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A picture of Zahra Zainal

Zahra Zainal

Illustrator, graphic recorder

in illustrator, mac

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Zahra Zainal, an illustrator and graphic recorder based in Melbourne, Australia.

What hardware do you use?

For illustration: I use a 12.9" iPad Pro + Apple Pencil.

I used to always carry a sketchbook for sketching on-the-go. Now, it's my iPad Pro. I'm pretty in love with how clean it is to use. I used to scan my paper drawings and refine them digitally, and the iPad cuts out that step altogether. It makes sharing stuff with clients easier too. It's also the closest thing to a digital sketchbook for me... I found Cintiqs really hard to get used to!

For design work and admin: I currently have an iMac desktop, with a medium sized Intuos tablet. I'm about to switch over to a 15" MacBook Pro, as I need my entire set-up to be packable for travel.

For writing, exploration and planning: LAMY Safari rollerballs, and large, hard-cover ruled Moleskines. I always try to get Moleskines when they are on sale. Otherwise, it becomes a pretty pricey habit!

I'm also using a Moleskine Monthly notebook to plan. It helps me see what I've spent my time doing, and what I'll be doing in the future. I draw little heart characters at the end of my week, which indicate the overall vibe of the past 7 days.

Bose noise-cancelling headphones help me get into Concentration Zone.

And what software?

Procreate on the iPad Pro is simply divine. The Procreate interface responds the usage patterns of long-time Photoshop users, who are starting to make the switch over to devices. I also sometimes like Tayasui Sketches Pro, or Adobe Sketch for their brushes and blending.

The Adobe Creative Cloud Suite, mainly Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Acrobat.

Google Docs and Sheets for planning and sharing.

What would be your dream setup?

A super light, strong, foldable laptop that packs into its own tiny bag. It can also transform into a tablet, to be used with a responsive, pencil-like stylus. It's like if this Kathmandu foldable backpack, the MacBook Pro and the iPad Pro had a baby. Same Moleskin diaries, except they now weigh nothing. THE MOST ULTRA LIGHT SET-UP!

A sun-filled home studio to work out of, or on an Internet-equipped boat, with the sea in front of me.

My cat sitting on my lap as I work, but by choice. This is the part of the dream that is probably hardest to achieve.