Reviews Archive

Toon Vectors A New Stock Art Site

What is Toon Vectors?
Toon Vectors is a new stock art site focusing on vector images. The site pays a generous royalty to artists of at least 70%. Images cost $19.99 for the standard license and $99.99 for an extended license. Here’s a little bit more about them from their FAQ:

Toon Vectors is an online collection of royalty-free stock vector graphics and clip art available for download at affordable prices. Toon Vectors is based in Austin, Texas and was launched in early 2012 by Chris Thoman, a software and web developer.

In a marketplace of oversized stock agencies that have become increasingly greedy and hostile to the interests of the actual content creators that make everything possible, our goal is to provide a smaller, more intimate venue for artists and illustrators to sell their creative works. We believe that the original artists, and not the middlemen, should receive the largest share of the profits from their own hard work.

Who runs it?
You may have noticed the site owner’s name above and thought that it sounded familiar. There’s a reason for that. The site was created by my brother, Chris Thoman. While I’m not an employee there or have any special affiliation with the site, I do know the owner pretty well.

How are the Sales?
It’s a brand new site (still has its new car smell), so I can’t give a review on how the sales will be. That said, I am excited about the potential of it.

Can I Sign Up?
Yes and no. Currently, the contributor side is unfinished, but you can contact Toon Vectors to get signed up for when the submission features go live.

Well, that’s all I have to say. It’s nice to have another fair paying agency out there, so go check it out!

Hire an Illustrator Review

I signed up for a gallery at Hire an Illustrator several months ago. I’d heard a little buzz about it on the web, and I thought I would give it a shot.

What is HAI?
Hire an Illustrator or HAI is a portfolio web site. You pay a fee to upload your art there and they promote it to art directors and other people looking to commission illustration work. The site was founded by Darren Di Lieto, originally an illustrator and web designer.

How Much Does It Cost?
As of the writing of this article, the price is $7 a week or $320 for the year. That gets you a portfolio on the web site. Also, they promote you with press releases you want to share. In addition, they mail out promo bundles. So if you send them a mailer card, they’ll send it out to art directors and potential clients.

My Initial Thoughts
When I first looked at the site, I was blown away by the level of talent. I was definitely skeptical about potential clients finding my work amongst all the other great artists, but I figured for $7 a week, there wasn’t too much to lose. I guess my fears were unjustified though because my phone started ringing. While I can’t say it has brought me in a ton of work. I have been contacted for a few jobs. One of which I accepted.

Bottom Line
One illustration in several months isn’t exactly going to keep my business afloat, but it is one more job that I didn’t have. Also, it probably paid for a few years of service at HAI. So in my book, Hire an Illustrator is working well for me. Also, I haven’t taken advantage of some of their other promotional services. I should probably send some promo cards to them.

Overall, I’m pleased with Hire an Illustrator and will continue to use them as another avenue to get work as a freelancer.

This post was written on Content copyright 2009 Cory Thoman.

Adobe CS4 Initial Thoughts Review

I finally caved in and bought the newest Creative Suite from Adobe, CS4. I wanted to get the premium design version, but ended up going with the premium web version. Amazon couldn’t seem to figure out how to get their prices right last month, so the web version was $100 cheaper. A new version of InDesign was sacrificed for a little money in my pocket. I’m still a Quark guy anyway, so no big loss.

Anyway, on to the new programs. The Suite came with Dreamweaver, Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks, Acrobat, Soundbooth, Contribute, Bridge, Version Cue, Device Central and some video training. I was upgrading from CS2, so I was excited to get a new version of my Adobe favorites like Illustrator and some of the new Adobe/Macromedia products like Flash and Dreamweaver.

I’ve had CS4 for about a week, so I’ve had a chance to put it through some of my normal day to day workflow. Most of that work is done in Illustrator. Overall, the transition was pretty smooth in Illustrator. There were a couple of “what the..” and “son of a…” moments, but not too many.

Here are my initial thoughts on CS4. This mostly deals with Illustrator and a little bit with Photoshop. I haven’t had time for the rest of the programs. Also, I skipped the CS3 upgrade, so anything from CS3 is new to me in CS4.

Things I Like in the New Illustrator
I like the new cascading menus. They definitely seem to keep the work area a little cleaner.

The blob brush seems interesting. I have to admit that I haven’t used it that much because I mostly use the Pen Tool, but I can see it potentially being very useful.

Automatic expanding in the Pathfinder menu is back. I never really understood why they added that in the first place. I guess you could hold the Option key down to do it in CS2, but it’s nice that it does it automatically.

I like that files open in Tabs and that it is an option you can turn off as well.

Things I Don’t Like in the New Illustrator
I’m not sure about the extra long Toolbar, but it’s not really a big deal.

The Unite pathfinder no longer unites non overlapping objects, although you can use Compound Path (which has a keyboard shortcut). So all is forgiven.

I’m not really sure why I have to Expand Appearance on the Round Corners filter now. This goes back to the point of adding unnecessary steps like the Expand button on the pathfinder palette.

The new Smart Guides kind of suck (strictly professional term). They don’t seem to snap. I’m not really sure what they are supposed to be used for if they don’t snap. Luckily, a wise person on the internet told me that if you hold down the Command/Control key, they function like they did before.

Things I Like in the New Photoshop
I haven’t spent too much time in Photoshop, but some of the same things from Illustrator apply (Menus and Tabs).

Things I Don’t Like in the New Photoshop
I make a lot of jpeg thumbnails in Photoshop with Actions, so I was pretty upset that the Raster EPS window doesn’t save the preferences from the last open document anymore. I haven’t found a work around for this yet, so I’m mostly still using CS2.

