In a previous post, I discussed some of the tools (pens, pencils, paper, etc.) I use to create my comic features. Today, I’ll discuss some of the digital tools I use in the studio.

Since I ‘m still a bit of a traditionalist and draw all my cartoons on paper, I need a way to get them into my computer.  That’s were a good scanner comes in handy.  I like scanners that have a large plate area for scanning.  I draw my comic strip George in dimensions 4″ x 13″.  So, it’s nice to have a scanner with a scanning bed at 14″ or more.

I’ve had a HP ScanJet 8250 Document Scanner in my studio for a number of years and it has served me well.  Especially because I’m a Linux user. HP products have been wonderfully compatible with Linux.    I discussed this scanner on my Linux blog.  You can read all the details a bit about it here.  I also still own a Umax scanner.  I also posted about it on the same linux blog.

You really can’t go wrong with any of the HP Scanners. I really like the newer All-in-One models.  I’ve also used a couple of the Brother All In One  scanner/printers.  Again, I tend to gravitate to models that give me a bit more space for scnning larger/longer images.

When I travel or find myself away from the studio, that’s when I bring out my VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand Portable Scanner

This thing is great!  It’s especially nice for scanning my comic strip.  I simply lay the strip on a flat surface and slowly pass the scanner over it.  Done.  Fair warning, scanning longer images requires a steady hand and keeping the scanner as straight as possible.  Otherwise, the scanned image tends to have a it of a bend or distortion.

But, that’s why we have digital imaging software.

The big dog on the block is, of course, Adobe Photoshop Elements.  This is all  you’ll need. Adobe now only sells it’s high end version of Adobe Photoshop CC as a yearly subscription.  Most reviews I’ve read have been negative and quite critical of this approach.   But if you can find an earlier version of the high end Photoshop on disc, snap it up.

You don’t have to stick with Adobe photoshop.  There’s Corel PaintShop Pro X7 Ultimate.  I’ve used Paint Shop Pro many times in the past during my Windows days.  It’s quite powerful and has an easy to use interface.  It really is a nice alternative to Photoshop and you may even save a few dollars.

If you’re on a budget and want something that doesn’t cost one cent, then get GIMP.  GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program) is the “Photosop” for the Linux platform.  GIMP comes alredy installed when you install Linux.  But it is available for Windows and Mac as well.  It feels and runs just like Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro and other digital imaging software.  It’s 100 percent free and quite powerful.  There’s also a free online manuals to help get you started.  if you prefer to have a bok in hand, amazon has several.  The Book of GIMP: A Complete Guide to Nearly Everything has gotten some great reviews.

I’m a Linux user and I use GIMP.  Linx and GIMP are every bit as easy and powerful as Mac/windows running Photosop. But, it really all comes down to personal preference and of course, the number of dollars you have to spend.

In future posts, I’ll share how I use some of these programs to create and enhance my cartoons.



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