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To be honest with you, I've used vector software (Corel Draw) for all of my t-shirt artwork. Now because you're saying you will be doing 3 color or less designs this is perfect for vector art.

With raster software (photoshop) you are manipulating pixels, so you have many limitations. The only reason I ever use photoshop is...well to manipulate photos.

With vector software you are manipulating shapes based on curves which are mathematical calculations that redraw on the fly. It's almost like two dimensional sculpting. Artwork is much easier to manipulate this way, especially for t-shirt artwork. Another great thing about vector is you can scale it as small or as large as you want and you won't lose resolution because it is not pixel based (think of taking a photo and making it really large...it gets pixelated).

Now don't get me wrong, photoshop has it's place. If you're doing cmyk or simulated process printing (4+ colors) then photoshop will give you more freedom because usually images with that many colors are raster images.

From what you say you need...geometric artwork, handdrawn look artwork, and cartoon line artwork, I would say go vector all the way, you will have much better results.

One last point...everyone raves about Adobe because they are the industry standard. But for someone starting out I would strongly recommend picking up CorelDraw for your vector art, it is much more intuitive and user friendly than Illustrator. I have been using both for years and you can get things done much faster with Corel. It doesn't do all the fancy filters as well as Illustrator, but you don't really need any of the for shirts.

Sorry for the rant, hope this helps some.
 

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Rodney said:
Will Illustrator or Corel work for photographs though (like his 1. paragraph?)
You could with Corel, not sure about Illustrator. Corel X3 has a lot of imaging tools built in so you can edit photos without going to an external application. It doesn't have all the tools that photoshop does, but it usually gets the job done.

You can even mask images in Corel draw by manipulating the curve points, which gives you a very clean edge.

Sometimes I'll use photoshop and corel together to get the desired effect. In that case the image (most likely a photo) would begin in photoshop, then I'll manipulate contrast or whatever, then bring it into corel to vectorize it.

Vector programs have come a long way recently adding more rasterlike tools to their arsenal like I explained above with corel draw. It's always a case by case basis, so it's good to have both a raster and vector program.
 

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Rodney said:
With the autotrace, is it best to have a tablet to trace a bitmap, or is it something you can do a decent job of with just a mouse?
All you do is import the bitmap/jpg/whatever into corel draw. Then right click on it, then select "trace bitmap" they'll be a flyout menu, you can either do quicktrace or select an option below.

You'll be able to fine tune the tracing options in a separate window. It'll have a before and after preview as well.
 

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triplebtees said:
So which is better, Corel or Illustrator?
They each have their pros and cons, I've used both for years. Here's a few:

Color display on screen: Illustrator is better

Vector tools: Corel is better

exporting to other formats: illustrator is better

ease of use/interface: Corel is better

Masking: corel is better

selecting same element (color, stroke): illustrator is better
 
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