Ok, if you’ve followed me on my blog or on twitter you’ll know that I’ve been in something of a battle with digital drawing – occasionally digital drawing wins a fight but the war always goes to analogue.
It’s been a longer running battle than you know.
My first computer was an Amstrad CPC464, in 1984. In those days you’d buy magazines with listings on them to type into the computer, and I typed my first drawing program in, which I tweaked and changed and modified until it was pretty full featured (well, as full featured as it could be, you could literally watch a flood fill fill every pixel and real time, it was so slow). That was my first experience of digital drawing.
In 1987 when I went to college and was asked what I wanted to do I said I loved computers and drawing and wanted to do something with both. They told me to do Technical Drawing – which, these days is all done in CAD systems, and in those days was done on paper with rulers and set squares and was mind numbing. Really, it was the worst advice. If I’d known then that computers would become so essential in drawing in later years anyway, I’d probably have simply pursued an art career.
In 1989 Autodesk Animator came out, and because I was working in a computer retailer, I got my hands on a copy and played with it – it was my first exposure to layers (there were only two layers, and I’m not even sure they were called layers then. There was no blend modes – you could only scratch and reveal a layer below the current layer).
I used to love tomorrow’s world, especially anything to do with computer graphics – I remember watching someone using a really early light pen to draw directly on to a computer screen – pretty sci fi, and amazing and thinking I wanted to do that.
In about 1989/90 I got my hands on corel draw (and would go on to train people in it) and started computer lettering – albiet by printing out the letters onto A4 paper and cutting out and sticking on the page. The range of fonts was the big limiting factor though, there was nothing like the organic hand lettering style fonts that are so prevalent now.
The cintiq has been part of my tool box for a couple of years now, as has Manga Studio. I bought version 3 in the states and never used it, version 4 came out and I upgraded out of a sense of ‘this is probably useful for corrections’ and it’s become pretty much essential to my workflow. But it’s mostly for corrections and dealing with the large amount of art that you end up amassing (I use story files to keep all the pages of a comic together). I’ve drawn the occasional page, but it’s never been as satisfying as paper, brush and ink.
That hasn’t really changed, but, I have been drawing more in digital, in fact, I’ve now drawn two episodes of Dredd entirely digitally (bar one traditionally inked page).
There’s still nothing to beat the excitement of getting the ink and brush to do what you want, but, on the other hand, digital allows me to start drawing without the mental prep work and fretting that traditional inks normally take (where’s my brush? has it split? is this ink too thick? gah)
And now, now, I’m going to see if I can’t do an entire issue of a 22 page comic in digital.