A photo of my opening slide by organiser Stephanie Bannister (@S_Bann).
Last week I was invited to speak about science communication at the MFPL retreat at Znojmo (CR). It was great to meet fans of the blog and chat with PhDs and postdocs about comics, cell/molecular biology (the MFPL does some really cool stuff), lab life and science careers. Once again, I was struck by how rife with problems academic research is, and I hope that this little talk might spark some non-traditional, yet much-needed career paths.
Click here if you’d like to check out my 11-slide PowerPoint.
You may have noticed a little upsurge in “hand-drawn” comics in the past couple of weeks, the most prominent being Grampa Scientist.
I’ve been using the Wacom Pen tablet I got a few weeks ago and I’ve been experimenting with various drawing software. The one I prefer – so far – is SmoothDraw. I like its simplicity, which is important, given that I draw simple cartoons.
This past week, I tried Artweaver. It’s surprisingly rich for a freeware, runs smoothly and has an interface like Photoshop. The problem was its actual complexity. For all its great features, it took me ages to find a simple felt pen for sketching. There are just so many settings and adjustments etc for every one of the available “brushes” that it just became counterproductive. And even when I managed to find a setting that allowed me to sketch, it didn’t have the liquidity that SmoothDraw provides. Also, drawing often suffered from lag, especially with quick strokes or long continuous lines.
Colouring in was also a pain, as you have to change the pixelation (“threshold”) of your sketch to avoid horrible white marks. SmoothDraw on the other hand is a bit more intuitive and fills things out a lot nicer.
Overall, it seems that Artweaver is better for deep, artistic work. When it comes to line art and colouring, I’d recommend SmoothDraw (which actually has more features than the average cartoonist will ever need!). Anyway, they’re both free, so give them a try and find the one that works for you.
Still, I did draw something with Artweaver. Here you go: