Chasm in the City + some thoughts on IbisPaint X


The character in this piece belongs to a friend of mine. I decided to try to bring her favorite OC to life as a holiday gift. Since I don’t think she even knows I have a blog, let alone is following it, I thought it should be safe to post it without waiting until first presenting it to her.

Since my tablet is still quite new, I have downloaded a ton of free art programs to try, and decided to use this piece to test drive Ibis Paint X. I’m a photoshop user going way back, so while I love Autodesk Sketchbook, I do view them as two very different programs meant to do different jobs/produce different art. With Sketchbook, I absolutely adore the versatility of the pencil tools and the effects you can produce with different markers. It’s very much a program that attempts to mimic effects created via traditional media (not that I always use it that way, if my last upload is any indicator), where Photoshop is a much more digitally oriented tool in terms of how the brushes feel to use. I’m mentioning that because Ibis has a feel much closer to the photoshop experience.

It appears to be geared particularly toward anime art (though I don’t doubt it’s a versatile enough program to do much more than that), so there isn’t much in the program by way of pencil tools, which I do find I very much miss in switching from Sketchbook, but it’s also very true to a digital art program. Anime art is more about pens and markers, so I can see how this exclusion makes a sort of sense for this program (though I would love to see a full set of pencils someday – a feature I would probably be willing to pay for, if they ever decide to throw additional brushes in an add-on).

You start with enough brushes to get you rolling, but have a few options in getting more:

  1. Pay to remove them in one fell swoop.
  2. Watch advertisements to unlock them.

I really like this about the program, because it means someone living on a tight budget does have access to the same tools, if you’re willing to watch your fair share of commercials. It is a viable avenue though, and I do appreciate the option.

Overall it’s a pretty nice program, but it’s not made of gold. I did run into some distinct problems.

  1. When you turn the tablet, there’s a fairly significant lag as the program saves. This is likely due to the auto-recording feature (which is kind of awesome, so a worthy trade off, but when you’re in the groove, and your screen goes black and loading for  anywhere between 5 and 20 seconds, it gets annoying.) It’s a worthwhile trade for the recording feature, but it’s not exactly pleasant.
  2. It’s not optimized for Galaxy – this is admittedly a first world problem that only applies to galaxy users, but in Sketchbook, I can set the program to only respond to my stylus. This is not an option in other art programs, which does cause some stray strokes that need to be cleaned up when the program will register the hell of my hand as if it’s a pen.
  3. The placement of the menu bars is unfortunate. It would be a greatly improved program if I could undock and move the menu bar. With the sliders placed at the bottom of the page, I found myself constantly changing the size and color of my brushes accidentally. This may be a bit worse for me as a lefty than it would be for a righty, but I literally bumped the size and eraser buttons by accident constantly, to the point it really did start to irk me.  It would be so much better if these functions were placed at the top of the page, or along the right, or even if they were hidden off screen and could be dragged up as needed. The only way to make this bearable is to customize your pallet so when you lose a color it’s easy to retrieve. (Up side, the color palette is super easy to customize.)
  4. The color sampler tool is far better in theory than in practice. You can activate the color selector with a sort of pressure sensitive hovering gesture, and slide it across the image until you get the color you want. While this sounds brilliant, in actual practice, I unwittingly activated it dozens of times while attempting to go over corners and fill in opacity. This caused me to lose the color I was working with and have to either reselect the proper color (which was not always exact via the color selector), or open the palette to reselect it. It ended up being  really cumbersome.

That said, there are some pretty awesome features, too.

  1. Switching between pen/brush and eraser is a one click function. I may not like where it’s placed, but the speed of switching between them so easily was a delight.
  2. I have more than enough layers to play with. This is my only real quip about Sketchbook for Galaxy. I would happily pay a fee to get an endless amount of layers to work with in Sketchbook, but I can not find this option, and limiting me to half a dozen ends up being pretty cumbersome once I start experimenting with finer details. IbisPaint has no shortage of layers to work with, so I can easily try different colors or designs and flip between them until I’ve picked the one I like best. (Maybe I don’t know if I want a blue shirt, or a green shirt. With limited layers, I have no choice but to paint swatch and wrinkle my nose at the screen. With enough layers I can try both and easily flip between them.
  3. The auto-recording feature is pretty neat. While I don’t strictly need it, having it makes me wish every art program did. Seeing your process in motion is really interesting, interesting enough, that I’m sharing it (at hyper speed. The whole piece apparently took me around 6.5 hours, but you can see it in about a minute below.)

Overall, I’m happy with the program, but I think what I really want out of life is a combination of this and sketchbook. They both have advantages and disadvantages, but I have several other art apps to check out. There really are no shortage of them out there to investigate.

If you feel inclined for Chasm-based gear, it’s on redbubble: here.

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