Monday, November 06, 2006

Recreation: Playing with the Wacom Drawing Tablet

Ever since I read Mike Krahulik (Gabe of Penny Arcade) article on his inking of a Boba Fett sketch he did, I’ve been bitten by a little artistic muse, which has quickly grown to a nagging infection in my mind. Being the big fan that I am, and since I always wondered how hard it would be to do the same thing, I decided to mimic his actions. I got in touch with a friend of mine who is a local artist, and who happens to have a Wacom tablet of her own, and convinced her to let me try this myself.

The Intuos2 6x8 tablet that she has is a pretty cool little device. It is a pressure sensitive drawing tablet that hooks into a PC or Macs USB port. With a few driver installations, the thing works with Photoshop to provide artists the ability to use a more natural feeling peripheral for drawing and photo re-touching. All and all a very cool little device.

In my case, I stole “Gabes” sketch since I don’t have any artistic talent of my own, and tried my hand at inking it using the tablet. It takes a little hand-eye coordination to get the cursor to go exactly where you want, and it takes a little practice getting the pressure right to you can create variable line sizes. In my case, I had jittery hands when I was trying to draw with it (which is visible in some of the jittery lines), which I am not sure to attribute to the small desk, the tablet size, or my own physical limitations. But once I got moving with it, I was able to follow along with his YouTube video fairly well. While he claims the overall process took him about 15 minutes, it took me the better part of an hour, maybe an hour and a half. The cool thing about this as opposed to the paper method of inking is it is incredibly easy to undo once you make a mistake, which in my case was quite often.

Anyway, here are my results, please be kind:

I don’t think I will be quitting my day job anytime soon, but it was enough to satisfy my curiosity. I have a new respect for not just for the Penny Arcade guys, but for artists in general. It’s one of those things, if it was easy, every fool would do it.

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