Man versus Machine

I won’t lie, I’m struggling to get my next page done.

Considering the smaller issues there’s a fairly tricky perspective panel and I took time out last week to visit London again, however I think the problem is a more fundamental and somewhat uncomfortable point; the process of inking digitally is grinding me down.

I had a sizable rant before about how the move to digital line work (like the colour) would be for the better and I’ve stated several times that I’m much happier with the quality of the work I’m creating this way, unfortunately I’m not happy with the process itself. It certainly makes high contrast panels simpler to draw up but when it comes to complex images I find myself missing the pen.

I may have made a lot of mistakes and drawn a lot of wonky anatomy by hand but it was comparatively quick. Once a mark was made that was it, no erasing a redrawing, I just had to go with the flow and get on with it. I can draw almost as fast in Corel with what may be more control but the temptation to get precious over pointless little details is just too great; what should be a matter of making several considerate strokes for an eye or a nose becomes a convoluted affair of erasing redrawing, zooming and chiselling. I like what I end up with, but who honestly cares after an hour’s been spent on a fingernail.

Furthermore, I’ve come to realise that drawing by hand had therapeutic qualities which are simply not there when I stare into a monitor. I can happily sit down with pen and paper for an afternoon, whereas with a computer about 90 minutes in I’ve got a headache and bloodshot eyes. Something which should be a joy becomes a chore and I find myself becoming less motivated and inspired as a result.

I realise this is the second time I’ve changed up my work process in recent months and that it’s really too late in the day to still be so uncertain of my methods, nevertheless I feel I have to acknowledge where I’m going wrong and do something about it. The MA is supposed to be about experimenting and developing my skill set, thus forging ahead blindly as I am would be completely contrary to this notion.

Following completion of my 20th page I plan on returning to pencil and pen for the majority of my linework, however I shall still be using digital inking for high contrast scenes as with pages 12-17 or anywhere else it seems suitable for that matter. Additionally, to keep things stylistically consistent I won’t be returning to my excessive texturing of old, moving more towards clean edges with occasional light hatching. Put simply, I’ll be striking a firm balance between traditional and digital approaches which should hopefully yield the best results as a whole.

Appropriate once again I suppose given my theme, that both I and the machine are still trying to work the kinks out of our relationship and acknowledge respective strengths and weaknesses considerately. Perhaps as with my story it’s somewhere between the old and new that I’ll find my ideal path.

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