The Pen Tool is Mightier than the Sword

It is strange to think about how so many mediums can be used in illustration. These mediums seem to change for each person with age, skill level, and advances in technology. When I was little, I used Crayola crayons and markers on computer paper to create my masterpieces. Throughout high school and in foundation year at Marywood, I upgraded to pencil, charcoal, inks, and pretty much anything on the expensive side of my local AC Moore art supply store. Now, as I enter into my junior year as an art major, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I am an upper-level graphic design student (scary, right?) living in the year 2015. With illustrators/designers being commissioned for work on websites and apps more than print media these days, the medium has become increasingly digital.

For me, digital illustration does not come as easily as traditional pencil and paper do. This summer, I have been trying to practice this more and more because I know it will be an important skill to have as a professional. Digital art sometimes seems frustrating to me because it doesn’t feel as natural as an actual pencil, even with the help of a tablet. However, it can be nice to change colors and composition with a few mouse clicks rather than starting from scratch. There are advantages and disadvantages, like with any modern technology.

To help myself transition from paper to computer, I start by laying out my composition on paper, then scan it into the program, trace over them digitally, and lastly add color. I know a lot of artists who can take a tablet and a blank screen and go crazy, but so far I am not one of them. Sometimes an even bigger challenge is just deciding what program to use. Adobe Photoshop is nice because it is a painting program reminiscent of actual drawing on paper. However, it is not a vector program like Illustrator, so scaling the work can be a problem.

Alright, I’m going to send out a call to my digital illustration idols. Yes, you, the one who just freehanded that gorgeous landscape in Photoshop. What advice can you give to people like me who tend to get stuck in her sketchbook?

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