Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

Drawing Problems
FinleySharpe at 5:24PM, Feb. 1, 2009
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I've been having a few problems with drawing, and I have yet to figure them out. I have a naturally messy art style, and it looks horrible every time I try and be neat. Not to mention that I got frustrated and bored whenever I try and neaten it up.

I've been experimenting with both openCanvas and Photoshop lately, and I keep having more fun with oC because it feels like it fits my style a lot more. With Photoshop, I have to spend five times more effort just to make it look neat so all the lines aren't all jagged and messy.

I still do have a lot of problems with oC, so I was wondering if there might be another program like oC that I could try that allows me to be messy with lines by allowing for pressure sensitivity. I'm not sure if the newer versions of Photoshop allow that, I'm still using Photoshop 7.0.

One of my other problems is that when I draw, I make the bottom layer my sketch layer and then ‘ink’ over it in another layer. The problem is that when I take away the sketch layer, it just looks horrible and unfinished. I'm not sure if it's because I've been staring at both layers together for half an hour or not. Any tips or suggestions would be great.

Here's a really quickly-drawn example:


last edited on July 14, 2011 12:29PM
cartoonprofessor at 6:01PM, Feb. 1, 2009
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I experience the same feeling whenever I remove the sketch layer.
It's simply because you are used to looking at the busier illustration.
When you colour it all will be good.

Photoshop CS2 (what I use) has great pressure sensitivity with Wacom tablets… I assume you are using a Wacom?

So an upgrade may be in order.

I have never used PS7 with a tablet before, does it have any pressure sensitivity?

BTW I like your style, reminiscent of Herge.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:36AM
FinleySharpe at 6:16PM, Feb. 1, 2009
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PS7 does have pressure sensitivity, but only in thickness. I think oC feels more natural to me because it has sensitivity both in thickness and opacity. It feels more like drawing with a pencil to me, I think.

I don't have a Wacom, I've got a VisTablet. It seems pretty decent, and I haven't had many problems with it except it has these little quickbuttons that pop up when you draw close to the edge of the screen. It's kinda irritating.

I actually hadn't heard of Herge before your post (but had heard of Tintin), so I think I've gotta go track down some of his work so I can find out more. Thanks for the compliment!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:29PM
Aurora Borealis at 1:15PM, Feb. 2, 2009
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FinleySharpe
PS7 does have pressure sensitivity, but only in thickness. I think oC feels more natural to me because it has sensitivity both in thickness and opacity. It feels more like drawing with a pencil to me, I think.

Eh? doesn't that depend on the kind of brush you're using? Cuse you know, when I'm making custom brushes I can have the pressure sensitivity affect both of these and also scattering and some other parameters.

Been using PS7 with my Wacom Volito2 since 2005 or 2006.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:08AM
skoolmunkee at 2:51PM, Feb. 2, 2009
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I have never been able to get pressure sensitivity to work to my satisfaction in Photoshop, 7 or CS3, with two different Wacom tablets. I understand what you're saying about oC, that's exactly why I liked that program so much.

I prefer Paint Tool SAI for my pressure-sensitive work (inking) but I'm not sure if it will accomodate for opacity or if it's just thickness. Try downloading the English Pack, it's a 30-day free full version trial. It does layers and all that so it might work for you.


I sometimes feel like my inks don't look complete but usually it's because all the lines are too uniform. Have you tried putting in some heavier lines, just to experiment? It's hard to tell on the little pic you included but the lines seem relatively ‘light’
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:42PM
lba at 6:45AM, Feb. 3, 2009
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I used to do opacity pressure sensitivity in PS 7. It can be a pain to get to work right but it is possible. Usually it's a case of mucking with the settings until it starts working the way you want. I don't bother with it any more since opacity doesn't make a difference to viewers really (Most of the time they'll just regard it as another area of colour in their mind it seems. ) and it just makes colouring harder.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:29PM
FinleySharpe at 11:16AM, Feb. 3, 2009
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Skoolmunkee
I sometimes feel like my inks don't look complete but usually it's because all the lines are too uniform. Have you tried putting in some heavier lines, just to experiment? It's hard to tell on the little pic you included but the lines seem relatively ‘light’

I've been trying to ink, but I feel incredibly uncomfortable and clumsy with it. If I try and draw like I normally draw, it turns into a muddled mess. It feels like I can't do anything without the opacity sensitivity that oC has. I like the contrast between the absolute darks and whites that it gives me, but it feels like everything I liked about the original drawing is gone.

The only way I can get an inking that I remotely like is to draw something real cartoonish like I put in the OP.

Coloring is about as hard for me, too.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:29PM
ShadowsMyst at 3:48PM, Feb. 3, 2009
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Inking is almost its own artform. Its not really like drawing, so much as identifying the light and dark ‘shapes’ and lines and using texture as well as lines to convey shadow creating a sense of space, weight, and depth. Seriously, a good inker is worth their weight in gold. But if you want to learn the skill, you have to really look at it as a seperate technique. Drawing is not inking, inking is not drawing. Part of the reasons why inks look ‘hollow’ is that there is insufficient attention paid to the lights and darks, completing lines, and adding line weights and textures.

You might want to take some time to practice inking on drawings that are not your own with some reference (video or book, I suggest “The Art of Comic-Book Inking” by Gary Martin.) If you work on art that isn't yours, you tend to be more attentive to detail of learning the skill you are practicing rather than focusing on redrawing the sketch under it. I dunno if it makes much sense, but I've personally found working on other people's art makes me focus more on learning the skill I'm practicing, rather than falling back into a rut of old habits. When you come back to work on your own stuff, you'll bring those new techniques back with you.

As for programs…

I'm guessing you are using OpenCanvas 1.2ish, NOT OpenCanvas 4.5 (http://www.portalgraphics.net/en/), which is a slightly different beast and far superior IMO for drawing and inking. The ink tool is vastly improved in OpenCanvas 4.5. Photoshop, in general, has always been a rather poor choice for inking unless you use the vector tools and block ink. Which is rather tedious. If you want to get into vector inking, for the quick and dirty, Adobe Illustrator CS3's Livetrace function is godlike for turning line work into vectored inks. Truly awesome and timesaving. Some people also like to use Flash for this.

Manga Studio, although its touted for ‘manga’ can be useful for any comic style and has some very sweet inking features, including tapering, pressure sensitivity, and auto smoothing for lines. I highly suggest giving it a whirl for inking specifically. If you do a little hunting about, you can still find the 3.0 demo.

If you need a freebee, Pixia isn't too bad. I've played with it, but it doesn't have the clean crisp I like that I can get out of Manga Studio or Opencanvas 4.5.

If you are willing to spend money, one of the uber pressure sensitive apps is Corel Paint X. Seriously, for real art medium like quality, you can't really beat this program. One of the most responsive programs I've played with, although I personally like pen and paper the best ( I mean the real deal, not digital equivalent), its been a mainstay of digital artists for years.

I'd also suggest that you make sure your tablet drivers are current.

I don't know if this applies, but I have also found there to be quite a difference in tablets from a few years ago to today. Also, not all tablets support tilt sensitivity, and only pressure. Tilt is supported on the Wacom Intuos and up, but I don't know about your tablet. Most low end tablets also only support 512 levels of sensitivity, whereas higher quality tablets support literally double that. Going from a lower quality tablet to a high quality one made a HUGE difference in my art comfort and quality.

Its sort of the age old problem of your materials. The better the tools, the better the product.



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last edited on July 14, 2011 3:32PM

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