Friday, May 6, 2016

Let's Talk Coloring Books - Digital Hardware and Software Notes

I'm posting this today because I realized that I'm just not going to be able to get to this information in my presentation. This is more technical information than you may actually need. I have my thoughts on the software first, and underneath is information about hardware. While this is originally intended for my Coloring Book Presentation it's something that may be of interest to illustrators getting started in digital art.

Photoshop is great for creating digital images – it's arguably the best Program for creating digital images but not necessarily the best for coloring books. I do highly recommend it for illustration, but it's not necessary to buy if you are only creating coloring books or black and white art.

Illustrator - takes time to get use to if you've never used vector software. Like Photoshop: It's great if you are creating certain color images with a certain look, but not necessary for coloring books.

Painter – Best for creating digital paintings that look like traditionally created paintings. The software crashes a lot (I own painter 11), but is nice when it runs smoothly.

Gimp – Free Software. I'm only including it on this list because it's free. Useful and is similar to Photoshop. I feel like I have one arm tied behind my back when I use this.

Inkscape- Free software like illustrator

Krita – Free Software like Photoshop

I have not used Krita or Inkscape personally (other than a few minutes each) so I can't tell you how well they work. There interface is nice and for no money, it's worth it to download these and take a look. These free programs may not have all the same options as the programs they are meant to copy, but they can still be used professionally.

Manga Studio/Clip Studio – My personal favorite. I own EX4. I like the inking feature in this because you can come back an manipulate the image easily even after you save the image. The inking feature is much like illustrator's in that it's done in vectors. Unfortunately you can't save your image to work as a vector image (.eps in illustrator but you can save the ink lines as a layer and use it in Photoshop or other program to color your backgrounds. Don't buy this full price. Smith Micro often has great sales.

InDesign. - The best and easiest program for laying out a book. It takes a bit of work to get use to, but if you know how to use Power Point (or any Adobe software), then you can learn how to use this program. It is actually more intuitive than Power Point, and with all my years in computers, I find using InDesign easier than Power Point. If you are thinking of having a book printed of your work, you must get this software. The bonus is it's the easiest software for your local print shop to use, so they should be able to print your work fairly easily and quickly.


Processor – Intel is important. AMD always gives me problems. Get a reasonably good processor. This will help the speed of your computer.

Hard Drive (Storage not to be confused with memory) – Up to you. 1TB is the norm and should be enough for most people

Graphic Card: Go with NVIDIA® GeForce® if you are going with color and possibly black and white. Go with the best graphic card you can afford. If you are 

Memory allows multiple programs to be open, helps your computer to run faster and allows you to work on large files. Get at least 8GB of memory. Most people don't know that it takes 2GBs of memory just to run Windows (it may be more with Windows 10). Memory is important so ideally get more (12-16) if you can afford it!

Printer: Inexpensive printer. Don't go with a photo printer. Often photo printers wont let you print (or scan) if all you haven't replaced an empty cartridge. If you are making high quality prints go with your local print shop. Because of the high cost of ink print shops are still cheaper than printing from your own printer.

Scanner: Epson with a large bed is best, but you can get by with a lower quality scanner.

Tablet: Wacom tablets are the best. Bamboo is okay, but it works basically like a mouse. The Intuos pro is very nice and likely the tablet you'll want for your work. The Intuos mimics the pressure and tilt of drawing traditionally.

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