Earthworm Jim and why I switched to an All Digital Workflow

Hey everyone, I finally had some time to do a Sketch_Dailies‬ prompt again and I wanted to share it! It's  ‪Earthworm Jim‬! As a 90's kid this was too good a prompt to pass up! If you're an artist and you have twitter but you’ve never done a Sketch_Dailies prompt, or even if you don’t have twitter and just want to try it, they’re a lot of fun and I highly recommend giving it a shot! They're great for a quick dose of inspiration. This one was done entirely in Manga Studio EX5 with tools from Ray Frenden and Paolo Limoncelli. Time was roughly 4-5 hours! 

I also wanted to take some time to share a bit of the process behind this piece and my current process in general. In the last year or two, the way I've been creating images has changed and evolved a lot. Really ever since I graduated college I've been trying different techniques and workflows in order to find the one(s) that feels the best to me and produces the work with which I'm happiest. After years of trying a traditional (pencil, ink, paper) workflow with digital color, then moving to a hybrid workflow (a mix of traditional penciling and digital ink and color), and most recently an all digital workflow, I've discovered that for a variety of reasons, I most enjoy the process and results of an all digital workflow. 
Digital Pencils done in Manga Studio EX 5 with Ray Frenden's pencil tools.
Probably the biggest one of those reasons is the ease with which I can make edits to an image when a client requests them and the speed that I'm afforded by working all digitally. I no longer have to thumbnail an image, scan it, print it full size, tighten the drawing, scan that, print it back out for inking, scan it again, and finally touch up the image before coloring it. Don't get me wrong, I still love drawing traditionally but as an illustrator, anywhere I can cut down time spent on a job is beneficial to both me and my client. As long as it's not going to lessen the quality of my final product. 
Digital Pencils converted to Blue Lines for inking. This is so I can easily
see the difference between my pencil and ink lines whir inking.
That's why it took me a while to make the switch to digital. Part of my hesitation was that I never felt like I had the control drawing with a tablet that I had drawing with pencils and paper. Something about it felt off to me and that made me feel like the quality of my work wasn't where it should be. I also always liked the idea of having original artwork to sell, although after a while all those pages do start to take up quite a lot of space. 

But after trying to digitally ink a few of my traditionally penciled pieces in Photoshop, I discovered that I really loved the results I was getting. So I decided to push my way through the process until I got more comfortable. After all, digital is just a tool, so it made sense that I needed some practice before it felt natural.


Digital Inks done in Manga Studio EX5 with inking tools by
Ray Frenden and Paolo Limoncelli.
Long story short, it worked! But there was one thing that really convinced me to make the switch to digital and it was Manga Studio EX5. I won't go into a whole sales pitch for it but I will say that between Photoshop and Manga Studio EX5, Manga Studio's brush engine is far superior in my opinion. It was the first time that I felt the same control with a Wacom tablet that I'd felt drawing traditionally. All the digital tools, pencils, pens, brushes, etc. felt, to me, like their real world analogues! And as you can probably see from the images above they also look very similar to their real world equivalents. Basically it helped me feel like I was working traditionally but gave me the benefits of a digital workflow. That was a real turning point and it was the push I needed to make the switch full on. 

Final Image colored in Manga Studio EX5 with tools by
Ray Frenden and Paolo Limoncelli.
It's been a long road to get to this point but I've never felt more at ease creating images than I do now. I still have a lot to learn as an artist, but when I work on a piece I no longer feel that I'm struggling to say what I'm trying to say. I'm not fighting with my medium and that's the first step in the right direction. I would say that working digitally has actually benefitted my work as a whole and made me a better artist overall. Ironically I think it's even made my traditional work better as well, due to the fact that digital has eliminated my fear of making mistakes, thereby making any experimentation less scary, and helping me to know what I want from an image. It's also helped me learn to draw with a lighter hand when starting a piece and thanks to the zoom tool, allowed me step back and see the whole image so that I don't get lost in one area of a piece for too long. 
I know that there is sometimes a bit of a stigma around digital art. I've heard people say that it's cheating, as if the computer does the work for you. But digital is just one of the newest tools in a long line of mediums used by artists and a tool is only as good as it's user. Bad drawing is bad drawing. No amount of filters or fancy digital brushes will make a bad drawing look good. So if you're an artist, no matter what tools you use practice the basics and learn how to see what you're drawing. Draw from life, draw from your head, draw with different mediums. But don't think that any material on it's own is going to make your work good. There may be a medium that you connect to more than others that helps you craft your best work but at the end of the day that's still because you are making that tool work for you.
I tried to keep this to the point so as to not bore you guys. I have a tendency to be a bit long winded.  But if you have any questions that I haven't answered here about why I made the switch to digital, or why I switched from Photoshop to Manga Studio let me know in the comments and I'll give it an answer if I can. I'd also be interested to know if any of you have recently made the switch from traditional to digital or maybe altered or struggled with your process in some way.  
And if there are any subjects you'd like to see a post about in the future let me know! 
Thanks for reading!
-JP

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