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Thread: Installing AutoCAD/GIS/Photoshop to start work from home

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    Installing AutoCAD/GIS/Photoshop to start work from home

    Hi,

    Are there any places in Orange County, Ca where they offer courses on learning graphic softwares(photoshop/illustrator) at reasonable prices? I know quite a few, but still need to brush up with my graphic skills.

    Also, i was interested in dowloading few softwares (AutoCAD/Photoshop/GIS) to expand my graphic skills in order to start work from home(being a mom). Mostly one has to pay very high amount in order to get it installed. Is there any website which lets you download the graphic softwares at cheaper price?

    Any suggestions/comments will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Try looking at your local JC to see what classes are offered in those areas. It is about 30 dollars a unit. There maybe some adult education classes for cheaper.

    As for cheaper software, you can always obtain it for free via some sources, however, since you are starting a business I strongly urge you to obtain, legal, full price copies since it will be for professional uses.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

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    Hi,

    Does JC stand for Junior College? Is this different from a Community College? Yes, the Community Colleges do have courses, but they are quite lengthy.

    Is there any faster way to learn/pick up courses?

    Thanks

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kavitat View post
    Hi,

    Does JC stand for Junior College? Is this different from a Community College? Yes, the Community Colleges do have courses, but they are quite lengthy.

    Is there any faster way to learn/pick up courses?

    Thanks
    Yes the JC stands for community college. The only faster way is to pick up a manual or dvd software training system and learn from home. My previous company invested in a dvd series for indesign/illustrator/photoshop which we watched at lunch to pick up tricks, but most of us were pretty well versed.

    For CAD/GIS, learning by doing is probably best. GIS and CAD are both very expensive programs. GIS required access to data, which cost additional money unless you can obtain things like parcel files for free from a jurisdiction, which hardly every happens now a days.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

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    [B]The only faster way is to pick up a manual or dvd software training system and learn from home.[/B]

    ......Where do i find manual or dvd software training? Being new, i am quite not aware about places where i can find these softwares. The only place that i know around the corner is Fry's electronics. Not sure whether they have it. Are there any other sources from where i can optain it. pls help.

    Thanks

  6. #6
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kavitat View post
    Are there any other [legitimate] sources from where i can o[b]tain it.
    Of course there are. As far as sources for other forms of software, you'll have to find those on your own, as no one here will wreck their source by disclosing it on a public board.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Are you planning on working as an independent contractor or are you telecommuting from an established job?

    No one course or software is going to teach you everything that you need to know. GIS AND CAD AND Photoshop is one tall order. I work equally well in all of them, but it took several years of trial and error to really understand GIS. I learned CAD and Photoshop from an experience landscape architect, and there STILL is a ton of stuff that I have yet to explore with any of these programs.

    If you ARE working as a contractor, clients will not pay you extra to learn the software. It might not make a big deal to you: a paycheck is a paycheck whether it takes you 4 hours or 20 hours to complete a contract, right? Well, it may take you a while, especially learning GIS/CAD/Photoshop, to work smart enough to work (5) 4-hour contracts over 20 hours.

    I worked as an independent contractor doing Sketchup illustration about 7 years ago when Sketchup was in its infancy. Back then we didn't have the sophisticated rubyscripts to clean up CAD line work. A Sketchup model for a 2 acre site that could be completed in 2-3 hours today took me 10-15 hours 6 years ago.

    One of the biggest challenges working as a contractor or a consultant is understand how long it takes to complete a task. The learning curve for each of those programs is very high. I've worked in each of them 5-8 years and I am still learning how to work smarter in each.

    Hope this helps-
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  8. #8
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    ...GIS required access to data, which cost additional money unless you can obtain things like parcel files for free from a jurisdiction, which hardly every happens now a days.
    I have to disagree with the access to data comments. There is an incredible amount of data online, mostly through state and federal sites. I have also never had any issues in obtaining free data from the client (I do put the clause in the contract to have them supply it), and I have never had anyone question, or want to charge me when asking a county or RPC to share data to be used for client project.

