I dove right into digital illustration without once looking back. After years of stagnation, I had found a bold new way of drawing, and it did wonders for my mental attitude, and business swelled in response. Many new clients signed on this year, and many of my old regulars started using me even more often than they had in the past. I still had a lot of learn about lightness/darkness settings on my computer monitor, and about ‘keeping it simple’, and the temptations to overuse ‘cloning’ techniques. But who cares, I was having a lot of fun, and suddenly, work was no longer a chore, but something I looked forward to doing every morning.
My main goal was to try and make the work look as ‘traditional’ as possible, mostly because I wanted to keep the ‘style’ that I had been cultivating for years (but improve upon it), and not scare off my old regular clients with a sudden burst of weird new techniques. And I would often run into fellow illustrators (and non illustrators) who would have a negative reaction when I would tell them I was now drawing ‘on the computer’, like I had somehow gone over to the dark side.
I found myself with much more work from clients like Cobblestone (who would use me for detailed illustrated maps, as well as cartoons and realistic painterly illustrations), and was doing full cover illustrations for the Recorder (mostly in colorized scratchboard), plus experimental styles for some magazines who were willing to see what I could do with the reigns off completely (not all were successes, I’ll admit). The work almost doubled from the previous year, and the sheer repetition helped improve my techniques and styles in very short order.
I also started working for an educational publisher, Instructional Fair (later Carson Dellosa), doing black and white cartoons for workbooks. Most of these I have detailed in separate blogposts.