Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2006 7:45:11 AM by Chris Flick
I just thought I'd mention that the stylized self-portrait of myself in the second panel of today's CMX Suite strip ("The CMX Zone") was done entirely on a Wacom tablet. I've been reluctant to use a Wacom tablet because, in the past, the Wacom tablet and I have pretty much had a hate-hate relationship. But I was pretty pleased with the outcome of this particular illustration. It is, by far, the best Wacom tablet illustration I've ever done thus far.
I think the biggest reason that might be is because, in the past, I had always used Photoshop when practicing and doodling with the Wacom. But this time, I decided to see what would happen if I used Freehand. For me, personally, I had found using Photoshop and the Wacom together was very frustrating. I found I had trouble controlling the line width of whatever I was trying to draw. Lines didn't stop or end where I thought they would. I'd end up getting big "paint blobs" when I pressed too hard on the pen. For the most part though, I still couldn't grasp what made the Wacom so "special"... I was finding that it would usually take me two or three times longer to draw something using the Wacom then it would if I had just sketched, inked and scanned something.
But I was determined to see if I could get this thing to finally work for me.
So, for this particular illustration, I already had a rough pencil sketch of myself as a cartoon taken from a previous CMX Suite strip but I needed to add the same kind of pose Rod Sterling was famous for when he was introducing each new Twilight Zone episode. That meant modifying the facial expression and the body arms (and adding Rod's famous cigarette!). I opened Photoshop, imported my original sketch that I was going to use as a guide, and adjusted the opacity to 35% (so it ended up being a very, very light gray). I then imported that illustration into Freehand, locked its layer, created a new layer and then started drawing with the Wacom.
In the past, I had tried placing a sketch underneath the little plastic sheet that's on a Wacom but I found this extremely difficult to look at the Wacom and pay attention to your screen as you "traced" the illustration. I found using the method up above was so much more effective. Here is the result of my initial work in Freehand:
After this was done, I converted the file to a PNG format and imported it into Photoshop where I cleaned up and modified various lines. Here are the results:
But... if this is in color, why is the cartoon strip in black & white?
Well, for me, you're not really watching "The Twilight Zone" unless you're watching it in black & white. The more modern episodes that are in color don't seem to be quite as spooky or illicit the same kind of "feel" as the "classic" black and white episodes do. And, since I was essentially spoofing these "classic" Twilight Zone episodes, it made sense to convert this illustration - as well as the Ryan Celldisbak one - from color to grayscale.
I never really colored anything in grayscale before so I was reluctant to "paint" with a grayscale palette. I was afraid if I did so, I would end up making the gradient levels way too dark so I decided to draw inspiration from Mel Brooks and the "Young Frankenstein" comedy he wrote and directed years ago with Gene Wilder.
I remembered seeing "behind-the-scene" photos of some of the make-up work from that movie and could never understand why Mel decided to have all the make-up (especially the Frankenstein monster) in colored make-up when he was going to eventually film in black and white. At the time, that didn't make sense but today it does.
By initially coloring all the characters in full color and then converting to grayscale, I got much richer details and the results were much more softer and gentler on the eyes then had I done everything in shades and tints of black.
Anyway, that's my little road to discovery with today's strip. I hope you enjoyed it.
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