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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

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!!!


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

Latest Posts

simple tip from

How to Change the Default Viewing Program on Your MAC

The Problem:

I was working on my new computer today and I ran into one of those little things that kind of drives me nuts. I clicked on a file expecting it to open in Photoshop and instead it opened in Preview. Don’t get me wrong there’s nothing wrong with Preview, unless of course you need something to open on Photoshop. I know there is a way to get my new computer to open files with Photoshop and I remember setting this up on my last computer but it’s been four and half years and I’ve completely forgotten how to make it work.  I realize it’s a small thing but what can I say?

So to save you a trip to Google I’ve built a complete step by step walk through of the entire process. I hope you’ll find this useful. If you do make sure to share the article so anyone else struggling with the set up doesn’t have to go searching for it.

Who’s this for?

This one’s for Mac users only. Sorry PC users, nothing to see here…. Move along…. Move along.

How to Fix It:

There’s a very simple fix for this but if you’re like me you probably set it up once on an old computer and have long forgotten how you did it. Don’t worry I’ve got you covered. Just follow the instruction below and you’ll be good until it’s time for another new computer.

Step 1:

Find the file you want to open and select it by clicking on it once.

how to reassign default viewer program in mac visual 1


Step 2:

From the file menu select “Get Info”. To save a little time you can also use the key command, control+i.

how to reassign default viewer program in mac visual 2

Step 3: 

Find and click on the “Open With” drop down menu.

open with drop down menu

Step 4: 

Select the application you want as your default program. In my case I chose Adobe Photoshop. You can select your own preference from the applications listed.

program selection menu

Step 5: 

You will be prompted with an option to change the program you’ve selected to open all similar files. Click, “Continue” and you’re good to go! Congratulations you have now updated your computer to open and/or view files with the new program of your choice. Happy computing!!!

do I really need a cintiq photo by bob ostrom

The Cintiq, Do I Really Need One?

The Cintiq, the mighty, mighty Cintiq. You’ve been asking yourself forever, do I need one? Do I really need a Cintiq? Will it rocket me and my business to new heights? Will it catapult me to success? If I get one will I become a legend in my own time?  This article will answer all those questions and more. So if you’re on the fence or considering selling your house so you can finally afford one read on grasshopper read on. Quick note: I am not an affiliate with any of the programs or equipment mentioned in this article. I was not compensated in any way for the review you’re about to read. The opinions are all my own and based on my own personal professional experiences.

Who is this review for:

This article is written specifically with the digital artist in mind. As a digital artist you are most likely doing some kind of illustration and or design work on a consistent basis, either for your job or for yourself. You have most likely worked with Adobe CC programs like Photoshop and Illustrator. You probably spend the majority of your time sitting behind a desk producing digital artwork. If this sounds like you, you are definitely in the right place. If this does not sound like you I invite you to read on you may actually find something useful hidden between the lines but keep in mind this article is written with the digital artist in mind.

Do I really need a tablet or can I just stick with my mouse?

apple mouse photo by bob ostrom

The wireless mouse by Apple

Let’s face it unless you’ve won the lottery the Cintiq has a pretty steep price tag. Let’s say you’re still on a mouse budget and you’re wondering if you should sell your car so you can get a Cintiq or if you should just sell your bike so you can grab an Intuos tablet. The best way to answer that is to start by having a look at how the mouse stacks up. Is there any benefit at all to forgoing a tablet and just keeping the mouse?


  • The mouse is super cheap and/or often free with your computer.
  • They even come in wireless
  • Works best with type editing and layout programs like InDesign
  • Comes in lots of cool shapes, colors and sizes
  • Makes a nifty clicking sound when you push down on it.


  • Terrible for drawing.
  • Does not allow users to fully access some of the best drawing features in Photoshop and Illustrator.
  • Less precise than working with a tablet.
  • Minimal cool factor.
  • Point … click … repeat….yawn.

Should I stick with it or upgrade.

Unless you’re just pushing text around or working with simple design you should probably treat yourself to an upgrade. Will it advance your career? Yes. Will it change your business? Yes. Is it worth considering? Yes. As a digital artist it isn’t even a question. Ditch that mouse immediately and grab a tablet

The Intuos tablet.

intuos tablet photo by bob ostrom

The Intuos Pro large wireless. Yup, they come in wireless.

