Illustrating Hirschworth

I saw a friend of mine today, Mike Oneppo, who works at FiftyThree, which is the company that created the Paper app, which is by far the most intuitive illustration app I have worked with, and which is what I’m using now to illustrate our new posts in Hirschworth.

Paper and other illustrative tablet and phone apps have completely transformed the illustration marketplace—I think very much for the better—in part by increasing the accessibility of digital illustration and in part by giving artists new tools.

When I first started illustrating semi-professionally, I was a teenager doing work in watercolors for Field & Stream Magazine and the L.L. Bean Hiking and Backpacking Handbook. This was the in the mid and late 90s, and hand-drawn illustrations for pretty much any kind of publication save children’s books were becoming less and less fashionable. Fluency with Adobe Illustrator was increasingly vital to getting work. I tried to figure out Illustrator but found the program illogical and slow and the experience extremely frustrating. Now, plenty of people are wizards with Illustrator and it’s a powerful program, but it was never going to be a good fit for me and so I pretty much gave up on digital illustration (and stopped getting illustration work, too). It seemed like artists who knew Illustrator were in their own little protected kingdom, safe and secure with their esoteric know-how, commissions, and paychecks. This was a crazy thing to have thought and rather unfair. The point is that I was jealous of them. Very jealous because one of my sources of income had dried up and I was left feeling inept.

Then, sometime not too awfully long ago, when Mike had moved back to Seattle and we had both become fathers, he started telling me about this free app he was working on with a big team of people. I went home, started playing with it, and became completely hooked. Paper is a marvelous way to illustrate. The layout makes sense. The tools you use are direct mimics of the tools you use in real (non-digital) life (scissors, pens, pencils, brushes, etc.) and they behave with each other to rather elegant effect. Add to this that the app is ever evolving, getting more and more sophisticated and more and more powerful (for example, the resolution of the images created is higher now than when I first started working with the program, and the magnify feature is a thousand times better), and the overall experience is delightful. I started illustrating a children’s book (not yet done) and pretty soon got work doing a piece for an article in Bright Ideas Magazine. I haven’t yet used Paper with the Stylus Pencil they created, nor have I have tried it out an iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil, but I hope to soon. In the meantime, the results I can create with just a finger on an iPad 2 will turn up right here, every week, with every new post. I hope you enjoy them.


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