Our life is a lot different these days. We’ve had two major life events in the last few months that have required us to adapt and change. As things settle down and we adjust to new routines and reality in the big ways, we also find little things that we need to tweak as well.
As a cartoonist I make sure I have time to draw. Drawing The Retros and updating the website five times a week demands that I draw all the time if I want to stay on schedule. This requires that I draw in the parent waiting area while I take Sophie to dance class. I lug my drawing stuff to the school where she practices, I draw, then lug it back home. Of course, I’m making it sound like I am moving a grand piano across country, but I think you get the point. Here’s what my set up looks like:
I have my templates, my paper, pens, pencils and everything I need to draw. After dance I scan in the art, clean it up in Photoshop, and over the next few mornings before work I color and letter.
I do this every week.
I love drawing ‘The Retros’ but I do want to work on other projects. I got the idea for a new graphic novel called ‘Norah Locke and the Underground Kingdom’ a while ago and… I am not making a lot of progress on it. I love working on it and it’s a lot of fun, but doing a webcomic that updates on a consistent schedule makes other projects challenging.
When I got my new job that required me to travel, I wondered how that would impact my art. I have brought my gear on vacation and business trips before, but as I sit on airplanes or waiting for flights or dining alone I can’t help think that I could be drawing.
Now, I COULD set up my drawing stuff on a plane but it’s just not feasible. Turbulence, for one, but all the stuff in the photo above will not fit on the seat trays. So, just like the big events require significant life changes, I also need to make changes in how, when, and where I draw.
So, I bit the bullet and bought an iPencil so I could draw on my iPad while traveling. This must be what Bob Dylan felt like when he switched to an electric guitar.
I resisted moving to digital for a while. I loved what I saw other cartoonists were creating. I really liked being able to skip erasing and scanning. I was excited to learn new techniques. However, it wasn’t easy. I started with Procreate and I found it too cumbersome and wasn’t intuitive. Other artists may pick up on this stuff much more easily than I did, but I struggled.
Of course, I think drawing programs peaked with MarioPaint, so I don’t think my opinion or experience carries much weight.
Zander Cannon uses Clip Studio so I thought I’d give that a spin. Boy, am I glad I did. I found it has a lot in common with Photoshop and although I think Photoshop is a little tricky (again, MarioPaint) but I’m familiar with it. It wasn’t that much of a learning curve especially for my pretty simple art. I don’t mess around a lot with layers or anything too crazy. I just want a magic Etch-A-Sketch I can draw on while I am waiting for my flight.
I really love drawing digitally. The ease of tweaking something, reworking a panel and laying out a page is amazing.
Alex Robinson is one of my favorite cartoonists who also made the jump recently and tweeted about his experience:
After a month of drawing on my iPad I’m already finding it hard to go back to paper & ink. It feels like when you step off the moving walkway at the airport and you suddenly are in slow motion
He’s absolutely right.
I still will draw ‘The Retros’ on paper but ‘Norah’ is all digital. I got 51 pages into it before and I am about 20 pages into the redrawing. I was afraid the difference between pen/paper and digital would look too different but I am pretty happy with how it looks.
Here’s a page I drew on paper:
And the same scene digitally (I still need to letter it properly) :
To be honest, I don’t see much difference. And that’s exactly what I was going for. A part of me wonders why I am using a digital program to create art that is not that different than what I can create on paper, but the reason I made the jump is so I can actually finish the book. Drawing in hotels and airports will help me with that. On my last trip I was able to redraw 11 pages in five days. The book is about two years away, I think. And even that’s ambitious because I am aiming for about 500 pages with this story.
I never know how to finish these blog posts so I am just going to say see you later.