Paperless or Draw and Scan?

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artfx
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Paperless or Draw and Scan?

Post by artfx » 16 Apr 2010, 08:48

Last year I sold my computer and did without for a short time. In that short period, I took to drawing with good ol' pencil and paper. I couldn't believe how much better and faster I could still draw on pencil and paper, even after years of doing it on the computer. This made me wonder:

How many of you draw paperless, directly into TVPaint, and how many draw on paper and scan? What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages to each method?
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Re: Paperless or Draw and Scan?

Post by Klaus Hoefs » 16 Apr 2010, 08:59

this discussion is old hat, mhmm ?

Well I am still making sketches in old traditional sketch book with a pencil ( 0.5 ) if traveling.
All animation things I do paperless and I almost never scan any sketch. After drawing it is in my head as a experience and I can recall it when going paperless - but of course it has some changes.

So if the next iPad or iPhone would offer digital pencil input I would go with this for sure.
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Re: Paperless or Draw and Scan?

Post by slowtiger » 16 Apr 2010, 09:45

I still prefer drawing on paper, but I do nearly all of my animation on the cintiq now, because it's so much faster. The small loss of precision and feeling I trade in for a win of time.

Recently I noticed that the differences of the tools also shows in the design, so I try and make it a (new) habit to take designs back and forth from digital to paper and back again.
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Re: Paperless or Draw and Scan?

Post by artfx » 16 Apr 2010, 09:55

It never occurred to me to check there archives to see what had already been discussed on this topic. The issue is a relatively recent consideration for me. It never crossed my mind before.

I had thought about the possibilities of the iPad. I used to have a Motion Computing LE1600 Tablet PC (Mirage Nomad) and drawing on that was a dream. Almost as good as pencil and paper, though the screen was a bit small and since I like thin lines, I often left plenty of holes in my drawing for the paint bucket to spill out of. Still, if I had it now, I would not be considering this issue. The same if I had a Cintiq. I would surely draw on it. Now, though, faced with drawing on a separated WACOM tablet, and a small one at that, or going back to paper, I have to really think about what will get the best result and be the fastest.
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Re: Paperless or Draw and Scan?

Post by Paul Fierlinger » 16 Apr 2010, 10:06

Funny that you should ask just now because last weekend I had a small group of students from Don Duga's class in New York visit me, to see what it's like to work with TVP. Don teaches classical animation -- pencil on paper. One of his students used to be my best student at Penn who never worked any other way but paperlessly and she wanted to take a step back into the routes of animation to see if there was something she might have missed in her development by never experiencing animation on paper. The friends she brought with her were of a similar background.

They all talked about how much they enjoyed the process of drawing on paper but their enjoyment stopped at the first few drawings . As soon as it came to animating they found the process excruciatingly tedious and tiresome. Don, a self-professed Ludite when it comes to digital technology, had told them that they will never work this way in their future, that the classical process is forever in animation's past.

It turned out that with the exception of my former student, none of the others had ever even heard of TVPaint. within a couple of minutes, as I began to demonstrate how it works, they were all floored and wondered why all the New York studios don't use this instead of ToonBoom or Flash or After Effects et al..
I couldn't believe how much better and faster I could still draw on pencil and paper, even after years of doing it on the computer.
So if this is your case (that you can draw better and faster on paper) think about a couple of things:

1. could you animate faster too? When considering this answer, think about the whole process; the scanning time, the time you will spend cleaning up the "dirt" and placing your drawings in order on several layers using the x-sheet feature. Just think about how you are going to draw on paper with many layers in mind. Animating on paper can be somewhat fun for absolute newbies who draw simple scenes that can be distributed over just 2 or 3 layers, but when it comes to anything more complex it becomes a nightmare because the light table's light bulb just can't shine through a thick stack.

2. Should you not spend more time experimenting with your stylus and tablet? Would it be possible for you to develop your style into a more efficient direction? I've noticed that you draw in the style of animes, which call for complex drawings to make up for the lack of real motion. Each one of your frames is a completed drawing that could be hung on a wall. It is so complex that you have to draw in huge scales to work out all the details. But when drawing at 12 fps there is no need for that degree of precision -- actually I find it unattractive and unimaginative. All animes tend to look alike. Just for once try working out a very lightly sketched but fully animated scene within a small project window and see if you won't like moving away from anime for the elegance of imaginative motion, drawn with quick sketches.

That's my take on the comparison of the two techniques.
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Re: Paperless or Draw and Scan?

Post by slowtiger » 16 Apr 2010, 11:33

I've noticed that you draw in the style of animes, which call for complex drawings to make up for the lack of real motion. Each one of your frames is a completed drawing that could be hung on a wall. It is so complex that you have to draw in huge scales to work out all the details. But when drawing at 12 fps there is no need for that degree of precision
Very good point, and one I was pondering about this week. German/French TV station arte is just in the middle of a kind of Miyazaki retrosprective, and I grasped the opportunity to watch the films again. Whereas Miyazaki's stories are definitely a bit more intelligent than your average anime, I don't find his style very interesting. It is this thin lines combined with strong colours which always make it look like an average children's book. And the fact that the lines are thin makes it necessary to spend more time on assistance and inbetweening because you have to work so precisely (see that thread about auto-straightening lines).

