In this second part, let me talk about one more crucial thing you should do when breaking into the scene – investing on your talent.
This is quite a difficult approach as it is mostly a catch-22 situation, if you don’t know what that means is that if you want to improve on your talent and make a profit out of it, then make the necessary investments but money is an issue. Most aspiring artists don’t have the same luxuries as I have now – but I started with the most basic tools just like everyone else. I too had to struggle investing on my talent. When I was younger I literally had to beg my parents to buy me art materials that I need and boy, they were expensive. I had to settle for inexpensive materials which they could only afford. I kept the mindset that it’s not the tools that make you a great artist – it’s how you use them.
While that is true, the more expensive materials I’ve used for art has produced more desirable results on my end. I always knew what I wanted and I always knew that this will make me deliver the results as I’ve envisioned them to be. It was until I landed a summer job when I was in college that I was able to buy more premium stuff and I was able to improve my strokes, my style – I’m not the greatest watercolor painter in my class but I got high marks from my work after investing on premium-grade materials.
Artists should always be assertive of their talent – if you know you’re good, then by all means give what’s best for you. Now I’m not saying you should go buy every art material there is available, if you’ve managed to be good at one thing then focus on that – as I’ve discussed in part 1.
When I was starting out with RaveForce, I focused on using my spare cash buying the best type of paper that has enough “teeth” to satisfy my rigid style of drawing at the time. I used a mechanical lead holder, a kneaded eraser, a mechanical sharpener and a good old HB pencil along with Rotring technical pens and a sharpie for inks and black areas. For colors I used markers, where later on I was able to get myself a 48-color set of Marvy Markers which was expensive already for its time. Things took to the next level when I slowly transitioned to digital.
If you’re comfortable with the traditional pencil-pen-paper style of rendering comics but want to publish them online, then you might consider getting a flatbed scanner and use free-to-use graphic programs like Medibang Paint, Krita or Autodesk Sketchbook. If you have the money to spare then get a graphics tablet like a Wacom Intuos or XP-Pen Star or Deco series, and for software you can go further with Clip Studio Paint Pro.
I started out using a graphics tablet, but I wasn’t fully focused on comics back then but more on video editing and graphic design stuff. When I decided to make a jump to being a full-fledged digital artist, I knew that I needed one thing – a graphics display tablet. The problem – it’s fucking expensive.
The best one out there is the price of an entry-level to mid-range car already but fortunately there are inexpensive alternatives – still pricey but it’s something within your grasp.
I got myself an XP-Pen Artist 15.6 last August for around 19k PHP – that’s a price of a mid-range Android smartphone already, a month later Clip Studio went on sale for 50% off so I was able to score the EX version which had extra features useful for comic book artists. XP-Pen is one of the best brand alternatives for Wacom and does a good job of delivering desirable results.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’d still go with pencil-pen-paper but having a graphics display tablet has made it more efficient as I don’t have to waste time on scanning and eventually cleaning lines. Back then, it took me 2-3 months to finish a chapter of RaveForce, going full digital cut the time significantly to just 3 weeks – the only reason why I haven’t finished the whole chapter yet is that I am busy on other things as well. Imagine if I haven’t gone fully digital I may still be stuck on episode 1.
Now if I got lucky, say I won the lottery or was able to save up my earnings from commissions, I’d go with a Wacom Cintiq which is like the holy grail for most digital artists – but for now I’m very much happy with what I have and I’m glad I invested on it.
Just don’t pressure yourself in investing on your talent, be content with what you have for the mean time but make sure you also have set goals. Our art style improves as we get older so there is no need to rush. It took me 20 years to embrace digital from being a traditional artist and it’s like getting your dues – but going digital is another topic for discussion so I’ll end this one from here.