The digital revolution began for me about 15 years ago, when my kid brother practically forced a proper computer (I'd only ever possessed an Amstrad word processor up to that point) on me that he had 'built' from spares. He actually drove nearly 300 miles to hand it over, so I felt obliged to at least let him set it up and switch it on, even if I was as convinced as I had always been up until that point that there was nothing a computer could do that would improve my life. I was a card carrying Luddite, and fiercely proud that I was using practically the same tools of my trade as those whom I followed for at least a century before me.
That all went out the window with that first boot-up, and I've never looked back since. It's taken most of those fifteen years, but these days I am now fully transformed into a digital cartoonist. Gradually over those years, I have put aside my coloured inks, my black ink, my mailing tubes and my address labels... and now, even my pencil and paper, as I use a laptop PC, a Wacom Cintiq tablet, and the Internet, to provide me with everything I need to create and supply work to practically anywhere that wants it, faster than I'd ever have dreamed possible just fifteen years ago.
I love the doors this has opened, and the extra dimensions it has given me with which to ply my trade. And I'm happy to evangelise these benefits to all who will listen. There are some who won't, for a variety of reasons, and I fully respect that, having been where they once were, and still retaining a love for those tools of the trade I've left behind, but will never totally abandon. But I do believe that in order to stay alive in this business, you need to be able to provide what today's clients want, and that really boils down to quality merchandise (as always), but in digital format, and instantly delivered.
Occasionally, however, you do come across the attitude that what you're producing in a digital format can't possibly be as good as the 'classic' tools of the trade. That somehow using the new tools dulls your edge, or can't deliver the same quality. Of course, there will always be those will produce work on a computer that completely backs up this viewpoint, and I've seen many flat, horrible examples that taken in isolation would put me off digital artwork for life.
But like most innovations, these 'new tools' take a little time to master, and with time and knowledge, can prove not only a match for all the old ways, but provide infinitely more possibilities thrown in. Leaving the latter aside for a moment, and concentrating on the "match" claim, above and below are four caricature commissions I have worked on in the past few years. All are coloured using Photoshop, but two were initially drawn on paper using a pencil, followed by dip pen and ink, whilst the other two were drawn entirely using digital technnology (I resist using the term 'hand-drawn', becasue they were all hand-drawn - new tech replaces the tolls, not the artist).
See if you can tell which is which (comments welcome - answers when next I blog)...