I’m so happy to welcome you all to this blog series featuring my food and travel Digital Illustration artwork, as well as the occasional timelapse and speed-painting videos.
My aim from this series is to share my digital illustration experiments and timelapse videos, which I will be sharing on my YouTube Channel, and also here on my blog.
So what are my digital illustration tools?
In this post, I will elaborate on the main ingredients of the secret sauce, i.e. the hardware I use for food and travel digital illustration.
Wacom Intuos Art: My First Tablet Ever
Although I mainly use Adobe Photoshop for editing and colouring in my mainly pen-and-ink line work, I did like the natural media brushes that Essentials 5 offered, including brushes that mimicked pastel, oil paint, watercolour, chalk, and acrylic effects, among others.
This pen tablet is affordable and simple to use. Simply plug it into your computer using the USB port, register your product and download the Wacom Desktop Centre software as well as the bundled art software, and you’re ready to go!
Wacom Intuos Art has pressure sensitivity, but no tilt sensitivity, which I think is no big deal really. It does take time, though, to develop eye-hand coordination, which I failed to nail when it came to creating intricate line work. However, this is a great tablet for flat design and illustration, and for colouring in scanned artwork.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3: The Potable Smart Tablet
Late 2017, I felt it was ripe time to upgrade to a monitor tablet, or what the digital illustration world refers to as display tablet. I had several commissions at the time that required me to create line work digitally so as to obtain crisp and high-resolution artwork that scanned artwork could not achieve.
I had two options: Buy what most illustrators were raving about (an iPad Pro), or find an alternative.
Where I was located back then, buying an iPad Pro was way too expensive. I also had to make a quick purchase as I was in the middle of an illustration commission, so I went for a far more affordable option: A Samsung Galaxy Tab S3.
This tablet is fantastic as a piece of hardware. It comes with an S Pen that is fairly accurate, depending on the app you’re using, with virtually no parallax. The S Pen has a rubbery nib, so it does both things brilliantly: Allows pen friction against the surface of the tablet, without scratching it.
But when it comes to apps available for Android devices, the options are a bit limited. There is no Procreate for Android, but there are other professional grade apps available that can do a good job. I found one, with a paid version that unlocks a toolbox of brushes, and I have been using it ever since. It’s called Artflow.
There is one downside to the Android OS, and that is the multitude of privacy issues – which I hope Android and Samsung will address once the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on May 25, 2018.
This being said, I am planning to switch to an Apple ecosystem at some point in time because of their better privacy controls (although there are a few things that I don’t like about Apple products in general, including the short lifespan of their products). One fantastic Apple feature I like is how they sandbox apps and limit their access to data the apps don’t need to operate. Android, on the other hand, allows data harvesting left-right-and-centre, and the app permissions functionality they rolled out in newer versions of the OS are merely cosmetic in many cases.
Wacom Cintiq Pro 16: The Pen Display Tablet of the Future
Early 2018, I decided my Samsung tablet wasn’t giving me what I truly needed. I had a collection of really fantastic Adobe Photoshop brushes that I had bought and downloaded to my laptop from different digital brush makers, and I wanted to be able to use them.
I did a lot of research; I mean a lot of research. And decided that I needed a piece of hardware that transcended future technical limitations. Meaning, I did not want a tablet that could become obsolete once newer technologies emerged. I did not want a tablet that was a combo of software and hardware, like several options out there including Microsoft’s Surface Pro and the Wacom MobileStudio Pro range. I wanted something that could serve me for a long time. So I went for a stand-alone Wacom Cintiq Pro 16, that also supports 2K and 4K resolutions, depending on the ports available on your computer.
This pen display tablet has massive pressure sensitivity, as well as fantastic tilt sensitivity that other Wacom copycats still do not support.
iPad Pro 2018: I Now Get the ‘Procreate’ Craze!
Late 2019, I decided to take the iPad plunge and I’m so glad I did. It took me a long time to get an iPad Pro because I thought it was somewhat similar to the Galaxy. Turns out it’s not. In fact, I now understand why almost every illustrator I follow are in love with iPad. It’s this app called Procreate that is so intuitive to use and happens to be exclusive to the Apple ecosystem (there’s a Procreate Pocket in the App Store). Procreate for iPad has the right amount of tools without over complicating things for you as an illustrator.
In Food and Travel Digital Illustration, Digital doesn’t always mean 100% Digital
In a previous post, I wrote about how my attempt to switch to a 100% digital workflow left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I still do feel this way, especially when I create back-to-back illustrations that are created with digital tools only.
To remedy these feelings, I found that my best way forward was to continue to incorporate analogue pen-and-ink drawings, as well as watercolour and gouache paintings (and a bit of collage), into my illustration process. I feel much more authentic and together with this particular set-up.
Still, on rare occasions, I do create art with digital tools only. I have worked on client commissions where 80% of the deliverables were created using purely digital tools. Sometimes when the artwork is too big (such as illustrations that are meant to be printed out as wall murals), scanning line work, even at high resolutions, will result in poor quality art especially on large-scale surfaces. That’s when digital ink brushes come in handy.
My next post in this series is an actual timelapse video of one of my most beloved illustration tropics ever, so stay tuned!
Food and travel digital illustration by illustrator and artist Yaansoon | This post was first posted in April 2018. The writing and illustrations were updated in June 2020.