#1 Edited by UdontKnowMe (143 posts) - - Show Bio

I was recently posed the following question:

"Just curious because I have never used Photoshop and you said you use it, but why use it? You said you sketch out and ink the drawing yourself. What does using Photoshop do exactly for your drawings? Does it help generate designs or do you do that yourself? ... Does it help with colors? That is an area I'd like to improve with but have been using the traditional markers, colored inks and colored pencils. Sorry about all the questions but am trying to improve using what little resources I can so any advice would be great. Thanks and again..."

I thought this would make a good discussion ... an opportunity for all the ComicVine artists to chime in what materials they use and why.

#2 Posted by UdontKnowMe (143 posts) - - Show Bio

First off, I hope this does not become a debate about what is better: Traditional Art vs Digital Art.

That said, I consider what I do mixed media. I start with a sketch that I transfer to Photoshop and refine. Why? The power of the program is it is incredibally forgiving when it comes to mistakes and variations. Most of the effects I use could be achieved with time, patience, and traditional methods, but in order to change colors or alter a pose I'd almost have to start completely over. Photoshop saves me time and frustration. Considering most of my completed images could have taken me close to 20 hours, photoshop has saved me more than one heart attack.

Also, there are several free programs out there that have most of the features of photoshop. I started with a $5 photo editing program from wal-mart and worked my way up.

#3 Edited by ZZoMBiE13 (643 posts) - - Show Bio

When I got my first tablet I was reluctant to leave classic art supplies behind. I'd pencil and ink on bristol board and then color in Photoshop. Kinda like what you describe.

As time went on though, I abandoned classic materials all together. As I upgraded to better tablets (i.e. when I got my first Intuos WACOM) I found I preferred just doing everything digitally. It gives you so much more freedom. There is no "UNDO" button on a bristol board tablet. Plus it allows for experimentation in a way that pencil and paper never afforded me.

So for the last 7 or 8 years, I've been 100% digital and while I keep a few art supplies around for when I want that type of experience, I generally never look back.

#4 Posted by UdontKnowMe (143 posts) - - Show Bio

@ZZoMBiE13: Very well put ... and I envy your tablet. I had an 8" wacom that broke years ago and I've never had the chance to replace it ...

I'd also like to say that I still sketch everyday and do paint traditional paintings every once in a while. I think knowing the basics of traditional art is very important before moving into a digital medium.

#5 Posted by Decept-O (7270 posts) - - Show Bio

@UdontKnowMe: That "honeycomb" armor effect I've seen in your pieces, is that something found in Photoshop?

#6 Posted by UdontKnowMe (143 posts) - - Show Bio

@Decept-O: Yes ... it's a pattern. I use them a lot to save time on repetative patterns or to create textures. Most of mine are custom made by me, but there are tons of free ones out there that save people a lot of time. Very handy.

#7 Posted by Decept-O (7270 posts) - - Show Bio

@UdontKnowMe: Curious where you can access such patterns. They make a good background and give the armored effect like I mentioned. What other sites or programs are available? You mentioned there are some other sites and tools you use, would like to know more. Don't know if I will ever get into any of it but knowing what other tools are available wouldn't hurt.

#8 Posted by ZZoMBiE13 (643 posts) - - Show Bio

@UdontKnowMe said:

@ZZoMBiE13: Very well put ... and I envy your tablet. I had an 8" wacom that broke years ago and I've never had the chance to replace it ...

I'd also like to say that I still sketch everyday and do paint traditional paintings every once in a while. I think knowing the basics of traditional art is very important before moving into a digital medium.

Whenever I want something that isn't part of the budget, like say a WACOM Intuos 4, I just let the art pay for the supplies. Take some commissions and save up until you can get it.

The newer Intuos tablets are so nice. My first one had a cord that ran into the side and it would fray after about a year. Then I got a second one and the same thing happened. The newer ones though, the model 4 and up, have removable USB cables so if they should start to fray or go bad you can replace just the cable. It sounds like a small thing but it makes so much of a difference you cannot imagine. The one I'm using now is well over a 18 months and except for a couple of cigarette burns it's in perfect condition. Clearly the burns are not my fault, I just haven't figured out a way to blame it on anyone else yet. But give me time, I'll make up something.

