To raise the efficiency of producing sketchy images for WordPress, different tools were compared. One tool was clearly superior to all others: SketchBook® + touchscreen.
Yesterday I decided to publish blog posts on a daily basis. Each of these posts shall contain one or two images. My blog is not about drawing images. Images are just a nice to have, besides the actual content of my posts. But drawing my first Image took way to long, so I decided to optimize that workflow.
The first Image
The first Image was drawn on pixlr.com, which is basically an in-browser Photoshop lite. I used the touch pad of my laptop to draw it. I had already sufficient experience, to know all functionality available. Yet it took me ca. 60 minutes to produce this simple image from my first blog post:
Use a Touchscreen!
I started with the worst input device i could choose: the touch pad of my laptop. A mouse would have been an equally bad choice. An external graphics tablet would have been overkill, for my simple sketches. But my tablet with a 7″ touch screen, was the ideal candidate. Lightweight to use and the most direct translation between my inputs and the image outcome.
most direct translation between my inputs and the image outcome
There are hundreds of sketching, drawing and painting apps out there. Many of them don’t describe clearly if they are about creating images or editing photos. So I had to install and try them one by one.
hundreds of […] apps
I had to […] try them one by one.
Autodesk Sketchbook was by far the best app
I installed and compared the top 20 apps from the Google Play Store. Among all of them, Autodesk Sketchbook was by far the best app. Besides fundamental features like drawing lines and choosing colors, it has some features which make it superior to all others in my opinion.
Sketchbook works in landscape and portrait mode. Just turn your tablet as you desire. Most other apps didn’t adapt to the tablets rotation.
Preview of brushes
Many other tools only have text-based brush selections, where you have to choose between brushy, inky, sketchy, etc.
Really good brush effects
You don’t just draw a line. Your line starts thin, continues thick and ends thin again. The results of all other tools, reminded me of my child days with MS Paint.
You can draw on different layers, like you are used to from Photoshop-like tools. In the free version you have up to 3 of them.
You can insert text. into your picture.
No Image cropping
You can’t crop your Image to a desired size. In some versions of Sketchbook you don’t even have an image size, but a seemingly infinite canvas!?
Partially non-intuitive GUI
While they included a tutorial, the GUI is still non-intuitive at some points. Why do I have to click share to save my image?
You may want to have a transparent background. Not with SketchBook. There is a really nasty workaround in the Autodesk forum which states:
if you are working in SBP 2010 and you want a transparent background, you have to do your work on a layer leaving the background layer empty. Save the file as a .psd (native photoshop) open in photoshop and delete or turn off your unwanted layers. SBP will save your layer structure in the photoshop file format, but doesn’t with any other, not even tiff. hope that helps.
In Photoshop one can select areas and do a bunch of stuff with them: copy-&-paste, move, scale, rotate, distort, mirror, etc. In SketchBook – like in any other tool I tested – you can’t select things. You can only apply the above operations to whole layers, not only to selected parts.
The second Image
The second Image was drawn on touchscreen with Sketchbook. It took me under 5 minutes to draw it, without any experience with the tool.
Transferring the image
The image is painted in an app on the tablet, yet the goal is to make it available in wordpress on my laptop. Transferring the image from A to B is not a trivial task, which needs further optimization. Sketchbook allows direct upload to deviantArt, which was my current choice for the transfer. Yet this process took as long as the painting process itself, which is far too long.
Cropping the image
Since Sketchbook can’t crop images, it has to be done somewhere else. WordPress has in-built capabilities to crop images, which was my current option. Yet it needs some further investigation, how to optimize this process.
Generation of simple images can be very easy and fast, if you use the right tools. Using the App SketchBook with a touchscreen produced fast and good first results. How to integrate those results into WordPress, will be covered in another post.
Feedback is very appreciated,