Over the years artists have had to adapt their way of working as the world of art became more tech savvy and tech became more art friendly. For many this is a hard and frightening change. But unfortunately, in my profession as a storyboard artist, there was no choice. I either learned to adapt or I was unemployed. So I started to learn and now I welcome and enjoy trying out new gadgets and programs designed to help me get the images in my head out to people. As I’ve tried each new thing that crosses my path I’ve found those programs and hardware that seem to work best for me. So what do I use?
I don’t have a particular bias when it comes to computers, working equally well with both Mac and PC because most studios I’ve worked for use PC’s. But I have to admit that I enjoy the esthetic of the Mac and use an iMac at home but will soon be upgrading my system and switching to a Mac mini.
My most essential piece of hardware at this point is my Wacom Cintiq. I’ve worked on their regular tablet but the visual distance between the screen and my hand was always uncomfortable and the resulting drawings never looked like I did them. Now, I’m drawing directly on the screen and aside from the sensation of your pen skimming across glass, it is a great way to create your art. I use an older model because the entire screen tilts to either side whereas the new model does not. Though I am getting an arm for it so that I can bring it off the desk and closer to me when I draw. The new model is designed to do this.
When it comes to programs, I like to keep it simple. I use Photoshop for both my illustration work and my storyboarding mainly for the fact that it handles everything so seamlessly. With bridge and timeline (CS6) plus all the new bells and whistles, it’s a one stop shop to get things done. Other programs that I’ve used are Storyboard Pro and Sketchbook. I also like Artrage for it’s ability to mimic the look of a non-digital painting.
For 3D work there is always Maya and Cinema 4D. And I’m looking forward to playing around with ZBrush this year.
I use InDesign for graphic design or any layout needs.
I also love the idea of the offsite or cloud backup systems that have come into play because art files are usually humongous and I can’t tell you how many thumb drives and other backup drives I have laying around.
So, my advice to any artist out there is, don’t be afraid of technology integrating with art. These things are just tools, like a brush or pen. You are still the artist. Your vision and ability will always dictate the outcome of anything you create. Be open to try different things and use the ones that work for you. You will be surprised at how much fun you can have.