Sunday Mailbag- Switch to Digital?

October 2nd, 2016 | Posted in Mailbag

Sunday Mailbag!

Q: When (and why) did you make the switch to doing your artwork digitally, and do you ever miss the traditional media you used to use?

A: Back in the early 90’s I was using a combination of watercolor, acrylics and airbrush to do color illustrations. here are a few very old examples:



Right around that time I started doing a series of comic book style booklets for a company that produced anti-drugs, anti-smoking, anti-drinking and other anti-stuff materials for schools. They wanted me to do the work digitally, so I bought myself an Apple Macintosh computer and taught myself how to use Adobe Illustrator. They wanted it all in vector format. That was slow and unwieldy, but I managed to do three or four booklets for them in that format. In the meantime, PhotoShop and Painter were starting to advance raster-based coloring and artwork on the computer, and Wacom’s pen tablets were getting to be seriously useful tools.

It was obvious to me right away that art directors and publishers were going to want artwork delivered digitally. The days of sending in physical artwork that would then need to be sent out for drum scanning and color separation was rapidly coming to an end. Illustrators well versed in, if not the creation of art digitally but at least the delivery of art digitally, were going to have a serious leg up on those still putting illustration boards in Fed Ex boxes and shipping them off. So, I invested in a big 12″ x 18″ Wacom ArtZII tablet, a Dell Workstation PC, a Microtek tabloid sized scanner and the latest version of PhotoShop. I started using these tools in the final stages of my illustration process. I still drew, inked and partly painted much of my work traditionally, but I scanned in the art and used the computer to finish, allowing me to deliver a fully digital end result. By the mid 90’s almost 100% of my work was digitally delivered. I still combine traditional media with digital for most of my illustration.

I don’t really miss using traditional paints or airbrush. I can get the same or better results digitally and can easily manipulate the final image in ways traditional media either does not allow or would take forever to do. Plus pixels wash out of my pants much easier than paint does.

Thanks to R Griffin for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!


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