The intuos comes in many sizes and shapes. It also comes with many different options, including touch. What does that mean for you? Simple, if you’re still working with a mouse and don’t want to spring for the Cintiq this may be just what you’re looking for.  Priced in range that is quite affordable you can purchase a Intuos for under 100 bucks. The bells and whistles will cost you extra but for under 100 bucks how can you go wrong?


  • The pressure sensitive stylus will finally allow you to use those special features in Photoshop and Illustrator.
  • The advantages of drawing with a pen vs a mouse are mind blowing.
  • Advanced models come with touch capabilities, wireless and more.
  • You can finally say goodby to that clunky sad little mouse.
  • The cool factor will elevate you to new heights.


  • The tablet rests on your desktop and you draw while looking at your computer. This can feel a little awkward for many artists.
  • While there are wireless options, it’s only as portable as the computer you’re working on.
  • Upgrades like touch, larger size and wireless functions cost extra.
  • Don’t lose the pen, those things are crazy-expensive to replace.
  • Your mouse-friends will be jealous when you get one. Actually not sure if this is a con…

Should I upgrade?

If you’re still pushing a mouse around, stop it! It’s time to upgrade. Get a job mowing lawns or raking leaves, whatever you need to do to earn $100. Using a stylus over a mouse is most definitely a game changer and if 100 bucks is what’s standing between you becoming a pro or staying a hack you seriously need to rethink your business plan.

The Cintiq is it everything they say it is?

the cintiq photo by bob ostrom

The mighty, mighty Cintiq 21 UX (before it was sent off for repair). A true workhorse.

Yes and more. If you haven’t worked with a Cintiq before you don’t know what you’re missing. Recently my machine has some problems and needed repair. Switching from the Cintiq back to an Intuos felt like switching from a rocket ship bound for Mars to a pair of roller skates…with a busted wheel. Don’t get me wrong the Intuos is fine but the Cintiq is the ultimate drawing tool. No questions asked.


  • The Cintiq is the equivalent of being able to draw on your computer monitor.
  • It will increase you speed X10. It is incredibly fast and intuitive.
  • No hand eye displacement here since where you look is where you draw. You will feel like you are working traditionally instead of digitally.
  • Emulates traditional drawing by allowing the artist to draw with the full arm. For some artists this may not seem like much but for others it is everything. You’ll have to decide for yourself if you find this valuable.
  • The cool factor on this is second only to the Cintiq Companion!


  • Very large heavy piece of equipment.
  • NOT portable in any way, shape or form.
  • Can be complicated to set up because of the adapters needed etc.
  • Large, heavy, bulky wires to add to your already crowded collection.
  • Color calibration can be a challenge. Color output may be truer on some but mine always ran warm which was not a problem until it was time to print. I’m hoping the repair will solve that problem but to compensate I work with an iMac screen side by side to help eliminate surprises.

Should I upgrade

Yes, yes and yes. Granted, price on a Cintiq is steep. It will definitely set you back but if you can find a way I can not recommend it highly enough. If you are ready to advance to the next level the Cintiq will happily bring you there and then some. There is a reason professional studios insist on this kind of equipment and if you can swing it so should you!

Sure wish I could go portable. The Cintiq Companion.

cintiq companion photo by bob ostrom

The Cintiq Companion. Highest cool factor or all the Wacom tablets.

The Companion is Wacom’s answer to the quest for mobility. As I mentioned earlier in the article my Cintiq went down this month and had to be sent off for repair. Wacom claims repair can take from ten to fifteen days which is means, factoring in shipping time, almost a month of downtime. That’s a LONG TIME in artist years. Projects come and go very quickly in my studio so my good buddy Jesse was kind enough to lend me his Cintiq Companion while I wait for my lengthy repairs. I can’t thank him enough for his generosity. Jesse, if you’re reading this thank you again for helping me become the coolest kid on the block while I wait for repairs.


  • It’s portable what more do you need?
  • You can actually crawl out from behind your desk and go experience the world again.
  • People you know might actually be able to see and interact with you.
  • It does everything the Cintiq can do but it’s portable!!!
  • Runs the Adobe CC programs you need like Photoshop and Illustrator, not a dumbed down Apple app but the real thing.


