Saturday, October 16, 1999

Drawing with an Art Tablet

Bic wrote:
Hey guys,

How the hell do you get used to drawing on this thing? I figured since my scanner was down, I should start learning how to draw with an art tablet, but it's driving me nuts!!!

Any tips or suggestions?

Do you find it easier to draw straight on the screen, or 'trace' a pencil sketch? I know I'm missing obvious questions but it's beddy bye time....

I include a sample of my measly sketches, (at the moment I feel better drawing with a ball-point pen!) These were done from scratch.

Any thrown bones would be gladly gobbled up...

Actually, your sketches are quite reasonable for first attempts with the new tool.

Is it the "disconnection" feeling of having to look up here at the screen while your hand is down at the desktop level doing the drawing? (I've been drawing via digitizer tablets for over fifteen years now, so I'm not sure I remember what felt weird about it when I started.) That feeling passes with practice.

I think it gets tangled up with the traditional method of looking up at a subject, then looking down at the sketchpad to draw. With a tablet, you have to force yourself NOT to keep looking down at your hand, since all the visual feedback is on the screen-- there's nothing to see down at the tablet. (Which answers the question of whether I draw directly on-screen!) Eventually your brain will get used to the difference, and not give you that conflicted feeling.

For lower-stakes practice, you might try some tracing exercises, then try drawing alongside a reference. Also just sketch simple blocks and cylinders and such. The idea is to do drawings that don't matter, just for the sake of training the new hand-eye coordination skills. The old "two faces to a vase" exercise is another good frivolous game. (Draw one grotesque profile down one side of the page, then mirror it to make a "vase" silhouette.)

Another tip-like thought: I find that my tablet usually ends up rotated a little counter-clockwise (maybe five degrees) relative to the screen. More comfortable for a right-hander that way.

What sketch tools are you used to? For a simulated pencil, I use a skinny Photoshop paintbrush, with the stylus pressure set to vary opacity. Lets me build up light, pencil-like lines.

For a simulated porous-tip marker, I use a medium-sized pencil, with pressure set to vary size. Very Flair™-like.

A bonus is using the X shortcut key to switch between a black and a white pencil.

I've attached a small sample sketch demonstrating these tools, and the goofy vase exercise. (Any light-hearted drawing game will do for practice.)

BTW, I strongly disagree with characterizing this as "off-topic"! Artist-to-artist help is one of the most on-topic things we do here, in my arrogant opinion. Does wonders for my morale, anyway. 8^D*

-- wondering about scanning in a sketch done in ball-point pen...

No comments: