Some people say the art of physical media is vanishing. Artists are learning to use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator before they learn to pick up a pencil and a pad of paper. Soon, there will be no pen, pencil, or paper.
While it is true that a very large portion of today’s modern artists are making stuff for digital media, I wouldn’t be too worried about the lost art of sketching and storyboarding. Sure, there are some new, young artists that start their idea creation in Photoshop or Illustrator, but their work either takes four times as long or is four times more mediocre than the work of an artist who takes the liberty of using a sketchbook before opening up the Adobe Creative Suite.
The Niche of the Notebook
Even though most art being created these days is finalized and rendered in Photoshop or Illustrator (and then maybe there’s the slight chance that it is printed after rendering, rather than being sent straight to the internet), many talented (and smart) artists still make a conscious decision to start their work on a notebook rather than starting from scratch in Photoshop.
Digital artists use sketchbooks for good reasons: Visual brainstorming. Even for the complete Adobe pro, who knows the software inside and out with every shortcut engrained in their head, will take longer to whip up a prototype than a skilled artist on a notebook. In fact, I’m willing to bet that an artist with a background in drawing can sketch 20 different compositions in the time it would take an Adobe Guru to complete two (maybe three) on their computer.
Then once a sketcher finds a composition they like, they try to recreate it through digital art software. Sure, it’s a two step process, but for those set on starting a whole design on scratch from their computer, consider how many times you have to rearrange or even restart compositions. If you sketched beforehand, you would have all the bad ideas crossed off, so you would only need to design once.
It’s hard to think outside the box when you’re working through a digital art program designed and marketed for thousands of other artists. You have to work within a certain interface that ultimately skews your vision. You automatically cross off certain visual ideas because they would be too "messy" or "tedious" on the software.
With pencil and paper, you can create virtually anything on a 2-D surface. You aren’t limited to visualizing design through an interface marketed to thousands of other artists, therefore you think of ideas that are less stumbled upon. Sure, they may be difficult or near-impossible to accomplish through the software, but you are better off having the idea on paper than not considering it at all.
One of the greatest perks to having an artist’s journal or sketchbook is that, if you use it regularly whenever inspiration just hits you randomly, you have a goldmine of material and ideas. They may not be catered to any specific project that you’re working on, but that doesn’t mean that you couldn’t apply them to a current project.
And rather than a writer’s notebook, which takes time to comb through to find good material, an artist’s notebook is fairly easy to flip through and find an idea or image that you could use or branch off.