Last time we talked about investing on your talent – always make sure you alot your resources to improving your craft. Our talent improves over age, you can see here in the image below the evolution of Hearts. On the left hand side is a scanned artwork I did way back in 1998 – I started with a pencil, inked it with a Rotring technical pen and finished it with art markers, while the one in the middle was done 20 years after, sketched by traditional pencil and paper but inked and colored digitally this time I used a Wacom Intuos tablet and Clip Studio Paint, the one in the right hand side was all digital from the sketch to the finishing touches – thanks to my XP-Pen Artist 15.6 graphics display tablet and Clip Studio Paint.
So why did I go fully digital? First and foremost if I still have my way, I’d go for a traditional pen-paper setup, have it scanned and work on it digitally. However the process is time and space consuming. I live in a condo with limited space, while my room can still fit a scanner and a drawing area, it starts to get a little claustrophobic. Getting a graphic display tablet removes a lot of clutter on your workspace, it eliminates also the need of a scanner and your hands are free of messy pencil or ink stains. Also, I went digital because I know for myself that I can promote my works better via online social media channels. Most of my works can easily be exported to be displayed on Facebook or Instagram.
Do take note that graphic display tablets (especially the 20+ inch ones) also consume a lot of space unless you intend it also to be your primary monitor but nowadays digital artists opt for a multi-monitor set up. I have a 3-display set up at home (my laptop screen being the least used one) and while the Artist 15.6 is portable enough to bring around with me when I’m on the go, I have not tried it yet.
Graphic display tablets are also expensive, with the most affordable ones start at around PhP12k or roughly $250 – the top of the line ones reaching $2000 or PhP100k more or less. If you suck at basic drawing, forget the investment and you may just get criticized badly. Learn the basics first, it took me several years to hone my skills and it’s far from perfect. If you’re going digital, make sure that you have already at least mastered the basics. It’s very rewarding when you know you can produce a masterpiece on both digital and physical media.
Now there’s that argument, some people will say digital art is lazy – that it cannot replicate the effort shown on the paintings of Da Vinci or Van Gogh, but if those artists live today I am sure they will be a proponent of today’s modern technology. Who’s not to say that artists have also contributed in pushing digital art out to the public. There’s a lot of hate from purists – it’s like saying you’re not a professional DJ if you’re using a laptop, or you’re not a pro photographer if you’re using mirrorless or dSLR cameras. Times are changing, we cannot forever be stuck in physical medium if digital can do the same. It will still take skills and investment to produce a masterpiece.
Going digital is the way to go if you’re going to do comics and make it more accessible on the web and mobile. The best program I can always recommend is Clip Studio Paint – a graphics application optimized for drawing and creating comics. Photoshop is good, I’m not going to say it doesn’t match up but I’ve reserved my use of Photoshop for doing graphical layouts instead.
Going digital exclusively doesn’t guarantee you to be successful. Like I said it will still require skill and mastery of the basics. It will only give you an advantage into creating art masterpieces faster without any mess or clutter as well. The real challenge will still be your initiative to create. As for me, I can say it was worth the risk when I jumped to full digital.