Art things by Erik Frick

Stanislaw Lem Wacom Sketch Process

My wife got me a Wacom Intuos 4 for christmas as a surprise gift.  To be honest, at first I wasn’t quite sure if I would take to it.  I know people that use tablets and love them but I’ve always been a mouse guy.

I recently had a need to digitally recreate a sketch of Stanislaw Lem I had done years ago for an illustration class back in college.  I looked everywhere for the original one I had on paper but it was lost somewhere along the line so all I had was a small 600 x 800 jpg from a scan I had saved.  The book cover that the illustration was going to be on called for a print resolution file that was nearly 4-5x that size.


Enter the tablet.  I struggled at first.  The first attempt shown below is definitely not what I was after.  There’s lots of extra lines, thickness of lines is completely off and every line has a shaky feel to it creating strange hard edges throughout the image:


With the second attempt, I thought I would zoom the image out further and then trace the image thinking that since I had less distance to trace on the tablet the lines would be smoother.  I was so so very wrong. The second attempt looks even worse than the first one:


At this point I consulted my wife, a longtime fan of her own tablet for help–I had a deadline coming up for this sketch and I didn’t have time to waste trying to figure this out.  She said I should zoom in and trace the image that way.  By being zoomed in, you have to cover a longer distance on the tablet, but because of that all the little hand hesitations that might create hard, pixelized edges are hidden.  So, below is my third attempt using her suggested method:


Hey, that’s pretty close!  There were a few things I wanted to fix up though:  some lines weren’t thick enough, others had weird spots where I had changed brush sizes (see the corners of the mouth on the right hand side).  After cleaning those up, I had a nice clean image that was a faithful recreation of the original:


Keep Closed

Orange & Red

Man on Subway

Stanislaw Lem

Hermann Hesse