Monday, November 19, 2007

Digital Sketching
Believe it or not, the two drawings below were not accomplished with pencil or pen on paper. Instead, they were done on a convertible tablet PC, something I treated myself to after all the conventions this summer and fall. I wanted a new laptop, and after stumbling on a review of a tablet PC while doing research, I was hooked. Further tablet PC-specific research and some testimonials from other commercial artists sealed the deal. For those readers unfamiliar with tablet PC's, they work essentially the same as those things the UPS guy carries that you sign on with the little stylus, or the electronic pads you sign on when using a credit card at a store these days. Basically you draw directly on the screen of the tablet with a digital pen/stylus as if you were drawing on a pad of paper with a pencil or pen.

I've had my Toshiba for a month or two now, and I've had very little time to do any extracurricular drawing, but I've practiced a bit using a program called Alias Sketchbook Pro. I'm frankly amazed at how the various digital drawing tools recreate actual real-world pencil/pen/brush/marker lines and strokes. Any drawing I do in Sketchbook Pro can then be opened in Photoshop and manipulated/augmented, and vice versa. Before any art collectors reading this start worrying, I should mention that my digital drawing will never replace pencil and paper for me--at most I'll probably end up doing thumbnails on my tablet as well as some coloring and all my Photoshop work(I use Photoshop frequently these days to create lettering, to distort drawings for certain effects, and to re-size or re-compose panels that aren't working). Any other drawing I do on the thing will be just for fun.

Above is a test of the brush tool, simulating inking over a scan of my Modern Masters
cover(you can work in layers in Sketchbook Pro). It turned out okay for a first attempt,
but Karl Story definitely has nothing to worry about!

Here's one of my first tests using the pencil tool. Pretty loose. Actually, the marker and
brush tools feel more natural to me on the tablet PC, so I'll probably end up using
those more in the future.

Here's my Toshiba as a standard laptop.
What makes it a "convertible tablet PC" is the
ability to swivel the screen around
180 degrees...

...then when closed, "Voila!" it's a tablet!



Fogger said...

On behalf of all art collectors - I'm glad it won't replace pencil and paper for you. ;)

Strangewingz said...

How much did you pay for it? I want a Wacom Cintiq 21ux; when I hit the ol' Powerball that beyotch is mine! Lol!

Give me a call, when you get the chance...


poop scoop said...

So, no more Karl Story inks? :(

Chris & Xan said...

Good lord--I'd always rather have Karl ink my work than me any day, whether it's digital or the usual way. As I mentioned in the post, Karl's job inking me is secure! Didn't mean to imply that I wouldn't be requiring inkers now that I've started sketching on the computer. There are many reasons I want to stick with traditional pencil & paper--here are a few: it feels better, I know how to get the results I want and get them faster, and I like having original artwork after it's all over. Overall, there's still something about drawing on the computer that isn't as satisfying as "real-world" drawing. I've done enough on the tablet to know that it's probably going to be best for rough sketching and layouts and that sort of thing instead of finished drawing. The computer will not be my primary work tool--just a new toy/art tool for me to have fun with in my spare time. Sorry about the misunderstanding!

Neil Hill said...

Actually, that looks pretty damn good! I don't know if I'm more excited by the quality of work you've turned out in these digi-sketches, or the news that a Modern Masters volume is being devoted to your work, Chris! I'm a H-U-G-E Modern Masters fan, and can't wait to see your issue when it premieres!