Recently, incredible illustrator and friend of Willceau Illo, Raine Szramski received some unsolicited advice about her art and her technique. She wrote about it on Facebook:
I just had someone ask me why I’m bothering to paint my comic by hand since (as he says) my style will become obsolete and I’ll learn to jump on the Photoshop bandwagon.
First of all, the guy is a boob. Even with a computer, the work is still being done by hand. I haven’t had much luck using a mouse, keyboard or tablet with any extremity other than my hands, and I have yet to find the input device that accepts my psychic impulses. If one exists, it probably costs a fortune; takes a planet-sized power supply; gives the user a terrific migraine; has that whole monsters from the Id glitch, and it only works with WindowsÂ®.
Illustration is about the final printed piece. The image that rolls off of the printing press or, as is the case with Heaven & The Dead City, the image that shows up on your monitor is the final. How did it get there? That may or may not be an interesting question. The question is whether the viewer is enjoying that which is bouncing off of their retinas. Like Oliver, does it make you say, “More, please?” If yes, than Raine has done her work
Raine works traditionally using techniques of brush and paint that have served mankind well over the past eon or so. My guess is that at an early age, she probably discovered that she had an aptitude to art and stuck with it over the years honing her skills. I can’t really see what going to a digital workflow would do for her art. Of course, her work has to be digitized at some point so that it can be placed into a page layout or on the internet, but as long as the work can be scanned or photographed, there’s no issue with working traditionally.
But let’s say Raine decides to ditch the old art supplies in order to take the plunge into the pixel pool. First off there’s the investment in time as far as investigating whether to go Mac, PC or possibly Linux. Everybody slams her with an opinion, and salesmen are no help. If she figures out which platform she wants to go with, which machine will she get? How much RAM? Hard drive? Monitor? Video card?
Software? Which program will best suit her? Everybody says Photoshop so Photoshop it is, but is she going to do her lettering in Photoshop? Back to the research and a whole new slew of different opinions. Some people say Adobe Illustrator which sounds nice because it has illustrate in the title. Maybe a page layout program like Quark Xpress or InDesign. InDesign is an Adobe product as is Photoshop and Illustrator. Somebody said they come all bundled in something called the Creative Suite and it’s cheaper that way. Wow, that’s more than she wanted to spend!
Okay, now she’s an internal organ or two short, but she has a roomful of snazzy equipment, disks, manuals and warranty informationâ€¦Oh, crap! She needs fonts! Where do you get those? How about lettering everything in Dom Casual? It looks sort of comic-ky. Well, kind-of/sort-of.
So now our new convert to the digital realm throws herself at a fairly steep learning curve chasing down the arcana of programs that are nowhere near as intuitive as a brush or a pen. She will face myriad frustrations not to mention hard drive failures and hours wasted on help lines where telemarketers read from scripts that hopefully cover her particular scenario.
All of that time wasted when she could just be in her studio creating new works as she has always created them. If she spends more time doing what she’s doing rather than buried under a mountain of manuals, we get to see more of her work. It works for me!
Also, at the end of her process, she winds up with a physical, painted piece that someone could frame and cherish rather than a bunch of 0’s and 1’s on a data disk. Yes, you can print out your digital file. You can print out millions of them. It’s just not as precious.
Another advantage of gouache is it’s ability to withstand an electromagnetic pulse. Digital artists will end up with a bunch of dead disk drives, but Raine’s work will remain! Of course, there’s always the problem of the rampaging hordes sweeping across the country in the event that society falls apart after an EMP incident. Not falling off of the back of Wez’s motorcycle as he speeds around the wastelands may be a bigger concern for you at that point.
However, Raine’s unwanted adviser may have a point which I will get into next week as I start to examine my experiences with computers and traditional artist materials. Stay Tuned!