How I Made My Own Move from Pencils to Pixels

After years of endlessly sharpening pencils and breathing eraser dust, I’ve discovered a tool that’s made me a better artist. The funny thing is, it’s not much different than a pencil and in the user’s hand, works magic. Why? Because it’s digital

Let me take you back, nearly 40 years ago when I first became a forensic artist. Back then, all I had was a sharp #2 pencil and a piece of cheap, white, copy paper. It wasn’t always the best tool, but even more daunting a task was making image alterations. For example, if you wanted to add a hat, or other artifact to your sketch, you used tracing paper on sheets of acetate. For photos, it was smelly chemicals and Q-tip sticks.

When I first discovered computer graphics in the late 1980’s things were better, but still a bit awkward. To create art in a digital environment required me to clumsily clutch a computer mouse and drag it around my desktop. Unfortunately, the technology just wasn’t there yet.

Once pen styluses with tablets and graphic display devices were introduced, the new technology made much more sense. It was exciting! From the beginning, I believed it would become an indispensable tool that everyone could use.

Although most of us have gotten used to using a mouse, is it really the best tool to use? If you take a moment to think about it, the proposal I’ve outlined below makes much more sense.

We all learned from an early age to write our name using a pencil. Even today, those without artistic skills are likely to sit and doodle during prolonged periods of boredom. And because the pen stylus looks, feels and acts like a traditional pencil, it’s much more intuitive than a computer mouse, making it the perfect tool for artists and non-artists alike!

My flirtation with digital drawing started when I bought a small Wacom pen tablet. It was the perfect desktop size that easily connected to my old laptop computer. I used it for many years, pairing it with Adobe® Photoshop®.

As technology evolved, pen devices became more expensive to acquire for most.

In 2011, I was hired as Baltimore Police Department’s Forensic Artist. Despite my previous experience, I was still an analog artist. Even though I had a desktop computer, I didn’t have the correct software programs. Using a pencil seemed like a primitive solution when compared to what others were already using. But, that’s all I had to work with.

Even though it worked well enough, I wanted more. So, in 2015 I finally made my move from pencils to pixels. Armed with a pen computer, provided by Wacom for evaluation purposes, and the proper software I went digital.

For the last three years I have not used a pencil to create facial composites.

Now, it’s time to share my discovery with others. Many had already made the conversion, others were priced out and couldn’t afford a pen tablet or graphic display device.

Today, that’s changed.

After an exhaustive search for an affordable, reliable device, I discovered XP Pen Technologies.

After reading dozens of product reviews, talking to company representatives and test driving their products, SketchCop® Solutions signed on as an authorized reseller.

See for yourself. Visit the links below to see our recommended pen tablet and graphic tablet options. Once you make your selection, click on the Buy Now button.

Welcome, you’ve now joined the digital art world.

This month, we’re releasing our latest course – Why & When To Create A Facial Composite. At only $29.00 it’s the perfect course to help you become a more valuable resource for investigators.

Over the coming months, we’ll start offering training to show you how to use this wildly effective tool! In the meantime, keep reading our newsletters to learn about upcoming training so that you too can become, Stylus Dangerous!

~Michael--The SketchCop®