if you also own Designer and Photo).

Back in the day it was hard leaving PhotoShop and Illustrator for Gimp and InkScape (to be honest, in the end I missed Adobe Bridge the most). But the change from Gimp/InkScape to Affinity Photo/-Design was not nearly as hard. Naturally everything took 3 times as long to do in the beginning, because all the old keyboard short-cuts were stuck in my fingers, and you had to learn other ways to do the same thing. Affinity Photo was love at first sight, and I loved the (none-destructive) adjustments- and layer-effects from the get go. Affinity Design took me a little longer to get used to, and I felt there were more ways where I had to do things differently than I was used to (e.g. that everything is a layer on its own, and sometime you have to find/select the items in the layer-list in stead of being able to select them with the mouse within the drawing). But producing multiple illustrations in the same file, but placing them on each their own storyboard (for batch export) is just SO MUCH more easy that what I used to do with InkScape (e.g. producing graphical buttons for the Stream Deck). Also I love the way you can have both raster- and vector-graphics in both programs and how you can “place” files inside other files.

I wish Serif (the company behind the Affinity-software) will come up with a DAM (Digital Asset Manager) on par with Adobe Bridge. On their forum there are posts dating back to 2016, where they say they have plans to produce a DAM, but so far it have been pushed in the background while they made iPad versions of Designer and Photo, and produced Publisher for PC and Mac (personally I guess an iPad of Publisher will be prioritized over a DAM). As of now I have settled using XnView MP. It is nowhere near Abobe Bridge, that I have used in the past, but at least its better than dishing ouy +100€ for iMatch, ACDSee or something similar (still have my fingers crossed that Serif will make a great DAM).

When it comes to Fonts I am using MainType (from High-Logic) as my font-manager. It lets me browse- and search through all my fonts, both those that are installed and those who are not. Selecting a font you can see a sample-text (you can have your own), and you can see all the individual characters of that font. You can create various tags, and for each font you can set the appropriate tags. E.g. I use a "Danish" tag for those fonts that are available in Danish (contains the 3 special letters we have, that are not available in the English language). Once the tags have been set, I can quickly find all fonts that contains the tags I specify (e.g. "Danish", "Script", "Elegant"). Once found, its just one click to install that font. If you only need to use a font for a single header (which you transform into a path/curve in a vector-program) you can make a temporary installation of the font, so that it is only available until you reboot the computer. So this is one way to reduce the number of fonts you have installed.

I still have Gimp and InkScape installed on my computer, but I hardly ever use Gimp any more, and InkScape I only use when I need to make small tweaks to illustrations that I produced in the past with InkScape (or if I need to auto-trace raster into vector, as Affinity is missing this feature). All new vector graphics I make, is made in Affinity Design.

3D (Blender)

I've always been into computer graphics, but for the most part its been 2D. My first look into the world of the 3D, was a Raytrace program for the Commodore Amiga - it feels like several generations ago, and the name of this software is long forgotten. Later (much later) I got into mapping for games with Valve Hammer (mostly for Swat4), and it was great fun making maps and playing with the 3D tool. Also I've done some 3D work and Scenery design for Microsoft Flight Simulator (beside re-painting aircraft). Later I did a little work with a trial versions of Maya and 3ds Max but I never really got anywhere with it, and the price-tag of these programs meant I knew they would never grow on me, as I would never dish out the money to purchase these. I do realize a lot of people are using Cracked-versions of Maya/3ds Max, however I only want to use software I can afford (willing to pay for) - either I pay what it cost, or I will find a cheaper/free alternative.

Then I noticed Blender (a "stupid name", but a great product). Blender is open-source and it is available for both PC, OSX and Linux. When I started using Blender it was in version 2.49, but I didn't use it much before version 2.50 was released, which was a good thing, since version 2.50 was more or less a re-write of the software with an entirely new user interface (. In the first versions of the 2.50's a lot of the features from 2.49 were still missing (were still to be implemented). But the fact I had only done a little work with 2.49, I was not missing these features and I didn't have to un-learn/re-learn how to use various features. Since these features (and a lot more) have been added to Blender and the GUI have really improved other the last versions.

My “skills” in Blender is nowhere near where I would like them to be, as I have not used this great software enough to get proficient. Also over the last many versions a lot have changed (no less than 2 new/different render-engines and a redesign of the GUI), so those “skills” I had for version 2.50’ish are all obsolete today. Perhaps I will have a some more time for Blender in the future, but so far other things have taken my time.

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