Tools of the trade

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Tools of my trade

Ever since I bought my first 1.0 iPad I knew that this gadget would be a great tool for creating webcomics on the fly. Of course there were a lot of obstacles in the way, but over the years (and multiple iPads) I have discovered a workflow that let’s me draw, write, and publish all from this remarkable device.

It is worth noting that unlike the desktop, where bloat remains supreme, on a tablet, multiple specialized Apps working together often accomplish what single programs do elsewhere. Here are the tools that make it happen:

Procreate I’ve tried a bunch and this is the best. A great combination of useful brushes, layers, and stylus support with great color, selections, move, resize, copy and paste. It also has a video playback feature that is amazing.

The Apple Pencil. I have a growing collection of old styli that tried but fell short. The Adonis Touch was the best I found. But if you own an iPad, the Apple Pencil rocks. Wonderful precision, perfect weight, feels great in my hand. The ultimate complement I can bestow; I often find it between my lips or behind an ear. Yes. It’s that good.

Autodesk graphic I create all my comics in procreate, but I format them in Graphic. It has great text support combined with the ease and precision of vector layout.

PS Touch Every once in a while I just need to tweak something in Photoshop, and this iPad app works great. It also allows me to custom size my end product. It’s too bad that Adobe killed it.

Dropbox My virtual hub. I have a paid account, but they offer free ones. Everything backs up to DB and it is my universal cloud app for sharing.

AI Writer A great text-based writing app without all the bloat. Sometimes I write, then I draw. Sometimes I draw, and then write to fit.

WordPress I use the self hosted .org version of the CMS software, but I’ve used the .com version before. Both are stable and great at what they do. (The self-hosted .org version gives me more flexibility to diddle with stuff behind the scenes.)

Comic Easel If you are into webcomics, and are familiar with WordPress, then Comic Easel is the go-to player. It is somewhat complex, but with the complexity comes a ton of options that only a webcomic publisher would appreciate. you truly can create any kind of webcomic with Comic Easel.

Blambot I cannot say enough about how gifted this professional comic letterer is. The fact that that he shares this gift in the creation and distribution of professional level design and comic fonts is too awesome to describe.

Anyfont You know the standard fonts that come with your iPad? Yeah, so does everybody else. Anyfont allows you to install other fonts (like Blambot’s) into your system.

I guess is should also be said that I am a professional illustrator and graphic designer with 30 years in the business. I’ve been using Photoshop and Illustrator since version 1.0. I’ve been doing digital illustration professionally for 15 years. I’ve been working with the web and CMS systems like WordPress for nearly as long. I also taught illustration and design at a community college for nine years, so it’s fair to say that I didn’t just jump into these waters. With a solid knowledge base about all the parts, it was simply a matter of putting the puzzle together.

So that’s how I do it, and what I use accomplish the feat. I love that I am able to do it all within the portable convience of my iPad Pro from start to finish. It means that I can truly strike when inspiration hits; even if that means at 2:00 a.m. from my bed, in the dark, as I am doing now.

Isn’t technology great?