Wednesday, July 22, 2009
The Digital Storyboard Artist - Painter vs Photoshop
Above: an early Painter effort.
Hi everyone, my name is Maria Peña and I am an illustrator and storyboard artist based in Melbourne, Australia.
I have been working on my storyboards digitally since 1997. I saw an article about Fractal Painter somewhere and it really captured my imagination, as soon as I could afford it I bought a Power Computing Mac Clone, a digitizing tablet (not a Wacom unfortunately), and an A3 colour printer. And of course a copy of Painter 4. I still have the paint can it came packaged in.
My journey with Painter has been a long and profitable one, and I have been an advocate of this application, well, since the beginning. I was only the second storyboard artist in Melbourne (perhaps Australia, I don't know) who ditched her markers and fineliners and went totally digital. It cost me a client or two at the beginning, but it changed the way I work forever, and as far as I am concerned, for the better. Once the internet took off, and clients became comfortable with the digital delivery of the work, I started getting visits from fellow artists wanting to check out my setup and I always recommended Painter to them over Photoshop, as I had tried drawing on Photoshop and it was awful!
Above: Storyboard frame done in Painter
The thing is, Painter is now on version XI (or 11 if you like) and it is more powerful than ever... as far as drawing and painting is concerned. I was using Painter X almost exclusively (except for converting images to CMYK for delivery to clients, and sometimes to do any image editing necessary for corrections etc- Photoshop was still the choice for that) up until recently.
Because Painter has changed 'owners' quite a few times, it has had features added and then taken away by the next company; then brought back when the loyal Painter community made their disappointment known. At some point, between Version 5 and 7, the tool I used the most, the Digital Watercolour, changed so much it became unusable and I stuck to Version 5 until about version 8. By then, Painter had taken a lot of features from Photoshop like layers and it was actually quite usable. Version IX was really quite good- then I upgraded to an intel based Mac. Suddenly, the distort tool wouldn't work. You could only move one handle on the selection and then it wouldn't let you drag another one. You only got one distort move! Resizing was the same. You could resize once, and then the handles would grey out and you couldn't resize again without accepting the resize and do it again. (Which pixelated whatever you were resizing quite badly). I upgraded to Painter X thinking they might have fixed it (plus the new version looked great). Nada. New cool features but the old bugs were still there.
I actually raised this issue with Cher Threinen-Pendarvis, the author of the fantastic Painter WOW books, when I went to do an intensive Painter X workshop with her. This was in 2007! I started AVOIDING the distort tool. I had to go to Photoshop whenever I needed to distort things. Hell, let's resize things in Photoshop too, they don't get so pixelated and you can do it in real time rather than look at a frame that lets you see approximately the size you're going to get at the end of the resize. (I KNOW, I was putting up with a lot just to keep using Painter).
Above: Painting on Painter can be lovely!
Then I decided to upgrade to Leopard and Adobe CS4 (to get After Effects for animatics...another story) And promptly found out that Painter X was even worse under Leopard - I can't use the resize tool at all! I upgraded to Painter X.5 but I didn't get a solution to my problem. I went to the usual forums. People were saying that Painter XI wasn't Leopard ready. Leopard has been around for years now! So, no upgrade to XI for me.
I have just started to use photographs and other elements for my storyboards to make them more realistic and to save time, and suddenly resizing and distorting has become very important. I tested out Photoshop CS4 and found that it comes with this handy Workspace already created for painting. It doesn't have the depth of tools and brushes of Painter I don't think or their accessibility, but I am working around it and finding ways to arrange the tools I use most. I don't know how, either, but the drawing experience has improved vastly on Photoshop too! Of course the painting is still not as good as with Painter... but the rest of the program is fantastic. And it does 3D? whoa! Something I may take advantage of.
So now I have deserted Painter X and embraced Photoshop CS4. And I know a lot of my fellow digital artists are probably saying "Well duh!, told you so". But I think that my love affair with Painter WAS lovely while it lasted...it just soured at the end.
Here are some of my latest, Photoshop CS4 frames.
Above: A lovely line is had by all.
The painting on the characters is a bit cruder than with Painter but I have just started...
I want to thank Leif Peng for inviting me to contribute to this fantastic blog. And for nagging me until I finally posted a submission. Sorry for such a lenghty read... more pics and less talk next time.