Let’s face it, most societies are obsessed with speed (but not the Italians). Turns out, speed is not always a good thing! Last month, I made an interesting decision, and that is to create all of my artwork digitally, to basically speed up my work. Luckily, this ended up backfiring big time, and it actually pushed me to take a more analogue approach to my illustration workflow!
Let me explain what happened. I usually work with pen and ink on paper. I then scan the drawings, and complete my illustrations by colouring them in digitally using a Wacom tablet, Photoshop, and custom digital brushes.
Last month, I decided to upgrade to a “monitor” tablet that allowed me to draw directly on screen. My plan was to switch from actual pen and ink to digital ink for my initial illustrations, and continue colouring in my artwork using digital brushes.
So, I ended up getting the latest Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, which has good on-screen drawing capabilities, pressure sensitivity, and the smallest amount of parallax. After trying out a number of drawing apps, I settled on the one that gave me the most flexibility.
I spent several long nights experimenting with my new fully digital set-up, creating everything from food illustrations to patterns to trying my hand at comics.
But then something awkward happened!
Every morning, I would wake up with a weird taste in my mouth. Like I’ve had too much candy with too much artificial flavouring. I couldn’t shake off the feeling, and I somehow knew it was trying to tell me something. So I listened closely, and then I realised this was all due to my fully digital illustration set-up.
To get rid of the artificial sensation, I pulled out my stash of ink pens, mainly my Rotring collection, as well as my vintage professional-grade pastel pencils. The last time I used those was many, many years ago, and I felt extremely intimidated by the prospect of using analogue colour instead of my trusty digital brushes.
Fortunately, this proved to be a “delicious” exercise. Working directly on paper and creating a full illustration from A-Z using traditional media felt extremely liberating and natural.
The artificial taste in my mouth disappeared and my illustration process suddenly felt at home!
In conclusion, my illustration process seems to be headed towards more traditional media and less digital input. Some client projects will still require me to draw or paint digitally, but overall, I think switching over to a completely digitised workflow has proven to be not the thing for me.
Photo of analogue illustration depicting Middle Eastern Aubergines stuffed with Bulgur and Chickpeas (Hummus legumes), by illustrator and artist Yaansoon