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Scanning pencils

Blog posted by Ste Pickford on Fri, 18 Apr 2008
Subject: Magnetic Billiards: Seriously Casual

Ste Pickford

I finished another drawing yesterday, part of a series that started with a drawing I posted a few days ago.

We had an idea to tart-up the front-end of our new game which made use of the first drawing and satisfied John's desire to get some hand-drawn artwork into one of our games somehow. One bloke wasn't enough, so I needed to draw some more characters to populate the front-end. Now, as it turns out, there's a chance that none of this work will make it into the final version of the game. Still, I've enjoyed doing the drawings, and I suppose I've got an excuse to post one or two of the drawings here instead.

The other reason for this post is to gush about my new-found understanding of how valuable a scanner is. Because I was into comics as a kid I was always trying to draw in the traditional comic style, which means drawing in pencil first, then inking over the pencil for stronger, darker lines, and then finally rubbing out the pencil to reveal the finished, clean drawing.

Inking was the most difficult stage of the process. I don't have a very steady hand, and dip pens and brushes are much harder to control then pencils. You can't correct inking mistakes as easily as rubbing out pencil lines, and there's a real danger of ruining the whole page if you knock over your ink bottle (which I've done a fair few times). Loads of times I'd do a drawing that I thought was really good, only to ruin it when I inked it in. Even if the inked version was good, the nature of the process meant that the pencil version was lost forever.

Now this might be obvious to everyone else, but this is a new discovery for me: thanks to my scanner I can keep my original pencil drawings and ink them in! Not only is this good for archiving work, but allows me to compare the pencil and ink versions of a drawing side by side to see where I've lost some of the life and movement from the pencil drawing in the inking process. It's a revelation!

So, to prove that it works, here's the four previous stages of the finished drawing above, from sketch through pencil, brush and pen. The pencil and brush versions no longer physically exist, but I've got the scans forever.


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