Saturday, January 7, 2012

First Mac Lesson Successful

Okay, first off, I wasn't trying to shoot the moon here. I thought that the best first test of my newish MacBook Pro was to make something that would be quick and easy for me on the PC with CorelDRAW.

Jinx in her favorite Christmas present.
So, I thought, why not LOLCats? Basically, all that is involved in that sort of graphic is a picture with text on top. You find a picture of a cat first. I had this one from my own cat under the Christmas tree.

Okay, that'll do. But what should it say?





Okay, you get the idea. A suitably pidgin English phrase wuz was all I needed.

Now, in CorelDRAW, I'd just paste the picture on the pasteboard, after copying from its location (in this case, Facebook). Will that work in Illustrator?

Picture pasted copying it from the internet and posting
onto the pasteboard in Adobe Illustrator CS5.
As it turns out, yes! In my previous Mac, such an action would have returned an error message. But it works in Adobe Illustrator CS5. Cool

Next, I had to type my message. Then, select the text and pick a font, in this case "Impact" will foot the bill. Then, assign an outline, and color the letters white. This is what most LOLCat pictures look like after all.

But I ran into a small problem. And to understand what it is, you sort have had to deal with vector graphics yourself.

The outline, when applied and thickened up tends to obscure the letter faces. As you can see in the next picture.

Yucky outline. Howz I ficks?

See, not too pretty, is it. In CorelDRAW, I would simply have applied the "behind fill" command, and possibly "scale with image," in case I wanted to change the size of the text, but keep the outline proportional. This is second-nature stuff to me in Corel, and even in Gerber Omega Composer, my sign software at work. But not so, at least as far as I can find in Illustrator.

No matter. I've worked with enough files from Mac artists to know that they cheat in their drawings to achieve the same effects that I apply the correct way! So, I simply copied the text, pasted in place--which I had to figure out how to do!--and removed the outline from the newly pasted text. Voila!

Now, before you jump on me, I'm completely aware that this is a super-duper simple exercise, particularly for experienced Illustrator artists. In Corel, I could do the job in under three minutes, no problem. And in truth, it probably only took twice that long in Illustrator for me. But it goes to show you that you can apply knowledge from one program to a similar but different one. It will take more study to find out if "behind fill" and "scale with image" are features within Illustrator, and I just don't (yet) know where they are.

I will say that I much prefer the Corel/PC interface, having used it for so long. I love the dynamic toolbar in Corel, that puts all of your tools' variables in one simple toolbar, and changes them, depending upon which tool you're using. It's invaluable. It also may have a doppelgänger in Illustrator, and I just haven't found it.

For now, this satisfies my "must learn on the Mac" New Year's resolution, at least for today. Tomorrow, I'll try something a little more challenging. For now? I'z done. Now I can has cheezburger.

Incidentally, this operation would have taken an interminable amount of time on my old PowerBook. With the MacBook Pro, I was running iTunes (Adele's 21), PhotoShop, Adobe Illustrator and Safari, all at once, and toggling between them. There was no performance lag, no "spinning beach ball of death." It works. So I can say without reservation that 2011's four-year-old Mac is a much more useable than 2009's five-year-old Mac! Don't buy a PowerBook on eBay under any circumstances (I can say this now that mine sold!).

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