I'd really like to see more animators going into the direction of Bill Plympton, or Paul, or some of the canonical yugoslavian animators like Dragic. It would please my eye to not only have textured backgrounds but also have "textured time".
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Re: Paperless or Draw and Scan?

Post by idragosani » 17 Apr 2010, 00:07

While I do like the feel of pencil on paper, the flexibility that going paperless provides is worth losing that little bit of feel. I like to paint also, but using an easel and storing paints and oils and dealing with brushes just isn't feasible for me -- I'd rather be drawing and painting than having to stop early and clean up! So I am pretty much all digital now, I use a big Wacom for my main art computer, and I have a little Bamboo I use with my Netbook for quick sketching, and even doodle on my iPhone!
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Re: Paperless or Draw and Scan?

Post by v.veidt » 17 Apr 2010, 08:51

As a Mac user who prefers a paperless workflow (using a real sketchbook embarrassingly little), I'm curious; has anyone tried the Axiotron ModBook? It's been on my consideration list since MacWorld 2007, but I've never heard from an animator who uses it. It's a Wacom tablet, so I know it's quality, but I don't know anything more. Any stories?

To contribute to the thread a bit more:

I've been using a Cintiq (and a Graphire before it) for so long that I'm entirely accustomed to the drawing surface. I'm really more comfortable drawing digitally than on paper. I have to admit that my greatest draw to TVPaint was the ability to get traditional results from a paperless workflow. Ironic, is it not, that I would bother to work digitally and avoid the slick digital look like the plague. That said, out of love for watercolour backgrounds, I will occasionally scan a painting because I haven't been able to make digital watercolour look right. Does anyone have a suggestion?

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Re: Paperless or Draw and Scan?

Post by isd » 18 Apr 2010, 09:06

slowtiger wrote:
I've noticed that you draw in the style of animes, which call for complex drawings to make up for the lack of real motion. Each one of your frames is a completed drawing that could be hung on a wall. It is so complex that you have to draw in huge scales to work out all the details. But when drawing at 12 fps there is no need for that degree of precision
Very good point, and one I was pondering about this week. German/French TV station arte is just in the middle of a kind of Miyazaki retrosprective, and I grasped the opportunity to watch the films again. Whereas Miyazaki's stories are definitely a bit more intelligent than your average anime, I don't find his style very interesting. It is this thin lines combined with strong colours which always make it look like an average children's book. And the fact that the lines are thin makes it necessary to spend more time on assistance and inbetweening because you have to work so precisely (see that thread about auto-straightening lines).

I'd really like to see more animators going into the direction of Bill Plympton, or Paul, or some of the canonical yugoslavian animators like Dragic. It would please my eye to not only have textured backgrounds but also have "textured time".
In fact the drawing style of the Studio Ghibli is more "thick" than "thin" lines.
If you want to talk about thin lines you have to look towards IG, MAD HOUSE or GAINAX.
By the way the movies of Mamoru Sonoda or Satoshi Kon (produced by MAD HOUSE) have at the same time thin lines AND an emphasis on animation. There is no trade off here (well in fact there is. There is no shadows in the movies of Sonoda, and the inbetweening is made in Korea).
I (personnaly) think that anything over-animated is a lost of Time and Art, and that thin lines allow to come closer to "color surfaces" animation, well, closer to the feeling of reality.
Thinner lines allow easier inbetweening and smoother movement as well, since you can spot more easily the space inbetween the lines.
Thinner lines make your paper sheet surface bigger as well as your world and possibilities. And I like that.

About drawing on paper, yes this is better than digitally. You have ONE tool and can do almost everything with it. You can feel and understand faster, you can improve faster, you are forced to THINK and to not waste things, You are force to use few layers, and it is in the end for the sake of the simplicity and the beauty of the art.
Of course rough sketching digitally is very useful. In fact I often rought sketch digitally, because it is better and faster, then print it (or just display it on hte screen as a reference) and draw the clean on paper, because it is better and faster.

The cintiq is a piece of crap but there is still nothing better for digital input.
Anyway, since I bought tvpaint I intend to make my next project completely digitally(I will test the limit of precision on a 1024x720 screen ^^;). Well, I will try, but it is possible that I clean on paper in fact, as always ^^;

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Re: Paperless or Draw and Scan?

