Digital Inking: Clip Studio Paint vs. Artrage

Alright, let’s talk digital inking software — but first, a little introduction.

I am especially fond of Belgian-Franco comics, also Dutch ones — party because of the way they are drawn and inked. Among the comics artists I admire particularly are Franquín (Gaston), Albert Underzo (Astérix), and Martin Lodewijk (Agent 327). You know what these guys have in common? Their linework linework has a playful smoothness  — one I, at least, find hard to emulate.

Me, I don’t have steady hands. So getting crisp lines on a canvas has been a pain and a grief since the first day I tried my hand at it. This all goes to say that I most welcomed auto-smoothing tools — especially the one of ArtRage, which is why ArtRage became my “go-to” software for cartoon inking. After some misfires, I came close to getting it right (see the cartoon below). tumblr_ogbml8bn8a1tlpjb5o1_1280

Yeah. I would say the inking looks okay enough, though perhaps a bit too cold and clinical. And I say to you now, that is the very problem with auto-smoothing, and that leads me to the irony of it all: Oh sure, you finally got your crisp lines, but all the playfulness is smoothed out.

I had already figured out that if you want to ink something gnarly organic, you’re probably better off using Clip Studio Paint (a.k.a. Manga Studio) (see the detail close-ups below of a work-in-progress) —
dauthuz

— instead of ArtRage (see the close-up below of a piece done last year).
skull-side

Why, you may ask? Why not just use ArtRage, but with a different pen or different settings? Can’t you, then, just make the same gnarly drawing? Well, I found that I couldn’t. For example, once I turned off the smoothing in ArtRage, I ended up with jaggy lines that scream “digital.” Also, Clip Paint Studio, even by default, has a bigger number of available ink brushes for selection — not surprisingly of course, because ArtRage is first and foremost a painting software while Clip Studio Paint is geared toward artists making black-and-white comic strips.

Last night, I tried, for the first time, to do some cartooning in Clip Paint Studio, without any smoothing to aid me — and I’m loving it! I thought I, with my shakey hands, wouldn’t be able to get smooth lines and curves, but to my surprise — it’s actually really easy to ink smoothly and crisply while, even more importantly, even retaining that organic “feel” (see the cartoon head below)! Truly mind-blowing stuff! Now, I’m finally close to making the sort of the comics I so love.

headshot.JPGOh, before I take off, I also want to stress that Clip Studio Paint never seems to lag on my work rig, no matter the amount of layers or the resolution. ArtRage, on the other hand, seems capable only of coping with a limited layer limit. But then, ArtRage emulates analog painting, which in real life constitutes putting down layer on layer on layer, all in the same layer if you will. If high-resolution layer management is what you’re after, look elsewhere. (Did anyone say Clip Studio Paint?)

Let me know about your inking experiences. Please share your stories, insights, and ideas by writing to me.

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Yuccalele

I did it! I just finished my last homework assignment for the course I’m taking on video game character design. The assignment being, “Draw a character, inspired by a real object, in three ways.” But I misread the assignment as “Draw three different characters, all based on (the same) one object.” Oh well, whatever. Anyway, I based these characters on a yucca(?) (Fuck if I know. I mean, do I look like a botanist?) plant I have had for years — and still have, for that matter. 

cartoon, illustration, gorgon, medusa, tiki, cannibal, headhunter, greek, mythology, islander, character design, video game

plant

 

Hollow Be Thy Name

 

So as you may know, I’m taking a course on video game character design, and I get these homework assignments. This week, the assignment was to take an established video game character and make it fit for another game universe.

Well, I’ve playing Dark Souls 2 a lot lately, which got me inspired to do something in that style. Then it got me thinking, What contrasting video game character could I “fit in” in such a grim, unrelenting atmosphere? I decided on Mario. Now I know, it may not be the most original choice, but I just couldn’t think of a better one than the happy go lucky, child friendly plumber we all know and love.

I didn’t want to mess too much with Mario’s original iconic design. But since Dark Souls features densely detailed characters, I had to make his design a bit more dense as well, and so I added some weapons and armory. Also, I muted the colors a bit to make the mood a bit more dark. And of course, how could I not make him look like a Hollow.

Mario, Nintendo, From Software, Dark Souls, Crossover, Popart, Medieval, Dark Ages, Hollow, Undead, Cartoon, Gerrit Rijken, Iosua, Illustration

Dino Warriors (2016)

First of all: Happy New Year! It’s only the fourth of January — it’s within the cut-off time right? Right?!

