Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pierre Speaks: Digital Tools

Cintiq TabletI mentioned how drawing on paper would soon be a thing of the past.

But I was not very helpful when the time came to suggest what program to use to learn to draw in the computer.

The truth is… I don’t really know.

A lot of it depends on the kind of work you are hoping to do as a professional artist. Or of the field you are hoping to work in.

Do you want to make comic books?? Illustration?? 2D animation?? 3D animation??

It also depends on personal preferences. Some will prefer to use Illustrator, while others will prefer to use Photoshop.

Photoshop 7Heck some might prefer to use Photoshop 7 instead of Photoshop CS4.

Sometimes it might be a matter of cost. Photoshop is somewhat expensive. So sometimes, people will try to use the version that they have for as long as they can. So they will not be in a hurry to trade the one they already have for the latest version if the one they already own can still do the job.

And to make matters worse… some studios will develop their own way to do things. So there is no standards, no established way to do things that is standard in all studios.

Where some studios might use Storyboard Pro to do their storyboards,

others might decide to use Sketchbook Pro instead for some reason.

Where some studios might use Flash to do their animation, others might decide to use Harmony instead.

So which program should you use?? Which is best for you??

To get started… once you make up your mind on the type of work you would like to do… try to find someone who is already doing that work, and simply ask him what program he is using.

Nowadays, it might be just a matter of finding the web site of that artist and ask him through an e-mail. Or sometimes, there will be some sort of tutorial where the artist will show the process he is going through to produce his work.

Or if they do not have a website, they might have a profile on sites like Facebook, or maybe they are posting on some comic book forum.

So some research might be needed.

As for me… I started by teaching myself to use Photoshop a few years ago. Although I still draw on paper, that is what I use to tweak my work for Flashback Universe.

Why Photoshop??

I knew that comics were colored with it. And various animation productions I worked on where using it to do the color of various steps in their productions.

So it seemed like a good idea to learn to use it at the time.

Although lately I learned to use a neat little program called Sketchbook Pro. It is fairly inexpensive… around $120 CAN… and it is what we are trying to use in producing the storyboards on the production that I am currently working on.

Why do I say “trying to use”?

Because although we would like for people to use that program, we have a production schedule to stick to. We tried to get them to use Sketchbook Pro, but when it became obvious that they would blow the deadline big time, we went back to let them use whatever working method they were used to.

Storyboard Pro

So some DO use Sketchbook Pro, but some use Storyboard Pro, some use Photoshop, some use Flash, but most still work by hand on paper…. For now.

But before long, everyone will be expected to be able to produce the work digitally with one program or another.

Once you learn how to use ONE program, it does help you in using other similar programs since sometimes some of the principles or some of the shortcuts will be the same.

But no matter what program you decide to learn to use, it would be a good idea to learn how to use graphic pen/tablet. That is something that will be useful with any sort of “drawing program”.

It may seem obvious… but heck I spent a few years using Photoshop with the mouse before I decided to finally learn how to use a graphic pen/tablet.

Although if you can, learn to use a Cintiq tablet. I’m sure there are other models/brands, but this is the one I know of.

Wacom BambooIt is much more quick/efficient to draw on such device then on a standard graphic tablet. But it can be expensive. So if you can afford it, it would be worth it to learn to work with such a device.

But if it is too expensive for you, at least get a standard graphic tablet. You can get a small Bamboo for around $120 CAN. I had bought mine for $80 CAN about a year and a half ago, but last time I checked, prices had gone up for the very same tablet.

All of this may seem obvious to some of you out there… but I know from experiences that there are still a lot of artists out there who are still in denial over this.

Who still think that drawings will be produced on paper till the “end of days”.

Heck I was one of those just 5 years ago.

Sadly…. I could not deny what my own two eyes were seeing any longer. Or what my two ears were earring from various discussions/meetings with producers/directors for the past few years.

As artists, we must learn to adapt to this new reality, or run the chance of becoming obsolete.

I guess we will have to wait and see.

Until next time.


Rusty Shackles said...

Manga Studio Debut 3.0 is what I use for all of my line work (from scratch no pencils) and it's ABSURDLY cheap, about $50 or so. It's designed for comics and has a nice correction dial for your hand's natural jitter or shakiness to be compensated for and turned into smooth line art. Also the pen pressure-line art balance makes things alot quicker. Much easier to use than Illustrator and BY FAR cheaper. The EX version does Vector based graphics and costs five times as much, however it doesn't work in vista nor has a patch been released.

Jim Shelley said...

Hey Rusty, weren't you going to do a guest post about how you color or something? Is there a way you could work in some screen shots of the Manga Studio Debut 3.0 in that post and kill two birds with one stone? (You could use images from Hard Ones as well and kill 3 birds at once actually...)

Pierre Villeneuve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pierre Villeneuve said...

Thanks for the info Rusty.

I am tempted to try it out.

Rusty Shackles said...

Pierre it's worth a shot, trust me it's surprisingly flexible and accomodating.

Jim I'd be more than happy to do one for manga studio! I can also do some general color advice too. Sims would probably freak if I used the Hard Ones though :)


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