Cintiq sketch of Trilobite Boy

Recently comic artist and children's book illustrator Eric Orchard invited me over to his studio to try out his Cintiq.  Talking with Eric is always a joy, and I headed over.

For those not familiar with them, most digital tablets such as my Wacom Intuos 3 are flat pads with a surface that remains touch sensitive to over a thousand points of pressure when using the accompanying pen. Once you get usde to drawing on the tablet on the desk while looking at the screen (try writing your signature a bunch of times and it will help at first) it becomes an incredibly realistic drawing device. Here's a pic of mine below:

The Wacom Cintiq takes it one step further: you are actually drawing right on a pen-touch-sensitive computer monitor.

Eric sat down to demo how it works, and with amazing speed whipped up an excellent little sketch.  I realized how much I still hold back when using digital media: I have an oil painter's habitual sense of caution and planning. Eric made it look fun, almost breezy.

My turn. After maybe 7 minutes, I made this little sketch of Trilobite Boy:

Whenever I test out a new art medium, I sketch something I know. This was using Photoshop in black and white, without any zoom.  I tried to test line widths and opacities to get a feel for it.  It was completely fun.  It felt like I was drawing right on a page, and I had to pay less attention to the interface than I do with my Intuos.

One of the things I'm finding being in an at-home studio with a newborn in the house, is setting time to work in oil paint is difficult.  Scrubbing my hands to pick up the baby is time-consuming, and I am jumping up and down. But working digitally, I can hold him in one arm if need be, or at least just dive back into the art project without the palette set-up. I will still happily take oil painting commissions, but I think for my own projects such as the Trilobite Boy comic, I will be working increasingly digitally.

Thanks for the test drive, Eric!

I've got to find a way to afford purchasing a Cintiq.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow