Will drawing Technology Make Me A Better Artist?
DISCLAIMER: Before I begin, I want to state that I honestly believe that the tools you use to create with don’t make you a better artist or better at drawing. While I write out my thoughts and feelings on drawing traditionally and digitally and share them in the form of a blog post, I want to explore the pros and cons, the advantages and disadvantages to both. This case study series is based off my personal experiences and results may vary for others. There is not right or wrong way to draw, so do whatever works for you. Just draw.
About a couple of months ago, while working, I had come to the realization that I was spending more time drawing on my computer then I was in my sketchbook. I remember a time that this scenario was quite different and I would rarely draw digitally and almost always in my sketchbook. Along the way I started to trust myself more with drawing on a tablet. My confidence grew and was enjoying the custom brushes that creators like Ray Frenden and Alex T. Webster have created. Their tools really enhanced my drawing experience. Last year I had made the move from using a tablet to getting a Cintiq and all I can say is, once you go Cintiq, you don’t go back! Drawing on the screen feels so much more natural (even though drawing on a screen is kinda weird when you think about it) but looking at the screen while applying and moving the pen on said screen is so much better then looking at your monitor and not being able to focus on your hand and where it’s moving. There’s much less disconnect.
With having great custom brushes from experienced artists and a screen to draw on, it’s really hard to sit down with a sketchbook, or a piece of paper or bristol and create the same thing. I feel that most of my digital work is my best work, but why? Is it the technology that makes me a better artist? Yes, in a way. What I realized is that drawing digitally has allowed me to make mistakes that can vanish after hitting “Apple-Z” or using an eraser brush tip. It’s the fact that I can sketch something out and with the lasso tool, move around and scale parts of my drawing that I want to see bigger or smaller without having to erase and redraw it completely.
This may sound strange but, sometimes I feel like there’s this pressure that my drawing has to be good when it’s in my sketchbook. It’s like those pages are actually dollar bills that you’re drawing on and it’s intimidating because you so badly don’t want to “ruin” those pages. I’ve found this fascinating because it’s just paper, and at the end of the day no one has to see what I’ve done, yet I feel like it needs to be the home for nice drawings only. This creates a problem because when you’re too scared to make mistakes you don’t learn anything and learning is good.
I recently heard during a movie about video games (yes, video games) that one of the many reasons why they’re so great and that everyone should play one is because a game provides a safe place to make mistakes. There’s no real consequence to jumping off a computer generated mountain and falling to your death. You can do it a 100 more times if you want to! Eventually you’ll figure out how make the jump and you’re less likely to fall again, you get better and keep moving forward. This to me works similarly with drawing digitally. I can make tons of mistakes, create layer after layer, cutting and meshing the best parts of my drawing until I finally have the proportions right. I can experiment and make a character smaller or bigger, fatter or thinner with ease. It allows me to see my options, to make mistakes, but then get rid of the evidence that I did with the click of a button. I’ve realized that I’m so much braver drawing this way. The technology doesn’t make me draw better, but smarter. It’s the fact that I feel like the playing ground is safer for me to take chances and risks in my work without ruining an expensive sketchbook, or the integrity of the paper with my eraser shavings, heavy graphite marks and ink smudges. (Let me mention here that I've remedied this by buying cheaper sketchbooks. It's there that I make lots and lots of bad drawings.) If there's one thing drawing digitally has done for me, it's allowed me to learn.
I’m not saying go out and buy the most expensive tablet or drawing screen you can get, but if you’ve ever wondered what the benefit to having one is, this is definitely one of them as I believe it's a great tool for learning not just for your final product work. If you've ever wondered what tools I use for my drawings, check out the About Me/Tools page on the site. Come back next time where I'll talk about why paper is sometimes a better option! (I'm serious!)