Own a Cintiq but still sketching on paper then scanning...

Hello everyone:

I know probably most are shaking their heads and pondering “why bother getting an expensive Cintiq in the first place?!” but bear with me. I’ve owned my Cintiq 21UX since I was midway through my ID education and have been using it post-grad and use one at work. But my workflow is still the same: sketch on 8.5x11 paper in pen, then scan, then clean-up in PS then render in PS/Sketchbook Pro (or use scanned paper sketch as underlay to trace in AI for more polished renderings). It’s been working well for me; though I feel the time it takes to scan sketches and then open in PS could probably be saved by just digitally sketching on the Cintiq and then adding color.

I just haven’t gotten the hang of it; though I’ve tried countless times. It just feels unnatural to me; not to mention a lot of my lines come out inaccurate when sketching on the Cintiq and the back and forth undoing lines I find rarely happens when I sketch on paper. I also love to rotate my paper as I sketch and the rotating of the canvas in PS or Sketchbook is tedious (even with the shortcuts!).

Am I the only one who just uses his Cintiq for strictly rendering?

I used to start everything on paper. It felt much more natural to rough out volumes and perspective that way. For some reason it wouldn’t click when starting in digital so it took much longer.


That’s how I feel. Though the scanning part is tedious (especially if you have a “single page” scanner), but I feel I am taking longer hammering out lines and curves on my Cintiq and undoing multiple times; then getting it right on paper first. I would assume that if I actually kept it up, over time it would become easier sketching digitally (as it seems to be for someone like Spencer Nugent), but all I do is struggle.

Time is of essence at work and this works for me right now. Maybe down the road it will change. :slight_smile:

Keep doing what you’re doing. A good attitude and desire to improve will take you far.

I’ve skipped the scanner and just taken a picture with my phone. Not as accurate as a scanner but quick. I do a lot of iPad sketching theses days with Paper and Sketchbook Pro. Sometime I just take a picture with the iPad’s camera and go from there.

I have the same frustration!

cjs331339 – have you tried taking the monitor off of its easel like in the below picture? The way I have tried is like in the picture but with the Cintiq resting on the edge of the desk. I like to do this for anything besides a quick doodle/Photoshop touchup, it feels more natural than holding your arm up a while.

I also pulled off the rubber sleeve on the dang pen because it is so gummy and big, and now feels more like a regular drawing tool.

I don’t have Cintiq access now, but use the Wacom (medium) tablet. Since going from Wacom to Cintiq and back to Wacom, it was an adjustment, but in many ways I like it better. Besides being smaller and more manageable (either on lap or desk), the friction of the surface makes the lines so much less wobbly, and this is even better if you tape a piece of printer paper over the tablet. I have been wanting to try this trick with the Cintiq, possibly with tracing paper or Mylar.

Looking forward to hearing other tips too.

I just use pen and paper to get the line work done, then scan, then render in PS using Intuous. I’m old school and like the tactile feel of pen and paper. Until Wacom / Sketchbook Pro comes up with a package that allows me to draw lines accurately I’ll stick with pen and paper.

First, there is nothing wrong with sketching on paper then scanning. Perfectly fine (as I am old school). If this works, it is a great workflow.

At the same time, over the past few years, I have drifted more and more to Sketchbook Pro for sketching. The more you use it, the more it becomes natural. Your thread post seems to show a desire to work digital more, so I have a few questions/points.

1- Screen rotation- This is critical for me to feel natural in Sketchbook. I use the rotation tool on the zoom/pan puck in Sketchbook Pro. I have the old Cintiq 12.1" and have one of the express keys set to spacebar (zoom/pan). This is fluid and easy once you start to use the express keys more. I believe the newer Cintiqs have a rotation express key. Side note, if you have not enabled canvas rotation in SBpro, it is in the preferences/general tab.

2- Calibration- Have you told the Cintiq what hand you draw with? Have you calibrated it with your body in the position you draw in?

3- Steady Stroke- Have you played with the steady stroke tool in Sketchbook Pro? I use it now an again, but it can be a great tool if you need to crisp lines. Play with how much assistance it gives you. A little goes a long way. To me, this tool becomes odd with more assistance.

4- Underlays- I treat Sketchbook Pro as Digital paper with layers. That means I frequently sketch underlays. I use a larger felt pen set slightly lighter to throw down gesture sketches. This really helps with the “feel”. Then I do as I would with paper, throw a new piece (layer) over it and trace my work.