    I guess I am not clear on why you want to invest in these programs to work from home. I had my business for five years before I invested in GIS. The little I do/did, I could easily contract out to others. I do not do any CAD work and most likely will not need to, but again, I can contract that work to others. I have always had Corel/Adobe, so have used them in my projects, but I could have worked around that as well. Frankly, most planning does not require access to these technical programs.

    The other possibility is that you want to market yourself to do this kind of work for small planning or engineering firms like mine, that may not offer it in-house. First of all, there is not all that much of that kind of work available. Before taking it on internally, the most I ever paid anyone to do some GIS work was $1200, and in a year I never paid out more than $1500 in total. The second thing you need to consider is your skill level. If you are just starting out learning these programs, you have a long and steep learning curve. You need to know advanced functions, and you need to know how to create strong, visually appealing work products. If you do not, you will not get work.
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    You need to know advanced functions, and you need to know how to create strong, visually appealing work products. If you do not, you will not get work.
    I agree. You will also need to market your services. Web hosting, domains and advertising all require money. Yes, there are free or low-cost items, but that could backfire with the wrong client who is looking for a higher quality contractor. You will also need to know where to look for contract work. Are you scouring monster.com or are you looking at CAD and GIS forums for contract work? I found contract work through Craigslist in other states by manipulating URLs using Google custom search.

    We are a quirky profession in that we want proof of projects completed at every skill level, even those just starting out. It's not enough to say you have an Adobe license and you read a book or took a course. You need deliverables AND they need to be what the client is looking for. For example, if the client wants a rendering of a downtown plan they want to see what other renderings you have done (or at least other graphics that show a desirable style). I landed my first contract work from a contact at a planning internship, and I built up my portfolio over time.

    We're not trying to discourage you. Investing money and time in some very difficult software takes time, and there are other equally important factors to consider.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

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    Hi,

    I neither telecommute nor i work as a independent contractor. Regarding my software skills i can say that i am quite proficient with AutoCAD. However, i need to brush up my GIS skills.

    Being an Architect and an Urban Planner i have a good work experiences with various Consultancies and NGO's in the past(but from oversees). After migrating to California, i did work with local Architectural Planning based companies but mostly did AutoCAD work in production department(hardly did any designing work).However, due to recession i got laid off twice since there was no work in the production.

    Due to some personel reason, i quit job for three years, which is seen in my resume'. If at all there is any job opening, there are several candidates waiting to apply and apparently get qualified. Few years back, i did some good work in policy planning mainly in the areas of Slum Networking/Low Cost housing/Regional Planning and Managment/Environmental Mapping. However, i wasn't able to find similar work assingments out here inspite of trying very very hard. Gradually i moved my focus towards architecture and ended up with short term production jobs which didn't last for long.

    I am even trying to find some policy planning work based my previous planning experience, but there aren't any jobs either. I checked up with my local city
    planning departments, but they aren't accepting any volunteers also at this point in time. Is there any other place where i can find work in policy planning? Which are the resources that i can try?

    Being a mom of a small baby, i am trying to find work that i can start from home (mainly on the basis of AutoCAD experience). It may not be a high profile assignment, but something to get started with. I very well agree that it may not be very promising in terms of returns. However i am trying to bridge the uemployment gap. I am quite not sure which is the best way to start work if there is an employment gap? Is there any one sailing in similar boat?

    Once again, thanks for your comments.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Do you hold any architect licenses in the US? Are you authorized to review/stamp drawings? You might be able to find individual projects reviewing drawings or stamping plans. It's not glamorous and you may have some difficult clients to work with who can be bothersome. However it's a paycheck (and possibly portfolio work). Check the classifieds in your local newspaper. Sometimes, they might not be listed under jobs.

    Since you know AutoCAD you could also look into CAD contractor websites that are looking for draughtsmen <--I finally get to use that word . It sounds like you already have enough skills under your belt to find independent contract work as an architect or a CAD monkey I wouldn't invest time and money at this point to buy and learn GIS.

