Ten years ago I started to play with the novelty of computer drawing and after hours and hours of practice (many!) became an accomplished ‘vector illustrator’ – creating illustrations (with my own hand still), but in Adobe Illustrator design software.
Over the last decade I’ve created many vector illustrations for clients, and have enjoyed the flexibility that vector illustrating offers. Not once during this time have I bothered to draw anything on paper, even for myself, for fun. Seriously.
Until last night that is.
a week ago
Delightfully friendly small press artist Timothy Winchester buzzed me a quick tweet to ask if I fancied drawing a wizard for his Wizard Week to be showcased along with other artist submissions. I responded to say that actually, that sounds fun, I’m IN!
I decided I wanted to create the wizard in a style that I’d never drawn in before, as one really should try to stretch oneself when drawing ‘non client’ projects. Suddenly the urge to draw with my bare hands onto paper overcame me for some reason.
But I didn’t even own a scanner. So with the submission deadline looming for today, I bought one yesterday, at 6pm, and set to working drawing my wizard at 9pm after finishing up my client work.
I’ve always been able to hand draw, but never bothered over the last more than ten years. I’m not sure why … I guess when I discovered vector, hand drawing seemed pointless and archaic .. after all, you can’t change the image easily at whim like you can with vector! I think I also had the impression that hand drawn art looked ‘un modern’.
But of recent years I’ve discovered many wonderful modern artists creating hand drawn pieces, and I’ve started to appreciate that hand drawings CAN look very modern, and that you can’t replicate this particular vibe of ‘modern hand drawn’ with vector.
This illustration was hand drawn in pencil, then outlined with a black biro (come on, I only bought the scanner last night, I certainly didn’t have proper art pens yet either!) and scanned. I then opened the scanned high resolution jpeg in Adobe Illustrator and converted it to vector outlines before colouring it in in Adobe Illustrator and adding a few extra lines to my satisfaction (extra cross-hatching for instance)
the original pencil sketch
I’ve essentially married together pencil drawing with computer drawing, and I expect that many ‘modern artists’ do it this way or similar.
One thing that has surprised me is one person exclaiming; “I didn’t know you could draw!” As if the portfolio full of illustrations (vector) drew themselves or something. I guess that some vector illustrators trace and copy and manipulate rather than draw, but not ALL do this.
Some may say that vector illustrating isn’t real illustrating because of this but I disagree for those of us that do literally ‘draw’ into the software. When you take the pen or pencil tool in Adobe Illustrator and free hand draw with it onto the computer screen, this is still illustrating – but on screen, rather than on paper.
I feel very excited about how different my artwork looks when it starts it’s life as a hand drawn piece, and I’ll most certainly be doing this from now onwards in addition to my purely vector illustrations and intend to bring this into my client projects also.
This is what self initiated ‘non client’ projects are all about; stretching yourself, learning new skills and developing your creativity.
ps Someone asked me “Why is he in his pants?”. My answer to that is, I don’t know, I fancied him being in his pants, the real question I feel should be is to why he’s wearing suspenders No one seems to have noticed THAT