Going digital

by Myfanwy Tristram

Now that Ladies of the Lakes is largely out of the way (I am going to redraw two or three frames and add a cover before I send it to the printers), I’ve finally had time to play with my new laptop.

We’re very lucky at my workplace, in that they provide us with a laptop to work on: our choice of model, up to a price limit. If we want to, we can add our own money on top to get a more expensive one, and that’s how I have come into possession of a machine that I’d never have considered buying outright for my own purposes only – the Microsoft Surface Book.

I’m enjoying it for my work needs, and getting used to the fact that it’s a tablet/laptop hybrid: you can remove the screen and use it on its own, and even with the keyboard part attached, you can still navigate and interact via the touchscreen.

But what I’m enjoying it for outside my work hours is the fact that, with the special pen it comes bundled with, you can draw directly onto the screen. Now, it’s not like I’ve never done any digital drawing, but this is different from what I’m used to with my desktop, where I plug in a Wacom tablet sometimes: there, you’re drawing on the flat surface in front of you, but seeing the results come up on the monitor.

I wanted some time to figure out the set-up, and after frustrating experiences finding out, for example, that my version of the Photoshop Elements program wasn’t compatible with the Surface Pen, and researching various other apps, I came across Leonardo, which was specifically developed with the Surface Book in mind.

Cannily, they offer a trial period, perhaps in the knowledge that once you try it out you’ll be hooked. Leonardo doesn’t offer quite everything I’m used to in Photoshop (for example there’s no way to export in CMYK, no importing of brushes, and no clone stamp – plus lots of other features no doubt that I haven’t yet come across) but I do like the ‘infinite canvas’ which ensures you never run out of space to draw on, and I’m finding the shortcut menus really handy.

Here’s me giving it some trial runs:

 

Myfanwy Tristram

Myfanwy Tristram

No need to tell you what my train of thought was at this point – you can see for yourself.

And then I decided to try it out on a cover for Ladies of the Lakes (I drew in pencil, scanned in and then coloured over the top – this is it mid-colouring):

Myfanwy Tristram

and finally I’ve been mucking about with an idea for the flyleaves:

Myfanwy Tristram

Myfanwy Tristram

Still needs a bit of work but I’m impressed with what you can do on  a screen. I think my next challenge is going to be learning how to make brush strokes look a bit more natural and less ‘digital’.

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2 thoughts on “Going digital

  1. So lively and personal! It looks as though you’ve really taken to this new tool.

    Have you done book cover illustrations on commission for other authors? Your style is captivating, with a contemporary feeling that is grounded in history.

    1. Aw, thanks! An illustration I’d already done was once licensed by a local book cover designer, but I haven’t pursued cover design further than that. There are some really great covers; it’d be lovely to try something one day.

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