If you want to sketch more digital, then I would say keep pushing it.

you can tell the cintiq which hand you draw with? also is the steady stroke tool only in the sbp6? (I’m running 5.5 and can’t find it anywhere)

Has anyone tried sketchbook designer? not sure where to start with that program, or if it’s even worth it…

I use a similar workflow because I prefer to be able to quickly review all my sketch work at once, and it’s too inconvenient to print out every sketch, retrieve it from the printer, then back to my desk.

Once the sketches are on the wall, I find it much easier to review as well as pick out the ideas worth developing. Additionally, it looks like I’ve been busy, which helps my attitude, keeps the concepts visible for development discussion across the team, and makes an impression on folks walking through the studio.

Once the strongest concepts are selected and refined, its scanned or iphone photoed, then rendered.

That being said, I will use the Cintiq for thumbnail generation. I then print out the thumbs to refer to, as I develop the stronger of those concepts to the copy paper pages mentioned above. Vicious cycle.

Same here, especially when multiple designers are sketching on the same program, we like to sketch at a big conference table and post as we go. Possible with a cintiq, but harder. We tend to use the continues for tighter refinement sketching that is more solo. Love having it though… maybe if we had a cintiq conference table…

Have you guys seen the PPI Displays? Perceptive Pixel.

Closest thing to a giant Cintiq. I think it goes up to 80 inches. Supports multi-pen support, multi-touch and has pressure sensitivity! It’s basically a digital whiteboard.

With Cinitiq prices to match! :smiley:

Initially I was, “Ohhh that’s freaking perfect, maybe I’ll sell the 22HD.” Then I noticed you have to inquire for pricing, which rarely occurs in products sub-5-figures.

Skirting the system, I inquired via the Google and…whew! The Cinitiq lives.

Ironically, I do everything but sketch on my Cintiq these days. Sketch time is sacred non-computer time. Cintiq’s are faster for 3D and other tasks, no carpal tunnel, great all around tool.

I think the Steady stroke came in on 6.0. Sketchbook Designer was an attempt to create a vector version to be on a playing field with Ai. I think Autodesk is going to let Designer fade away. The next version of Sketchbook Pro looks great…

Lots of chiming in and great perspectives; thanks everyone.

GEBS, I am no stranger to taking a pic of a sketch with my Iphone at work, emailing it to myself and then opening in AI or Rhino to use as an underlay, but most of the time the pics are dark/low quality so I’ve been using that method for strictly tracing with pen tool/curves. So I decided today to try using levels in PS on an Iphone photo and then adjusting and I was able to get the background white enough and close to the result I’d get from a scanner (without having to haul our single-page scanner to my desk!). I will have to test this method out and see which is quicker for me; whether scanner or Iphone. Thanks for mentioning it!

It’s ironic that as far as a couple of years ago, very few people carried around a camera (even a compact digital one) on their person (unless you were sightseeing/vacationing) but now with smart phones having high-resolution camera features on our devices; it’s so easy to overlook their usefulness for things other than photographing landmarks and selfies. :slight_smile:

It’s not pretty, but it’s quick!

I also dig how a lot of designers on this board have been photographing sketches and then digitally rendering over them. I hadn’t seen much of that before a year or so ago.

It is strange how normal it is to carry a camera around in your pocket these days. I love it.

I filled up all of the space on my first iPhone within three months, just with pics. After that it was debilitating to not be able to take a photograph without deleting items.


I just discovered today an Iphone “scanner” app that works really well! It’s called CamScanner: ‎CamScanner - PDF Scanner App on the App Store

It gives severals options for b/w and color and even a few contrast/brightening features to use on the pics before you email them to yourself or save to your Iphone camera roll. I tested it out on a few sketches and the result wasn’t too bad. It’s not scanner quality, but if ever I am in a hurry; I will try that!

Wow, you were camera-happy! :slight_smile: Iphone/smart phones definitely have changed our lives for the better.

In the last 5 years since owning my Iphone, it has taken the place of my landline, alarm clock, calculator, note pad, wall mount calendar, camera… yada yada yada… and as of today… scanner?

I still, and am a big advocate of, sketching/scanning.

it’s achievable, cheaper, simpler to share and sort, mobile, needs no power source…the list goes on.

Plus, if you hide the eraser, it’s quicker/fresher/more instinctive. The old “ctrl z” function can mean people are far fussier with digital sketching than is necessary.

Yes, the temptation is too great. I find this wastes more time for me than it saves, at least at this point. Analog catalyzes boldness, emotion, etc.

I have the exact same workflow.

As with most design problems, the user is not the problem, THE DESIGN IS! I think this group needs to start a revolution (or maybe a project) to change to way we transfer from physical to digital.