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Paper or Digital?

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Trying to find out if most illustrators (especially ones that illustrate people and animals), illustrate on paper or on a tablet/PC? 

Would also love to hear thoughts on the following:

What challenges do you face when illustrating digitally?
If you illustrate on paper--why do you prefer paper over digital?
#1 - September 04, 2018, 11:11 AM

I know a lot of artists who begin on paper and finish digitally.  I have only recently started doing art again after a long hiatus (read: pre digital art training) I prefer paper and ink/paint because I feel like I have more control and less to learn about accessing the mediums. But I also have an iPad Pro where I use Procreate for sketching and playing around to learn more about digital art. My biggest holdup is that digital platforms have a high cost of entry. I do know how to use PhotoShop, but I don’t feel like I can justify the expense of it at my skill level. That said, my dream is to eventually be able to make graphic novels, and I would likely hand sketch, scan, and finish digitally for speed in coloring and the ability to edit pages easily.
#2 - September 04, 2018, 08:04 PM

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Thank you very much!  That was very insightful.  I never realized that cost to entry is such a huge barrier.  Is that because Adobe has a monopoly on these products? 
#3 - September 05, 2018, 09:39 AM

The Adobe suites are a must have for professional artists. I think that if I were making a living off my art, the cost would not be that high, and it would be aided by being a tax deductible expense. But for someone who’s still learning? It’s expensive. Which is why I’m sticking with Procreate for now, since the app is excellent and only costs me $6. (The iPad cost a whole heck of a lot more, though. But it was cheaper than a laptop and I use it for writing, as well.)
#4 - September 05, 2018, 06:56 PM

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While I do occasionally use photoshop to tweak an illustration I try to do as much as possible on paper. My hands/arms/wrists are very prone to overuse injury so less time on a screen is always better for me. Plus I can get more work done with my family around because no one bats an eye if I pull out a sketchbook!  I do like to use photoshop to arrange my spreads and to make my dummies. Sometimes I can just sketch out a spread but for some spreads and for spot illustrations I really like being able to scan my sketches then play with placement & sizes in photoshop.
#5 - September 06, 2018, 05:00 AM
https://marlalesage.com/
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My hands/arms/wrists are very prone to overuse injury so less time on a screen is always better for me

Marla, one thing that has changed with my use of the Cintiq has been how much LESS pain my wrist experiences. I put it down to the warmth of the large screen soothing it the whole time I'm working. Not a reason to buy it of course but a bonus :)

I can't honestly remember when I bought my Wacom Cintiq but it's been at least 8 yrs now. Till then I worked semi traditionally, scanning the pencil sketch and printing it out with a large format printer onto water colour paper, then painting.
Since the Cintiq all the art, from sketch to final, has been done on the monitor. I love it, love how easy changes are, how I can move elements, alter their size, direction. I use PS but over the past 1.5yrs and for the past few educational books, I've used Clip Studio Paint. It's an amazing program at an extremely low cost.
#6 - September 07, 2018, 03:07 AM
"Penelope and the Humongous Burp"
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I was thinking that a cintiq might not be so bad on the arms... the cost & learning curve are a bit much for me though.
#7 - September 07, 2018, 04:01 AM
https://marlalesage.com/
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I work digitally, and while I would agree that the initial costs are prohibitive, at least when you have the stuff you then don't have costs of paints, brushes, paper and whatnot. The costs are coming down too. I have never worked on a cintiq, but not use an ipad pro paired with my computer through an app called 'astropad'. I started using it as a backup option but now it is what I use every day- it's super mobile, wireless and represents the colours really well on the screen, with no paralax and little lag. Procreate is great too, although it doesn't have a CMYK option, which is a problem.
#8 - September 12, 2018, 11:16 AM

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I am a writer, but use digital tools for basic design and editing. As an alternative to the Adobe's software package, there are free, open source versions. They have been around long enough that they can do a lot of fancy tricks (from my non-illustrator perspective) and are available for most systems (Windows, Mac, Linux). You can export images as most file-types, but the editing file itself will not be compatible with Adobe (e.g., if you are collaborating with another person who is using photoshop).

I haven't actually used any of the Adobe software, so I can't do a direct comparison of what may be missing or what tools are clunky. But I'm happy to answer questions.

