Jason Chatfield interview
1.How long have you been using Wacom Pen/Tablets?
Since 2002. I bought a tiny little Graphire 2 from a shop that was going out of business; I had no idea how much it would help my work until I tried it.
2.What type of Tablets do you use now?
I now use an Intuos 3 and a Cintiq 12WX. I travel a lot, so I have the freedom of being able to slot my Intuos nicely into my laptop bag and work anywhere in the world without having to worry about finding a power plug. It’s very durable, and has all of the features I need. When I’m back in the studio in Melbourne I use the Cintiq 12WX for any number of jobs; from editorial cartoons to book illustrations, to caricatures – and of course, Ginger Meggs!
3.Tell us about your work?
I work about 15 hours a day on average – and about 80% of that is with a stylus in my hand. I produce 3 editorial cartoons a week for publication, as well as freelance book illustrations and caricatures. My main job, however, is the comic strip Ginger Meggs. Meggs is the longest-running comic strip in Australia, and now appears in over 120 newspapers in 32 countries worldwide every day. I produce Meggs using both the Cintiq and Intuos depending on where I am at any given time, just as my predecessor James Kemsley did.
4.What innovations in your work are due to the use of Wacom Pen/Tablets?
Having worked traditionally with pen and ink, I used to really worry about losing the freedom and ‘spontaneity’ of my line-work. But I can now produce even more accurate and perfectly contoured lines, without them looking too “digital”. I’m a real stickler for tradition at heart; so when I see artwork that just looks too digital, I lose interest. I like the idea that I can produce high quality work using the Wacom, without losing the authenticity of the drawn line. I can now use that digital work to adapt it to different mediums; like animation, print or web. Whereas before, I was somewhat stifled by having a roughly scanned in TIFF or JPEG of limited versatility.
The other innovation I’ve taken advantage of is the custom felt-tip nibs. I’ve ordered dozens at a time, as I’ve always been concerned about the lack of “pencil on paper” feeling of the tablets. The felt nibs recreate that friction perfectly, and allow my style and technique to be perfectly transferable. I can pick up a pencil and draw on paper straight after drawing on the tablet, without any difference in feeling. I can retain my traditional skills of drawing on paper whilst developing them on the tablet.
5.What applications do you use in your work flow and what functionality is driven by using a Pen/Tablet.
I use Flash, Photoshop and InDesign for most of my work. For the editorials and Meggs I use a combination of Flash for linework, and Photoshop for colouring and shading, as well as pre-press preparation and re-sizing/formatting. I use InDesign for print preparation in my commissioned artworks to ensure the printable PDFs are of optimum print Quality and have the correct size and bleed. The tablet works so differently between Flash and Photoshop. It adapts to the dynamic linework in flash, and vectorised line-art so well with the angle-sense, then in photoshop it acts much more quickly and spontaneously; making it possible for me to colour work and daub the tablet without worrying about waiting for the machine to load. I use two styluses at any given time. Sometimes I’ll use the Qintiq stylus which is thinner, when I’m doing line-work and general mouse-browsing, and the thicker Intuos stylus when colouring. It gives me more control and flexibility.
The felt-tip nibs are invaluable for the colour work as well; just giving a bit more friction for control.