Schedule a Tutoring Session

tutoring, ostrom

Personalized Tutoring Sessions $50.00

My teaching philosophy is simple, learning new skills should never feel intimidating or overwhelming. My computer classes focus on basic principles you will use everyday. Each lesson is broken down into small easy to understand tasks that gradually build on one another. Although much of the subject matter we discuss tends to be on the technical side, it is always taught in a simple, practical manner. My goal is to make sure students gain a total understanding of how and why things work the way they do. 

 

 


 

What are Students Saying?

What are students saying about classes at BobTeachesArt.com?

Bucky Jones – Illustrator

Wow, Bob Ostrom is an awesome teacher! Seriously, what he covered in 1/2 an hour, and how he was able to explain it in a way that even I could understand...just awesome! If you ever have the chance to take a class or have a lesson with him, I highly recommend it! Thanks, Bob!

Candice Davies, Author Illustrator

I'm writing to sing the praises of Bob Ostrom. It's clear from his artwork that he's mastered his media and is an accomplished artist. But being accomplished doesn't necessarily equate to being a quality teacher. How many of us have had that 'genius' professor that was just plain incomprehensible? I have. Paid big bucks for "industry standard" gurus before I met Bob, and each one left me feeling more inept and discouraged than before. Fortunately, Bob is one of the rare jewels in which craftsmanship and quality instructor coalesce. His delightful sense of humor makes learning fun and his sincere desire to help his students unlock their potential make learning relevant and exciting.

Tara Urbach – Artist

Thanks Bob! I'm so happy I took this 3 pack of classes for Illustrator. I was proficient coming in - but I knew I could benefit from Bob's years of professional experience and the fact that he stays so current with the upgrades. I picked up a lot of tips that will help me with my speed and efficiency - which was my goal. Mission accomplished! Thanks again!!!

Latest Posts

Being the Lone Ranger Sucks.

Online Teaching

I started teaching professionally about 6 or 7 years ago. Not long after that I started teaching online. It was a dream of mine for many years but figuring out how to bring my classes to the internet was a huge challenge. As technology has progressed it’s been easier to reach more students. My main goal is the same now as it was then. I want to help people. Maintaining it all however takes a tremendous amount of effort. Oh sure, it starts out innocently enough. A class here, and online session there but what happens when it’s time to grow? Unfortunately there are only so many hours in a day and trying to do it all is not the solution. It’s too big a job and frankly being the Lone Ranger sucks.

Working with Good People

About a year or two ago I started sharing my ideas for online teaching with a few friends. I was trying to find some highly qualified people who shared the same vision. It wasn’t easy and there were quite a few false starts. It was frustrating. I considered focusing my efforts on other things but I didn’t want to let it go. I knew if I could find the right team we could really make a difference. I was about ready to give up when I met with a couple of friends, also teachers, and we started to talk. We were all pretty much feeling the same thing. Bringing our talents online so we could reach more people was the dream, pooling our efforts was the solution.

What’s Askillity.com

We realized it was time to get serious. We began making plans a little over a year ago. The first step was to put out a pilot class, Illustrator 101, to see how it might work. We learned a lot. We continued to generate plans for new classes with local and online events to follow. We had weekly meetings and started putting the pieces together to make it real. I’m happy to announce that moving forward I will be working with two of the most talented teachers I know, Rob Rode and Kelly Phillips. Our combined efforts can be found at Askillity.com. Some of you who are frequent visitors here may recognize those two names. For those of you who have not met Kelly or Rob you are in for a treat.

What happens to BobTeachesArt?

How does that effect what’s happening on this site? You won’t notice a huge change. I will still post lots of great weekly content but moving forward my online classes will begin migrating to Askillity.com. This site will be dedicated mainly to individual coaching and online tutoring. You may also notice announcements posted here about upcoming Askillity.com classes and events just like the video at the beginning of this post.

Thank you

Before I wrap up I just wanted to thank you for being a part of BobTechesArt.com and helping me to realize a dream. You guys are the best and its been great meeting you and getting to know you through the online classes, tutoring sessions and your frequent support. It’s been my absolute pleasure to share in your success stories and to see you grow and realize your dreams as well.

improve your design quick tip

Elementor, the Best WordPress Page Builder Plug-in I’ve Used so far.

