Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

switching from scanned pages to drawing tablet
Adariel at 4:49AM, Feb. 4, 2011
posts: 915
joined: 1-1-2006
okay, a little background story:

all my sketches and previously made pages got lost during the time that i was switching jobs and moving residences. I got so discouraged i didnt even go near drawing for 2 yrs or so. Now I am back on track and eager to restart.

Problem is, im now using a drawing tablet (wacom bamboo, my scanner got lost too :( ), its so different than sketching on paper, i cant get the hang of it. im already at 3 weeks daily tablet sketching and i still cant get the drawings out the way i want them to turn out, and its starting to get frustrating, is there anyone who had to deal with the same scenario here?

last edited on July 14, 2011 10:45AM
Ironscarf at 7:52PM, Feb. 4, 2011
posts: 1,341
joined: 9-9-2008
Oh god yes! I didn't draw much for 10 years , except back of envelope type scribbles. I totally lost my confidence.

Going digital really got me going again, just because it was a new thing I think. I was determined to work with it but yes, it takes a while. I'd say it was six months before I could really draw naturally and a good part of this is finding the right software that you're comfortable with. My comic was going to be inked, but I couldn't get decent inking digitally so I ended up with digital painting. It's taken me two years to finally be able to ink as well as I could with natural media.

So don't worry about it, you'll get there and although it seems like a huge wall to climb, one day soon the wall will disappear and you can just get on with drawing normally. I'm not sure what you're using but a program with free rotate can be helpful - photoshop may have that but I'm currently using Paintool Sai which Skoolmunkee recommended - it's really well set up for drawing, inking and painting rather than image editing.

last edited on July 14, 2011 1:02PM
darrell at 8:48AM, Feb. 7, 2011
posts: 152
joined: 1-3-2006
It definitely took me a while to get used to using my first tablet (a Wacom one that I can't remember the name of at the moment). I went in stages. I started off just touching up pages that I had inked by hand and scanned in. After that I would pencil the layouts, scan that in, and ink it using the tablet (which I know sounds weird but I felt more comfortable actually seeing the layouts physically). It actually wasn't until I got a Cintiq that I went fully digital and even then, I still like doing initial thumbnail layouts of pages or just some details in a small sketchbook first.

I had quite a few things I had to get used to with the tablet. One was looking at the screen at what I was drawing instead of my hand. That felt really awkward for a long while. Another was getting used to the software (I use Photoshop Elements). Before going digital I was using Staedtler markers (various thicknesses) and I found going to a “digital brush” was quite different. I spent a lot of time trying out different zooms, different brush types, different settings, and getting a feel for what worked and what didn't (at least for me).

So yeah, after taking a long absence from drawing and then jumping to a tablet I can see that taking quite a while to get used to.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:08PM
ShadowsMyst at 12:08PM, Feb. 7, 2011
posts: 218
joined: 1-9-2006
I transitioned from traditional drawing to digital tablet myself, but there wasn't a break in between. It took me the better part of a year to teach myself to draw with a tablet. For me, I started doing digital pinups in my software of choice ( which I feel makes a big difference when working with a tablet. My choice was ultimately MangaStudio as I felt it treated the tablet input closer to what I was used to traditionally than anything else), while continuing to work traditionally for the comic myself. I started using the tablet for coloring, touching up lineart, and slowly began working on future pages in the software. Slowly it just naturally progressed from working traditionally to digitally. But it did take about a year. I found if I treated tablet ‘drawing’ more like traditional painting, it helped. But it does take a while to get over the disconnect of working not looking at your hands, and the difference in feeling between a tablet and paper&pen. I found the Wacom Intuos line was better than their bamboo line for feeling of the tablet, it almost has a velum like tooth to it, and softer nibs which helped with ‘plasticy’ feel. Software too I think can make or break you. You need to find a software you can work with comfortably. I love Photoshop for coloring, but not for drawing. You should see if you are getting frustrated if a change of software is helpful to making you feel more comfortable and get better results.

I have a webcomic making blog! Check it out.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:32PM
Adariel at 1:53AM, Feb. 9, 2011
posts: 915
joined: 1-1-2006
hmm, guess i should stop sitting on my lazy arse then, to the drawing board!
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:45AM
Aurora Borealis at 10:03AM, Feb. 10, 2011
posts: 1,289
joined: 3-2-2008
I found it much easier to do a rough pencil breakdown on paper and then scan that and use it as a base for digital inks. No cleanup hassle, no worries about quality of pencils, no large filesizes. Just grab the 100dpi scan and chuck it into the page template and enlarge it out until it fills the page just right.

Result? I'm doing up to 10 pages of pencils or 3 pages of inks a day (although usually I just do 2).

Since you have no scanner… hmm, maybe draw a grid of blue lines and use it as a background? I found having some kind of a grid under the drawing helps me keep proportions a little bit better (I pencil on printer paper and put underneath a sheet of paper that has a nice black & red grid on it… good for marking out panels, loose lettering to see where text will fall and keeping stuff alligned properly).

Also, whatever you draw in, I hope it has tools to rotate the page and mirror the image. Rotation helps you draw at angles that might be difficult on the tablet (if you draw like me, that is, keep on rotating the page back and forth while making lines) and the ability to see the mirrored image helps you find stuff that's off.

As for using a tablet. At first I couldn't draw anything unless the tablet was at juuuuust the exact angle. One degree off and my lines were going elsewhere than they were supposed to be. Few years later and I can keep the tablet on my lap and get good results :D

PRACTICE MAKES… well, not perfect, but certainly BETTER!
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:09AM
Mitaukano at 2:51PM, Feb. 10, 2011
posts: 178
joined: 3-26-2008
I very recently started drawing completely digital, with a few sketchy line art drawings thrown in for good measure. Now I see that everyone has already given out good ideas and workflows, so my advice to you if you are used to working with traditional mediums as I am, start off slow.
How I got better at drawing on the tablet these last few weeks basically consisted of me roughing out sketches in my sketchbook, getting slightly detailed with those then inking them. Then as time has gone on, I have added less and less detail to those pencil sketches and started building them up more and more on the computer. So now, my inked images are looking a heck of a lot better than they were before because I am actually playing with the line weight in the computer more.
Resources though! I always love giving those out, and I know a few good ones. Before you buy anything I always say use your local library first. You would be surprised what the modern library has to offer. Such as this book
Basically, the dude who writes it loves to toot his own horn, but I highly suggest this book for its later chapters about workflow. He offers several ideas and variety for finding a working style that is good for you.

For photo references like clothing and pocket watches and sometimes poses try this place
& this place

Perspective references, I honestly just go with Google sketchup
It is free, it helps you understand buildings, and the way vanishing points work digitally. In addition, you can be a hug cheater like Freddie Williams, Ken Akamatsu, and myself and cheat with backgrounds using this tool.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:05PM

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