Unless you’re buddies with the boss, you will have already added digital programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to your essential bag of design tools. If you are buddies with the boss, well, you don’t have to do anything and I apologize for even mentioning it.
Those, however, who are mere mortals and actually carry the workload, will always be open to learning new ways to update and streamline their digital skills. Simply stated, for most of us, learning is earning.
A few months ago, I landed a film contract for visual development and noticed how diverse the industries were in terms of computer knowledge. Generally speaking, the premium toy industry has a reputation, deserved or undeserved, for not being as progressive in Adobe Creative Suite design skills compared to retail, because they historically relied on a global client with seemingly infinite resources.
Retail, however, had to perform within finite budgets, forcing them to use the latest digital tools to meet tight deadlines, generate quantifiable profits and actually track everyone’s hours per toy line and SKU. This determined the technical level of designers hired within those respective markets, especially in the realm of creative supervisors tasked with managing digital assets.
Film studios are another story, being primarily contract based, designers are forced to stay up to date simply for self-preservation. In this creative industry, you’ll find some of the most amazing, talented people who are proficient in both conventional and digital techniques—they have to be. If you were to tell them you never had to learn Photoshop, it’s a safe bet they would laugh you right out the door.
To save a huge amount of time and have greater creative control, many more designers these days are opting to draw directly within their computer program of choice. No more wasted energy scanning a pencil drawing, then rescanning when a revision is needed, then adjusting each scan in Photoshop, and then repeating the entire cycle when another last minute revision is required.
My humble digital painting featured in this post, is a quick, down and dirty sketch serving only to establish a very specific emotional beat within a video game, capturing the action while establishing the overall mood of the corresponding environment.