1.2 Skills and Media

I generally need to alternate between digital and physical methods because I have had to manage RSI since 1994. This is particularly the case when I have a lot of computer work for my professional consultancy work. I cannot therefore aim to be a purely digital illustrator doing a substantial amount of digital drawing and painting. I am aiming for greater proficiency in combining and layering physical drawings, paintings and printmaking on my iPad and/or Photoshop. I do quite a lot of drawing and painting on the iPad (See Illustration 2: Critical Review: iPad explorations)  but it is still not as fluid as real pencil and paint.

For links to some of my earlier work in different media see the post on my Portfolio blog: http://zemniimages.info/process/

Use of digital software

I understand how a wide range of  software works, use all of the software below to varying degrees and for different purposes, and easily learn new software.


Expert (I am fully aware of the limitations of the tools)

  • Pc: Lightroom, InDesign, Microsoft Office.
  • IPad: Procreate.

Proficient (I have a very good working knowledge of what the tools can do)

  • Pc: Photoshop, Illustrator,  Premiere Pro, Acrobat.
  • IPad: Pixelmator.

Competent (I have a good idea how to do most things and could learn to do anything else without help):

  • Pc: Corel Painter, Animate, Audition,  NikFX.
  • IPad: Artrage, Sketchclub, Sketchbook Pro, Adobe iPad Aps.Advanced beginner (I can do some tasks, but need support for anything else):
  • After Effects, Medibang Paint

Novice (I’m not sure what the tools can do; I need to follow instructions for most tasks)

  • There is a continual flow of new Aps on iPad. 

Short-term improvements I would  like to see in my use of software?

In general it is my design/illustration expertise coupled with RSI that limit what I can do, rather than difficulties with software per se. Skills also need to be continually updated as the software itself is upgraded to do new things. I make substantial use of training videos on You Tube and lynda.com and other internet sources to resolve any questions I have.

  • Continuing to improve my proficiency in iPad drawing and painting in Procreate, Art Studio and Artrage, setting up brushes, to reduce my dependence on pc
  • Significantly improving my image editing and photomontage skills in Photoshop and NikFX, building up assets, brushes and action automation features so that I work more efficiently.

What other skills do I use? How would you like to develop these?

I work in very many different types of media: drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, collage, photomontage (See links to different media on zemniimages portfolio site)  Some of my work is based on observation from life (See Documentary on zemniimages portfolio site). Other work is inspired by, or directly uses found textures from natural materials like wood and stone or media experiments like glue, treacle, torn paper etc. (See Imagining on zemniimages portfolio site)

In the short term because of my RSI I want to focus on further developing  iPad, Photoshop and physical image-making skills, including:

  • Drawing and sketching from life: pencil, charcoal, crayon, oil pastel, soft pastel. I want to significantly improve the fluency and expressiveness of my drawing in all these media. Drawing particularly on Zen styles. I am particularly interested in monochrome tonal work drawing on principles of Notan.
  • Printmaking : monoprint, collagraph, drypoint, linocut, lithography, woodcut, screenprinting. I want to continue to develop my skills in all the above
  • Collage: better understanding of visual dynamics, use of edges and mixed media and professional finishing
  • Painting: Watercolour, Gouache, Ink, Acrylic, Oil. Chinese and Japanese ink painting
  • Photography :central to my concept development as photos or photomontage. Also photographing textures and materials to make images.
    Participatory design and visual communication – from my professional work

What aspects of contemporary practice would you like to develop? What skills might you need to achieve this?

  • Understanding of textless visual communication and use of humour and surrealism like the work of David Shrigley and Alessandro Gottardo
  • Caricature, cartooning and animation design for political events and documentary like the work of  Gerald Scarfe
  • Collaged documentary books like Dan Eldon
  • Development of a multi-layering style –  something similar to that of Tim Marrs, but based on physical as well as digital media.
  • Information graphics – there are on-line courses

What skills do you think you need to develop?

  • Basic graphic design skills in layout etc. My approach is still pretty clunky.
  • Better understanding of typefaces and different ways of visually integrating text and image

To develop over time without overloading my RSI

  • Javascript and update html5
  • Animation with adobe animate – practice and watching and analysing more flash animation (explored to some extent in Visual Research Module)
  • Video integration – I need to update my skills with video filming and Adobe Premiere, then integration with Animate and/or After Effects
  • E-books with Animate and/or InDesign and/or Acrobate – my skills here are currently very clunky. Partly because of limitations with the software itself in what they will do, and limits to the degree to which the most interesting animation is accurately replicated across different platforms and devices.
  • Online web experiences  in Dreamweaver (WordPress is much too limited). I understand coding using html and css and designed several websites in Dreamweaver about 5 years ago, but I need to update my knowledge of Dreamweaver, learn javascript and improve basic design skills.

What would I like to do that I’ve not done yet?

  • Kitchen lithography
  • Sugar etching
  • Scraperboard