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Mike Doughty

sketchpad.net

Mike Doughty
www.sketchpad.net

Please tell us about yourself, how you turned towards this beautiful world of computer graphics?

My wife and I owned a mail order manufacturing and distribution business which required that we produce and mail a catalog every 4 weeks. We did all the graphics in house – even some of the photography. Because it was so graphics and deadline oriented, we got plenty of practice. I have always been interested in mechanical drawing and illustration. When desktop publishing first became popular in the mid to late 1980s, we immediately saw the potential. At that time we were developing quite a bit of printed material for our business. We realized we could save a lot of money and time by doing it ourselves.

As a professional, tell us your opinion about Desk Top Publishing. Is it an Art or Science?

It is a combination, really. One has to have artistic talent, but at the same time have the technical skills to work with a variety of applications and file formats. One has to be able to hand off viable files that printers and service providers can work with and be able to offer alternatives in case there are incompatibilities.

Do you think a person with no art background can produce good work in computer graphics? What qualities make you professional in this field?

It really depends on a person’s natural abilities. Some people are naturally talented and observant. If one is also a quick study and gets good advice (from published material or from teachers and experienced people in the field) he or she may be able to produce very good results with enough training and practice.

I have a background in mechanical drawing and illustration, plus I was exposed to the old techniques that were in use prior to the desktop computer. At that time everything was done by paste up. We used to knock out the backgrounds of photos by cutting a rubylith mask with a knife then take everything to a litho house and have them strip all the pieces together into a single composition (the final film).

So I had a lot of practice, but I also had a lot of questions and gaps in my training. Once I had the time to devote to it, I was able to fill in those gaps and put all the pieces together. I suppose the qualities I have are that I’m not satisfied until I really understand how to use the various tools.

You have used so many softwares for those amazing tutorials. Could you please compare Quark Express and PageMaker?

I don’t have a lot of experience with PageMaker, but in general, it doesn’t have the same level of control that QuarkXPress has. Quark is deep. It provides so many of the finer details that you can run into. Things are changing now that Adobe has released InDesign, but Quark is still very entrenched. I think PageMaker is better suited for the part time user or for jobs that don’t require the same level of detail as QuarkXPress or InDesign.

Do you think Adobe Illustrator has lots of advantages than Corel DRAW?

No, not lots of advantages…just a couple of big ones. I love CorelDRAW and Illustrator both. The CorelDRAW suite is usually a great value with a lot of extras like fonts, clipart and stock photos – and many useful utility applications. You can count on Illustrator to be rock solid reliable, though. If you hand off an EPS file created in Illustrator, you can count on it to be clean because EPS is PostScript and Adobe is the source of PostScript. The last thing you want is a snag at output time. In my experience, I just prefer working with Illustrator over CorelDRAW as a main application.

Where does Macromedia Freehand stand in the softwares like Corel and illustrator? Does it have some other advantages?

I am also on the receiving end of various file formats and I see a lot of FreeHand files. I don’t know if it is used more than Illustrator or not, but I use it more than Illustrator. In my workflow I will use FreeHand, but will often port the files to Illustrator format.

FreeHand has a nice “snap to point”. I also like the “find and replace graphics”. Sometimes I have to replace a color throughout the file. I also like the fact that FreeHand supports multiple page documents and that each page can be a different size.

Again, I feel that FreeHand and Illustrator are more reliable than CorelDRAW, but this opinion is just based on my experience. I have noticed, however, that more and more service providers support CorelDRAW than in the past. Please bear in mind I don’t have the latest versions of Illustrator, FreeHand or CorelDRAW so I am only going by the older versions I am using. I want to be fair in my comments.

You have used only Photoshop tutorials in your top links. Do you use it exclusively? Could you tell your perceptions about this magical software?

Yes, it’s the only image editor I use – along with ImageReady. I also use Macromedia Fireworks, but mainly for making menu bars and rollover buttons for websites after I have done the image editing in Photoshop and ImageReady. Photoshop is just the best.

Please tell us your judgment while using fonts. Font is itself a vast subject. You must have seen lots of changes during your career. We would like to have your opinion about font technology.

I have seen some changes in font technology. Adobe Multiple Master font technology was not used as much as regular PostScript fonts. When Mac OS X first came out there was a “dfont” format. Since then I haven’t seen any commercial or freeware fonts available in that format. I do believe that the OpenType font standard will catch hold. The reason I believe this is because the same font files are used on both Macintosh and Windows computers. OpenType fonts are available in both TrueType and PostScript formats. Since desktop publishing favors PostScript fonts, the fact that the font files are the same will lessen the tendency for font problems when DTP files are ported between Mac and PC.

What will be your advice to our visitors if they want to join DTP and Graphics Designing?

Just have fun at it and try to find out what is needed or wanted from the clients and service providers before they start a big project. If the service providers want Quark files, then use Quark. If they want InDesign files, then do the job with InDesign. If they need it on the Macintosh platform then make sure to give them Mac files. If you are already using Windows, then try to find service providers who will work with Windows files. Get all this straightened out at the start. That will save you a lot of headaches.

What is your philosophy about this field.

It is definitely a creative endeavor – more than anything. It is more creative than technical. If it’s too technical, it’s no fun and if it’s no fun how can you put your best creativity into it?

 
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