Photoshop is a wonderful program for designing jewelry (maybe not as
good as the 3-D, but...). I have a database of designs and sketches
I've built up. Sketches I've done in my pocket notebook when ideas
strike, photographs that give me ideas, everything is grist for the
mill and gets scanned.
After I scan the stones, I bring the image into Photoshop and start
playing with designs. I can draw elements using the paintbrush
tools, and I can bring in design elements from the database. I put
all these things on separate layers, all of which I can manipulate,
reshape, and resize individually. When I'm satisfied with the way it
looks, I can go into all the different layers and duplicate each
element, so I can see everything individually. Finally I print the
whole page out so I can have it on my workbench.
This is especially valuable for nonstandard shape stones, which I
use a lot. A lot of what I do is pierced and layered work, so this
works really well. Even for wax work, it's valuable, since I can
often work directly on the printout.