Monday, 20 February 2017

Goodbye Photoshop, hello Smoothdraw

For over ten years I have used Photoshop as my main drawing program. That ended yesterday. from now on I use Smoothdraw! You'll see the different about a third of the way into Gilgamesh: more art, less edit.

Photoshop is for editing, not drawing

Photoshop is an editing program, not a drawing one. Yes, you can draw with it as well (and I did) but it is too tempting to polish, nudge, enhance, rearrange, push, tint, etc. This is also true of vector drawing programs: anything that says "fully featured" is all about he polish, not the initial sketch.

With all that polishing, Photoshop, drawings take too long. And that is fatal to this game. Worse, this creates stiff images. May natural style is cartoon-ish. but Photoshop let me draw realistic images  by starting with photos. That was great if I have a nice source photo to work from. Or if I have plenty of time. But for this game I need to spend just ten minutes per picture. So I would often end up using an imperfect photo for reference, and then reusing the resulting image again and again. You'll see that a lot with the muscular characters and gods at the start of Gilgamesh. it looks nice, in one way, but is stiff and I don't like it.

The final straw
The final straw with Photoshop was the endless bugs. Nothing major, just really annoying little things. For example, I planned to launch Tedagame on Saturday, but Photoshop stopped working with the tablet, so I had to postpone the launch. After years of grumbling I decided "enough is enough". No more Photoshop!

Full disclosure: I use Photoshop elements. Maybe the full version is better, but it costs £17 per month: that's over £200 ($250) every single year! No thanks!!

I just want to draw. I don't want Photoshop's little annoyances and distractions. I just want to draw!!! So I tried various other choices: The Gimp, Mypaint,, Pinta, etc, and then discovered Smoothdraw, the program used by Kahn Academy. I love it! So here are...

Ten reasons why Smoothdraw is better than Photoshop

  1. Smoothdraw is more responsive. When you draw with Photoshop, there is a tiny delay between clicking and seeing anything. but Smoothdraw responds more quickly.
  2. Smoothdraw is more creative. Photoshop is a photo editing program. It's designed to edit EXISTING art and photos. But Smoothdraw forces you to create NEW drawings.
  3. Smoothdraw is more efficient. With Photoshop you spend a lot of time polishing an image. That is time you could be spending on the raw idea instead. A simple line drawing will get the message cross equally well. Smoothdraw is all about the idea.
  4. Smoothdraw loads faster. If you have an idea for something, Smoothdraw lets you draw it quickly, while Photoshop is still loading.
  5. Smoothdraw is easier to learn. Photoshop takes hours to begin using, and years to master.  Smoothdraw takes seconds.
  6. Smoothdraw is faster to use. it's stripped down to the minimum necessary tools. So your hand and your mind focus on drawing, not on menus and shortcuts and disalog boxes.
  7. Smoothdraw is more stable (less buggy). Photoshop has some pretty annoying bugs (I can give examples). But Smoothdraw feels solid.
  8. Smoothdraw cooperates with my computer. My Wacom Bamboo tablet sometimes does not work with Photoshop. But it works perfectly with Smoothdraw. When I want to draw something, Smoothdraw just works. 
  9. Smoothdraw works on your computer. Photoshop has heavy requirements. Not every computer can handle it. Smoothdraw is light, so just works.
  10. Smoothdraw is free!! 

PS. the new art style

I mentioned that my natural art style is cartoony. That is how I will draw from now on. Will that cause problems for the more serious stories? I don't think so. The central philosophy of Tedagame is that death is that life is endless. The fun comes from exploring, not struggling. With endless life, death and frustration are no longer a problem. So it's impossible to be too serious about a particular story. To be clear, I'm deadly serious about the ideas. But the ideas are positive: they transcend death. So they are best expressed with a smile. :)

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