Believe it or not, the two drawings below were not accomplished with pencil or pen on paper. Instead, they were done on a convertible tablet PC, something I treated myself to after all the conventions this summer and fall. I wanted a new laptop, and after stumbling on a review of a tablet PC while doing research, I was hooked. Further tablet PC-specific research and some testimonials from other commercial artists sealed the deal. For those readers unfamiliar with tablet PC’s, they work essentially the same as those things the UPS guy carries that you sign on with the little stylus, or the electronic pads you sign on when using a credit card at a store these days. Basically you draw directly on the screen of the tablet with a digital pen/stylus as if you were drawing on a pad of paper with a pencil or pen.
I’ve had my Toshiba for a month or two now, and I’ve had very little time to do any extracurricular drawing, but I’ve practiced a bit using a program called Alias Sketchbook Pro. I’m frankly amazed at how the various digital drawing tools recreate actual real-world pencil/pen/brush/marker lines and strokes. Any drawing I do in Sketchbook Pro can then be opened in Photoshop and manipulated/augmented, and vice versa. Before any art collectors reading this start worrying, I should mention that my digital drawing will never replace pencil and paper for me–at most I’ll probably end up doing thumbnails on my tablet as well as some coloring and all my Photoshop work(I use Photoshop frequently these days to create lettering, to distort drawings for certain effects, and to re-size or re-compose panels that aren’t working). Any other drawing I do on the thing will be just for fun.
Above is a test of the brush tool, simulating inking over a scan of my Modern Masters
cover(you can work in layers in Sketchbook Pro). It turned out okay for a first attempt,
but Karl Story definitely has nothing to worry about!
Here’s one of my first tests using the pencil tool. Pretty loose. Actually, the marker and
brush tools feel more natural to me on the tablet PC, so I’ll probably end up using
those more in the future.
Here’s my Toshiba as a standard laptop.
What makes it a “convertible tablet PC” is the
ability to swivel the screen around
…then when closed, “Voila!” it’s a tablet!
I still can’t write about the main project I’m drawing, but I finally have had a enough spare moments after working on that secret stuff to finish something I CAN show. Several months ago, comics writer Todd Dezago called and told me he’d like to interview me for a Modern Masters book. For those who aren’t familiar with Modern Masters, it’s a series of lavishly illustrated books covering the work of various artists in the comic book industry. Each volume contains interviews and loads of rare and previously unseen artwork. Many of my faves (Garcia-Lopez, Kevin Nowlan, Bruce Timm) and a few of my idols(Michael Golden, Walter Simonson) have been covered, so I’ll be in good company. I’ll state for the record right now that I don’t consider myself modern nor a master of anything, but if they want to do a book on me, and all I have to do is answer questions and open up the Plankton Studios art vaults to the editors, then what the heck…Honestly, I have so much unpublished artwork laying around that I’d toyed with the idea of publishing a book myself for sale at conventions…Now someone else can do it for me! That’s how I’m looking at the Modern Masters book–primarily as a way to get a bunch of rare art out there, with a little bit of “how-to” behind the scenes stuff thrown in with all the “greatest hits” kind of material the book will surely showcase.
Anyway, above is the cover I’ve come up with for my volume of Modern Masters, whatever volume that may be–it’s still a long way off. The piece features the characters I’ve worked on that I’m most associated with, including Tom Strong, Supreme, the Legion of Superheroes and Midnighter. Enjoy!
P.S. the Mid-Ohio Con is right around the corner! Yikes! Come out and see us (if you can–it is Thanksgiving weekend after all). Click HERE for more info.