Today, I'll be covering my work space tips and tricks!
Below, you can see my little corner of the world:
Thankfully, I have a wide desktop that allows for me to house both my 24" iMac and Cintiq 20WSX retracted while I draw. This allows me to have a dual monitor set up so I can spread my applications between the two screens. Unfortunately, my iMac doesn't have enough video RAM to power both screens at DVI (digital) output, so my Cintiq is currently running in VGA (analog) mode. (Next time, MacPro!)
On to some of the equipment:
1) myBook External Hard Drives
- No matter what you do - be it writing, photography, art, music, etc... One thing KS and I cannot stress enough is to make sure you BACK UP ALL OF YOUR WORK. I have 3 external drives on my desktop. My black 500GB myBook is my active update drive. It's currently partitioned so one half is my Time Machine drive, the other is my SuperDuper scheduled backup drive. I run my backups every day so if something goes wrong, I have a duplicate of my drive ready to go. The other two are my static backups - one has all my illustrations and comics, the other is my miscellaneous backup (music files, photos, notes, reference images, etc.) Neither are plugged into my computer at the moment. They just act as a nice shelf for Gloomy Bear. :D
We actually take our backups one step further and burn our work files to DVD and store them in a safe second location. It's always better to be safe than sorry - especially if your livelihood depends on it!
2) Apple Aluminum Wireless Keyboard
- KS received this as a Christmas gift from friends, but I appropriated it immediately. XD; I was originally using Apple's slim keyboard, but the cord was too short to go around my iMac and Cintiq. For a short time, I was using a USB extension cable, but even that didn't quite allow me to work comfortably. This keyboard was a great solution to the space problem!
I should note that the keyboard feels very much like a laptop keypad and some of the keys have been shifted around, so if you are someone who uses a lot of hotkeys (like me!) the layout might take some getting used to.
The Binder Trick
Working "large" can be a real pain for those who don't have a nice angled artist's desk, drafting table, or easel. Working on a flat surface often results in skewed perspective - bigger heads, smaller bodies, etc... It also forces your arm to sometimes uncomfortably reach or stand up to draw. By elevating the drawing plane like a drafting table, you can get a much more comfortable drawing angle.
When I first started working on nemu*nemu, I purchased an 18x24" drawing board. They're hollow on the inside, so they are very light-weight and ideal for drafting. Artboards with the giant clips and elastic bands work great too! I elevated my drawing board by using a 1.5" binder. It's cheap and most people have binders handy.
I liked how this worked so much, I started using it for my tablet as well!
Prior to my Cintiq, I had a 9x12" Intuos Wacom tablet - which is wonderful for getting long sweeping strokes without the need to zoom in and out in your applications. However, the tablet itself is HUGE. It takes up a lot of table space and can be uncomfortable to work on for long periods of time. Elevating it not only makes it more comfortable to use, but it also takes up a little less table space. I usually roped my cords through the binder rings to keep them out of the way.
I think this binder trick can easily work for slightly smaller tablets as well!
Lastly for today...
I'm no big fan of inking, but I totally understand the reason why artists insist on doing things the "old-fashioned way". There's a line quality with nibs that's very difficult to match with multi-liners and rapidographs.
For a beginner, handling a bottle of india ink and a nibbed pen is pretty daunting. There's so many to choose brands and types to choose from. To simplify matters, I've come across a great alternative for beginning inkers: Tachikawa New School Pens
Tachikawa has 2 versions of these pens, the New School Pen, which emulates a Maru pen nib's (seen above) and the New School G-pen, which emulates a G-pen nib (seen below). The pens are fed ink through a replaceable cartridge.
The difference between the School and School-G models comes down to nib flexibility. The G-pen is more flexible and allows for thicker lines when pressed down, ideal for drawing things with a lot of line variation like face outlines, hair, and clothes. The Maru point is stiffer and maintains a better, controlled fine line - great for the thin lines of a mouth, eyes.
However, it all depends on your style of inking. If you have a heavier hand, the School pen's maru point may be better for you. If you have a soft and light hand, the School-G pen's flexible point may feel much more natural.
I enjoy using these pens as they are portable, affordable, and easy to use. They're a great way to get your feet wet when inking without investing too much in the supplies.
But! Don't toss out those multi-liner microns and rapidographs just yet! Having a variety of tools is sometimes essential to getting the job done!