This is hopefully the last of me sharing my experiences with beginning digital drawing as I don’t think there’s much significant that could happen from here. Check out my initial impressions followed by using pixel-based brushes if you’re interested.
It’s hard to make an introduction here that the title hasn’t already covered. Indeed, I now possess a graphics tablet, and I truly think you should look into acquiring one if you want to do any serious digital drawing yourself. There are multiple reasons why, but I think using a pen over a mouse isn’t actually the main one.
But I’ll address it anyway, as it is significant: using a pen is easily far nicer than drawing with a mouse. While the latter is certainly possible and not all too difficult, I think the way a pen mainly excels is the natural curvature you can get from swivelling the tip around your hand. Straight lines are fairly easy, but drawing curves with a mouse usually fails on the first few attempts.
The main advantage is the various pressure levels you can get. I don’t know if it is possible to buy a tablet and pen that doesn’t detect the pressure you apply – maybe some such ultra-cheap tablet exists somewhere out there – but any that do are certainly not worth it. Any drawing program worth its salt will be able to interpret that pressure appropriately and, more importantly, might act in certain ways that necessitate it. Being able to interchangeably draw light and/or narrow strokes at any time is more significant than you might expect, but it’s a very simple way to make subtle adjustments or taper the ends.
Something interesting is that, for my tablet at least, the pen never has to touch the surface in order to draw – it only has to be close enough to register a position and have the end pressed down. This means that tracing a physical drawing is trivial, because going over the source image doesn’t actually cause any obstruction.
With regards to those tablets out there that have an actual screen you can draw on top of: I’m sure that helps, but I haven’t felt at any point that it was necessary. Staring straight ahead while the tablet’s slightly below you doesn’t cause any noteworthy disconnect that makes it hard to draw accurately; as long as it’s orientated correctly, things go where you’d expect.
So now that you know how much I hate it, here’s a quick sketch I was able to make:
As an example of what I’m talking about when it comes to pen pressure, the muzzle flashes seen below took mere minutes, including fine-tuning, compared to all the mucking around involved in drawing the engine exhaust of the spaceship thing I drew with a mouse.
The idea for this picture came to me after replaying a part of Crysis. Can you tell? Here’s a hint: harbour.
I’m sure any resemblance is completely unintentional.
There isn’t really any specific thought process that led from one to the other. Films and books typically show that normal swords and arrows are nigh-useless against dragons, so I entertained the notion of what some modern anti-aircraft weaponry could do instead.
In the past I’ve traced over a picture of a 3D model to get an accurate perspective transformation of various objects, but as this image was basically a testbed for the tablet, I wanted to do the whole thing solely using it. That meant no paper sketch beforehand nor 3D model to draw over. And the result shows, for a while the double-barrel things on the turrets were reversed (somewhat visible in the muzzle flash image above), and it still looks a bit odd.
Anyway, because this image has been subtly watermarked, I have fewer reservations providing the full-resolution (1080p) version. I wonder if I could have put “.com” in there somehow…