#9 Posted by Dbennett6684 (193 posts) - - Show Bio

If you want to just try out digital media you can pick up a Wacom bamboo splash tablet for around $70 bucks or so and download paint.net or gimp for free-that's what I'm currently learning the craft with. I feel that I draw and ink much much better traditionally than I do digitally but I just can't beat the options for editing and coloring via digital means.

#10 Posted by WillPayton (8415 posts) - - Show Bio

While there are some things that you cant do digitally that you can on traditional media, and some things that just dont feel the same or even as good (for example the feel of a real brush), the difference is night and day. I'm only recently starting to do inking and coloring digitally since I just got a graphics tablet, but I can already do things I would never have tried before. You can do things in a few seconds that might take you days on traditional media, if you could do it at all. Just the fact that you can change, add, and delete layers, and undo and redo at will, means that you can do whatever you want quickly and without fear of failure. All you need to do is look at how comics looked 20 years ago and today. The reason they look as awesome now is because of the digital stuff people can do now.

#11 Posted by Decept-O (7270 posts) - - Show Bio

Thanks for your input, along with UDontKnowMe's info. Hope he can provide me with a bit more when he has the time. I hear all this, and I have talked about it previously but sadly, with someone who really wasn't giving any positive input about it. So to at least have this bit of info is helpful. Again, don't know if I ever will invest in a Wacom tablet or not, who knows, but I admit, they are fascinating. While my artwork is piddlin' at best, I still enjoy doing it the "old school" way. Although my wallet doesn't like me for it. Here are some samples why:

Sorry about the mess of the uploaded images but I think you get the idea. Just a portion of the supplies I use. Granted I am doing more than just sketching in pencil and inking, I am also painting with acrylics and oils when I can, and am trying watercolor, which is a challenge for me. After I looked at my wallet I wanted to huff the Fix-A-Tiff. * don't try this at home* So I can see why more artists are using digital methods.

#12 Posted by Decept-O (7270 posts) - - Show Bio

Just a few more samples which I didn't upload correctly.

#13 Posted by WillPayton (8415 posts) - - Show Bio

@Decept-O said:

Thanks for your input, along with UDontKnowMe's info. Hope he can provide me with a bit more when he has the time. I hear all this, and I have talked about it previously but sadly, with someone who really wasn't giving any positive input about it. So to at least have this bit of info is helpful. Again, don't know if I ever will invest in a Wacom tablet or not, who knows, but I admit, they are fascinating. While my artwork is piddlin' at best, I still enjoy doing it the "old school" way. Although my wallet doesn't like me for it. Here are some samples why:

It also depends on how it feels, and there's always a learning curve. For example, I bought an Intuos, but even though it was really nice and I like the feel of the surface, I just had a hard time drawing with it. So I sold it and bought a used Cintiq (the small one), and so far I'm really happy with it. Being able to look at what you're drawing is much more like real media, and even when I first got it I could already draw much better than I could on the Intuos. Yeah, the Cintiq was much more expensive, but it's worth it... especially if you'll be doing any sort of professional work on it.

You certainly have a lot of materials, which is actually a good case for digital. You can draw an unlimited amount digitally without wasting any ink or paper. But, for me, it's all about the power and time savings. Once you get good with a tablet you can probably get 10x the amount of work done, or, the same amount of work at 10x the quality.

BTW, if you're not sure about buying a tablet because of the cost, think about getting a used one like I did. I got mine through Craigslist. Also, from what I've heard, the cheaper Wacom ones like the Bamboo are still pretty good.

#14 Posted by Decept-O (7270 posts) - - Show Bio

@WillPayton: oK. Thanks for that info and relaying your experiences. I know something similar had been told to me before. Question I have though, are the comic Pros using such devices? Probably a really stupid question but I am curious. I have read Marc Silvestri still illustrates using traditional means, and I don't know if he uses anything else besides pen and paper, but I am curious what the ratio is regarding digital tools for the Pros.

#15 Posted by ZZoMBiE13 (643 posts) - - Show Bio

@Decept-O: You can actually score an Intuos fairly cheap if you know when to buy. As one model goes out and another comes in, you can pick up one at a fraction of the price right before the new models hit the shelves.

The Cintiq mentioned above is a nice piece of tech. Personally, I never had issues with the Intuos though. There are so many settings you can tweak in the software and a bunch of different tip types to change the feel to suit your needs. Of course I spent a couple of years practicing with the (at the time) started model; The Graphire. This was before the WACOM Bamboo tablets were a thing.

