Monthly Archives: September 2011

My best new thing in the world is Sketchbook Pro

My best new thing in the world is Sketchbook Pro. SketchBook Pro by Autodesk feels like actually drawing on paper. It takes a little time to get used to it if you’re coming from PhotoShop because the UI doesn’t work like Adobe has trained us it should. Once you get passed that, I’ve found that it’s much easier to sketch in then Photoshop. With Photoshop to get a nice looking natural line takes a little bit of work (playing with the brushes panel) but SBP sketching felt great right out of the box. I use both a Wacom Intuos4 and Cintiq and it works seamlessly with all my drawing inputs. The pencil tool feels identical to the lines you would get with a regular pencil if you’re using a pressure sensitive input.

I first learned about SBP from watching the guys over at Creature Box do their digital painting videos. I was amazed at how fast and responsive it looked when they were drawing. The trick that SketchBook uses is that all new documents open at 100dpi, so you get the snappy lines with what ever tool you’re using. That is great when just doing low resolution drawings but something to keep in mind after doing your initial sketch you need to bump up to a higher resolution. After finishing my artwork SBP can output to all the standard formats – BMP, JPG, PNG, TIF and PSD. The last file type, PSD, is a big one. I now do almost all my digital sketching in SBP but I still use Photoshop to put the finishing touches on my drawings. PS still has the extra features like masks and adjustment layers that have not been added to SketchBook Pro.

The bottom line is I love drawing with this program! It’s the best digital sketchpad I’ve ever used! If you just need a drawing program this is a great alternative especially at 10% of the price of PhotoShop.

Download the 30 day free trial version and see what I’m talking about.

iPad, Adobe Ideas, Bamboo Stylus = Tips and Tricks

I recently discovered a new tool that is becoming my favorite tool to draw digitally, especially to create coloring pages.

I’ve had an iPad for over a year and in all honesty, I never used it much. It seemed to me as a larger version of the iPhone, and the iPhone is just easier to carry around.

I had heard about the various stylus for the iPad, and after reading a post on Dani Jones website, I decided to give it a try. I ordered the Bamboo Stylus from Wacom from for $30.00. I took 2 months to arrive because it was on back order.

Once the Bamboo Stylus arrived, I discovered a new love for the iPad. It felt so natural to drag and swipe with it. I downloaded Adobe Ideas for $4.99 and bought the layers add on for $.99. The software is so intuitive and easy to use. The stylus makes it so comfortable to draw and have that eye hand coordination that is not easy to get with the tablet on the computer. It was amazing how in less than 1 hour I had finished the drawing below. I should clarify, that it was more of an inking job, since I had brought in a sketch I had done a while back. It has an auto correct feature, so even if your strokes seem to go a little gagged, it auto corrects them and smoothes them out. You can vary the width of the pencil and eraser, play with opacity, change colors and zoom in and out. Yes, there are some limitations, but as far as creating a quick black and white graphic, it works great!

If you are wondering how to transfer files from and to the iPad, there’s another really cool tool/website called Dropbox. Once you create and account you can put files in a folder and share them with any computer/device. I downloaded the Dropbox app for the iPad and immediately had access to files in my folder. I then saved the images to the photo library in the iPad and then brought them in to Adobe ideas. The greatest feature is Adobe ideas’ own PDF export. Basically you email the file and it attaches the graphic as a fully editable PDF.

This is another drawing/ coloring sheet I created on Adobe ideas. Oh, and the Broccoli coloring sheet was another inking job that I created on the iPad.

Adobe ideas will definitely increase my productivity and the iPad is now my new digital doodling/sketchbook tool.

Tips and Tricks-Free Fonts!!

In the process of doing Illustration for the Children’s Market, it’s very possible and probable that you’ll need to integrate type into your work. For me this was very true when I did a large amount of work for the licensed industry and t-shirt work. In any case it can be handy to have great resources you can use to tame the serif/sans serif beast!

You’ll find that you’ll exhaust the standard font package that comes with your operating system pretty quickly. (I mean, have you really found a good use for dingbats?) When this time comes you’ll come to realize that adding fonts to your computer can be expensive. A single new font family can run you into the hundreds of dollars depending on it’s popularity and application.

So before you invest a pocket full on a new font, take the time to investigate some websites that offer free fonts for your personal use. I’ve listed a few of my favorites below.

Dafont-Over 10,000 fonts are offered. You can search through a wide variety of categories and subcategories to find the font you need. Mac and PC fonts are available.

Urban Fonts-Urban Fonts has around 8000 fonts available. You can search through the PC and Mac fonts by category, top fonts or latest fonts.

Font Squirrel-Font Squirrel offers an exclusive number of hand picked fonts for your use. Many of them are quite attractive, separated into standard families.

Lion and the Mouse Process-A

Mouse process

I am in the process of Illustrating a picture book for Benchmark Press based on the Aesop Fable-Lion and the Mouse. I wanted to throw up a quick process image from the book. This will quickly show my transition from rough sketch to final image of a lone character. I’ll show more process later about backgrounds, layout and type. But till then here’s the Mouse!!!

This was the initial rough sketch.

This is where I really went in and tightened the sketch before going to finals. (BIG difference huh!!)

Here is where I lay in the base colors of the mouse and establish his/her color scheme. I do this by having a second layer beneath the tight sketch. The tight sketch is set to multiply. This allows only the black portions of the sketch to show up when the layers are viewed together.

The final step is the finished painting. I paint this on a layer on top of the tight sketch and base color. If need be, I merge the three layers to create the final file.


Let me know if you have any questions!! :)

To see more of Wilson’s work go to:
My website

My Blog