For pixel-based photo editing, I use GIMP (GNU image manipulation program):
https://www.gimp.org

Here is a list, with descriptions, for some of the others:
https://itsfoss.com/adobe-alternatives-linux

And finally, a useful website to help find software for any number of purposes:
https://alternativeto.net
#9 - September 12, 2018, 03:13 PM

Fantastic resources and helpful thoughts on the digital art. Thank you, Brian and Tadghthepom.
#10 - September 12, 2018, 09:51 PM

Can you ask that of writers also? I'm still using the good old ink and paper. :writing3
#11 - September 17, 2018, 06:08 AM

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I wanted to mention that new illustrators who want to work digitally might save some money on Adobe Photoshop by purchasing Adobe Photoshop Elements instead.  It's like a Photoshop Lite and, last I used it, had all the features that you really use day-to-day.  I mean, yeah, there's some advanced stuff it doesn't have, but you probably don't need all that.  It's way cheaper (around $100, I think) and you don't have to sign up for a subscription like with Photoshop CC. 

If you can possibly afford a display tablet, that's the way to go.  However, a non-display tablet can also work fine with a little practice.  My cintiq is wonderful except for one thing.  Its power/data combo cord has a poorly-designed connection.  It's really easy to bend the plug by accident (just by bumping it) and then you have to order a new cable and wait.  The cables are often back-ordered because everyone has this problem with them, apparently.  I now always keep a spare on hand.  However, the first time this happened to me was in the middle of a book project and I had to finish out the project with my old intuos.  Not as easy, but it worked and I didn't miss the deadline.  So, either type of pen tablet will work. 

The things I most like about working digitally is the ability to "Undo",  use layers to keep different elements separate, and to adjust the colors later. 
#12 - October 18, 2018, 08:18 PM
« Last Edit: October 18, 2018, 09:05 PM by karen-b-jones »
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I definitely prefer digital! While I love using inks and watercolors here and there to play around in my sketchbook, I work so much faster digitally. Although I toyed around with digital art programs a lot starting in middle school, so I guess that explains my preference :'D
Although it is a lot more expensive for me to pay for the CC Suite each month, I'm so accustomed to using digital that I think it's worth the price. I'm also a huge fan of Cintiqs and think that they're worth the price, too! I recommend along with others here though to start with a regular tablet if you don't have the funds and are beginning to be acquainted with digital media ::-)

Thank you very much!  That was very insightful.  I never realized that cost to entry is such a huge barrier.  Is that because Adobe has a monopoly on these products?
There are certainly other programs you can use! If you have a Windows computer, you can use Paint Tool SAI. There aren't as many features, but it's great for getting gradient-like colors and AWESOME if you use line art a lot. It's not available on Mac platforms, though, so if you have a Mac, that won't work.

Another program I used to use before learning how to better use Photoshop is Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. It's $25 a year, and if you buy it around Black Friday, they usually have a 50% off sale for your first year. It has a lot more painterly brushes then SAI does, and it has a brush stabilizer tool that makes SUPER clean line art. Granted, I don't think the painterly brushes are as nice as the ones you can download on Photoshop, which is primarily why I switched. (Also because it's what my college was primarily making us use. That, and they had a class on computer illustration. which made it a lot easier to get acquainted with the interface and features.)
Another cool thing about it is that you can save your files as Photoshop files, so if you're using it and decide to try using it in Photoshop instead, you can use the files in both programs! You can also still make your own brushes in Sketchbook Pro like you can in Photoshop, which is neat! :cheesy

If you decide you want to delve into Photoshop but you're worried about the cost, they have a photography package that includes Adobe Lightroom (no idea what it is, but it's included!) for only $10 a month. There's also the option that Karen suggested, with Photoshop Express! I think that's primarily for mobile devices, but if you usually work on your phone or tablet anyway, then it's great!
#13 - October 19, 2018, 10:00 AM
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Lazy Nezumi is a really good Photoshop plugin for smoothing your brush lines and for fancy rulers and perspective tools.  I use it constantly. 
#14 - October 19, 2018, 12:27 PM
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I am not familiar with Photoshop Express.  What I was referring to was Photoshop Elements, which is for a PC. 
#15 - October 19, 2018, 12:29 PM
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Karen, wasn't it PS Elements that was lacking CMYK? It was at least 15 yrs ago (so hard to remember exactly) that I had to dig deep into my pockets and pay $1K dollars CAN. to go from Elements to the full PS and I "think" the only reason to do so was the publisher wanting CMYK files. This may well have changed by now.
#16 - October 20, 2018, 03:30 AM
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I am not familiar with Photoshop Express.  What I was referring to was Photoshop Elements, which is for a PC. 

I'm sorry, I misread that  :slaphead My bad!!
#17 - October 20, 2018, 05:31 AM
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Christripp, You know what?  I really don't know if Elements supports CMYK.  That could very well be an issue.  It wasn't anything I ever ran into, but I honestly can't recall if I ever tried that.  So, you'd have to research it to find out. 

Sara Kuba, No worries. 
#18 - October 20, 2018, 12:50 PM
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