Screen-Shot-2014-05-30-at-11.10.12-PM

I'm trying a new page builder called  Elementor this week.

I'm trying out a new editor/page builder called Elementor this week and it rocks! I've been dying to find a plug in like this for a long time. Elementor allows you to edit your page layout in real time. Setting up things like columns, images and basic layout functions are super easy but what I like best is that I can see it on the fly.

The Designer in me wanted something more and it delivered.

I'm a designer so being able to see my layouts as I create them is a huge step forward when it comes to working with WordPress. Up until now I've been using a different page builder plug in that basically only shows colored blocks. The blocks are labeled but to see what the layout looks like you have actually preview the page and that's a pain. 

Breaking the Mold.

How many of you work in WordPress can I see a show of hands? How many of you who do wish you had better control over how your pages looked and thought about how great it would be if you could finally break the mold and edit on the fly?

bob ostrom photo

Party Time USA

Okay, I realize that this isn't the prettiest layout you've ever seen but you have to admit the flexibility  is pretty crazy. The best part is it took me the same amount of time to put this together as it would a normal post and that's huge no matter how you slice it.

How Does it Work?

elementor visual So, like I said I'm pretty new to Elementor but you can bet that I'll be continuing to work with it and learning how to get the most out of this plug in. As I get better and learn more I'll fill you guys in on the details but for now I thought it would be fun just to play around with it a little and see what it can do.

Keep in mind there is no coding going on here in fact I don't even really know anything about coding. Basically the way this plug in works is it throws out a view of your site. In this case I'm working on a post so Elementor shows me what that post looks like in real time. There is a small block below the section that I'm working on that allows me to either work from a template or to add a new section (I've been working with new sections). Each time I add a section a list of goodies pops up in a side bar to the left. I simply grab the one I want and drop it into the new section. It's as easy as falling off a log.

Right away I can see this is going to be amazing for building a customized websites like my portfolio site. I can't tell you how many templates I've tried to get that thing to look the way I want it to. From free to paid I could never find one that did everything I wanted it to. I'm happy to say that it looks like that frustrating chapter is about to change.

Well that's it for this round. Please come back and join me in a few weeks (once I have this thing figured out) for a more proper review. I'm hoping by then I'll be able to walk you through some of the features this plug-in has to offer and maybe even give an example of how it worked rebuilding my portfolio site. Until then stay tuned for more exciting updates. 

I'd like to give a quick shout out to Kim Doyal from the Word Press Chick podcast where I first heard about Elementor. You guys know my specialty is working with and teaching the Adobe programs so if you really want to learn about Word Press and all the cool things it can do check out her site at: https://thewpchick.com/ or better yet check out her podcast at: https://thewpchick.com/podcasts/ I guarantee you will learn something great! 



teaching-handsBob Ostrom is a professional illustrator who believes if you want to be a pro you need to learn from a pro. To set up a personalized tutoring session with Bob in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign just use this handy link!

featured image cintiq repaired

The Full Story of how I had my Cintiq Repaired

img_3226It’s pink

 I think the screen looks a little pink. Does it look pink to you? That’s definitely pink! Why is my screen PINK???!!! I’ve got work to do…Why is this happening NOW!!! I’m in the middle of a deadline!!! Last Summer my Cintiq’s screen started acting a little funny. At first it’s was just for a minute or two. Nothing serious. I hardly even noticed. Then one day in the middle of a big project it turned pink and stayed pink until I restarted the computer. If it was broken it would have to wait. I was too busy to slow down. Later I got in touch with my buddy Jesse to see if he could help me figure things out. We ran through every software approach we could think of but the problem persisted. We talked about other possibilities and he reassured it was probably just a connector, nothing to worry about. 

Step 1: Hardware vs Software.

connectors photo by bob ostrom

I ordered a new connector on Amazon the next day. The way I figured it I’d start with the cheapest fix I could find and work my way up. I had already exhausted all software options so I figured this was probably step one. The connector showed up a few days later. I installed it and waited. Sure enough an hour or so later my screen went pink. I tried Googling for fixes but there is precious little info out there on Cintiq repair so I got back in touch with my buddy Jesse to see if we could find another option. In the back of my mind I guess I knew it was the Cintiq all along but I was kind of hoping it was the computer. My computer was old and needed to be replaced anyway. I really didn’t want to face the cost of having to replace both. The way I figured it if it was the computer I was all set. Two birds one stone.

