Ditching Powerpoint for Illustration for InkScape on an 8-inch Tablet

by Mike Levin SEO & Datamaster, 11/25/2013

Okay, this is the hardest part of the day. Down to REAL work, where I immerse myself into things which is not (yet) what I WANT to do, but rather, what I HAVE to do. The trick is to make what I have to do into what I want to do. A huge trick to productivity in creative fields is to make the work you’re doing now right at this interest the single thing you most want to be doing on this planet and in life.

I’m afraid that just isn’t possible when I’m working in Microsoft Powerpoint, or even Adobe software anymore. It’s all about Gimp and Inkscape now for me. I’ve made that decision in my mind about a year ago, but still haven’t put my practice where my mind is. I need to start gaining that same level of mastery in visual communication software again that I’m effectively developing in vim. Now is my chance!

I am so far behind where I need to be in visual communication and software mastery, that it’s not even funny. I have to use my time more efficiently, above all else. I am in danger of just being slow. I have to start to be able to move at the speed of thought again in visual software, the way I used to be able to in Adobe Illustrator, and really DeluxePaint IV before that. Visual communication is valued again. The era of SEO is over, and I could have been more prepared in terms of visual communication tools. Illustration is one of my strong suits, but I let myself get rusty.

Invest in the software, not the OS platform. And ACTUALLY invest in the software. Start using it more often. Get over the lack-of-desktop problem you have in your life. For that matter, it’s a lack-of-desk problem. Well, you really are testing the stuff you’re made of. Are you fragile and brittle, brought down by a mere change in your lifestyle and environmental restrictions. Or are you bigger than that, able to thrive no matter what?

Okay, I bought a $25 eBook on Inkscape, and got it onto my Kindle and Dell Venue, where I can actually run Inkscape. I need to dive in headfirst and get stuff done quick. I need to zero in on the few tricks in Inkscape that pay back the most. An example in Illustrator would by copying while dragging, then re-doing including any transformation. That was a way of drawing objects evolving around a radial center, or trails of diminishing size. It actually had unlimited uses that you got to intuitively know. I need the Inkscape equivalents.

Work on the basics, basic by basic. It’s really frustrating to be so many years into this… I started with structured graphics on the Amiga in high school… and to really be just like a beginner still at 43 years old. I have to pick up the pace a little bit. Baring any phenomenal developments in structured graphics over the next 20 years, Inkscape will be the last structured drawing program I will have to master.

Lesson #1: Align & Distribute relative to page! I want an object centered in the page, and it should not be a problem. And it’s not, so long as you know the magical incantations. It’s under the Object dropdown menu. Okay, move on!

One of the most persistently annoying things trying to get started with Inkscape so far has been the non-obvious way to simulate the “hand” tool in Illustrator. There is no hand icon, and even though the mouse pointer often looks like a hand, it doesn’t even exhibit the Adobe hand-scroll behavior. The answer on a 2-button mouse is to click Shift (or Ctrl) and the right mouse button. I’m going to have to make my own list of shortcuts for Inkscape. It’s sort of like what I’m trying to do with vim. Website feature?

Okay, the next thing to keep in mind is to keep the files on Dropbox, because Inkscape can be installed on Linux, Windows or Mac desktops, so I can continue my work anywhere, even if Inkscape isn’t installed there yet! Yeah, yeah, if you pay the minimum of $49/mo Adobe guild-membership fees, you can do something similar.

It’s already 5:00 PM. Stay up late into the night tonight, home or otherwise. Hmmmm. Jason will call me out on this soon. But I’m just not in a great position to do visuals, and I didn’t realize it. And I’m taking the longest possible route, it seems. But it’s the right route, and I know that. Just stick with it and get this underway. I ordered the Dell Venue Pro 8 stylus, despite the bad reviews. I’m hoping the fixed the software, and I absolutely need a stylus for Inkscape.

I am SO FAR from where I need to be. Ugh! I have to turn this Inkscape stuff into a passion. All this for just illustrating some things about an app, which is completely separate from the coding I’m going to have to do, which will be equally challenging. Am I making things too difficult for myself, or am I really on the correct correction-course to become really good at a really few tools that will be around forever without asinine licensing arrangements?

Okay, well it’s time to put the Dell Venue 8 money where my mouth is. I installed Inkscape on it, and Calibre. I paid the $25 to have the whole Inkscape manual available offline on my subway commute, when I actually have time to read it. And I can have Inkscape running as well for reference, and jump quickly between them. I don’t expect to get any productive work done in Inkskape on an 8-inch tablet on the subway, but it’s worlds better than what I could do before. The Gimp / Inkscape replatforming can begin to occur now on my subway commute on an 8-inch tablet.