Monday, October 1, 2007

More computer-generated art

So ... what is computer-generated art, and what is not, in this crazy, topsy-turvy, modern world? Betsy Bird at A Fuse #8 Production followed up my recent post with this comment:

I wonder if there's a way to distinguish between CG art that is drawn entirely on the screen and art done and scanned in. Yours is the latter, right? Is there a term for the first?

And the answer is—I don't know if there's another term for the two types of artwork, and, frankly, I'm not sure into which category my artwork falls. In any case, here's how I make Babymouse (you all can decide how to categorize it):

First, I make extremely rough thumbnail sketches with pencil:




I scan these, e-mail them to Jenni, and she cuts them up and pastes them down in a rough layout, which she sends back to me.

Then, I make some better sketches (at full size) using Sharpie markers:




Finally, I scan these marker sketches and use them as a template for my final "inks," which I draw in the computer (in Photoshop), using a Wacom tablet and stylus:




As you can see, I turn the scanned marker sketches a light blue and use them as the tracing layer while I work. (I delete that layer in the final file I save and send to Random House.) But, unlike, say, some comic-book artists (of the DC/Marvel variety), I never make really excellent pencil drawings before the final inking. Traditional comic book pencils are a work of art in and of themselves; the ink (often traced over by a different artist) just solidifies everything. In my work, I try not to spend too much time on any of the sketches—the danger of working too much on early sketches, in my opinion, is that you can wind up getting too attached to them and will be loath to throw them out or change them. So I try to keep things loose and rough until I do the final inks, which are purely digital.

So, is that computer-generated, or not? As Betsy has mentioned lately, this is shaping up to be a year of things that don't fit neatly into categories. Maybe that goes for the art processes as well as the books themselves.



PS—Skater Girl is at 8,981 on Amazon. Hang in there, kid!

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