    How strong is your portfolio? How do you tailor it with each you are applying for? is it a hard copy or digital? Areforum.org is a good ARE discussion board filled with architects. Land8lounge is a blog for landscape architecture but they have tons of examples of different and innovative portfolios that could influence planners and architects.

    As for policy opportunities, you might want to check the planning programs and non-for-profits and see if they need any pro-bono work. APA chapter websites sometime list other pro-bono opportunities as well.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

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    Nope, i do not have any architect's license in US? As a matter of fact, i experienced having a job interview sometime back, when one of panel members commented that you can apply for an architect's position (only if you have a state license). It can be hard sometimes when you are carrying a degree from oversees and finding an appropriate job since lot of companies prefer candidates having pursued degrees from US college.(may be local accrediation is required).

    I have a work portfolio which is not very high tech as seen in some of the websites. My architecture work is displayed in PDF format and policy planning projects are more like documentation/research papers & reports. Not sure as in how do i combine the two different work portfolios together since the range of projects vary from site planning /residential design to environmental and urban planning. I did check up with Areforum.org site and is really good.

    (As for policy opportunities, you might want to check the planning programs and non-for-profits and see if they need any pro-bono work.)

    I am not quite understanding the pro-bono work part which is mentioned. Could you pls elaborate it?
    Thanks

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Make PDFs for everything: reports, maps, renderings, presentations, etc. For graphics that take a long time to load, such as files that were originally CAD, GIS, Illustrator, InDesign, etc. you might have to flatten each sheet individually.

    1. Import each graphic into Photoshop (you will have to do this one at a time for multipage sheets).
    2. Either save as TIFF or a JPEG. Use some compression but not a whole lot. I also wouldn't change the artboard size (so keep at 36x48, 24x36, etc.).
    3. Print the TIFFs as PDFs.
    4. Reassmeble the PDFs one sheet at a time in Acrobat.

    There are at least three routes to go: both can include a mixture of design and non-design work.

    1. Download a 30 day trial of Acrobat X, the latest version. There is also another free trial that includes Photoshop. Let Acrobat do the work for you and create an Acrobat Portfolio. The portfolios have become more sophisticated so now you can incorporate swfs, pdfs, and other movies. The flash interface allows the end user to pan through one document to the next.
    2. Use VirtualCV.com, which allows you to upload work.

    If you are REALLY daring you can create your own website from scratch and embed the Acrobat Reader directly into the website (instead of having a pop-up each and every time).

    I have a digital portfolio that I designed in Flash and Flashpaper about a year ago. It took me 2 years to assemble the work and teach myself Actionscript. All of my works are PDFs turned into SWFs. Flashpaper is an older product that combines the best elements of Acrobat Reader with Flash Player. It is a finicky program since Adobe quit technical support 2 years ago. Scribd would be the closest equivalent. I like Flash because I have greater control over the content, design, and animations. However, I distribute the portfolio on customized CDs and they are only shown to potential employers/clients.

    The sky's the limit
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  14. #14
    Cyburbian craines's avatar
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    If you are looking for graphic software try Rhino. Also with photoshop just spend some time with it and you should be able to self teach yourself what you need for your rendering purposes. For 2D graphics use Adobe illustrator as it is geared for such.
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    Cyburbian
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    You should purchase legal licenses if you want to launch your own practice. Otherwise you WILL get sued at some point and you'll have bad karma besides.
    A single use ESRI ArcGIS license is cheap - and well-supported online. Only about $1,500.. CS5 standard is about $1,300.. and not really worth that much, in my opinion, but unavoidable. Autodesk products are more of a problem... $4,000 for Autocad, for example, $3,200 for 3ds Max, but you do not need to buy them. You can "rent" Autocad by buying the LX version.. just have to pay annual fees. It used to be about $700 per year.. dunno what it is now. As for Max, you don't need it. Just get something like Modo for $800 and download a $20 file conversion utility to assure compatibility. Easier to use anyway.

