Monday, June 10, 2013

Geek Speaking Talking Dogs in the Sketchbook

Geek Speak: A Boy and Some Old Lady's Dog

I hate it when people bring their talking dogs to the store. You never know when to expect someone's little four legged best friend to open his mouth and say just what's on his mind. In my experience it's usually something about how I smell, and it's almost never something complimentary. 

With this strip I'm introducing two new characters to the strip, both of whom will take lead roles as these develop, much like Sam, Steve, and Mark. I'm calling the man in the strip Brian, and although I've also named the dog, I'm keeping that to myself for now. His name feeds a punchline in a later strip, and I'd hate to spoil that

New Challenge: Change Things Up

Last week I bought my first Wacom product, a Bamboo Capture graphics tablet. Tea Leaf and Celluloid Girl recommended it to me after Celluloid had picked one up on sale from Amazon. I'd been thinking for a while that moving into digital was a logical step to bringing my webcomic up to the next level, and talking with my friends convinced me it was time to make the move.

It's a big adjustment. I'd been playing around with Autodesk's excellent drawing app, Sketchbook Pro on my tablet, but using a graphics tablet to draw on a computer is a totally different experience. It's a lot like a drawing exercise my dad taught me where you have to look at an object and draw it without looking at your paper. My dad could probably have drawn finished comic book pages this way. My drawings from this drill resemble the webs you get from spiders exposed to LSD; trippy, but otherwise unrecognizable, and definitely not functional.

I'll be posting some drawings here as I learn to use the tablet. I've been experimenting not just with drawing, but with painting in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. I don't work with color very often, but I'd like to post the occasional color comic, and I want to branch out artistically. 

As excited as I am about learning to use the tablet and Sketchbook Pro, it has presented me with my first setback. Sketchbook Pro's text editing feature is limited at best, tacked on as a barely workable afterthought at worst. When adding text layer you can change the font, the size, and make the text bold, italicized, or underlined; but that's it. There are no controls for changing the alignment, font style, or anything else. As I write this, it doesn't sound like much of a limitation, but it had an unforeseen side effect in that it's not possible for me to add dialog or word balloons using Autodesk's software. Comic strip text is usually center aligned, which I've been doing just long enough that trying to do it any other way just looks wrong. 

That's not to say I'm not happy with the software. It's a powerful tool, and I as I get more comfortable with it I'll be using it to do my shading and coloring, at least. For the foreseeable future I'll continue to do the initial pencil drawings and ink on paper, then scan it into the computer for the rest. 

This will change the look of my cartoons, but I'm hoping that it will be a change for the better.

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