Post by artfx » 22 Apr 2010, 07:31

Thanks again everyone for the continued replies. My mind is pretty much made up on this issue, and I will leave paper alone. I will make an effort to get hold of a Cintiq ASAP, but I am also a firm believer in starting where you are with what you have, so I have, for the past week or so, been experimenting with this:
Paul Fierlinger wrote: 2. Should you not spend more time experimenting with your stylus and tablet? Would it be possible for you to develop your style into a more efficient direction? I've noticed that you draw in the style of animes, which call for complex drawings to make up for the lack of real motion. Each one of your frames is a completed drawing that could be hung on a wall. It is so complex that you have to draw in huge scales to work out all the details. But when drawing at 12 fps there is no need for that degree of precision -- actually I find it unattractive and unimaginative. All animes tend to look alike. Just for once try working out a very lightly sketched but fully animated scene within a small project window and see if you won't like moving away from anime for the elegance of imaginative motion, drawn with quick sketches.
This is a lot harder than it looks on paper. Not withstanding the influence that has been on me since the mid 1980's, but I am also fighting against my own "idea" of aesthetics. I understand the significance of working in a small project window. It keeps me from wanting to put too much detail into the frame and slow down the process. I have also been watching Paul's films and those of Masaaki Yuasa as I am having the hardest time finding that balance between a look that I am happy with and good speed and motion.

I will say this. It is a whole lot more fun than feeling like I need a ruler, protractor and compass to do each frame. I like the freedom of working this way. Now I just need to develop my style such that I like the result and keep the efficient direction. I have also been experimenting with some of the new brushes for painting backgrounds. I think I will come up with something fun!

Thanks again Paul and everyone,
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Re: Paperless or Draw and Scan?

Post by slowtiger » 22 Apr 2010, 08:58

Terence,

about the danger of cramming the frame with details I'd like to pass a tip I've heard from Joanna Quinn.

She starts storyboarding her films in a very small size, real thumbnails on paper. These very rough sketches she enlarges by xerox to the size of a real storyboard, to add more details. When she starts animating she again enlarges these drawings to the size of the layouts (she's animating on paper). This way the original proportions as well as her composition of light and dark areas get preserved through production.

I could imagine that you could do something along these lines, determining which areas need detail and which not in the first sketches, then stick to that until the final scene.
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Re: Paperless or Draw and Scan?

Post by Paul Fierlinger » 22 Apr 2010, 11:18

Strangely, I often go in the opposite direction -- I start out my first sketches at the size they come out by default; 1920 x 1080 is whatever it looks to be on a 21 inch flat monitor. Then when I start working on animatics, I make the drawing area smaller, about the size of a standard post card if you held one up to the screen. and this I do just because it's a size my drawings come out looking their best to me. Of course, when the animation requires tight inbetweening I'll go in closer but the drawing has been established by then and I can't spoil it by working on a large format. This is probably why I favor the classic pen to the grip pen -- but I've accustomed myself pretty well to both by now.

Terrence, good luck with your efforts; I am convinced you'll come up with something good because of all the practice you have acquired by now. It always feels good to me when at the start of a major job I allow myself to erase the world from my mind for a few days and just be myself -- sort of the way children can be when they are tolerable :mrgreen: .

EDIT: I just looked at my screen -- I never start out at the real 1920 x 1080 -- it just seems that way to me. It's actually at 50% when I start out and around 30% when I start animating in earnest
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Re: Paperless or Draw and Scan?

Post by CartoonMonkey » 23 Apr 2010, 09:49

For me, I get a little tired of pure paperless animation. I love drawing on paper. So, my new technique is this: (Animate in TVP, don't worry about perfect line quality) Then, I print out in draft mode, every frame.
I punch these drawings with a cel punch, flip them over and do my final ink drawing on the back side of them, then drop them into my batch scanner, and back into TVP for coloring.

Lots of extra work perhaps, but I could never fan-flip paper like the disney guys do, and TVP lets me do so much more.

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Re: Paperless or Draw and Scan?

Post by artfx » 25 Apr 2010, 08:07

Well, I definitely see the advantages to working in this way. I tried doing initial sketches on a 1920x1080 project at 33%, and then cleanup at 50% and coloring at whatever worked. I still have a ways to go in developing a visual style I like that also gives me speed I am happy with, but I think I am moving in the right direction. Here is a recent test:

http://www.studioartfx.com/video/test001.mov
Quicktime H.264 Mov

My main thing right now is how I want to represent character's faces, as far as details like the eyes and nose. I want something that is expressive (this guy above doesn't count with the glasses and all) and still quick to a degree. I also see that most of my time and detail will likely be spent on the face and body will go much quicker.

I will keep going.

Thanks everyone for the replies.
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Re: Paperless or Draw and Scan?

Post by Paul Fierlinger » 25 Apr 2010, 11:20

When someone is dashing into the camera, there is not much time to dwell on expressions and you have the one one would expect on his face. I suggest you try a more subtle situation and give it a tiny bit of a story. Pick a line from a book or your imagination.

Actually, you have the line right there in your post:
" I want to represent character's faces, like the eyes and nose. I want something that is expressive" You show yourself getting up from your drawing of a blank face to look at your own reflection...

at this point I can think of lots of things to happen; there is room for plenty of gags to turn the clip into a joke, suspense, mystery, psychodrama, all fun stuff (my favorite would be into nonsense). Hmmm... a future classroom assignment?
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