 

Step 2: Testing

To determine which one was really causing the problem I had to do some testing. Great if you have lots of equipment sitting around, not so good if all you have is a tired oldlaptop. Sometimes you just have to play the cards your dealt so I hooked up the lap top and gave it a try. I wasn’t able to reproduce the pink screen. I tried the same experiment with Jesse’s computer, same results. I assumed it was my computer. Lucky me. Just what was hoping for. As I was celebrating the screen flashed pink then stayed pink. I did my best to work with the Cintiq from the on as a sketch tool and doing my best to ignore the pink screen. Eventually it became too much.  I decided it was time to look into repair. 

Step 3: Repair

cintiq broken screen photo by bob ostromI called Wacom and talked with them about the problem. They were polite and friendly but it took a while to diagnose and get an estimate on repair. I was told the repair cost would either be 300 or 800 depending on the problem. To determine which I needed to record a video of my screen and email it to them. Once they received the video they would be able to nail it down. It turned out to be the $300 repair. That was good news…I guess. The bad news was it was going to take roughly 10 to 15 business days plus shipping time to fix. That’s a long time to wait for a repair. It’s a lifetime when you’re in the middle of a deadline. I decided to hold off as long as I could. I held my breath hoping I could get through my deadline before it completely died. Eventually the screen turned from pink to red and working with it became an exercise in futility. It was impossible to look at for any length of time even if I was just using it for sketching. I had driven that mule as far as it was going to go. It was time to make some decisions. I looked at a lot of different options. A new replacement meant coming up with over $2000. A used Cintiq is much more affordable  anywhere from 500 to $1000 but there’s no warranty. That means if a problem pops up you’re right back where you started from. I looked into some other options by different manufacturers but decided in the end the repair was probably my best bet.

 

Step 4: Setting up the Repair

Wacom located my ticket from the the first call and we scheduled the repair. Important note: When you’re working with Wacom you pay up front. The charge goes through when the work is done but the credit information is collected in advance. After lining up the charge I received an email with a set of guidelines. These included a case number and shipping instruction. Mailing a Cintiq is expensive through UPS I was looking at around 75 bucks. There are more expensive options but I chose ground. You are shipping to the upper north west so that means it’s more expensive for us east-coasters. My packaging was basically bullet proof. I used plenty of styrofoam, packing peanuts, plastic bubble wrap and an extra heavy duty cardboard box made up my container. The trick is to make sure there is heavy padding on all sides so that the Cintiq can’t slide around much inside the box. Movement = damage. I covered the screen with a gloss coated paper and then a sheet thin styrofoam to protect from scratches and other damage. After that, bubble wrap was securely fastened to all the corners. I used a heavy duty scotch brand packing tape to cover the rest of the Cintiq with bubble wrap and also to secure the box. Regular packing tape has a tendency to pull way from cardboard that doesn’t have a gloss coating. The heavy duty stuff costs a little more but knowing your package won’t fall apart make it worth the extra money.  Although my packaging was designed to be bullet proof I still took out insurance. No matter how well you pack there’s no guarantee that accidents won’t happen. Better safe than sorry. If you use a UPS drop off location like I did they will help you determine the value and cost of. I highly recommend purchasing insurance. It will keep you out of trouble if something goes wrong. 

Step 5: Waiting

As I mentioned earlier, it takes a long time for shipping and repair. Figure on being down for pretty close to a month. Yup, you read that right. If you’re thinking you’ll be back up and running with your shiny new repair in a week or two you better think again. Being down for that long means you’re scheduling will be deeply effected. 

Step 6: A Little Planning Goes a Long Way.

