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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.
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What are students saying about classes at BobTeachesArt.com?
Bucky Jones – Illustrator
Candice Davies, Author Illustrator
Tara Urbach – Artist
Weekly Video Tutorials
A great way to sharpen your skills in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign?
Creating a Soft Edge Vector Mask .AI
Using the Photoshop Liquify Filter
Cleaning up PDF’s Hidden Layers With .AI
Cleaing up the Brush Strokes in .AI
Photoshop’s Liquify Filter
This week we’ll be taking a look at one of my favorite filters in Photoshop, the Liquify Filter. Normally this is the filter you see a lot of people using to retouch photos and change body shapes but today we’re going to try something a little different. In this video I’m going to show you how to use the Liquify Filter to add life and movement to an otherwise somewhat static illustration. I love this technique because it’s such a quick east fix to an otherwise fairly common looking illustration. Next time you’re looking to add a little life to an illustration or photo why not give the Liquify Filter a try?
My name is Bob Ostrom and I am an instructor and expert user in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. These are not just the programs I teach they are the programs I use on a daily basis to create award winning illustrations and top notch design. I provide private online and in person instruction for all levels of students. To schedule a tutoring session focusing on any or the three programs listed above simple use this handy link.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 old laptop. 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
I 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!!!
My 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:
- Plan to sell your computer and need to ship it
- Need to transport your Cintiq and don’t want to worry about damaging it
- 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.
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.