May. 17th, 2010

egypturnash: (the one true tool)
The thought passed through my mind: "Hey, wasn't Adobe supposed to be upgrading their stuff? I haven't really heard anything about it, maybe I should go look." So I went to Adobe's site, expecting to see trumpeting of lots of useless-sounding features.

But I am pleasantly surprised. I think Illustrator CS5 is the first upgrade with features I want besides "doesn't crash on my new machine/OS" since AI10. Back in 2001, according to Wikipedia. Finally, there's a way to go back in and edit the pressure curve on a brush stroke. And 'bristle brushes', as well - it's like they actually picked up an old copy of Creature House's late, lamented Expression* and started implementing some of its features. They also finally finished the bitmap effects by making their settings be independent of the rasterization resolution; now maybe the annoying "purists" who insist that anything with a raster effect is "no longer vector" because "it doesn't scale" will shut up.

There's also a perspective tool but somehow I doubt I'll use it; I like to distort and skew my perspective by hand. Still, it's a feature I can actually see myself using at some point instead of "hey look, we ported over Flash's sloppy-ass drawing tools" or "we can pick color schemes for you".

Nine years since the last version I actually looked forwards to. Sheesh. Seriously; I've been using pretty much the exact same subset of the program since then. I think the only change that's made it into my workflow is the new gradient editors in CS4, and that's really only because it tends to pitch a fit and crash if you try to edit gradients with them hidden.

More once I actually have it on my machine. *download*

* Expression was pretty awesome. A little glitchy, but it was essentially a Painter to Illustrator's Photoshop - vector-based simulation of natural media. It had some pretty cool ideas but it kinda vanished when Microsoft bought Creature House and turned their tech into some kind of Fireworks clone or something, I'm not really sure what MS Expression actually does as it's Windows-only.
egypturnash: (the one true tool)
Got the palettes set up, got my keyboard shortcuts transferred over. I really wish you could import that shit. I may have to train myself on a new megapalette; the new, twice-as-tall stroke palette now extends off the bottom of my screen.

Got the default documents fixed, too. Goodbye to all the default color swatches, hello my own little set of frequently-used brushes. They live in ~Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe Illustrator CS5/en_US/New Document Profiles, not in the app. Try to remember this for CS6, okay?

Damn. I can't make a bristle brush be a dotted line. I can live with that. Holy shit I just actually used the "eraser" thing they added along with all that Flash-like shit to turn my bristle brush stroke semi-dotted.

Man, now that I have tilt-sensitive brushes I'm really jonesing for the ability to rotate the view arbitratily. Feature request time.

Oh, man, all my frequently-used brushes (except for the signature chop) are pretty much taken care of by the default brush-width profiles that ship with AI. Awesome!

Aaw, geeze, guys. Make your brand new tools work with each other? Why can't I stack a brush-width curve on top of a bristle brush stroke? Lame.

I'm gonna have to play around with the bristle brush settings and make a few messes, soon.

It's really nice to be able to set the file's rasterization level to 72dpi, draw on a blurred-up layer with instant feedback, then bump it up to 300dpi with only the tiniest change in how things look.

Okay how do I do this perspective thing? Menu's ghosted out. Oh, there's a new tool in the toolbar for it. You know, I'm really feeling like AI has so damn many tools in it now, I wanna be able to edit the damn thing and take out stuff. Although Flash has that capability and I've never touched that. On the other hand I only use Flash grudgingly.

I don't understand this perspective thing yet. I guess I should RTFM.

Oh, I see, I control which face of the perspective stuff goes onto with that little cube widget that pops up. Funky.

Ugh, putting stuff onto a perspective plane is a permanent distortion, not a stackable effect. Not to my taste. I'll be sticking with distortion meshes.

Can't dump a d-mesh onto the perspective planes. Why not? Ah well. Can't put a g-mesh on there either.

Huh, secret double-click settings on the perspective tool. And on the new 'shape builder' tool as well.

Shape builder looks cute, if you're the kind of person who likes to weld all their pathfinder operations together permanently. I am not that kind of person, sadly; a lot of what I love about AI is the way everything is endlessly fungible... and most of the tools they've built think more like pixels. Ah well.

*reads the "What's New" section of the help* Ooooh, the new 'stretch control' for brushes will come in handy someday. I can see using it for things like ironwork fenceposts, for instance. Or tails. Or... who knows?

Guess I should try doing a real piece of work in it soon. The brush/lineweight enhancements are a big win; I can see myself using these a lot once I get the hang of 'em. People who like to use AI to reproduce the look of "ink on paper" are probably orgasmic over the lineweight tool.

Oh, ouchie, putting text onto a perspective plane expands it. Yyyyeah, I won't be using this tool until one to five versions from now when they finish it and make it work as a live effect.

Overall? I am not blown away. But I am pretty happy. This is the first update since 10 to give me anything new I actually wanted to play with; I can see the bristle brushes being an interesting new tool (especially once I dig into them and see how much I can abuse them), and I really like the new superpowerful stroke palette. I can ditch a script I used to use to tweak the alignment of dashed lines on closed paths, and oh wow doing my op starburst trick and applying a variable line weight is making my eyes hurt...


that's one oval path, with a dotted line applied, and one of the stock lineweight variations applied. ♥

Still using their annoying Windowsy window-sizing routine, I can still resize shit so that the resize handle falls offscreen, but at least it's not crashing every time I ask it to quit any more. Also the funky AICS5 splash screen is, well, it doesn't have an image on it or anything, but at least it's got some kind of interesting shape to look at it, and it's a much more refined kind of orange instead of a smack in the face with an orange brick.

This is the first version of AI I've actually felt compelled to not get the yoho discount on since 10.

I feel like an abuse victim. I'm repeatedly launching and closing Illustrator CS5 and taking joy in the fact that, unlike CS4, it doesn't crash every time I ask it to quit. Le sigh--

Why doesn't the width-changing tool work on calligraphic brushes? For that matter why can't I make a normal line that has its width profile tied to my stylus pressure? oh man this release has so much PROMISE but none of the features are actually INTEGRATED with each other or the old features; if CS6 fixes that integration I will be squeegasmic.

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