3DTotal:From the FAQs on your website, I can see that you switch between Painter and Photoshop when creating your artwork. What advantages does Painter have over Photoshop, for you?
Dan: Both programs have their advantages, but I really love the feel of the brushes in Painter. The way they blend and lay down colour feels so much more natural than Photoshop, although I have been playing around a lot lately with custom brushes in Photoshop and have been really happy with the results so far. Painter also has the ability to rotate the canvas which can be so handy. It really helps it feel almost like your working on a physical board on your art table. Photoshop is the King though when it comes to selection tools and colour manipulation. During the course of a painting, it’s not uncommon for me to switch back and forth between Painter and Photoshop a dozen times or more.
3DTotal:That’s really interesting, because you mentioned earlier that you were frightened by Painter in the beginning?! What was it that frightened you so much, and how did you get yourself started in Painter and able to overcome your fear? Do you have any tips for artists out there who have a similar fear of the program and are waiting for that nudge to get them experimenting? Dan: Definitely the interface. Coming from the Photoshop world, all the little drawers and options were a little foreign and intimidating. Nothing seemed to work the way I wanted it to at first. It took two things for me to finally get over the hump. First, I watched a DVD tutorial where another artist was working in Painter. Next I found one brush that I was comfortable with and worked exclusively in the brush without worrying about any of the other features. Eventually I added a second and third brush and started tweaking some of the settings on the brushes. I still feel like I have a lot to learn about Painter but feel a lot more comfortable with it now.
3DTotal:If time were not of such essence these days, do you think you would ditch your tablet for a good, old-fashioned paintbrush? Dan:My first thought was yes, but actually, I’m not so sure. There are pros and cons to each. I definitely miss working traditionally and there’s a real tactile satisfaction to slapping paint on board and having a physical piece to look at. I’ve learned so much on the digital side though that I’m not sure how I’d survive without access to layers, quick mask, undos, colour adjustments, and so on. I’ve tried to do a few traditional paintings since converting to a digital workflow but I’ve never been satisfied with the results and it seemed agonizingly slow. The computer has spoiled me!
3DTotal:So you’ve been completely won over by computers - that’s totally understandable! You mentioned earlier that you grew up using Macs. Do you still use these over PCs? This is a debate we often have here in the studio; Mac or PC? What are your thoughts on this for all those out there who aren’t sure of the pros and cons of each type or are maybe thinking about investing in a Mac? Dan:There’s really very little difference once you get into the program. The biggest pain is the location of the Control-Option-Alt-whatever keys. I’d like to strangle whoever made the decision to make the keyboards different! I think Macs are more stable computers but they also cost a lot more. It used to be that it was a lot harder to find programs for the Mac because so many more people used PCs, but that doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue anymore.
3DTotal: When working digitally, we talk about not having a hard copy artwork to look at, so what steps do you take to back-up your work and make sure that your artwork is safe for the future, being that you can’t “hold” it and lock it away? Dan:I’ve been pretty lucky and I’ve only ever lost one piece that I can remember. Usually when I finish a piece I copy it to a second computer I use. Once several pieces have built up I’ll burn them to a DVD backup. I also usually burn a secondary copy which I’ll keep at my parents house in case a fire were to destroy everything at my house.
3DTotal:That sounds very sensible! Finally, we have a pretty much compulsory question these days: what one, single piece of advice would you give any aspiring artists looking to get into the industry today? Dan:Be dedicated. Don’t waste your time if it’s not something you really love. It sounds like a fun job but there is a lot of work involved. If you really want to do this for a living then be ready to put in 50-60 hours a week doing it. Don’t cut corners on your work because it will show. Be honest with yourself. If you look at a piece and see something’s wrong with the anatomy: fix it. It may take a lot of time and be a pain but in the end you’ll have something you’re proud to show. Oh yes… and have fun! You’re painting superheroes, goblins, and elves for crying out loud!