I really do like GIMP. It’s a marvelous program — and, may I add, totally in the spirit of faerie gifting to have such a program completely free to the whole world?
I like to make custom brushes with their tools for pressure-sensitive tablets. It simulates a bit what I do with real ink and brush, only more pixel-precise. I primarily use three or four dynamics styles I’ve saved for Lor’Avvu. A couple I use are just entitled things like “Lor’Avvu line” or “Lor’Avvu text line” and function well within a large range of opacity, size and brush shape settings.
Each brush dynamic you design, unless you are making it for a very particular use, doesn’t just change your brush but your range of available options. So a “digital painting” type brush may have high opacity but come out in “splotches” or “spurts” while a smoother appearance with low opacity may simulate “water color”. And when you change the size of a brush on a particular dynamics set, you end up with slightly different effects because — unlike real inks and paints — the amount of a dynamic you’ve made can increase in surprising proportion to the size of the brush.
I’ve found that with physical tools that can take on varying material amounts, like brushes, knives or nibs, you strongly feel that your tool is learned and something to lean on. With the full open variety of computing power, your tool can be so varied and so flexible I have found myself artificially limiting my tools to certain “regions” of settings and thereby forcing myself to learn the tools I’ve pretty much only imagined and set up as a virtual dynamic in GIMP.
Penciling for me always involves accounting for the speech of the characters within the composition. The shape of the panel is not really as rectangular as the illusion of convention permits; it is actually all sorts of strange puzzle-like shapes, due to the way text interrupts and surrounds the visual activity in the imagery. Lately, I have been finding that using real pencil and paper gives me the freshest most enjoyable and “professional” line for under drawings and pre-lettering. I then scan the pencils and “ink” the lines and letters with my digital dynamics brushes before fleshing out the color layer.
If you’re curious about trying digital tools, try GIMP for yourself with a Wacom or other pressure-sensitive tablet or stylus. And let me know in the comments section if you have any questions or you’d like to talk about process.
As a side note, my friend B.Sabo (All Night) likes to use different proprietary software, and I must admit I have a long way to go before I can do what she does with her own tool preferences.
If I were to switch tools, I would dearly love to try adding more “real” materials (plastic acrylic, india inks, paper, glue and so on) even though I like that using my refurbished second-hand computer is less resource-intensive. Yet there truly is nothing like the beauty of hand-crafted (even when contributing to the world of industrial waste). I have a plan to integrate more mixed media, from as much reclaimed materials I can muster, but in particular for a certain chapter in the future …
Below: digital coloring a layer of the same page