Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tools of the Art: Pencil & Paper versus Computer & Cintiq

In a comment by David Nethery regarding my previous post ("Animation Drawings: Seen and Felt"), David expressed an interest in seeing my rough pass pencil test of Hank sliding in, etc. Unfortunately, I don't have that anymore. However, I do have some of the initial rough pass drawings, which I will show in a future posting on cleaning up rough drawings. I also have the X-sheets which will also be the subject of a separate posting.

However, as a decorative element for today, here are the three stages I take my Key drawings through.

This is my first rough pass at a pose

My semi-rough of the same pose

My final clean-up

To the tune of Irving Berlin's "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off":
"I draw with Pencil,
 You like the Cintiq..."

As an artist, the tools I use are incredibly important to my ability to work comfortably and with precision. I have a very light touch, and at times draw tight movements, so my pencils and paper have to be responsive to the pressure of my fingers.

I draw with pencil on Ingram Bond paper, using Col-erase Blue and Red for construction lines, etc, and California Cedar's line of Palomino Pencils to lay down my black line. I roll my drawings back and forth between the fingers of my left hand, laying down my pencil line with my right. I do this for all the phases of my drawings, whether they be Keys, Breakdowns, or Inbetweens. This enables me to feel the drawing in motion as the line starts at my finger tips and passes through my pencil and on to the page...after all, the poses are always coming from somewhere and going somewhere else.

Over the years, this has become an automatic back and forth motion: draw line... roll pages... draw line... roll pages... line... roll... line, line...roll...etc.

Very much like a pianist's fingers striding across the keys. (No pun intended.)

Now, I understand the Animation Industry's reliance upon the Computer and Cintiq as money-saving manufacturing tools to link together artists and studios from different parts of the world.

But if you had your druthers artistically, which would you use? Pencil & Paper? or Cintiq & Computer?

Discussion time!
What are the pros and cons of both sets of tools?


  1. I'd have to say artistically I prefer pencil on paper for the way it looks, and how it feels more natural as you're drawing (which for me leads to more creativity and experimentation). It's just that at some point it needs to be imported into the computer, so if you can save that step by just producing it in the computer in the first place it might save a lot of hassle, and give you a more consistent look at the end. It's kind of a trade off.

    Usually it seems that the only people who still do pencil and paper are the independent animators who are more concerned about the style and creativity of a piece than the efficiency of their workflow.

    Given my druthers I would typically prefer to draw with a pencil, but I'm starting to get used to drawing with a tablet. It's kind of nice to be able just press a button and erase stuff completely if you make a mistake, but I don't really like the way most programs interpret your line for you.

    By the way, would you happen to know any good software for doing rough animation in? I'm so sick of Flash...

  2. I own a Cintiq and find that it's fantastic for some things, and one of those things is doing quick little fun animations. However for any serious animation work, I just can't use it. I can't control my lines with it as much as with a pencil and paper. Even with a felt nib on the pen the feel of the pen on the screen just doesn't provide the feedback that a pencil does.

    Artistically I prefer the look of real pencil lines and would like where possible for these lines to reach the final version of a film (I like the Xerox process used at Disney in the 70s as it felt like more of the soul of the drawings reached the screen.

    Basically I think real pencil gives better results.

    Also, the Cintiq encourages bad habits. The ability to easily undo, the ability to roll back to earlier versions of drawings, etc etc. They encourage you to be more precious in your work which I think is a bad thing. Using a pencil stops this.

  3. I use a regular Wacom tablet (not a Cintiq). I like pencil and paper also, but I am a big fan of going paperless. One thing I like about using a Wacom tablet is being able to sit up straight and look ahead at the monitor instead of being crouched over the desk looking at my hand, it's more comfortable for longer periods of time. It takes some practice, of course. "My Dog Tulip", animated by Paul Fierlinger, was done entirely on a Wacom tablet using TVPaint Animation.

  4. I invested in a Cintiq and it is by far the best tool I've ever purchased. My production time was cut down significantly.

    That said, I can't give up pencil and paper. It's just a JOY. On the computer it feels like work, but at a light table with rolling sheets of paper... I could live there. I forget to eat sometimes. :)