How to Use a Computer to Save Your Drawings

One of the things that Illuxcon taught me was that many successful illustrators dabble in both digital and traditional art. One common technique was to use a scanner and printer to preserve original sketches and drawings. After both Dragon Con and Illuxcon I have been focusing quite a lot more on my drawings, so a technique to help me preserve them sounded great!

In the past when an artist doodled a sketch they were happy with they would use carbon paper, a light box, or a projector to help transfer and/or enlarge the sketch onto another piece of paper. They would then do a more complete drawing on the new piece of paper before making a painting. All these methods have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Previously I have been using carbon paper, as it was the cheapest of the methods. The downside of carbon paper is that you end up drawing the same picture two or three different times. Some artists claim to like that, but I am not one of them. I personally found that reproducing it again and again lost the initial vigor in a sketch. I ended up going back to my initial sketch and trying to recapture parts of the drawing after the fact.

After talking with a number of different artists at Illuxcon I learned about the scan and print method. I already liked working digitally, so I thought I would give this new method a try. I had the perfect opportunity this past December. My sister’s fiancé is a huge Batman art collector and he asked that I draw Batman for him as a Christmas present.

To start I did a number of different sketches in my sketchbook. Once I doodled one I was happy with I scanned it in.


Batman Sketch

Batman Sketch



Next I used Photoshop to clean up the sketch. I decided I wanted a simple background, and used Photoshop to ad in those shapes.


Batman Digital Layout

Batman Digital Layout



Once I got the basic layout finished, I dropped the opacity of my image to 20%. I then printed it out on a 9-inch by 12-inch piece of Strathmore Bristol Board. Once the printed ink dried I got out my brush, ink, and pens and set to inking Batman.


Batman Ink

Batman Ink



When I was finished, and the ink was dry I scanned in the inked drawing and altered the levels in Photoshop to make the blacks in the piece solid. I then put the original inked drawing in a protective slipcase and wrapped it up for Christmas.





I still had the original sketch, my sister’s fiancé got the original inked piece as a gift, and I could make prints from the scanned in version. All in all I felt the endeavor was quite successful and something that I would try again. I saved a lot time, I didn’t have to re-draw the piece, and I was happy with the results. Not a bad days work!


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