Saturday, February 14, 2015

Quick on the draw

I've been playing with a new toy this week.

In the course of writing, I tend to draw a lot of diagrams. I blogged about this years ago, so no need to repeat the details other than to say that I need to see the space my characters inhabit - in the form of copious maps and plans.

Now that I'm slowly developing my website, I want to share some of this background material online. The trouble is, these are all hand-sketched and largely incomplete. Good enough for writing purposes, where I only need enough to visualize the scene, but not good quality for publication.

I figured the best way to deal with this is to complete selected drawings electronically, using a suitable drawing tool.

The plans for the cruiser Merciless are my first foray into this experiment.
http://www.iansbott.com/merciless-plan
 Here's the original sketch for comparison.
To execute these plans I borrowed a laptop and used Visio. It was easy and satisfying to do and I'm pleased with the results, so I want to do more along the same lines which means investing in drawing software of my own. Because I use a Mac, after some research into Visio alternatives I settled on iDraw.

I use Visio a lot at work and I'm extremely comfortable with it, so switching to iDraw is a bit of a culture shock.

Many of the general concepts are similar to Visio, so it's not completely alien, but there are some basic differences in behavior that keep tripping me up. There's a lot to learn and it's all laid out differently which makes it difficult for someone used to the MS Office look and feel.

Overall, I like Visio, but I suspect iDraw will end up being more suited to my needs. Visio is a great business diagramming tool. iDraw is more of a drawing tool, and offers much greater flexibility to achieve results beyond boxes and lines.

It just takes time...

6 comments:

  1. It does a great job but I have to say that your hand drawings make the ship look sleeker.

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  2. Not sure what's out there for the Mac (as I use a PC) but glad you found a program that works for you.

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  3. I was a professional artist for many years and at the end of my professional career I toyed with a few computer art programs, but it just didn't feel right not getting paint of charcoal on my hands and feeling the paper beneath my touch.

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  4. Delores, the hand drawings include profile views which I did separately. The electronic version posted here is just plan views, which might be giving that impression.

    Alex, it's a bit of a gamble and only time will tell, but it looks promising. I could have got Visio for the Mac, but at ten times the price.

    Stephen, I agree. I don't expect to move away from physical media for actual art, but I view these drawings differently. I see them as business documents to accompany my writing, and I am looking for a level of precision that I can't readily achieve by hand.

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  5. I think it's amazing that you can approach it from two diametrically opposed directions: precision--and artistic creation. Or maybe it's just my brain that perceives it that way. In either case, the drawings are fantastic, Ian!

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  6. Thanks Teresa. I guess it helps that I've always done both. Artistic, free-flowing on the one hand, and diagrammatic work - architectural, ship plans, circuit diagrams etc. - on the other. I see great beauty in the latter too, but approach them very differently.

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