Digital Octopus


Digital art is difficult for me. I admit I do have have a tablet, which is way waaaaaaay better than a mouse, for both art and everything else computery. However… I can’t seem to get the lines I want from the stylus to the screen. It’s so frustrating. Holding the stylus is no different than holding a pen or brush. So what’s the deal?

There are two things, I think, that mess me up: 1. Not having direct feedback and 2. Size difference.

1. No direct feedback. I don’t mean that there’s no “pushback” from the pen – I know some people have problems with that, but the lack of texture on the tablet surface doesn’t bother me. I mean visual feedback. I can’t see the lines I’m drawing under my stylus; I have to watch the screen instead of my pen to see what I’m doing. It’s tougher to adjust your stroke when you can’t see where you are in relation to where you’ve been. However, this is not nearly as big an obstacle as…

2. Size does matter. The size of the tablet is fixed. Each corner of the tablet has a corresponding corner on the screen. The screen is a different size than the tablet. And the drawing area can be zoomed to any size within the screen.

It’s kinda hard to explain. Let’s say I want to draw a vertical line 500 pixels long. I have my “e-canvas” zoomed so all of it fits nicely on my screen. With my screen configured this way, that 500-pixel line will be, say, 5 inches long on the screen. My screen is 10 inches tall, so the line is half the screen. That means I’ll have to move my stylus half of the vertical height of my tablet… which is 6 inches tall. So I’m moving my stylus 3 inches to draw a line that is 5 inches tall on the screen.

And by changing the zoom level of my e-canvas, that 500-pixel line can become, say, 2.5¬† or 10 inches tall. Confusing, I know… but the bottom line is that¬† moving my stylus 3 inches and getting 5 inches on the screen really messes with my spacial reasoning.

Then I try to add curves… and tentacles and eyes… See my dilemma?

4 thoughts on “Digital Octopus”

  1. I had the same problem with my first tablet, in both senses. I eventually gave up with it, and bought a Cintiq (where the screen is on the tablet itself). Pricey, but it made ALL the difference…

  2. I salute you for going with a tablet style method. Anyone doing drawing or illustration would be foolish not to, since everything can be saved, re-drawn or established as an element for the next artwork.

    I had a neighbor at the Park City fair doing digital work, and he used the direct on the screen method.

  3. This sounds almost like blind contour drawing. Very frustrating indeed!

    I love the little froggie with his balloon spots! He’s adorable!

    White gel pen… on my list. :)

  4. Erik, I have tablet jealousy. I bet the Cintiq is awesome.

    Casey, the tablet is definitely essential for the modern illustrator. I don’t much like the idea of the “undo” button, though… that means you never have to learn from your mistakes.

    Lisa, it’s not quite that bad… but it’s bad. ;)

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