Alongside the art direction for this product demo commercial, I was working on the storyboards. This turned out to be the fun part.
Drawing with a Cintiq is still a bit sloppy, relative to pencil and paper. I can’t see it taking over my character design work just yet. But where it excels is in story-boarding. Normally I storyboard on paper, on printed layouts (several frames per A4 page to save paper). The images have to be scanned in, labelled, filed and edited into an animatic. It can be a long turn around between drawing something and seeing it playing timed out on a screen. You also don’t have the benefits of undo, layers, copy and paste, and onion skinning (you can use a light box… but to save paper, my panels tend to be on the same page so that gets tricky). So there’s a mental hurdle that comes with that long turn around time and you don’t feel like you can afford the time to try as many options to really explore the idea. That means you’re not reaching the best results. Cut that all out and add the benefits I’ve already mentioned and things speed up to the point that experimenting isn’t as much of an issue… and it becomes much more fun!
The biggest block still remaining is that I am using Windows 8 and there seems to be significant bugs in the implementation of pens in various programs. I had to use a wider variety of programs to draw each pass than I would have expected just because those bugs got in the way. I also had to keep toggling the settings for my Wacom and the Windows default method of handling a pen. But despite that it was worth it. Later, when I was switching to 3D and video editing I turned off the Cintiq screen and just used it as a standard Wacom tablet.
Ultimately this was such a satisfying story-boarding process that I’ve since gone on to do more story-boarding, really getting back to my routes as a 2D trained animated filmmaker. Finally, after 15 years in the industry doing CGI animation I’m actually using all those old skills in traditional 2D (I originally studied to be a 2D animator, before the industry changed course and almost completely killed off 2D animated features). I worked on this piece under my new company label, HEROmation, alongside Hatch Films.