Sunday, 15 September 2013

On going digital - Wacom Intuos Pro vs Traditional Media

So... this is a thorny one for me.

My freelancing experience thus far has demonstrated the very real preference for digital art that appears to be emerging within the industry. The 'look' of traditional media such as pen and ink, watercolour, paint, etc, is clearly still very popular - particularly in the arena of children's illustration - but since it is now not only possible, but much faster, to create this look digitally, I have encountered an increasing number of clients who highly favour digital media over traditional.

My case for traditional media

I had always passionately favoured traditional media, for several reasons.

  • Comfort and Familiarity. Most - if not all - artists learned to be artists with a pencil (pen, brush, etc), and that relationship is enduring. For me, a pencil feels like a warm old friend when it sits in my hand. That's a good place from which to make art.
  • Validity. A pencil cannot fake drawing skills that you don't possess. For some reason, I considered digital art an act of letting a computer 'make art for you'. Cheating, in other words. Less requiring of skill. Ha. We'll come to that in a second.
  • 'Style' Preservation. Now, this is a bit of a vague one, even for me. My 'style' is still very much in development, gradually and naturally emerging with every piece of work that I make. But it is something that is - finally - developing into a solid and coherent sense. I didn't want to hijack this process and attempt to steer it into a 'digital style'. Ha, again.

Now, this would have been fine were it not for the fact that my existing methods had got me... well... utterly stuck. Over the last few months I came to realise just how badly stuck I was when I was forced to re-create the same image eleven (yes, eleven) times, thanks to experiments gone awry, muddy colours that I'd overworked, dissatisfaction with colour palettes that I couldn't erase, and sticky toddler fingerprints. In the meantime I had wasted countless hours to achieve nothing, lost my desk under mountains of pencils and paper, and killed off every shred of enthusiasm I'd had for the project.

I needed a new way of working.

So my lovely husband, in a fit of generosity - and, perhaps, desperation for a less grumpy wife - gave me a Wacom Intuos Pro tablet and convinced me to 'just give it a little try'. And, feeling very little hope of a favourable outcome, I did. 

Which means that I have to make a bit of an embarrassing volte-face now. 

Whisper it: I think I may be a convert. 


OK, definitely. 


Eeek... my first little foray into digital illustration

My case for working digitally

  • Freedom. This is, for me, the biggest one. I like to experiment and I have a tendency to overwork my colours, which, when working with traditional media, very often means starting again from scratch. When working digitally, however, I can try absolutely anything, safe in the knowledge that my lovely, lovely UNDO button is sitting there, poised and ready to save me. I can also experiment more elaborately on new Layers, knowing that if it doesn't work: bing, delete the layer, and leave the rest of my work untouched.
  • It IS valid. A drawing tablet cannot fake drawing skills any better than a pencil. If you cannot draw with traditional media, you cannot draw with the tablet. Your hand is still doing all the work. It's just holding a different tool. In fact, after a little bit of practise to become accustomed to the feel of the new 'pen', I'm surprised at how similar the entire process is. And - therefore - there is also no threat to my style. I just changed tools.
  • Speed and cleanliness. Ooh, another biggie. No need to scan, to clean up scans, to get scans print-ready. It's clean and print-ready from the get-go. It also means a tidier, clearer workspace, and consequently a clearer head, less potential toddler mess, and a less irritated husband. Win all round.

So... yes. It is still a learning curve, I will admit, but so far I'm actually finally liking this digital malarkey.  

A lot. 


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