Abandon Markers?

  • I've run into a dilemma. I've been working with markers for a long time now and hope to complete more full illustrations rather than just spot illustrations of vehicles and characters. -examples- The only problem is that sometimes my paper may be too big. It's 11x14 and 100lbs. Now I could go smaller like Sam Moore but then I may not get to put in great detail and the large size gives a feeling to the artwork. What I've seen recently is digital painting. It has virbraint colors, resolution is endless and is cheap (not counting equipment like computer). But it also leaves behind the feeling of a traditional peice. What should I do? Do you have experience? what is your process and materials for full final Illustrations?

  • Hi Ben!

    #1 - Your art is great!

    I do not work with markers a lot (almost never in fact) but I work with soft pastel which is probably one of the worst medium for illustration... but I am just in love with it! Soft pastels are really expensive, the final illustrations are ultra fragile, and you have to work large if you want to include details... but the colors are amazing and there is something addictive about having all these colors in front of you (a little like markers I guess!)

    I also work digital especially because I travel a lot for my day job and like to be able to work from anywhere.

    Listening to youtube videos and reading on this forum, I think the most popular mediums for illustrations are digital, watercolor and acrylics. I know a few other illustrators working in soft pastels, but not a lot!

    I definitely think it is worth learning digital, because it is useful and faster. But if what you love is really marker, and clearly (looking at your work) you are proficient with them, I wouldn't abandon them completely! (like I am not abandoning soft pastels!)


  • If you love markers, work with markers. You don't have to do what everybody else does. And if you want to learn digital because you think it looks awesome, then learn digital! It's as simple as that. If you do what you love, other people will recognize it. And most of the time, doing something different will make you stand out from everyone.

    ONE final note though, if you're looking to be a concept artist then you definitely need to know digital hahaha. can't avoid that one

  • @NoWayMe @Perrij Thanks! I'm not thinking of abandoning them completely, there are just worlds in my head that can't be shown with spot illustrations. I have a personal project I want to work on and been thinking about digital and marker for a while. I guess now I really sat down to think about it. Taking your advice I think I'll do markers for this project. I'll want to learn digital some time any way so in time I can see what works best. After I watched this digital art seems like a great way to color. Thanks for responding!

  • Pro SVS OG

    Aha - a digital to traditional head-to-head is a common discussion nowadays. Being trained as a concept artist, I went to digital boot-camp for two years and it sticked with me. But I worked traditionally before that, with pastel and oil being my favorite mediums (and I agree with @NoWayMe - pastel is the most color-brilliant and satisfyingly phyisical of all traditional media. I love it still and may go back to it at some point. Did you know that many of Pixar color scripts were done in pastel? Nothing beats the brilliancy of pure pigment, not even digital). I have markers but I only use it rarely for sketching - you definitely are a pro at them - your SciFi concepts are awesome. You may know Terryl Whitlatch, concept artist for Avatar and StarWars - she works with markers too.
    So the long and short of it is that all of these are just mediums. Each has pros and cons, some have limitations (that can be overcome with some creativity), some have particular strengths (like color brilliance). The choice of medium is very much a question of personal preference and circumstances, and, like with languages, it pays to know more than one - but each has all it needs to say anything you want. The concept art industry defnitely "speaks digital" if you know what I mean - so if that is your goal, you will not be able to avoid learning digital (though there are exceptions: see Whitlatch or Peter DeSeve). The picture book and graphic novel worlds "speaks many different languages" (to continue with the ill-fated metaphor) - so you can use whatever you enjoy and become a master at it.
    An unavoidable issue today is speed and mobility....so if you have to deliver fast (like in educational publishing) or you have to work in many different places, digital has practical strengths that no other medium has.
    Anyway, to stop this rambling, no medium has an inner magic - it is still all in the artist's head and hands!

  • I did traditional for a long time ,I still use markers ,pastels, paints my advice is learn everything, it is fun. Definitely learn digital I am just now feeling i am understanding digital better and there are things you just cant do traditionally.The size of your art seems plenty much good I would not go any smaller. You could always scan your artwork and add digital enhancements.

  • While I don't use markers I do use pencil, Dr. Martin Dyes, acrylic, watercolor, etc. While I love traditional, digital is something that any artist that wishes to offer themselves for commercial work needs to know.

    We could discuss all day long if digital work is an equal to traditional art and in the end it does not matter - it is here and it is how commercial is work being done. If you wish to receive money for commercial projects, digital is fast becoming a requirement if it isn't already.

  • @Ben-Migliore I'm the opposite at the moment haha--having spent the last year doing mostly digital, a few months ago I got a brush pen and was instantly hooked. xD It's soooo much faster than inking with a tablet.

    Now, I don't have a Cintiq, just and old Intuos, so maybe I would find it easier to do line work on one of those. But freehand line accuracy is pretty darn tricky with the Intuos, even though it has great pressure sensitivity and all that. I wasn't ready to buy such a big expensive tool as the Cintiq, so I ordered a $20 bottle of rapidograph ink and a $10 converter for my kuretake brush pen. xD

    So I'll scan in my pencils or inks, and paint or color with the Intuos, which might be a process worth testing to see how you like rendering in digital. It looks like your artwork has super detailed linework, so if you don't have a Cintiq, it could be an exercise in frustration to do that part digitally.

  • @K.-W. haha 😂Yeah sounds like a great idea! For line work I could do traditionally then color digitally.

  • I'm going to put up the thumbnails for my project later and see what people think.

  • A lot of illustrators work larger and then downsize digitally, because they want greater detail than they can physically achieve in a smaller space. I don't think it's a problem, personally, if you're happy to work that way, and providing that the detail doesn't become too busy when squished. I use a combination of watercolours, Polychromos and digital, at various stages of the piece. But I'm also in the do-I-switch-to-digital camp, so don't be taking my advice 😉

  • @Rapteev thank you! After reading all the replies I'm pretty sure I won't abandon markers. I hope to learn digital art and with time an experience I can see what works.

  • What software do you use when working digitally? SketchBook Pro has a built in Copic colour library and brushes that work like the markers... Best of both worlds?? 🙂

    Actually I just remembered - you probably already have it - Copic have an Adobe colour palette available on their support page: https://imaginationinternationalinc.com/copic/101/downloadable-resources/

    Really like your art a lot! Can't wait to see the new project!

  • Have you ever seen the work of Vanessa Brantley Newton? She uses markers, and I think does some cleanup digitally but I can't remember. You can always start your piece traditionally and finish them in Photoshop or equivalent program. Anyway, there are ways to make digital work look traditional.

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