Think back even just a few years and our working world (never mind the World itself) was a very different place. In the inaugural post of this blog last week, I mentioned the rapid pace of change that is a huge factor in the way we work in our industry, and this week I’d like to focus on how that has changed—and continues to change—the ways that I work and think; the way it has liberated me.
Four years ago, I was still lugging a sketchbook and loads of mark-making tools around with me. One colleague even used to joke at the time that if my bag was ever mislaid and found, that it was likely to be taken into a local school as the contents—pencil cases, jotter pads and such like—resembled the paraphernalia associated with young students.
Why did I carry all that stuff? Because travel is a big part of what I do, and being frequently on trains and planes gives me plenty of time to think, and then sit back and chill, because there’s literally nothing else to do. I’d try and shun sitting there browsing the web without purpose. I worked that screen all day and it’s just too easy to fall into that as a habit and miss the world around you—besides there’s only so much Facebook you can take. So I’d try and relax.
That’s when the ideas come.
It used to be just a pencil and sketchbook, but eventually I found myself carrying around pencils, pens, fine-liners, brush-pens, graphite sticks, charcoal, putty and plastic erasers, sharpeners, sandpaper—and more besides. This stuff wasn’t always gainfully employed, it was very much a case of “But for a horse…” and all that. Yes, I probably am quite barmy—but it’s served well so far.
My workflow at the time then involved me arriving at home or the studio, scanning the stuff that was useful. Following that it was into Photoshop for clean-up and maybe further work, or branching off into Illustrator or Flash from there.
By around 2008 my workflow had streamlined a bit, as the iPhone meant that it was possible to just snap the page, then just email the image to myself. It didn’t matter if the shot wasn’t square-on most of the time as I could utilise the Perspective mode of the Crop Tool in Photoshop sorted that out—the Perspective Crop Tool wasn’t around then.
The iPad did not have the same camera capabilities as the iPhone, so it didn’t get in on the act immediately, but when Adobe Ideas and Photoshop Touch arrived a couple of years later, my phone went back to being a phone—and of course a camera—most of the time.
An app that allowed me to work on pixels with layers and selection tools and filters and adjustments and send it to Photoshop or on-the-go push that to my camera roll and then use it as a guide layer in an app that gave me useable vectors in Illustrator? Shut-Up!
It was the beginning of the end of my—among other things, frankly, very heavy—bag full of drawing stuff. The knockout blow was delivered this year when we released Sketch, Line, Photoshop Mix, Lightroom Mobile and Voice, and also when I got my hands on my first pressure-sensitive iPad stylus’.
There’s everything I need to bring my ideas to life in those tools. I can sketch from images I have captured on-the-go, refine them and/or rapidly mash them up and add effects, use them as drawing reference and if I want to, record a fully-soundtracked video to realise my concepts. Boom!
I make so much more now than I have done in years! I’m more productive, and happy to be so, as these things don’t just have utility, they are a whole lot of fun. It’s really difficult not to brim over with enthusiasm with them, it really is. I can try out new techniques and experiment as things are getting done so much faster; it really has changed my life!
By-the-way, did I mention that we made these apps free? £0. Free. Get in!
So, in case you were wondering, the sketching-bag still exists, and in fact when you’re reading this it’ll most likely be with me in the Canary Islands, sans tech, of course—I’m on vacation. In my work bag, I do sometimes carry the odd small moleskin and a couple of drawing tools, but they don’t really see much action these days—it’s probably a security-blanket thing; just in case. These days, I create on the move.
Thought for the week: Imagination is more important than knowledge – Einstein