Adobe Illustrator for Shorthand Purposes

I have recently begun getting into drawing vectors in Adobe Illustrator and learning the pen tool.  It is very satisfying to be able to make images of logos, etc., that are defined according to their points and contour, so that when zoomed in, they never pixelate.  Yesterday, I spent about thirty minutes drawing out the old Gregg Publishing Company logo.  This is a large rendering of it:  The .eps of it could be used to make really sharp printings of it, if such a need ever arose, say in digital restoration of an old Gregg book.  Here is a large rendering from my .eps of the double-ellipse logo:

Does anyone else here ever use Adobe Illustrator like that?  I think it could be a useful tool for future publications on Gregg Shorthand.  Just goofing around, I made a replica of the first couple of pages of the Esperanto adaptation to see how possible it was to replicate a Gregg book digitally.  The attempt is here:

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  1. It is very time consuming, if you are still learning how to use the pen tool. To make the strokes, it isn't too hard, but if you want to make it look like a pen, with the round start and the "get-away" stroke, you need you make sure you have the contours right, then have it draw the outline of the line, so you can round it off, etc. In CS5, there is a nice pen line, which I haven't really tried much yet, but might in a bit. The nice thing about making these paths is that you could easily mix and match, modifying as necessary to make new strokes from old ones.

  2. Wow, Andrew. This is impressive. I have been searching for a tool to write shorthand directly on the computer without having to scan the image first. I didn't think of using Illustrator for this purpose. Can you tell me how easy (or cumbersome) is writing shorthand in Illustrator? My frustration has been that writing on a tablet is akin to writing blind.

  3. >> Does anyone else here ever use Adobe Illustrator like that?
    Yes, I already used AI this way – I'm developing a software to help me to learn shorthand. I want it do generate lots of repetitive exercises, logging my progress, the time to in reading exercises, etc. Of course, when (and if) completed, this project will be used like a Functional method.
    In AI it's easy to import a jpg or pdf file, and create vector graphics.
    However, I think that AI is more useful if you want to create vector graphics of parts of a book – like a shorthand alphabet.
    To copy a book, it's faster to use a scanner (still a slow process) or even a book scanner (very fast!). There are some do-it-yourself projects that we can find at some sites, like
    Another "mad scientist" project of me is a shorthand word processor – this is very difficult.
    Does anybody remember the Greggory Project?
    It's very easy to write shorthand by hand – you can modify the signs a little to accomodate the curves, the size, etc. But an automatic writer have to align the position where the sign is written. I really don't know if it's worth the effort.
    I tried to use a Genius tablet to write shorthand, but i found it very difficult. Perhaps the new tablet pcs are better, I haven't had a chance to try them.

  4. The semester has yet to start, and I find myself looking for something to do to pass time. So I've been spiffing up the wikipedia articles on Gregg Shorthand (added the ellipse figures) and John Robert Gregg. I used Illustrator to redraw his signature for his article, and found a picture of him from the Library of Congress's Bail Press Photo Collection, which is freely usable. Now all that needs to be done is to write a nice summary of his life and works. 🙂

  5. Andrew — there is a small mistake in the Gregg Shorthand article. The last sentence of the second paragraph states that the "Junior" is a simpler (personal-use) version of shorthand. It is not. It is merely another way of teaching shorthand (just as the direct method, the functional method, the analytical method, the "new rapid course", etc.). The manual was rearranged and updated so that business vocabulary was postponed, and penmanship drills derived from longhand were brought forward to make it more familiar for Junior High School students. The shorthand is a mixture of Pre-anniversary and Anniversary outlines. The practice material is not business-related. The order of the lessons is very similar to the Anniversary manual, which should not be a surprise since Mr. Sorelle was responsible for both. There were two versions of the Junior manual. The first one contains 10 lessons and was published in 1925. The second version was published in 1927 and contains the same 10 lessons, plus two additional lessons (considered an appendix) which cover some additional topics, such as phrases, additional word endings, intersection, names of states, etc.

    Greghand and Notehand are indeed simplifications of the system.

  6. If it is any consolation, I did not write that part about "Junior." Checking the history, it was added by the user, Teaearlgreyhot. I'm surprised I never noticed that edit. I guess my brain just jumped past it every time. I'll change the article.

    Speaking of versions, don't you think it'd be fun to put out something for the upcoming sesquicentennial of Gregg Shorthand? Perhaps something big, like a new version of the system… Something legal, but something substantial.

    Oh, I also scanned the Anniversary Manual for myself. Should I post it somewhere or on my site, you think?

  7. Pardon, I mean the Anniversary Dictionary. Busy mind.

    Well, maybe not the traditional definition of sesquicentennial… as sesqui just means one plus a part, not necessarily half the part (though I have no authority to back up that notion other than what I was taught, in relation to the concept that a semitone just meant a part of a tone, not exactly half, since it was impossible to divide a tone into two perfect halves in Pythagorean tuning, so a semitone could be a larger part, or a smaller part of a tone). The 125th anniversary is 2013. Maybe the name "Quasquicentennial Edition" is a little hard on the tongue, but maybe it'd be a nice time mark to recognize with something new and exciting. Something that treats the system closer to Gregg's intention of it as a scholarly and enlightened endeavor, rather than a vocational one. That would be, I believe, the most viable way to sell the idea.

  8. The Junior Manual is great! I believe you sent me by mail a copy of the 1925 Junior Manual, and just looking at it in depth now, I see how it really does function in a very good way, and would be a good model for a modern shorthand text. Though it is targeted to a particular age range, I think it would be a great foundation for a new way of presenting the system. A hurdle that our modern age brings is the loss of cursive writing, the motions of which are the very basis of Gregg Shorthand, and which the Junior Manual puts forth to introduce the letters of the system. I wonder if this is a real hurdle, or if it is something that is not worth much attention.

  9. Thanks for the heads up on the wikipedia entry. My bad, I didn't check who wrote that part, so I assumed it had been you.

    I would work on a revision of the system, but do we have to wait until 2038 to release it (if my math serves me right)? Since no one is dictating letters routinely, the material would have to change, and writing new material is probably the most difficult thing to do in a book.

    I thought you had the Anniversary manual scanned in your site. Is that what you're referring to?

  10. The anniversary dictionary would be neat. I also have the Anniv phrase book scanned as well. (I would like a dictionary that combines the S90 dictionary word list written in Anniversary outlines with the technical vocabulary lists.)

    Gregg talks a little about the scholarly endeavor of shorthand in the Junior manual preface. I actually like the presentation and exercises of that manual, since I don't see a 'Dear Sir" letter anywhere, :-). There is a lot of literary material in the old issues of the Gregg Writer that could be reused as part of a new revision of the system.

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