Adventures in Digital Drawing


October 2, 2013 by bck1402

Drawing digitally has been something I haven’t really gotten a hang on. Maybe it was that tactile sensation of having pen or pencil to paper, watching that tip reveal the lines as it glides across the pulped surface. Handling a mouse, initially, also meant that I couldn’t really watch the lines pop out unless I’m looking at the screen. There was a disconnect between hand and eye, that coordination, especially where drawing lines was concerned. Manipulating shapes and objects was okay but drawing freehand wasn’t as easy as it could be.

DSC_0072Moving on to a stylus pad, a WACOM tablet from a friend actually, it seemed a little easier at first in that handling a stylus was like handling a pen or pencil. Thing was that there was still a disconnect. The work area on the pad was way smaller than the screen, so there was a magnification aspect at work. One little scrape on the pad and there was a longer line on screen. See the picture of it over on the right? See that little square in the middle of pad? That’s your drawing area of 4×5 inches. There is a removable top so that you could put a drawing on that area, put the top back on and then trace that image. Scanning was easier, of course.

Never really got the hang of it, in any case. Even if I did use it in lieu of a mouse from time to time. Drawing digitally freehand didn’t seem like something I was going to get into.

finger faceMoving ahead way over a decade later and I got myself an iPod touch. It’s the model that was right before the one that got a camera put on it (yeah, missed it by one version). One of the apps I ended up getting was SketchBook Express (the free one). Well, turns out that finger drawing was tougher than using a stylus pad where freehand drawing was concerned because you couldn’t really see where the line began and ended under my big fat fingers. What I did manage was finger painting… of a sort (see left).

DSC_0073Yeah, it felt cool enough, but I couldn’t get the detail I wanted that came naturally with a pencil on paper. There were a few other attempts after but nothing worth saving actually. And it would be years later when I would finally get myself one of those stylus pen with the rubber tips suitable for these touch screens.

It has some heft to it, looking and feeling fairly metallic, and the rather large looking rubber tip almost didn’t seem any better that using my finger (see comparison on right). A few test drives though and I slowly got used to it, and then revisited an old art school project… and I came up with this…


A few more rounds of trial and error and I decided to go back to freehand drawing, naturally gravitating to drawing Syndi-Jean… or a variation, maybe. I thought it went well, not quite as refined as I wanted it to be. The details fell apart when trying to put her glasses on her, and on hindsight, should have done it on a layer. photo2Since I was using SketchBook Express, I could only have up to three layers, so over time when I felt secure enough with what I was doing, I just had to merge the layers and the add in a new one for something new. The initial sketch was one, refining was another and colours was the third. Then came the background, shading and a few other things. In all, I may have gone through about six or seven layers. So yeah, should have used a layer for her glasses, just so I could have removed it if it didn’t work – which it didn’t. But there ya go. You can see some comparisons to other illustrations of her in other previous posts, particularly dealing with the last round of edits (or click on the Syndi-Jean tag below).

Well, practice makes perfect and I guess I’ll keep trying. There’s still the issue of space in that the iPod screen is rather small. I’ve yet to invest in an iPad… I figure it’ll be much easier with one of those, but in the meantime, I’ll stick with pencil (mechanical or otherwise) and paper. (That’s Syndi-Jean and Sophie as envisioned in the final book of Year Three).


One thought on “Adventures in Digital Drawing

  1. […] normal colour pencils, but add water and they look like watercolour. I did mention before about my preference for paper and pencil / […]

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