State of Transition by Billy Dallas Patton

State of Transition

State of Transition by Billy Dallas Patton

As an artist, I have found my life to be in a constant state of transition. As a freelance artist, going from gig to gig, changing styles, working for many different clients with differing tastes, it was either exciting or horribly frustrating, and maybe even both at the same time.

In the end, drawing is drawing and painting is painting. Be it digital or “Analog”/traditional, the rules for constructing something on a 2D plane are always the same. Color theory? The same. Storytelling? The same.

But the biggest problem I have ever faced was making the transition from creating traditional art with a pencil and paper to drawing digitally on the computer. Ok, and hands. But that’s a different story. Stupid hands.

I never noticed a difficulty in learning to paint or draw or even sculpt traditionally. Yes, I had to work at it, but it all made so much sense to me. I also loved computers, as they, too, made sense to me. Looking ahead, I could see the world was quickly going digital and decided to begin my journey into the world of pixels and vectors and rasters in 2001.

I started with getting a really large Wacom tablet I had gotten off of Ebay. I eagerly opened the UPS box to find my brand new tablet. I installed the drivers and sat down for an extended drawing session with my new gateway to the digital age and worked tirelessly for days to begin my glorious trek into a fully digital future.

But I just didn’t feel it.

There was nothing wrong with the tablet. It was working perfectly. But the pressure response was just so “off” to me, not to mention the disconnect I experienced from looking up at a monitor and drawing on a tablet. I just couldn’t get past it. I tried Painter, Photoshop, just about whatever new painting or drawing program came out promising the “artist experience”. For months I tried. But it wasn’t there and I had work to do. So I put it away, to come back every so often, and went back to drawing on Bristol Paper, a light box, and my pencils.

It wasn’t until I finally dove in, locked myself away, and forced myself to “get it”, did I gain any traction.

In the summer of 2007, I was asked to create some artwork for a game company in Florida. They wanted it painted! Oh, for the love of Pete. But, as a freelancer I needed the money (it was pretty good money). I used this as an opportunity. I dove in and bought a Wacom 3 and a full version of Photoshop CS3.

I still couldn’t draw on a computer, but the response of the pen with Photoshop made me feel really comfortable. Or maybe, more likely, it was the desperation. I had a deadline and I had to meet it. And I did.

The painting was OK for a first attempt and nothing to really write home about. But it started me down a path toward my transition to a fully digital artist. First it was the Wacom 3, but it was the Cintiq that was in my future that things really began to change.