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.