Cartoonists can be so finicky. Every one of us has our necessities, our favorite pen or pencil brand, the thickness or tooth to the paper we draw on, or the must-have computer application.. and none other will do! Don’t even try to persuade us to change. We like what we like.
I understand, I do. But I also take a piece of advice that I got back in college very seriously; my illustration professor, if you finally were able to impress him with your latest piece, would say “nicely done… now, don’t get comfortable.” He was a firm believer that part of being an artist is to try new things and not get yourself stuck in a rut or churning out the same old stuff. If your goal was to find a style or technique that would make him happy and just coast, you were going about this the wrong way. I think there’s truth to that.
That said, what I want to touch on is a common transition a lot of us are making: traditional mediums to mostly or even fully digital. I’m not talking about the print vs. web debate… in the end most of our work will appear in both mediums anyway. I am talking about how we create, how we bring our characters to life in short-form stories. Some cartoonists, including myself, are totally willing to take the plunge and go digital, if only for efficiency reasons. Others need the feel of pen to paper to get the full enjoyment out of drawing comics. In the end, it SHOULD be fun, that’s the #1 priority of making comics… if it’s not, you need to reevaluate why you’re in the field. When making this decision, it’s always best to weigh the pros and cons… and that’s what I’m here for:
Pros to switching to digital comic creation
- general efficiency- no waiting for ink to dry, erasing pencil lines, etc.
- no scanner & patchwork headaches (unless you are still sketching by hand)
- for the most part, it’s a faster process
- if created in vector format, size can be easily increased without loss of quality
- clutter control- no piles of inked comics taking up space
- eco-friendly (minus the power used). less paper wasted
- less art-store trips, since paper and pencils are not needed
- The cost of a Tablet PC Laptop, Intuos Tablet or wacom tablet (can range from $100 to $2000… or even more)
- missing the feel of pen to paper, if that’s a love of yours
- lack of portability on a wacom tablet or Intuos tablet. Glued to a desktop!
- No original strips to sell!
- Possible decrease in quality of your artwork, if you have a more detailed style. It’s hard to make your comic look hand-made and not digital, if that’s your goal.
- The expense of high-end software like Adobe, that works better with the latest technology like tablets.
- having to use a font. Some cartoonists swear by hand-written text!
I may have missed some, but these are the main reasons I weighed in my decision to switch from pen and ink and scanners, to buying a Tablet PC and going 100% digital. The pros outweighed the cons, for me. However, I realized that a lot of the cons do not apply to me personally: my style translates very well to vector lines, the Tablet I bought was under $1000 and my generous mother and grandfather helped me with that, and I already used a font as I have sloppy handwriting. I can honestly say I do not miss pen and paper. That’s how natural using the Tablet’s screen is for me; the disconnect when using a regular wacom tablet was annoying, but drawing directly on the screen solved that issue. The only issue I have come across is not having original strips to sell. I am not sure, however, how much that will affect me in the end. Sure, I could print a high quality glossy of a comic, and sign it, but it’s just not the same.
Every artist is different, as is what makes drawing comics “fun” to each individual. There is certainly no fail-safe answer to this debate, and I do not intend to persuade you. Weigh the pros and and see what decision best suits you, your style, your goals as a cartoonist!
For further analysis of my technique and its evolution, you can check out this article. I certainly have come a long way, baby.