We made last minute plans for a beach trip with Gary & Maria Sunday afternoon. As we were about to leave, Gary surprised me with a very unexpected gift. He had taken one of my humble sketches from EsoGallery, printed it, and inked it. He presented me with a copy of his The Art of Comic Book Inking, and inside the first page was Gary's pristine inked artwork. He signed it "P.S. n G.M.". I consider this a very special gesture, thinking of the time he took to sit down and employ his craft. I'm also thrilled to receive a copy of his book. I'm looking forward to look through it more thoroughly, as I only quickly scanned it at our first meeting.
When I asked Gary if he knew of any computer programs that were being used to ink comic books, he informed me that most inkers still use brush and pens. Apparently there aren't any programs suited specifically for what he does. I'm sure he's right. Just looking at the detail and character that goes into each line, I can understand how this same style would be quite hard to achieve on the computer: not impossible, but difficult. Technically any line or shape can be replicated on the computer, but it may end up taking more time to create the same level of detail and style that a hand-inked drawing demonstrates.
Since I've made use of a wide variety of applications for various purposes over the years, I've come up with quite a number of ideas for improvements for past and current graphics applications. Perhaps the biggest problem with the current software situation is that each has its strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes I'll use one program to do one small thing and export it to another to accomplish something else. It's rare that everything can be done from start to finish in one application. There ought to be a program that takes the best features of each, rather than trying to spread features across multiple applications to make more money for software companies. This is especially frustrating since most of these parallel programs are owned by the same company. They'll buy out a title from a smaller company that is showing promise, but rather than absorbing the best features into their flagship apps, they'll just repackage the same separate software with their own branding.
One of my more recent ideas for an improvement relates to pressure sensitive graphics tablets and line creation. I think that, if this idea was ever implemented properly, it could be a useful tool for inkers and illustrators in general. But that's another story.
We all had a good time at the beach today. Our first stop was in Seaside, where we ate lunch at Golden Horse Chinese Restaurant. We made a quick stop at the beach and browsed a couple stores. Gary was interested in seeing a glass blowing shop I told him about in Cannon Beach, so we decided to make a quick stop down there. After looking at the art glass we walked on the beach for a while. By this time it was after 5:00, so we headed back home.