 If you’re working exclusively on a Cintiq you may not remember how working with an Intous tablet or a mouse might effect your speed. Here’s a look at what I found. Hopefully this will help you with your planning. The Cintiq is the fasted tool I have so it will set the standard. Each of the following will be based on that measurement Cintiq companion – The Cintiq companion is a great tool but it’s smaller size tends to slow down production. It also has a difficult time with some of the functions in Adobe Illustrator. Because you are working directly on the screen however it is still the best substitute for replacing the larger desk top model. My experience was I was able to match the speed of the desk top Cintiq by about 75%. This estimate is based on setting up a work surface with the keyboard parked next to it. The beauty of the Companion however is that it’s portable. If you choose to park yourself on the couch and take advantage of the mobility you can figure on reducing your sped by about another 10% or so and that’s because using the keyboard for key commands now  becomes kind of a pain in the butt. If you go this direction you can expect somewhere around a 66% efficiency. Intous Pro large – The Intuos is a great tool. I used it for many years before the Cintiq. It is however much slower than a Cintiq and the Cintiq companion. Taking away the direct on screen drawing will reduce your speed by about 50%. Some people are better on the Intuos than I am but I find drawing with it incredibly difficult. Tracing is no problem but drawing is a nightmare. If you have a choice the larger size is better. It is quite a bit more expensive though so unless you have money to burn you’re probably better off with the smaller size. Intuos Pro small – The smaller size Intuos is the size I used for years before the Cintiq 21UX. It got me through over two hundred books and more than ten years of illustration. Do I wish I did those years and those books with a Cintiq? Of course, but if there ever was a work horse this is it. The difference between this and the large size in terms of speed doesn’t add up to much of a difference I would also mark this one at around 50%. The time that size matters most if in convenience. At the smaller size refinements are more difficult as well as simply running out of surface area. Mouse – The mouse is basically built for design work. So if you are fortunate enough that you can move your schedule around so that your focus during your down time is design you’ll be fine. If you are planning to take on an illustration project with your mouse you are probably in trouble. You can expect to reduce your time down to about 30% efficiency,  if it can be done at all. There are some exceptions to this rule and that goes to my friends who work with vector art in very graphic or more simple styles. Guys who like to use the pen tool and are very precise with their work with not feel as much pain as the rest of us do. Anyone who relies on detailed brushwork or detailed digital painting will probably regret not having a replacement plan in place before send out for repair. 

Step 7:It’s back!!!

cintiq repaired photo by bob ostromMy Cintiq arrived fully repaired last week. The work was excellent. The packaging was also. Quick word of advice: Save the packing box and material Wacom sends you. It will come in handy later if you:

  1. Plan to sell your computer and need to ship it
  2. Need to transport your Cintiq and don’t want to worry about damaging it
  3. Are planning on moving anytime soon

So far it looks like the repair has fixed my problems. Except for the long wait, my experience with Wacom was excellent. If you find yourself in a similar situation and can spare the time I would recommend it. It’s too bad there is no way to have the Cintiq fixed locally but if you plan accordingly, repairing your tablet will save you quite a bit of money or buying new.  

improve your design quick tip

How to clean up unwanted hidden PDF layers using Adobe Illustrator.

I was working on some design stuff, here at the studio last week, when I ran into a problem that kind of surprised me. The files had been created by another designer and needed some simple text updates. As I was updating them I created new layers for the changes. I also created separate layers for the original items. I turned those off so they wouldn’t show when I saved them out as PDF’s…. or so I thought. Turns out that while it all checked out and looked beautiful on my machine the files were a total mess when viewed elsewhere.

I couldn’t understand what was happening. I reviewed all the files and everything looked fine. My first thought maybe it was  a compatibility issue with older software trying to open up newer files, but that wasn’t it either. The only solution I could think of was to go back into the files and gut the hidden layers. It worked but it wasn’t a great solution. The problem was I was throwing away information I might need to go back to later if the files changed again.

I decided to dig a little deeper. It turns out that the files worked on my machine because I was using Adobe Acrobat to view them. Unfortunately for me  not everybody uses Acrobat to view PDF’s and that’s when things get unpredictable. In this case Apple’s Preview was the culprit. It wasn’t able to distinguish between hidden and viewable layers so it simply showed everything (including my hidden layers). I did a little research, played around with the files and tried a few ideas until until I found some fixes.

In this video I’ll show you the problem and then two solutions I found that seem to clean things up. If you’ve ever run into a similar problem and have another solution, not shown in the video, please feel free to share by adding a comment below. As Always thanks for watching and see you next week.

 

 

For info on upcoming classes and more…

Classes

discount bundle art

Discount Special - $50 (ends 8/27/16)

 

advanced line art part one image

Part 1 - $10.00

 

Part 3 - 39.00

Part 3 - 39.00

 

the big class of color image

Part 2 - $39.00

 

tutoring, ostrom

Personalized Tutoring Sessions $50.00