  • It’s kind of heavy. I know this seems like a small complaint but if you think you’re going to be drawing on this like an Apple iPad, think again. The weight adds up especially after sitting with it for a while.
  • Coordinating key commands with the separate keyboard is challenging at best. It drops the lounging on the couch and drawing fun factor by at least 10 points.
  • You’re now dealing with battery life. Although it does come with a charger and chord you’ll still need to deal with the idea that you are now on battery time.
  • Smaller screen that the desktop.
  • You’ll need to switch to a Windows platform. Maybe not an issue for you Window users but for us Mac guys it can be a challenge.

Should I upgrade

If you hate being trapped behind a desk this is a great solution. It’s pricey though so brace yourself for some serious sticker shock. It could even be a decent substitute for the desk top Cintiq. If I had to choose between the two I’d stick with the desk top model only because it feels more natural and I work faster there.

The answer to the million dollar question.

Which is better, the Companion or the iPad. Each has its pros and cons but until the iPad can run the Adobe CC programs the decision is very clear for me. I love the iPad and that rocking new pencil they have. It’s second to none. If I could make the iPad work it would definitely be my 1st choice but  to seriously run my business the way I need Photoshop and Illustrator. That is a make or break part of the deal. I’ve seen people do some great things with work around programs but I can’t picture myself staying competitive without the Adobe CC programs.
Note: This is an extremely close race with advancements coming out daily. My issue with Adobe and Apple is already possibly a thing of the past with new apps that let you tap into your own computer and use the iPad essentially as a portable monitor. Since I have very little experience in those areas all I can say for now is, iPad does not run the Adobe CC suite. Yes, there are Adobe apps for iPad but so far they are not a viable substitute for the real thing. I have my fingers crossed hoping that this will all change one day very soon. That way I can finally l step away from my desk and out into the big beautiful world but until it does my choice is the Wacom Cintiq.
simple tip from

Simple Quick Tip: Want a Happy Client?

Make it Christmas, 4th or July and a Birthday Party all Rolled into One!

I talk about keeping clients happy quite a bit on this site and with good reason. That’s because a happy client is good for business. When your clients receive artwork from you they should feel it’s Christmas, The 4th of July and a birthday party all rolled into one. If that’s not happening you may want to take a step back, analyze what you are doing and what you can do to step up your game. Here are three suggestions that can help point you in the right direction.

Be present

There is nothing more frustrating than having to chase someone down for a deadline. Stay in touch with your clients, keep them up to date with occasional progress reports and let them know when they can expect finished work from you. Do not leave them wondering. If you are unavailable when they need you set up a message or an automated response that lets them know you have received their message. Tell them when you will be available to respond. We all have our preferred method of contact. Share that with your client. Let them know the best way to reach you. Ask them the same so you don’t waste time chasing each other.
When my clients ask, I tell them email is great but if they need me right away a phone call is better. If they text me on the other hand it’s hit or miss. Once we have a clear line of communication set up I stick with it. That way I know my messages will always go through. It can become very frustrating when lines of communication break down. Never let your client feel like they have to chase you down to do business with you. Keep it simple. Keep it easy. Make it effortless. Set up your contact guidelines early then stick to them like glue.

Don’t be Flakey

Whether it’s fair or not artists have a reputation as being somewhat flakey. Flakey sucks for business. Missing deadlines and being late are the two surest ways to convince your clients you deserve that flakey reputation. If a deadline is unrealistic let your client know up front and don’t be afraid to negotiate for more time. If for any reason you run into unexpected trouble let your client know immediately. This will give them time to react and that reduces stress on everyone. The more time they have to react the more opportunity they have to address the problem. If you wait until 4:45 in the afternoon the day before your deadline, to announce a problem you have put your client in a very difficult position. Although missing a deadline is not desirable, giving your client a chance to do something about it will go a long way toward repairing the relationship.
There will be times when you run into situations that prevent you completing your assignment on time. That’s just how things go. The earlier you react the better. If you find yourself in a bad position sit down and take a few minutes and ask yourself a few questions. Can it be fixed? How much time will it take? Is there someone else who can fill in for you? Write it down, present it to your client. Include several solutions if possible. Be clear and precise so your client has a full understanding. I know sometimes it feels uncomfortable but trust me your client will appreciate your honesty if you give them a chance to address the situation early.

Bring your A game.

