Three Reasons To Still Draw On Paper

I’m seriously considering getting a Cintiq 22HD Touch. Thus far, I’ve resisted going completely digital. Though I’ll digitally paint my final illustration using a Wacom tablet, I insist on beginning every piece of art on my drawing board using graphite & paper. I’ve had three basic reasons for continuing to draw on paper.

1. Original Art – When I’m finished with my project, I have some kind of tangible, original art to keep. I don’t know about anyone else, but I like having original art. Since I’ve gone to working digitally, I no longer have a completed painting to show for any of my work. I figure that drawing on paper allows me to have tangible concept sketches and finished drawings, if nothing else.


2. Traditional Skills –Too many people have no grammar skills because they’ve become dependent on computer word processors to correct their mess. My fear is that if I become overly dependent on computers when going through the drawing process, it will make me less disciplined and/or lazy about maintaining good drawing skills.


3. The Feel – Tablets currently cannot replicate the feel of traditional media. Sure, there are pen nibs for styli which attempt to add some grit to the feel, but the feel of traditional media comes from both the pencil and the different textures of paper. Add to that that there always seems to be a slight gap between the stylus tip and the drawn image under the glass screen, so that there’s still some kind of disconnect.

I realize each of these reasons given are entirely predicated on my own subjective preferences. Some people may not care about keeping an original piece of art. Others find the benefits of digital tools to outweigh any need for proficiency with traditional media tools. And still others are perfectly comfortable with the feel of drawing on a glass screen.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that drawing, scanning, printing, redrawing, scanning, and so on certainly slows down my work flow. There are also projects which mean so little to me that I don’t really care about keeping the original art. In all honesty, I suppose I can make the move to a Cintiq without compromising on reasons #1 & #2 by simply continuing to use traditional media on select projects, or when I’m drawing just for fun and have no need for the most efficient workflow. As for the feel of drawing on glass, I guess it’s something I’d have to get used to. In other words, though my reasons for still drawing on paper are important to me, there might be ways to mitigate the move to a Cintiq.

So how many of you are still drawing on paper and scanning? And if so, what are your reasons? Is the cost of a Cintiq the only thing preventing you from using one?


12 thoughts on “Three Reasons To Still Draw On Paper

  1. I still draw and scan!! I can appreciate the possibilities of the digital world but everytime I try to teach myself, something inside me pulls me back to a more traditional style of working!! Cool post, enjoyed reading!! Thanks.


    • It’s nice to learn both, I think. Even if I eventually move to a Cintiq (which I’ve decided won’t be soon), I’ll still draw on paper for the pleasure of it. Then again, I haven’t painted traditionally in a long while, mostly because my commercial work requires the end product be delivered in a digital file.


  2. I just so agree with all the above – In an effort to not get left behind by tech I’ve tried really hard to draw with the Wacom tablet but it just doesn’t feel and respond right. Perhaps if it was all I had ever used then I’d be ok with it by now but it just seems to be the way that everything created entirely digitally will always look digital. In the same way that products designed in the 60s and 70s look like they were designed using magic markers and crayons. To my mind and eye starting with a pencil helps to keep a human feel to designs. Hope my clients keep agreeing!
    How about adapting a graphics tablet so that a piece of suitable paper could be laid over it and then a stylus with an appropriate hardness of a suitable sacrificial material could be drawn across it?


  3. All I’ve ever done is draw and scan. I paint mostly, though. I’ve see lots of great digital art, but it isn’t for me. I would miss the erasing, the smell of the pencils, etc.! 🙂 I also know I would not like the feel of the stylus on a screen. I’ve tried to draw on the computer holding a mouse in the past, and I really don’t like how that feels at all! Great post!


  4. Ive done some digital painting in the past, but no matter how convenient I still prefer traditional methods; computer can not replicate the same storke effect of a paintbrush. And also there’s no “Undo” button to tempt me to go back and start over. 😉


    • Painter is surprisingly good at faking the paint strokes, though I still prefer a real painting as well.
      As for the “undo” button, you’re totally right about not being able to go back. Unfortunately, there have been times I’ve revised a drawing only to realize I can’t get the original back because I erased it. I actually wish there were an “undo” button for pencil and paper.


      • Hehe that’s true. Once I messed up a picture so bad I had to start over from scratch a number of times , wasting paper in the process. But as there’s a saying: to err is human, to star over divine ( actually I made up the last part). Actually though I’ve got much better results on the final try better than the original so I don’t see it as too much of waste. And another thing my eyes don’t feel as strained as if I had done the same picture on the computer. 😉


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