Then, here’s this week’s homework assignment for that character design course I’m taking. The assignment was: Draw two characters that are opposites, each having a congruent pose, et cetera, with their own “visual language.”

I already had some sketches toward two opposite dinosaur-like characters. With the assignment in mind I started fleshing them out, making little changes on the way, and this is how it turned out. On the left you can see the pretend-video game protagonist, one little brave and timid soul, on the right an enemy guard, stout build, strong, sluggish.

dinosaur, dino, cartoon, illustration, character design, concept art

Perhaps I could’ve, should’ve, done better on the poses… But hey, I’m still learning.

Bumstein

So, what’s cooking? Well uh, I started doing a course on video game character design. For my first homework assignment, I had to draw some variations of a character design. I chose to do a character I was already working on for a webcomic — which I hope to publish sometime… well, sometime next year.

Cartoon, illustration, characterdesign, character design, video game, Bumstein, webcomic, conceptart, concept art, Gerrit Rijken, Iosua

Also, I’m currently laying out the plans for a collaborative art project together with my sister who, by the way, is well on her way of becoming an airbrush master. I’m really excited about that!

And uh… of course there are still some commissioned pieces I need to finish soon.

 

Shape of the Week: Return of the Gnome

I haven’t done much drawing for the past few days since I was bent on finishing reading Perdido Street Station by China Mieville. It’s a great read with imaginative, inspiring characters in it — like, for instance, industrial remade chimeras, sapient talking birdmen, and human-like women with chitinous heads. But yesterday it came to me that, arguably, the greatest of all characters is New Crobuzon, the city in which the story takes place. I say ‘arguably’ but it seems pretty clear to me that Mieville spent more time fleshing out its background, history, politics, demography, etc., than detailing or explaining the characters — bar one exception, perhaps. So the city becomes more than just a backdrop, it becomes an active agent in the story… Anyway, why am I telling you all this? Well, here’s the thing, I was thinking of ‘cartoonifying’ some of the book’s characters. I thought of how to draw machinery, feathers, and city scapes. And then I went on thinking… and thinking… And during all that time, the (digital) canvas remained empty. Which brings me to the point of this post.

Today I decided to ‘kickstart’ myself, again. But instead of going through my usual routine — participating in a design contest, always against my better judgment — I decided to partake in a challenge set by Mallory Carlson at the Nickelodeon Artist Program. Let me tell you, it has been a fun experience. Not only did it get me drawing again, it’s also been really inspiring to see what fellow-artists came up with!

Gnome, dwarf, concept art, character design, cartoon, illustration, whatmaldraws, nickelodeon artist program

 

The Rush of the Sprint

This week, I participated in a design contest for some marathon event. I was to draw a Viking helmet with a Viking running on top of it. So I came up with this idea… to make the helmet look like a naturescape, a runner’s paradise of sorts, with some running figures on the path. But sadly, the contest holder deemed it “too colorful,” so that was it…

Floating island, viking helmet, cartoon, illustration, trees, mushrooms, scenery, exterior

I say sadly, but in truth it was a “bi-winning” experience nonethelesss. After all, the contest provided me both a deadline and an opportunity to practice drawing scenery — which I have been wanting for months but which I have kept postponing –, and in the end the drawing came out pretty decent. So, uh, the takeaway from all this is, that sometimes it’s good to have a deadline.

Full disclosure: As someone who majored in history, I know damn well that Viking helmets in actuality never had horns attached to them. But, let’s face it, they do look better with horns.

Closet Monsters

Here’s the first batch of some — redesigned — monsters I’m working on. For an aspiring children’s author, by the way.Closet MonstersPro tip 1: if you use Instagram to show off your work, upload your files through Dropbox. Don’t use your phone with its shitty inbuilt camera. (Unless, of course, obviously, it’s a very good camera.) I only just found out what difference it makes.

Pro tip 2: Don’t lose your Dropbox password, like I always do.

ArtRage: Short on Memory

The header image is a current work in progress. It is a commissioned cartoon based on the Rapunzel tale.

I have never made a secret of my go-to software: I swear by ArtRage. Of course, I still use Photoshop, but really just for post-processing. But… there’s a but. ArtRage is not without problems. If you, like me, are ever short on scratch disk space, because your hard disk is full or almost full, you may want to take heed of what I have to say.

Continue reading “ArtRage: Short on Memory”