How I create my prototypes

This duo really does give me everything I need

While I don’t claim to be an artist or designer, there’s a lot of art and design work needed to create Gay Sauna the Board Game. For all of the “real artwork” and finalised designs, I’m working with two designers for, but in the meantime there’s a host of prototype versions that need to be created and in order to make this possible, I’ve had to learn how to do this myself.

Without anyone paying for my software, it’s not viable for me to be using Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign – the subscription models just don’t make sense for me. So I’ve had to find the right alternatives for me. To make everything I’m creating at the moment, I use a combination of GIMP and Graphic.

GIMP is a free, open source image editor that packs a real punch. I’ve been using GIMP for many years for basic things like creating transparent backgrounds on existing images, but now my needs have grown and it’s great that this free app has been able to cover a lot of my new found requirements. The only drawback to GIMP is the lack of native CYMK and Vector image capabilities. While there are some ways to resolve these using plugins and community contributions, I always found them cumbersome and a little lacking. So, as I started to print the things I was producing, it became necessary for me to find something to help me where GIMP couldn’t.

In walked Graphic. Native to Mac, Graphic is a vector editing program that seems to be designed for people creating publishing work – whether that’s digital or print, it’s got me covered. While it lacks the extensive functionality of both GIMP and the Adobe suite, Graphic more than makes up for it with its simplistic approach and easy to use GUI. There have only been a couple of times that Graphic has not been able to meet my needs and thankfully GIMP was fully capable of filling this gap. The biggest drawback is the lack of full layer masking capabilities – so specific edits I need to make to images I now do in GIMP and then move over the finalised edit to Graphic for layouts and finalisation. Graphic isn’t a free program, but the lifetime license only costs $30 and I feel it has been more than worth the investment at a fraction of the cost of even part of the Adobe suite.

I’d never thought I’d ever be spending so much of my time manipulating and creating images, but it truly is a rewarding activity with a tangible outcome at the end. It’s been a challenging learning process too, as it’s not just the methods I need to learn, the wider concepts of graphic design are pretty much entirely new for me. I didn’t even know what a layer mask was 12 months ago and now I’m finding out all the ways in which they can be useful within my creations as well as finding alternatives when the software is lacking.

I doubt I’ll ever work as a graphic designer professionally, but I’m sure having a lot of fun playing as one for the time being.