Now The Question Is Can They Fashion A Technology-Forcing Digital Storyboard Artist: To Be or Not To Be?

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Digital Storyboard Artist: To Be or Not To Be?

As creating stories digitally becomes more popular, we asked professional storyboard artist Max Forward for his thoughts on the pros and cons of working digitally. Max started his career creating stories traditionally (pen/pencil and paper) and has been a digital storytelling artist for the past few years. This is what he said:

As far as the advantages-

-Clients look at digital storyboard artists as more skilled, more professional, maybe if, like me, you were young to start, and maybe having some high-tech drawing equipment makes you at least look like you know what you’re doing. It makes you more competitive.

– Maybe it’s faster and maybe not. Some traditional storyboard artists can draw really fast on paper and pencil. Some digital fiction artists are too slow. If you’re in a hurry, you’re in a hurry.

-A more flexible approach to drawing storyboards. I think in some ways because of the different advantages associated with using layers. Especially when customers are picky and need modifications, like “make this car bigger.” You can then simply change the layer size without disturbing the perfectly drawn background layer and the process takes seconds. Clients really love it when they request a change and a storyboard artist can sit down next to you and edit the storyboard in no time.

-If I make a mistake while I’m drawing, it’s nice to be able to hit the “undo” button.

-Also digital “brushes” are very sophisticated today. Now I can draw what looks like ink, but if I make a mistake I can erase it like a pencil. I can also add nice airbrush effects for the shadows. If I try something new, I just put it on a new layer. Since it’s on its own floor, if I’m not happy with it, I can always delete it later. Digital gives you more freedom to experiment without the risk of destroying the entire painting.

-The polished texture of the square, text and digital artwork, although only a matter of style, creates a very clean story that is generally well received by customers.

-Finally, formatted digital storyboards are preferred by every client as the ultimate delivery medium. Some customers request e-mail PDFs, or individual frames for animation purposes, or JPGs transferred to a USB drive, and you say “no problem.” You don’t need to spend extra time tracking your stories.

-You can always say how you “hate throwing away paper” and “hate toxic waste”, and get points for going Green with digital art. However, these are legal spending measures.

-Clients will often come to watch me illustrate stories on the computer. Not so much to look at the work, but marvel at the digital drawing process. They’ll ask questions, you can demo some cool effects, and that’s usually a cool thing. It is usually impressive to customers when you can decorate them with your shiny accessories.

-Ergonomically, I find drawing stories on my Cintiq to be an almost physically painless process.

-Feeling like you’re on the cutting edge of your industry as a fiction artist makes you feel safe… so far…

Now for the downsides:

-Work is susceptible to software and hardware failure, and must be backed up and saved frequently.

– Expensive, in some cases. The highest cost is the cost of a computer/laptop where the Cintiq is also expensive.

-High learning curve, which is virtually invisible.

– It evolves frequently which includes new costs such as updated software/hardware. It is likely that this will never go away.

-Renovation is sometimes a difficult process. I feel that many of the tools I use are not fully integrated, or buggy, or lack certain features, and these necessary changes may never come.

-Digital art is definitely less “Art” in the romantic sense of the word.

Solitude:

The world going digital is not a good thing for comic book artists, as it is not for any media maker, be it book publishers, record labels, TV producers or movie makers. New technologies promise better competition, but market forces correct these imbalances and before you know it, your job becomes harder and your paycheck gets smaller. As if we would have been better off if digital media hadn’t been invented in the first place. But we did, and now the world depends on it and nothing will hold us back. All we can do is just try to keep going.

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