Review: SmoothDraw vs Artweaver

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:

Tablet drawing!

My Wacom Bamboo Pen tablet came in today. It’s great, but it’ll take some time to co-ordinate moving my hand while watching the screen.

Here’s an early attempt.

It’s part of a comic lablit “noir” series that I’m hoping to draw when I’m more fluent with the pen.

Stay tuned, and feedback/advice is always welcome!

First draw

If you’ve been visiting this blog for the past month or so, you would have noticed a sharp upsurge in the number of comics being posted. It’s actually been a long time coming and was somewhat preceded by a frequent appearance of comics on Lablit.com (see the “Published Elsewhere” page). Bottom line, I’ve got a million of these bobbing around in my head and, given time, comics should become fairly regular.

That’s not to say that the other subjects will stop altogether. The blog is meant to be personal and thus reflect little old me as a person; and hopefully, there’s more I have to show for than stickmen with punchlines. Science, philosophy, theology and reviews have brought the blog so far, and I have absolutely no reason to take them out of the mix. But as I’m currently pouring my time into work stuff and my fourth novel (about which at least I am very excited), comics will increase and other stuff might decrease in appearance.

Another idea is to actually build a website dedicated to the comics, which might actually be a good idea for the long run. But that depends on a number of factors, the main one being that I know as much about website-making as my couch knows about salsa dancing. You have any ideas, I’m listening.

So – comics/cartoons/webcomics/strips. Whatever they’re called. I wanted to answer a couple of questions that have popped up.

Q. Are you worried that you’re treating science as a joke?
A. Let’s just say I’m returning the compliment.

Q. What do you use for drawing?
A. A really sophisticated, custom-built piece of software that is dedicated to high-quality design. It’s called PowerPoint. But the hope is that soon I’ll be able to switch to an actual drawing software like SmoothDraw. For this, I need to actually buy and learn how to use a PC drawing tablet-stylus thing, which should speed things up.

Q. Why don’t you just draw with your mouse? I mean, it’s only stickmen.
A. In response, I submit the following image:

I hope that answers your question.

Thanks for all the support everyone! If you like them, pass them on!

Comics