If you ever decide to get one, keep an eye on Amazon. As I said, when the models switch you can get one pretty cheap. The last time they switched to a new model I considered getting a backup one just in case because they were less than half the price of what I paid when it was the new hotness.

If you need any more info, feel free to let me know. I'm always happy to offer tips, suggestions, or help with WACOM stuff in any way I can. :)

#16 Posted by Decept-O (7270 posts) - - Show Bio

@ZZoMBiE13: OK, seems like that is sufficient info. Again, still on the fence whether I ever will invest in any of the mentioned tablets and devices as it is something that must be a bottom priority regarding my finances but I admit I would like to at the very least check one out and use it. One day, perhaps.

Just curious,though, are they something you can use for sequential comic art? Can you make "physical" prints of your work, transferring the digital to paper? Again, probably a dumb question but would like to know because I was informed awhile back you can't do that. Perhaps that has changed or the info relayed to me was incorrect?

#17 Posted by WillPayton (8415 posts) - - Show Bio

@Decept-O said:

@WillPayton: oK. Thanks for that info and relaying your experiences. I know something similar had been told to me before. Question I have though, are the comic Pros using such devices? Probably a really stupid question but I am curious. I have read Marc Silvestri still illustrates using traditional means, and I don't know if he uses anything else besides pen and paper, but I am curious what the ratio is regarding digital tools for the Pros.

Since I'm not a pro comic artist I cant say for sure, but I think it's probably pretty common these days for comics to be done entirely digitally. At least the coloring has been done mostly digitally for a while. That's why in comics you now always get nice color gradients and effects that you never got back in the 80's or earlier. That's what I mean about the quality improvement... these days it's as easy to make every page of a comic look as good (or better) than cover art back in the day.

I found this series of YouTube videos of Dave Gibbons talking about his use of Manga Studio and his Cintiq tablet and what his workflow is like.

Par 1 (of 6):

#18 Posted by WillPayton (8415 posts) - - Show Bio

@Decept-O said:

@ZZoMBiE13: OK, seems like that is sufficient info. Again, still on the fence whether I ever will invest in any of the mentioned tablets and devices as it is something that must be a bottom priority regarding my finances but I admit I would like to at the very least check one out and use it. One day, perhaps.

Just curious,though, are they something you can use for sequential comic art? Can you make "physical" prints of your work, transferring the digital to paper? Again, probably a dumb question but would like to know because I was informed awhile back you can't do that. Perhaps that has changed or the info relayed to me was incorrect?

None of these are dumb questions, the only dumb thing is not asking, right? =)

Your ability to bring stuff in and out of the computer is only limited by the quality and size of your scanner and printer. If you're working in relatively large formats (i.e. 11" x 17") then doing this day-to-day would be a problem unless you buy (or have access to) a device that can handle those sizes. That's where being able to do everything digitally really helps... you could do everything from initial sketches, to penciling, inking, coloring, and even the final lettering, all on the computer. Then it's only a matter of either sending the file to someone or printing it. Or, if you only need to print large sizes or high quality rarely, then going to a place like Kinkos (or whatever) might be enough. Anyway, hope that helps.

#19 Edited by ZZoMBiE13 (643 posts) - - Show Bio

@Decept-O: I cannot say "most", but a significant number of the comics we read from month to month are done digitally from start to finish.

You can always print them out using any color printer, but if you want higher quality you can put your images on a flash drive and take them to Kinkos and have them printed with their top of the line machines. I've sent off submissions that way in the past and it worked just fine.

Digital coloring is about all that is done in pro comics these days. So there is always a way to get them printed out if you like.

For me, working with the WACOM and Photoshop is so much better than traditional physical mediums. Being a life-long gamer, I have some pretty great hand eye coordination so drawing on a surface and having it show up on a screen wasn't much of a hurdle for me. But some people still prefer proper art supplies. Both have their place. If you're comfortable with what you have, there's no rush to change. Lots of top tier talent still use traditional art supplies. Even if they eventually get scanned in to be colored digitally, many artists prefer the tactile feel of using bristol board and lead pencils. Bottom line: There's no wrong way to art. ;)

#20 Posted by Decept-O (7270 posts) - - Show Bio

@WillPayton: Thanks again for your input and the video. @ZZoMBiE13: Thanks again with your info and input as well. I agree. Just wished I had the talent that a lot others have.

#21 Posted by WillPayton (8415 posts) - - Show Bio

@Decept-O said:

Just wished I had the talent that a lot others have.

Desire is more important than talent. If you love doing it, and practice a lot, that's what will make a difference in your art. Talent alone wont get you very far. But in any case, dont put yourself down. When it comes to art, people have different kinds of talent.

#22 Posted by ZZoMBiE13 (643 posts) - - Show Bio

@WillPayton said:

@Decept-O said:

Just wished I had the talent that a lot others have.

Desire is more important than talent. If you love doing it, and practice a lot, that's what will make a difference in your art. Talent alone wont get you very far. But in any case, dont put yourself down. When it comes to art, people have different kinds of talent.

Agreed. Talent is for amateurs. Drawing is a skill, learned over time through practice of craft. Talent is merely the spark that gets you started. The difference between pro and amateur is willingness to work for it. Relying on talent alone, as Will said, won't get you far. Letting talent lead you to improve your skills however, that's the path to proficiency.

I also echo the "don't put yourself down" sentiment. We all have our own level of development but we're all still students. The minute you stop learning you start moving backwards.

#23 Posted by Decept-O (7270 posts) - - Show Bio

@WillPayton: Thanks. @ZZoMBiE13: Thanks.

#24 Posted by UdontKnowMe (143 posts) - - Show Bio

@Decept-O: Oh you've got talent ... keep practicing and the skills will be refined.

A lot of the questions you asked me have been answered but I wanted to make a few quick points:

While I have used a tablet in the past, I currently just use the software. My tablet broke years ago and I've been using photoshop and a mouse ever since. I think I do ok considering that fact. There are times I dream of owning a tablet, and as soon as the budget works out where I can get one I probably will. But I don't see it as completely necessary as long as you have the means to scan your artwork. I don't know that I could go back to coloring my stuff traditionally though. Digital is just so much more forgiving, dynamic, and a time saver.

In terms of printing your art ... I know a lot of comic artists will draw digitally now but print the work out and ink it traditionally. Then re-scan and have it colored via photoshop. This is so they have an actual piece of artwork to sell. Apparently a lot of the money comic artists make comes from selling their work.

So, my overall point is that traditional and digital kinda go hand in hand ... the best work out there seems to be a combination of both ... in some way.

#25 Posted by Decept-O (7270 posts) - - Show Bio

@UdontKnowMe: OK, but was just curious what other sites or programs are around. The other users answered questions about the brands of tablets and the like, so that does help.

I should have realized that is how a lot of artists are coloring and inking their work. I do know a lot of artists sell their work in addition to their jobs as comic illustrators but this info regarding how a number of them are doing it now does help me to know.

Thought perhaps you were also using a tablet or likewise device. Just surprised so much is available via Photoshop. I've seen some other patterns and designs on another site but that isn't related to Photoshop.

Guess I may have to actually do some searching and possible investing in digital means when and if I ever can afford it. Like a lot of movies these days, most of the special effects are a combo of live action and CGI. Guess I should expect the same for comic book and art in general. Looks like I am a dinosaur so to speak and while what I do is just a hobby I can't even imagine what it must be like for a Pro to keep up with everything.

Thanks again for your comment about my work and your input, this helps.

#26 Posted by WillPayton (8415 posts) - - Show Bio

Since we're talking about this, I thought people might enjoy this video. It shows some of the reasons why doing stuff digitally is really powerful and time-saving. Some of the stuff he does here for this drawing would simply be impossible with traditional media.

#27 Posted by UdontKnowMe (143 posts) - - Show Bio

@Decept-O: Photoshop has a student version that is greatly reduced in price (not sure if that applies for you) ... there is also Photoshop elements which I've seen on sale for as little as $50.

The only free program I can think of is GIMP, which I have not used, but I know several people who have and they've managed to create some great stuff.

#28 Posted by Decept-O (7270 posts) - - Show Bio

@UdontKnowMe: Well it could be applicable in the sense it is less expensive. :) Not a student, those days are long ago at least in terms of my age. Ha! OK, yeah, heard about GIMP but honestly, I can't get past the stupid name. Maybe it is free and good to use but just never tried it, I am weird that way I guess. Regardless thanks for the input again.