Which tools do you use for your graphics if you are not a graphic designer?

Discussion in 'Mac Programming' started by frank100, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. frank100 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 9, 2012
    #1
    After some time googling around, I still cannot find a good tool for a problem I guess that most iOS and Mac programmers have. Most of the icons I deal with are in PNG format, but you know, that is not a good format if you want to resize, specially whenever I want an extra small version for a table cell.

    On the other hand there are vector formats like PSD, and usually the format given by most graphic designers.

    I own Pixelmator and it suits my editing needs... except when it comes to resizing icons because of its awful vector graphic support. I don't want to buy Photoshop because Pixelmator does everything else I need, however I am usually stuck with a PSD file and unable to cut / resize the icon I want.

    I have seen many vectorial and/or vector graphics tool, but when working with icons I usually just want to cut / resize an icon from a PSD file with vector graphics. What do you use for you icons? What is out there at a reasonable price if you just want to resize? I have some tools that helps you to get the right size if you want an icon for a navigation bar, push button, menu, table cell... but that is just a minor wish.

    For the people with more experience dealing with graphic designers. I could even make this question more generic: Which alternative tools (non $$$ Adobe) do you usually use to deal with the work given by graphic designers?
     
  2. charlieegan3 macrumors 68020

    charlieegan3

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2012
    Location:
    U.K
  3. frank100 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 9, 2012
    #3
    I have used both of them but most of the time they have problems rendering PSD files.

    Also, they pixelate any vector PSD file. Looks like they convert the vector graphics to a bitmap before loading. Obviously that ruins any attempt of resizing.
     
  4. charlieegan3 macrumors 68020

    charlieegan3

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2012
    Location:
    U.K
    #4
    I've never had any issues with Pixelmator, but if thats the case maybe you should try APS Elements.
     
  5. Mac_Max macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2004
    #5
    PSD is not a vector format, though it can contain vector elements. In general Photoshop isn't really the right tool for this as it's a raster graphics program that happens to have some vector capabilities. No PSD file in any situation is going to resize perfectly and will always perform best at certain fractional levels (i.e. 1/4 size).

    If you're going to use a raster graphics program, your best bet is to make your graphics huge and scale them down.

    Illustrator is a better tool however as it will produce actual vector graphics. Another app available for under $50 is Artboard. I haven't used it yet for anything production-wise but when I decided to not upgrade my Adobe software I purchased it and Pixelmator (which has been excellent).
     
  6. lucidmedia macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2008
    Location:
    Wellington, New Zealand
    #6
    While illustrator is a great program for creating vector shapes for print, I find Photoshop's blend of vector shapes and bitmaps a far superior a tool for designing icons for screen use. It is easier to see how a vector icon will "interact" with the fixed grid of pixels in photoshop than in illustrator, which still feels anchored in the print production world. Photoshop always provides a pixel-perfect representation of your icon as you scale it. I have not found this to be true with illustrator.

    So, in my opinion, A raster program that allows you to define content in a scalable vector format is far more useful than a full on vector drawing tool. This is why Photoshop and Fireworks are so popular with UX designers -- both tools are quite powerful at "skinning" vector shapes with pixels.

    While there are open source programs that compete with the core base of both illustrator and Photoshop, I have not seen many that aim for the weird middle ground that UX designers want. Sketch looks promising, but I have not spent a lot of time with it:

    http://www.bohemiancoding.com/sketch/

    The simple answer is that there are no bitmap editors that cover the full range of Photoshop's features. It is kinda hard to avoid, especially if people are sending you work in PSD native format to implement and edit.
     
  7. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    Isla Nublar
    #7
    Inkscape is free, I never used it though but I know people who have and like it.
     
  8. dejo Moderator

    dejo

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Location:
    The Centennial State
    #8
    I use Photoshop Elements. However, my skills are, admittedly, fairly rudimentary.
     
  9. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium

    KnightWRX

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2009
    Location:
    Quebec, Canada
    #9
    Gimp here. Though I don't mess with vector graphics, just plain multi-layered bitmaps. I also don't use PSD files, I usually use pngs for the final images and save to Gimp's XCF format for my work canvas.
     
  10. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    Isla Nublar
    #10
    I guess I never did answer the OP's question.

    For graphics I'll usually use Photoshop although if its gradient heavy I use Pixelmator (Pixelmators real time gradients, as well as its generators are awesome).

    If I'm after a certain look I'll often use Corel Painter and if I'm incorporating 3D into anything I'll use Maya, Modo, ZBrush, or Houdini mixed with Photoshop.

    That being said my stuff is most likely overkill for what you may want it for but at least you have an idea of what programs go well together.
     
  11. Cromulent macrumors 603

    Cromulent

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Location:
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    #11
    GIMP, Inkscape and Blender for me. Brilliant apps that do everything I require of them.
     

Share This Page