Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Digital vs Real

Every now and again I experiment with creating art digitally and with mixed results.

During the week I was drawing a little Tank Girl warm up piece, simply for my own amusement.

Sinnce my rough pencils were a little cartoonier than usual I thought I'd try some digital inking.

I used both the freehand brush tool (for the eyes and nose etc.) and a little bit of the vector pen tool (the shape of the face, general outline et al). I do like parts of this. The pen tool enabled me to get a really nice curved shape to the hair and I like the varied weight of the brush tool on the eyes, and the ability to undo when I messed the eyes up. The shape of the face was interesting, but wasn't really what I was going for so I gave up on the digital inking and just inked the original drawing.

This is the drawing inked with a Pentel brush pen. Again I like some aspects of this, the face looks more organic, and inking by hand enables me to turn the page around (without messing up the spatial relationship between the image and tablet that would occur with the digital approuch) that helps me get a steady hand with odd shapes like the mouth and cigarette, but the overall look isn't as tight or clean as the digital version. The hair in particular looks a little sloppy, and only having one go at the eyes didn't yield brilliant results.

One thing I always do digitally is the colouring. I scanned in my ink drawing and started colouring in photoshop. I'm much more comfortable with colouring with a tablet as it doesn't require the fine line and control (for m y approuch anyway) that inking does.

My first attempt at colours were much too suturated and also realised that it looked like Tank Girl was pointing to her cigarette and not giving us the finger so I was able to digitally mess around with image by desaturating the colours, moving the hand around and switching round the cigarette (as seen in the little animated GIF above).

I ended just going back to the original layout which I liked the shape of, with just a little tuck of Tankies right arm that I thought stuck out a little too much at the shoulder in the inked drawing.
I have drawn and coloured some strips from scratch, such as my Rí Rá comic strip (you can see page one in an earlier post), but even getting the shape of the boys face right on panel one took a fair number of undos. So I'm making some headway on the digital approach, but for inking I'm much more comfortable with a pen or brush (I've ordered some new types of brush pens so I've review them once I've tried them out), with touch ups and colouring in digital. On a side note; one good thing about drawing bigger than printed size is that a little bit of resizing/shaping wont look pixalated when resized if you need some photoshoppery.

I was twittering today with Tommie Kelley who is the creator of Road Crew, an excellent web comic based on the misadventures of Jim Soundman. Tommie tries to convert people to the all digital revolution. It shows if can be done quite well, and the difference between Tommies digital and pen lines are shocking (in a good way - check out the new readers section on the Road Crew site for proof).

Anyway, until I get a Cintiq and can draw straight on to the screen (with the added bonus of the undo button) I think I'll stick to pens and brushes for my regular work.
Oh and make sure to check out and the inspirations behind this little sketch.


  1. Nice Tank Girl! Your digital inking/colouring has really come on since your work for coimicigael.
    Hard to imagine how artists like Matt Brooker produced their early digital colouring with just a mouse!

  2. Lemme ask ya... After you have your pencils done, make a copy... then draw in ink as normal. Whatever parts you don't like, you can redraw on a lightbox, and scan it in when you scan in the rest. Then you just piece it together?

    As a tattoo artist, i do this all the time...

  3. Yeah I do this sometimes Lance. I usually always make a copy of the pencils, and sometime even just straight onto a lightbpxed page.