Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator…sigh. Sometimes I feel like being a casual user of an Adobe product is a little like attempting your own dentistry. Actually, since the world of mouths and gums is fairly finite, maybe that’s not an adequate hyperbolic comparison. Maybe I need to liken it to orthopedic surgery. Of course, I do have at least one reader who has dabbled in oral surgery, so I better be careful. The fact of the matter is, whenever I have to get seriously cozy with an Adobe product, my head comes dangerously close to exploding.
The problem is, Adobe’s products are too powerful. That’s a hard admission to make. I spent a good portion of my career writing software, and I never thought that software tools could ever be powerful enough, let alone too powerful. Then, one day, one of our engineers asked me to help him configure footnotes, table of contents and indexes in Microsoft Word. That’s when I realized that software can, in fact, be too powerful.
Compared to Adobe Creative Suite, Word, Excel and Power Point might as well be sold under the Fisher-Price brand. Kid’s stuff. I swear, there’s a hidden multi-key combo in Photoshop that will let you bring your images to life. The average power user doesn’t know the combo, and it involves that squigly-inside-out-rounded-corner key that’s only on a MacBook, but I’m certain it can be done. The next time you visit an artist, take a good look at their cats. Those aren’t natural.
The other problem I have with Adobe is that I know more than enough to get myself in trouble. I know what I can do. I know what I’ve seen others do – like when you read one of those start-with-this-piece-of-crap-photo-and-turn-it-into-something-magical blog prompts, and the person describes what they did.
“I removed all the wires, the dead tree and I replaced the new truck in front of the barn with a rusted 1932 Chevy Confederate Pickup. Then I brought the barn to life in my back yard and hired a crew of workman shore-up the foundation. Then I pulled it back into Photoshop and replaced the concrete foundation they poured with stone, using the random-rubble filter set to Scotland, circa 1640. Then I planted heritage grass, unpaved the road and changed the filtering effect of the atmosphere to what it was before the last flip of the magnetic poles.”
As far as using Adobe’s Suite of products goes, my capability varies. For example, I actually understand InDesign fairly well. If I were back in the dental analogy, I could put braces on your kid in InDesign. Maybe not your only child, maybe not your favorite child, but that middle boy, yeah I could do that. With Photoshop, I guess I’d be closer to fillings and simple root canals. As far as Illustrator goes, I could tell you to floss.
There’s another, lesser-known Adobe product, Dreamweaver that I am somewhat familiar with. Dreamweaver is for web development. I used to use it when it was a Macromedia product, the people who unleashed Flash on an unsuspecting world. Adobe bought Macromedia, did not give me a “suite-level” upgrade despite the fact that I owned the Macromedia Suite, and hasn’t done much to improve Dreamweaver or put us out of the misery that is Flash.
Unfortunately, Illustrator is the product that I had to work with. I was trying to produce an InfoGraphic. I hate that word, but that’s what the assignment was. My first thought was to run as far away from Illustrator as I could get. That, by the way, would be Canva, a web-based infographic-making-service. Canva proved to be extremely rigid and there was no way I was going to get the look we wanted. I knew I’d end up in Illustrator. In the past, I’ve actually used a CAD system to build complex graphics and Visio to build less-complex graphics just to avoid Illustrator.
In case you’re interested in this stuff, I mean, you are still here reading, Visio is to Illustrator what Chef Boyardee is to your Italian grandmother.
You would think, since it’s a “suite” of products, that knowing InDesign would help me understand Illustrator. That’s true…to a degree. For example, when you want to insert a graphic image, you use the “File->Place” command. Of course, the larger issue is that they didn’t call that function “Insert” instead of “place.” I get it, I’m placing an object on the page, but it’s not an object I have. It’s like rearranging the living room furniture you haven’t bought, or the furniture you bought from IKEA, but for which you’ve lost the wrench.
I think that’s the best way to describe my situation. Adobe Illustrator is like IKEA furniture without the wrench – so little chance of success – but so much potential.
This post was written by the voices that have been trapped behind a “Caution Adobe Illustrator at Work” sign all week, as part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday.
Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday and Just Jot It January is: A word that starts with “P.” Find a word that begins with the letter “p,” and make it the theme of your post. Bonus points for starting and ending your post with a “p” word. Enjoy!
Someone’s getting bonus points.
The gallery has a few photos that I was going to write about, until I saw those bonus points.