Doot Doot Garden: The Blog of Craig Thompson
Doot Doot Garden: The blog of graphic novelist Craig Thompson
digital pencil & analog ink May 1st, 2014

Thanks for the reminder about the Cintiq post, Dan. As mentioned back in August 2013, I’ve been experimenting with the Wacom Cintiq as a way to shake up & expand my working methods. The 13″ felt too cramped & claustrophobic, so early this year I upgraded to a 22″ Cintiq on an Ergotron arm – inspired by Fiona Staples, whose work on SAGA I admire.

For the past couple of months, I wrestled with the machine & have settled on a compromise common among comics pros – I pencil the pages digitally, then print out blue lines and ink on actual paper.

The advantage of digital penciling is I can see a chapter all at once (top right photo), cut&paste, zoom in close, edit on the fly, and work standing up (top left photo, avec Momo). But digital inking still looks too slick to me — I prefer the flawed & tangible qualities of fussy sable brushes on paper. Foot in both worlds!

Finally, my advice to young cartoonists is to keep it organic & raw and not get bogged down by plug-in devices. In a month, I’ll be starting a direct-to-sketchbook project like CARNET DE VOYAGE to relearn working on the fly outside the studio.

18 Responses to “digital pencil & analog ink”

  1. carlocki Says:

    Cragi con you show us more photos of your interior where u draw?

  2. Boaz Says:

    Sweet set-up! Does this mean that you’re taking another trip in a month? Let me know if you want the Pedal Powered Talk Show to tag along!

  3. Maiz Says:

    Wow, GREAT! As a big fan of your inking, I’ll admit I’m a little relieved to hear that you’re sticking with the sable, but I am also very much in favor of the ergonomic penciling. It can definitely be good to keep a foot (and your hand hand) in both worlds. I can’t wait to hear more about your next carnet!

  4. Maiz Says:

    *that was supposed to say (and your hand)

  5. Jess Smart Smiley Says:

    Interesting. It seems like an expensive way to work, but I get how nice the flow must be.

  6. Jordi Says:

    Good mix of techniques :)

  7. Josh Says:

    Your direct-to-sketchbook work is some of my favorite out there. Glad to read i’ll get to see more of it.

  8. dylan canfield Says:

    i too have problems with going “all digital”, i’m learning to use a wacom tablet (the kind you draw on the table and look at your screen) and find it disjointed-feeling…slowly getting used to it…if only there was an undo when “analogue inking”…the work looks beautiful digital or not…

  9. josh white Says:

    This looks great! Question: what is your technique for removing the blue line in your scans? I have trouble doing this without losing some of the brush stroke quality.

  10. Dan Says:

    Thanks so much! That was quick. And I’m quite happy that your still inking on paper. This looks like the best of both worlds.

  11. Kay Says:

    Just curious: Is Momo named after the lemur from “Avatar: The Last Airbender”? (Or is it a reference to dumplings?)

  12. neil Says:

    looks like your using manga studio for your pencils. have you found a good brush in the application that you like (when you are inking)? all the work is beautiful! this blog is such a gift to all the indy publishers out here!

  13. Danesh M Says:

    Hi Craig,
    Thanks for Sharing! A few questions..
    1. Do you stand and work?
    2. I actually pencil my work traditionally sometimes and ink digitally… do you find when you pencil digitally you have the same amount of flow and freedom in hand movement?
    3. Do you feel more eye strain working not he computer? Do you get annoyed by the plastic sound of the pen hitting the cintiq screen?

  14. ferifanum Says:

    great solution! and good luck for the new project!!

  15. mike feher Says:

    Damn Son! Lookin way ripped…and a new buzz-cut too! (haha)

    is it just me or do I detect some “rat creature” influence in that Bat-monster, a’ la jeff smith. cool.

    Regardless, it looks fun and it’s great to see you tearing’ through those pages and makin’ headway.

    p.s. I like your opinion about keeping it raw and Organic,
    it’s helped me, as a new artist using advices from your Blogs and i’m progressing steadily towards my goals as an Artist, and drawing ALL THE TIME


  16. Juliette Says:

    Excellent! Best of both worlds is a great approach :)

    Also, Momo is such a peach! 😉 (Japanese pun intentional)

    Sunny greetings (for a change) from London, UK!

  17. iona Says:

    Hey Craig, I was wondering what kind of printer & paper do you recommend? Btw I went to your workshop in Amman Jordan- was great fun!

  18. Craig Says:

    Hi Iona,
    My printer is a Canon Pro9000 Mark II and it seems to do the job well. It allows you to print on 14″ x 17″ slabs of Bristol. Paper quality has gotten terrible, but I favor CANSON brand pads of Bristol, including their paper marketed for “manga”. I miss JORDAN! Send my greetings to the Mlabbas gang.

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