Tools, Tips & Tricks
A lot of people often ask me what equipment is needed to freelance, or clients ask me how do I edit illustrations in a certain way, so I'd thought I'd share my little studio set up!
My studio is a traveling one, everything I need can be packed up in my backpack. I basically work from anywhere, a desk, a train, a random little table in the corner! You name it - I've done! Even the floor! And in this crazy madness, I create but of course the dream would be to have my own little studio one day. With colour, plants and a comfy chair and I would love a big desk! The downside of having a "traveling studio" is that I am forever packing and unpacking...just once I would like to have all my equipment on one desk!
Back to my tools, over the years I've started to buy equipment, making small investments into my little business, allowing me to have creative freedom and build my brand.
I work on a Macbook Pro and have had for about three years. I enjoy working on my mac because of the consistency of the user interface. Working on various programs and shifting between emails and files upon files upon files, it allows for my crazy work flow which is systematic in some way!
Storage is so important and I try to stay on top of my backing up system and folders. A super tip, that every young freelancer/ student or anyone really, is to back up and clean up your files. Back-up, back-up and back-up! Try to clean and back-up your files once a week. Your naming system is also super important, I try to separate my commissioned/ freelance work and my private projects. And then the folder upon folders erupts, having said this though, don't overcomplicate it either. Finding your files everyday should not be a treasure hunt, so keep it simple and remember to separate your adobe files, for example photoshop (psd) and indesign (indd) - trust me it will save you tons of time and headaches!
My good old trusted scanner
I bought my scanner while I was studying at Stellenbosch University. It's an old and small A4 epson scanner. It's done the trick, a bit of mission when I'm working at A3 size, but that's why there's the patch tool, right!
Even though it's tricky to scan in bigger works, I love that I can pack everything in a bag and be on my way! Like I said, I have a traveling studio!
Tips for scanning:
Most of my artworks are scanned in at 300dpi and saved as a jpeg. I prefer working with a jpeg, the file size is smaller and more manageable.
When you're working with artworks that are painted, they often fold up when they dry and the scanner cover is not heavy enough to press the folded edges down. Leaving you with a very strange light/shadow on your artwork, which is a beast to edit. Try stacking some books on the scanner cover to get a even and flat scan.
Wacom & Tablet
My trusty little wacom tablet, I started using the digital drawing pad about three years ago and it's amazing for drawing and editing. Using the drawing pen, allows me to edit so much faster, picking up on all those little gritty pieces and adding details that sometimes disappear when it's scanned in. The pressure and movement might seem strange in the beginning, so my tip would be to just play around with it. Some people even tape a piece of paper over their wacom tablet to create the paper texture for drawing. My tip would be to just draw and practice writing with different brushes till you find the right pressure.
Brushes, there are so many sets out there! I have a few brushes that I use: gouache, pencil
(HB real brush), a edged pen brush which is part of the manga set. Little tip: make sure to use a natural eraser, when you're erasing something and want to soften the edges this is a great tool, lower the hardness of the eraser it will give you a clean, soft feel.
To clean my scanned images, I usually use a combination of spot healing brush, stamp tool and patch tool. For the little mistakes or dust specks, the spot healing brush is great! For bigger errors or editing, the stamp tool works well. Remember to set it to content-aware!
For editing my illustrations, I usually play around with adjustments, the level and curves. I usually start with these before moving on Hue/Saturations changes. Play around with the levels until you feel you've found the right combination.
My lightbox used to be my bedroom window or shower door but as my work routine started to change, I decided to get myself a little lightbox, and it's been a treasure ever since! It's a Samtian model, just a thin little USB one, but it does the trick! And it's so light and thin, slides perfectly into my bag.
Lightboxes are great for tracing illustrations, especially if you are reworking work. Or you've sketched it all out, you can try out different mediums, like ink or paint! Without losing your original sketch.
And there you have it, all my technical equipment, that I use on a day-to-day basis. I would very much like to invest in a printer, so if you have any recommendations, pop me
As always, thank you for reading!