Many years ago when I first got the idea to take my art and publish it on the internet, options were, slim, to say the least. Electronic tablets were not anything close to what they are today (back when I originally had the idea, not even scanners were the norm! My first scanner cost me around $600 and was bigger than my present day computer!) However, there was one thing that I saw, that was clear to me, that was going to affect how I did my work and that was the application named “Adobe Photoshop.” Now when I was in school we were working on version 4.0 of Photoshop and as of the writing of this article my Adobe Photoshop CC is on v.20 and WOW have things changed! I will assume that most of you know what Photoshop is and how it works but, for those of you that are just hearing about it I will summarize it in a nutshell. Adobe Photoshop is a in-depth computer application that manipulates photos, pixel by pixel. It can do everything from repair old photos, to the other end of the spectrum and create things in photos that aren’t even there(the final project that I had for INTRO to Photoshop was a photo of my long deceased Mother shaking hands with my Father’s 2nd wife on the day of their wedding. I received and A on the project and my father received a heart attack!). All this is to say, for a graphic artist skilled in this application the sky is the limit. I saw this application as an avenue to create work directly on the computer, color it, shade it, package it and then distribute it, all this and never once would you have to use a sheet of paper! Unfortunately, while I was right, I was also a little head of the curve, about twenty years ahead.
Now fast forward those twenty years and those ideas are the norm. Technology has given the artist the ability to create amazing worlds, do fantastic works of art and has even forced the Federal Government to up there game in the acquisition of counterfeiting criminals. I believe all these things changed because of one computer application, Adobe Photoshop. There are many knock offs of this app and regardless of whether you like the application or despise the corporate side of the company, there is no getting around that Adobe cut the path and continues to set the standard for the industry.
I used Photoshop, religiously. I did everything in this program and I swore by it for cartooning, it could make my work pop off the screen and I could fix anything with just few clicks of a mouse. I impressed non-believers by fixing photo problems while they watched and I didn’t think anything could change my relationship with Photoshop…
…then a company named Smith Micro released "Manga Studio."
Now again, I will not go down the technical aspects of this application but if you are not familiar with this application just know that Smith Micro had taken what I would consider a Photoshop "base" and streamlined it geared directly for comic book artists, Manga Artists more specifically, but comic artist in general hailed this program as the next thing in the progression of comics/comic book creation.
When I was first introduced to this application, it was an one of those “end-cap” applications that sell for $29.99 and were mixed in with other apps like “500 different kinds of Solitaire” and "Mahjong." When I opened it up I saw immediately what they were trying to do with this app and I was impressed.
There was only one immediate problem that I could see from this app. While they had it all set up for the artist…INPUT of said work could just NOT come from a mouse, I was going to need a tablet. I was out shopping one day at a local Office Supply Store and I found a Wacom Intuos for a fairly decent price, a couple hundred dollars, and I bought it. Brought it home, plugged it into my computer and found myself having to look at the screen after years of staring at the paper, it was a little awkward but, it was exhilarating!
I played around with this set for several months not really getting into it, then a year or so later a cartoonist friend of mine, Daniel Mohr (http://wolfiebbad.com) let me sit down with his Cintiq Tablet, that counts as external monitor/input tablet, 30 seconds after sitting with the device…I was hooked. I bought one not to long after and set it up.
Moments after setting up the hardware, I was up and running and I have used it that way to this day. Though I did update Manga studio version 4 to Clip Studio Paint 5 Pro, which is essentially version 5, they just changed the name.
That was 2015, I have been using this setup since now and while it has been a somewhat expensive investment, I highly recommend it. I handle multiple assignments, weekly, and this has been the best way that I have found to get through my assignment load. I have done other things to make my workload more manageable also, pre-made templates for layout work, finding certain settings for pen sensitivity and finally, button assignments for repeated work (undo, erase, etc.) are all a matter of personal preferences. There is only one real drawback to this setup and that is that there are no “originals” to be able to hold onto or sell since it is all digital artwork, but I have found that if I just draw the project by hand, scan it in, use the scan as the blue line work, that is a good work around.
I am not saying that this is the perfect setup or something everyone has to do, I am just saying this is how I have it set up and it works best for me.
Hope this helps.
A few months ago, I was approached by someone who said that they loved my work and wondered if I would be willing to do some of that work for a family member of theirs? Something we in the industry call a “commissioned piece.” Now, when someone asks me for something like this, there are a series of questions that follow that are most always never thought of originally but, because of experience, are a natural progression to the work; what size, specific wording, the ever important price and, the final question I ask, when would you like this done by? To which most of the answers I hear in return are always along the lines of, “Oh, whenever you get a free minute, just whip something up.”
Now, to be clear here, I need to point out that at this moment, TWO different conversations are happening inside the respective heads of Artist and Client. The Client might be thinking, “I don’t want to interrupt you” or “I believe that you can do this commission for me rather quickly” or even, “I am not sure what your schedule is?” But that is not what the Artist hears with those words. What the Artist is hearing is, “I’m not really sure if this is how I want the idea to take form” or “does the Client understand the commission?” Or in some cases, “does the Client really even want the work done or is it still just a thought?”
While a potential Client might not want to seem imposing, they must understand that this art form is pretty much a deadline driven industry and while they may not want to seem forceful, they need to remember to clearly communicate to the Artist which mental ‘Deadline Pile’ this request needs to be put in. Should this be done by Christmas? … List A. Should this be done by next month? … List B. Should this be done by next week? … List C, and so on and so on.
Cartoonists and comic book Artists are trained to think in deadlines and that is how they gauge their workload. Deadline by deadline.
The point is this, clear communication with the Artist is not an ‘infringement of their time or rights’ … it’s good business practice. You wouldn’t buy a house or a car without knowing your side of the deal and purchasing art, while on a less grander scale, is no different. Any seasoned Artist who doesn’t ask these questions, I would consider inexperienced or undisciplined; either way, know your rights, know their rights and communicate expectations that way everyone knows where they stand. It will make for an easier transaction and save some frustration down the road.
Have a thought about or agree with this article? Comment below and let me know what you think?
There are a couple here that I did not publish in the dailies. Let me know what you think.
I started a different Journal yesterday in addition to the one I am already doing. It follows along the same line as the Personal one that I publish regularly but it goes into more in-depth work for me with meanings and such. I won't be publishing these as much because, well, there personal and private meant for me and sometimes are not meant to be funny or profound, they just mean something to me. No rhyme. No reason. Just thoughts.
Also, since Spring is" legally" here, I am going to start up again with the "Out and About" series again. Where I am going to be packing up my stuff and heading out to Parks, Landmarks, local places of interest, to give some history, background and some fun. As Shannon told me last night; "Camping Season is almost upon us!"
If you have any recommendations on places where you think I'd might like, that are good for creativity, or you just wanna se me try post a response below.
I created a landing page for first time visitors to this site that, I think, is a good intro for my work, plus, I rearranged some things to make them flow better and lastly, the rest of March's cartoons have been posted. I even managed to get OtL sent out with little problem this week. Livin the Dream!
I have been keeping a little journal of daily inspired drawings in a small date book since January 1, some of you may have seen some of these over on my Instagram page. It was my New Years Resolution and while this is not the full collection of them, I thought I’d just put these out for you guys to enjoy. There is something SPECIAL about them but, nothing that I am willing to talk about right now, maybe later.