Art and Technology - How I got pulled into Adobe Illustrator software development?

Art and Technology, for me, are inseparable. Inspiration and creativity come and go like mayflies. Artist must have means to quickly capture those rare moments of human experience, before they disappear. 

I remember, years ago, when I first created a picture made entirely of wood. More like a puzzle really, with unpleasant and distracting sharp transitions between pieces of wood. Unlike a painter, I work with a limited range of wood colors and textures. As an artist, the challenge is not in drawing a picture, but in capturing it while its source of inspiration lingers long enough to complete the task. With wood, the challenge is surmounted with the technical aspects of finding, applying and combining different wood species together to achieve harmony. A wood artist doesn't have a brush and a palette of colors that can be mixed into a gamut of colors. So for him, how does he render the hazy, cloudy sky in the late afternoon? How does he paint a flower pedal with wood? How does he visualize his wood collection in a garden full of flowers?

This was the predicament that kept me from creating visually appealing picture made of wood. I needed of a set of tools, similar to the contents in a painter's tool box. For me, that tool box was Adobe Illustrator. If you are familiar with Illustrator, it has a nice feature called Clipping Mask. With Clipping Mask, a vector shape, commonly called a path, can be used as a mask to clip an image. In simple term, you can paint a shape with an image, more or less. 

Discovering Illustrator was the pivoting moment that subsequently, changed the way I work with wood. Because, for the first time, I can render my hand drawn picture with pieces of woods scanned into my computer. I was able to see the complete picture before attempting to cut and assemble pieces of wood. Hence, without the right tools, I was constantly struggle with the mechanics of creating an artwork, while trying to sustain that illusive thing called inspiration. Without technology, art continue to remain a labor of love. A labor which produces sweats, which washes away creativity and smears your only source of power in creating your art - Inspiration and Creativity.

It was years before I finally transformed Clipping Mask into a plug-in where I can paint paths with images. The process is exactly like using color swatches to paint paths. These image swatches can be saved, retrieved and applied to paths. When a clipped path is created, a twin path is created on top of the image, there you can move and rotate, consequently changing the clipped path in synchronized with the twin path's location on the image.  

Wood holds a very special place in my heart. It's the most alluring, intriguing and natural art medium I know. The images you see above represent most of my works and they were done with the help of Adobe Illustrator and various plug-ins I created though out the years. I plan to post these plug-ins soon, but for now, I introduce to you ArtBlue, a suite of tools I created and used in placed of Illustrator's Direct Selection, Smart Guide and other Illustrator's path editing tools.

Lastly, I want to thank Chris Shields for letting me use his dolphin illustration on the fourth slide and a few talented photographers on iStockPhoto for the portraits found on the last slide of this page.

Thank you for visiting and I am looking forward to hear your comments and suggestions.

Vincent Doan

The making of The Bird & The Bee

I often give marquetry demo to kids at elementry school. This movie demonstrate the techniques I used to made marquetry using Adobe Illustrator plug-ins I created: ArtBlue, ArtAnimate, ImagePaint and ImageFinder plug-ins to be released soon.
Warning: Rated KG - Kid Guidance Suggested.