Budgets are tight these days and artists are constantly being asked to do more for less. Although you may find it frustrating never compromise the quality of your work. If the budget doesn’t match your expectations the time to address it is before the project begins. Sometimes clients are unwilling to budge. That simply means you may need to scale down the scope of the project. You may also need to negotiate an extended deadline. If none of these things are possible it’s okay to say, no and turn down the job. If your work is valuable enough they will find it in their budget to hire you another time. Always remember if you deliver a positive work experience your reputation will grow and so will your client list. A happy client is the best kind of client to have.

Upcoming Classes – Fall session

Summer is over, unless of course you live down south in which case it’s still 80 degrees and the leaves are still green. Can’t complain at all this is the best time of year here. With the fall semester now in full swing it’s time for a teaching schedule update! Here’s what’s coming up with BobTeachesArt and a few of the classes I will be teaching online and locally.

Local classes – Digital Illustration

For artists in the Raleigh area.
Starting October 17th – Digital Illustration
Wake Tech – Mill Pond, Western Campus in Cary
Meets Monday and Wednesday evening 6:30 – 9:39pm
This course is intended for anyone who wants to develop or refine and improve their digital art skills. in this class we will produce digital illustrations using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.

What you’ll learn:

Digital artwork offers a host of advantages over traditional methods. Digital artists and professional studios rely on the speed and efficiency of programs like Photoshop and Illustrator to produce their artwork. This class will introduce students to the basics of creating digital illustration using both Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Students will experience the difference between vector and bitmap file types. They will learn the finer points of creating digital artwork for print and online use. Students that complete the course will post portfolio images to the Adobe sponsored site,
Upon completion of this class, students will gain knowledge of digital illustration using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, understand the difference between vector and bitmap file types, and use their knowledge to create an online portfolio of their digital artwork.
  • Overview of vector and bitmap formats
  • Intro to vector / Adobe Illustrator
  • Intro to the drawing tools
  • The pen tool
  • Working with Brushes
  • Understanding and applying color
  • Creating final vector image
  • Intro to Bitmap / Photoshop
  • Basic drawing tools
  • Working with layers
  • Masking techniques
  • Working with color
  • Creating final bitmap image
  • Creating and online portfolio / final project online.

All in One Easy to Find Location

People have been asking me if I could puh-leeeeze locate all my classes in one easy to find location. I hear your request and I’m happy to report that the solution is under way. All my classes, paid and free, will soon be in one location that is super easy to find and super easy to use. My new site accepts PayPal and features a private individual membership for each user who signs up. The new site is especially designed to help guide you through classes in a super organized way. It cost me a little more to host the classes on this sight but I’ll let you in on a little secret. You guys are totally worth it!!!  I hope you like the upgrades.
Just a quick side note. If you ever select any of my classes and find you are unhappy with them for whatever reason I promise two things. First I won’t make fun of you in front of all your friends and second I will offer you a full refund if you get in touch with me within 30 days of your purchase. Posting all my classes to a single location is going to take some time so please check back often to make sure you don’t miss anything. If you’re not a big spender or you’re on a budget don’t worry BobTeachesArt has got you covered with plenty of free tutorials too. Just create an account, log in and you’re good to go! See you at the new site!


I do have sessions available starting in October for student looking for a more personalized learning experience. Call me or get in touch through the site to find out about times and dates. As of this posting I have several sessions opening up on Fridays. Contact me here for more details.
Sessions are $50 per hour online, 65 in person. Online sessions can also be recorded for a small additional fee.

Live sessions.

Oh man you guys I can’t wait to share what we’ve got planned for next semester. Unfortunately there are still some logistics to be worked out so I can’t get into too many details but there will be some live events coming up in the near future you won’t want to miss. I’ve been working hard with my buddy Rob for the past year to make this a reality and I think you’re really going to like it. I will be making announcements a little later in the year to let you know more the special live events we have planned.

Student art

I was talking with an artist from my Advanced Line Art Techniques course this week over on the Facebooks. His name is Kristopher Anderson but you can call him Kris. Kris had a few questions about what he had learned and shared some art as an example. I was totally blown away by his mad skills and asked if he wouldn’t mind if I shared it here on the site with you guys. Kris agreed so here it is! If you like this art as much I  do make sure to let him know about it! You can find Kris by heading over to his website at: Thanks again for sharing your excellent art Kris!
artwork by kris anderson

artwork by Kris Anderson Illustration

For info on upcoming classes and more…


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