    Anyway, since an MS Office license is about $500, you can have a fully equipped home office for $5,000 in software, total. Reasonable in terms of start-up costs, in my opinon.

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    ...A single use ESRI ArcGIS license is cheap - and well-supported online. Only about $1,500....
    True, but ArcGIS has limited capabilities. It is what I could afford for my business, but I cannot perform some highly desirable functions, like editing layers, buffering objects, creating interpolation surfaces, etc. For these functions I still need to contract the work out, preferably to a geography grad student.
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  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    In regard to Autocad, there is a freeware program called A9CAD that is very similar to Autocad but substantially simpler. It uses the Autocad command structure, but lacks many of the features. If you are an experienced Autocad user, you will find it too basic, but if your goal is to learn CAD, it is a good place to start that is free.

    To download the program, go to

    www.a9tech.com

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    Hi all,

    Thank you so much for the information provided. I will definately check up online for some of the resources to get started with.

    Thanks

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    True, but ArcGIS has limited capabilities. It is what I could afford for my business, but I cannot perform some highly desirable functions, like editing layers, buffering objects, creating interpolation surfaces, etc. For these functions I still need to contract the work out, preferably to a geography grad student.
    Huh? Are you sure you're not confusing ArcGIS with ArcReader? Standard ArcView is limited compared to ArcEditor or ArcInfo, but it still has broad capabilities.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    True, but ArcGIS has limited capabilities. It is what I could afford for my business, but I cannot perform some highly desirable functions, like editing layers, buffering objects, creating interpolation surfaces, etc. For these functions I still need to contract the work out, preferably to a geography grad student.
    Not ArcReader. ArcGIS 10.0 full implementation. ArcReader is free or nearly free as far as I know.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Woolley's avatar
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    ArcGIS = Suite
    ArcMAP = Mostly Used, highly functional
    ArcReader = Crap
    We architects and urban planners aren't the visible symbols of oppression, like the military or the police. We're more sophisticated, more educated, and more socially conscious. We're the soft cops.- Robert Goodman, After the Planners My Planning Forumino

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    Not ArcReader. ArcGIS 10.0 full implementation. ArcReader is free or nearly free as far as I know.
    Thanks for the correction. I use ArcMap. which has some, but not all of the features I regularly use. To create drive time analyses (I mis-state buffers), for instance, I would need to purchase Network Analyst. Interpolation requires Spatial Analyst.
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  23. #23
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Woolley View post
    ArcReader = Crap
    I disagree that it's crap when used for its intended purpose - to display information to people who may need to turn on or off a layer, but who don't need to manipulate data. It's a great countertop tool to help show residents property lines, aerial photos, zoning, FLU, etc.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    Thanks for the correction. I use ArcMap. which has some, but not all of the features I regularly use. To create drive time analyses (I mis-state buffers), for instance, I would need to purchase Network Analyst. Interpolation requires Spatial Analyst.
    I think that's how they get you since each of the three analytical add-ins are $2,500 each (Network, 3d, Spatial).

    How they're now packaging it is: ArcView (the new name for the full ArcMap 10.0 build) + Spatial Analyst + 3d Analyst + Network Analyst = ArcInfo (a new name!)

    So.. $1,500 + $2500 x 3 = $9,000!

    Of course, I don't know anyone who actually works with all three packages but still. I'd try to work out an arrangement with a local university or something if you need access to those add-ons. No way I'd pay $7,500 for three packages I don't even come close to using for every project.

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    GIS Data Online

    Originally posted by CPSURaf
    ...GIS required access to data, which cost additional money unless you can obtain things like parcel files for free from a jurisdiction, which hardly every happens now a days.

    I have to disagree with the access to data comments. There is an incredible amount of data online, mostly through state and federal sites.


    ...Which are the good sources to get GIS data online?..I am particularly interested in Landuse/Heath/Transportation/ for Orange County in California.

    Thanks...

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