Monday, January 19, 2009

Toronto Back Alleys Pt. 18

Its been freezing cold here in Toronto, so here's another winter-time alleyway sketch. A nice thing about this one was that it needed no pshop cleanup. Done in gouache and ink.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More Marvey Superheroes

Here's a couple of quick test sketches of the Hulk & Peter Parker (aka. the amazing Spider-man) that I did while breaking in some fancy new brush-pens. Done in ink and gouache, with a little photoshop cleanup for good measure.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Digital Test Part 2

Here's another image from my week of test-driving the cintiq 12wx. As I mentioned in a previous post, I found the cintiq very handy for doing digital corrections and patches to existing artwork. In this case, I had an old drawing that I had created years ago which I wanted to revise a bit before it was published in print. I never liked the copy I had written for the original, since I had pretty much swiped it from an existing ad. So, in this case, I re-wrote and lettered some snappy new copy by hand (not on the cintiq) and inserted it into the drawing.

However, I also wanted to do some quick paste-ups to the artwork, swapping out 3 or 4 of the smaller images in the fake ad, which I was never very satisfied with. Normally, I'd draw the paste-ups by hand and then composite it in photoshop, but in this case, I drew the new images in a separate layer in pshop and then merged it in. The process was pretty seamless, and in the final product, I think it's hard to differentiate what was drawn by hand and what was patched on the cintiq.

For those who want to compare this piece to the original I posted years ago on my blog, you can check out this link.

I also have to thank Paul Conrad here for his advice on creating the paper-texture on this piece, though in the end I did the bare minimum of work in that department. Thanks for the help, Paul: I wish I had more time to follow your tips!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Digital Test

As you might know, I'm an old-school guy when it comes to art and illustrations. I prefer to work on paper, using brushes and inks, and don't really dig the slick-photoshop look of some of the art being produced today. That doesn't mean I hate computers, of course, despite what I may have posted in the past. I still like to experiment with how to incorporate digital techniques into my process, trying to find ways to save time and enhance creativity. Essentially, I view computers as just another tool in my toolbox, not as a replacement for anything.

With that in mind, I was test-driving a cintiq 12wx digital tablet over the holidays. For those who don't know, the cintiq is kinda like a souped-up touchscreen for artists. Because you can draw right on the display surface, it more closely mimics the feel of drawing on paper than a mouse or a regular drawing tablet. I was curious to see how my style would translate to working digitally, as I've seen friends of mine work exclusively with the cintiq with excellent results. However, their drawing styles were obviously different from mine, and I wondered if I could get that same fluidity of line I like while working on the cintiq.

My results, I have to say, were a bit mixed. The cintiq does an adequate job of imitating a brushline, but some of the dry-brush and thick-to-thin feathering I do were quite difficult to replicate while using it. For example, drawing foliage the way I do is much faster and more precise using real brushes. However, the cintiq is great for doing patch-ups or corrections to existing artwork. And it's about as close to drawing on paper as you can get with the current generation of digital hardware. The best moment for me was when I was able to slap a ruler on top of the surface and drag the stylus across it for a nice-hand drawn thick-and-thin ruler-line. That was cool. The other cool part of the design was that the cintiq can be laid flat on my drawing table, so I can rotate it around like I would a piece of paper while drawing on it. That clearly showed that it was designed with artists in mind.

One great drawback to the cintiq though is all the cables and cords that it needs. You'd think that having a touchscreen to draw on would mean you could just lay back on your couch and doodle away, but the amount of cables attached to it limits its portability. Also, you really need a keyboard nearby, since all software is going to require you to hit keys or type in filenames at some point. Maybe in a couple of generations, they'll make this thing wireless and then it'll really take off.

In the meantime, I still haven't decided whether I'd want to purchase one for my own use. I doubt it would ever replace drawing on paper for me. The cintiq offers some nice advantages, but it also comes with some limitations -- just like any other tool in my toolbox.

To give you an idea of some of the drawings I did while testing out the cintiq, check out the quick portrait of J. Robert Oppenheimer above. I drew it completely in software, in about 15 minutes. I think it would have taken about 30 minutes using ink and guoache.

Edit: Because I am a bit obsessive, I thought the original sketch was a bit 'flat' looking. So I did some additional work on it and added some textures, which I think make it look a bit more complete. You can see the results below. Which do you prefer?