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CorelDraw vs. Freehand vs. Illustrator

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#1
ELeFevre

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If you only had enough money to buy one of these programs, which one would you buy? Of the three, is one more dominant in the "working" world of cartography and GIS?

At the University I attend, it seems like they have us using whatever program they have a current license for. Last year it was Freehand, this year it is CorelDraw. I've decided to cough up the money and buy my own software for graduate school. Any tips on which program is more prevalent in the world of real cartographic work? Thanks. PLP



#2
Hans van der Maarel

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I'd say it's a toss-up between Freehand and Illustrator. I've worked with both, but I have more experience with Illustrator so my vote would go that way.

Why I make that choice? Well, for cartographic work there's a very useful plug-in available for Illustrator and Freehand that allows the import of a number of GIS file formats and work 'at a scale', using the GIS attributes for assigning styles (for more on this plug-in, visit Avenza. They seem to pop up in the Google ads around here from time to time.

The advantage of this over 'plain' Illustrator or Freehand (or Coreldraw for that matter) is that the drawing program becomes sort of an extension of the GIS system. You're still working in GIS coordinates, you can project the map any way you want, you can easily combine different files.

As for export, Illustrator would be somewhat stronger in output for print (EPS, PDF) whereas you can expect Freehand to be better for output to Flash.

Hope this helps.
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
Email: hans@redgeographics.com / Twitter: @redgeographics

#3
ELeFevre

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Hans,

Thanks for the reply. I think I'm going to take your advice and buy Adobe Illustrator. I would also like to start using Avenza MapPublisher but that will probably have to wait.

Also, very nice sample work on your website. I really want to learn how to combine vector features and DEM data just like you have done on your Luxembourg graphic. At this point in my education I have learned to work with vector features and raster data independantly. However, combining the two, seems bring out the strengths of both models. You should consider posting more of your work online. Thanks again. PLP



#4
Nick Springer

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It sounds like you have made up your mind already, but I feel I should give my $.02 any way.

I think that Adobe Illustrator is the application of choice. I used Freehand for years but switched about 4 years ago when I worked at a company that used Illustrator. There is not a huge difference between the features of these two, but I think Illustrator has a bit better interface and is certainly the industry standard.

Hans is correct that for print work Illustrator creates cleaner output.

Nick Springer

Director of Design and Web Applications: ALK Technologies Inc.
Owner: Springer Cartographics LLC


#5
ELeFevre

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Thanks for including your $.02! I'm going to purchase AI as soon as I can. I just love the Adobe interface and tools. Adobe does such a great job at keeping the palettes easy to use so you can focus on design. Adobe won this round!



#6
Nick Springer

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You inspired me to post a poll asking which design application people use the most. So we'll see who wins the final round.

Nick Springer

Director of Design and Web Applications: ALK Technologies Inc.
Owner: Springer Cartographics LLC


#7
Hans van der Maarel

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Hans,

Thanks for the reply. I think I'm  going to take your advice and buy Adobe Illustrator. I would also like to start using Avenza MapPublisher but that will probably have to wait.

Also, very nice sample work on your website. I really want to learn how to combine vector features and DEM data just like you have done on your Luxembourg graphic. At this point in my education I have learned to work with vector features and raster data independantly. However, combining the two, seems bring out the strengths of both models.  You should consider posting more of your work online. Thanks again. PLP

PLP,

You should check into the Academic licensing options for Illustrator and MAPublisher. I'm not sure whether Illustrator is available in single academic licences, but I'm 100% sure MAPublisher is.

Thanks for the praise, I'm currently working on a few showcase projects to promote myself a bit more (I started my own company a few weeks ago), including a tutorial on how to produce the shaded relief maps I used as a background in the Luxembourg map. That map was actually done in MAPublisher and Illustrator CS B) Anyway, I hope I can put more of my stuff online soon.
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
Email: hans@redgeographics.com / Twitter: @redgeographics

#8
Nick Springer

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including a tutorial on how to produce the shaded relief maps I used as a background in the Luxembourg map


I would love to learn more about integrating raster data with vector data as well. Maybe you could even post your tutorial here :)

And please feel free to post some samples in the Map Gallery here as well.

Nick Springer

Director of Design and Web Applications: ALK Technologies Inc.
Owner: Springer Cartographics LLC





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