I have my favorite setups in both Photoshop and Illustrator, the two apps I use the most often. I use mainly the keyboard and my Wacom tablet for Photoshop, but Illustrator is all about the mouse and keystrokes. I rarely use my Wacom tablet with Illustrator unless I’m doing flourishes or tentacles or something. Most of the time my right hand is working the mouse and my left is operating shortcut keys and nudging things with the arrows.
I do quite a bit of design work in Illustrator. 90% of my graphic design work happens there. Even for some of my larger, painted illustrations a good deal of composition and line work is created in Illustrator before work is done in Photoshop.
For my Illustrator setup, I’ve been using a gaming peripheral, the Razer Nostromo, as my go to add on. I don’t even play games on my computer (I’m too busy doing art!) so it’s not even doing double duty; it’s strictly been repurposed as my new left hand.
Razer devices come with apps that map out custom profiles and macros on the keys. I mapped the keys on the device to be all of the tool shortcuts and functions I use the most often in Illustrator. My fingertips hover right over 14 keys and a scroll wheel. My thumb works a D-pad, and two additional buttons.
I feel like it’s really streamlined my workflow. I don’t have to move my left hand nearly at all to press keyboard keys. 98% of everything I need is quite literally at my fingertips. Granted, working the keyboard isn’t a difficult task, but the travel distance between X and D and A and V and ALT and R and the arrow keys and SHIFT and on and on…it adds up! Now it feels like I can fly through my work and my focus stays on the screen the whole time. The keys and combos are all committed to muscle memory now, and over a six to eight hour work session those aggregate split seconds can add up. I’ve been pretty psyched by it.
In all art, whether it’s the process, or the execution, I think oblique approaches like this help a lot. A smoother workflow means one can concentrate more on the work itself. So far, I’m pleased with the Razer Nostromo as an art tool.
What are some interesting, from-the-hip approaches you’ve come up with for your workflow? I’d love to hear about them!