Final Thoughts
Overall, I’m happy I upgraded. I haven’t opened the programs yet, but I think having Flash and Dreamweaver again will be great. That alone, really makes the upgrade for me. I’m not sure it mattered all that much for Illustrator and Photoshop. I may be biased though. I have a set way of working, and I don’t use a lot of the latest and greatest features. Really it seems like the big reason for upgrading is to keep your resume updated with the latest random changes Adobe is making. Although, I’m sure my thoughts will change down the road, and I’ll be gushing about some can’t live without feature a year from now.

This post was written on Content copyright 2009 Cory Thoman.

Fotolia Ultimate Review

My opinion seems to change quite a bit about Fotolia. I must not be the only one because both customers and contributors seem to have a lot to say about Fotolia too. Some of it isn’t very kind either. With all that said, I thought it would be nice to organize my reviews and articles about Fotolia all in one place.

First Impression
My first impression of Fotolia was fairly positive, but I wasn’t earning a whole lot there.

Second Review
I started earning a lot more at Fotolia, so I decided to give it a second review.

Pricing Change
Fotolia simultaneously raised prices while lowering royalties. The change ended up working for me, but a lot of members weren’t pleased about the reduced royalty.

Vector Pricing Change
In a complete head scratching move, Fotolia slashed prices for vector files. This caused me to just stop uploading there.

What’s New?
Not too much for me. Fotolia is holding strong as my number 4 micro site, but I haven’t uploaded any of my new files since their vector pricing change. They haven’t re-priced my old files (which is good), so I haven’t had to consider deleting anything.

Right now, I’m not a big fan of Fotolia, but who knows… my opinion will probably change, again.

This post was written on Content copyright 2009 Cory Thoman.

ArtRage Deluxe 2.5

I’ve been reading a lot about a program called ArtRage lately. It reminds me a lot of Painter with all the faux effects. I downloaded the free version on the net and it seems a lot easier to use than Painter. I was going to use one of my Amazon gift cards to get the full version, since it is only around $30. I know, 30 bucks! That’s so insanely cheap that even my little T-Rex arms can reach into my wallet and pay for it.

I thought it would be fun to try to recreate some of my old paintings. I’ll post them here when I finish. I was inspired by a friend of mine from college. He posted some of the work he did in ArtRage on his site, The Pinto Post.

This post was written on Content copyright 2009 Cory Thoman.

Microsoft’s Image Composite Editor

I just read about a free Image Composite Editor from Microsoft. Basically, it can be used to combine multiple photos with overlapping vantage point into one larger image. I was amazed that it did a fairly accurate and instantaneous job. It blows the doors off of me in Photoshop with the clone tool.

You can read a review and see examples of it in action over at Cinema Squid’s Ink. They compiled a few large shots taken from movie screen captures. Here’s one from Starship Troopers compiled from 4 different shots.

This post was written on Content copyright 2008 Cory Thoman.

Cafepress Review

I thought it would be a good idea to review some of the different services I use. This review is for Cafepress, a print on demand shop.

Cafepress allows you to upload your designs and illustrations on a variety of products (t-shirts, mugs, buttons, etc.). Once your masterpiece is uploaded, you can purchase the products for yourself or set up a shop to sell to others.

I’ve used Cafepress on and off for a number of years with little success. A few months ago, I decided I would open a premium store and try make a stable income with it. I filled my store with 50 or so designs and started promoting. Well, I still couldn’t get any sales and ended up closing the store because I really didn’t think it was worth the minimal price.

Overall, I wouldn’t discourage anyone from trying out a free store at Cafepress, but I can’t really recommend the premium store based on my experience. I wasn’t expecting huge riches from it, but I was at least hoping to match the minimal income I was having with my Zazzle store.

This post was written on Content copyright 2008 Cory Thoman.

Fotolia Re-Review

A month or so ago I wrote a review of Fotolia. The review wasn’t singing much praise for Fotolia. All I can say is what a difference a month makes. I’m not sure what changes Fotolia has made recently, but they are working for me. My income has basically doubled for Fotolia in the last month.

Fotolia seems to have left Big Stock Photo and 123RF in the dust and solidified itself at the number five slot in my top 5 microstock sites. Fotolia has definitely changed my mind and I’m excited to see if they continue to grow.

This post was written on Content copyright 2008 Cory Thoman.

TinEye Review

I’ve seen a few blogs talking about TinEye recently, so I thought I’d check it out. What is TinEye? It’s an image identification search engine. Basically, you upload an image and it searches the web to see who is using that image.

Before you get all excited, keep in mind that TinEye is still in beta version, so it can’t find everything. Still the possibility of searching the web for your art is definitely something that a number of artists would be interested in. I know I was, so I signed up for an invitation. I received my invitation the next day and started searching. I uploaded a dozen or so jpegs to the search engine that I knew were on the web. I was a little disappointed because It only found one of them on Shutterstock. I’m not sure if it was the search engine itself that couldn’t find the images or that it just hadn’t indexed sites like Shutterstock completely.

Regardless, TinEye is definitely worth checking out and I’m definitely interested to see how it continues to develop.

This post was written on Content copyright 2008 Cory Thoman.

Crestock Review

I thought it would be a good idea to review some of the different services I use. This review is for Crestock, a microstock agency.

A microstock agency is basically a stock art site that lets artists post their artwork on the site and sell royalty free licenses. Artists retain all the rights to their work and collect a percentage of the royalties when their artwork sells on the site.

Crestock was a late entry for me in the microstock game. I was excited about it at first because I received a few downloads immediately, but that didn’t last very long. Crestock rarely cracks 1% of my monthly earnings if it earns anything at all.

Overall, Crestock seems to be be a fairly nice site, but I just don’t think it gets enough traffic to really earn anything worth while. The site may have potential in the future, but I wouldn’t recommend joining Crestock at this time.

This post was written on Content copyright 2008 Cory Thoman.