"Back to Cave One" "Back to Cave One"

Welcome to Tools Of The Trade, a new series in which industry artists and filmmakers speak about their preferred tool on a recent project — be it a digital or physical tool, new or old, deluxe or dirt-cheap. Our first guests are Maryka Laudet and Quentin Camus, who made their names as part of Megacomputer, the collective behind Play-off and the award-winning Wild Love. As a duo, known as Maryka & Quentin, they are represented by Passion Pictures.

They have chosen Procreate, the popular Ipad illustration app. The pair have used it on numerous projects including their latest film, Back to Square One, a short produced at Passion for 20th Digital and Hulu as part of the Bite Size Halloween Jr. strand. Check it out, alongside some concept sketches, below. Over to Maryka & Quentin:

Maryka & Quentin
Maryka & Quentin

We started using Procreate about a year ago, when we got an Ipad, and we’ve been using it pretty much on a daily basis since then. At first, we were drawing characters for fun, and rather quickly found ourselves using Procreate in our work whenever we need to draw things up!

We’ve never really used any other app for drawing. We came to Procreate from having a love/hate relationship with Photoshop (who doesn’t?), so when we found how simple and elegant it was to use, we just stuck to it! We did try a few other apps for storyboarding, but we kept coming back to Procreate. There’s always a tiny detail that doesn’t work the way you want on other software.

Of course, the Ipad itself does bring a lot to the table for us — it’s so freeing to break from that cables-everywhere nightmare that you get with wired drawing tablets (until the battery runs low, at least…).

We constantly have the Ipad around — we work our ideas brainstorming with it, pre-production drawings up to the storyboard. It’s also an amazing tool to give feedback to your team, as you can draw over an image in seconds. We now also take our Zoom calls on it.

Do you know these ads where people look really productive with their Ipad, have back-to-back meetings, then jump on the train to sketch life? Well, that’s what we’d love to think we are, except we’re pretty much just slouching on the couch with a tea under a blanket!

We also work in a very collaborative way together, often drawing on each other’s sketches, so having a mobile device to go back and forth makes it really easy.

"Back to Cave One"
The Cro & Moot home, sketched in Procreate (above) and as seen in the film (below).
"Back to Cave One"

On Back to Cave One, we used Procreate extensively in pre-production, and one thing that really helped us nail the characters when drawing them was the brushes. We use Max Ulichney’s pack [Max Packs], which we think is only available on Procreate. They bring something really intuitive that almost feels like traditional drawing.

We started using his brushes almost as soon as we got our hands on Procreate. We’ve done a lot of character designs, more as personal projects we do for fun. Designing characters is probably the one thing that we enjoy the most when drawing.

"Back to Cave One"
Tac ‘or’ Treat, sketched in Procreate (above) and as seen in the film (below).
"Back to Cave One"

We also use Max Ulichney’s pack whenever we’re in a pitching process for various projects. We got pretty familiar with it, so especially in those situations where you have to be quick, it is our go-to tool. It feels like with too many brushes, we’d probably end up spending more time choosing the brush than doing the actual drawing. We’re scared enough as it is to test his latest pack!

All the art direction on Back to Cave One was done through Procreate. The tablets on our desk are getting dusty, to be honest! And during the actual 3d production, we still used it, on texturing for example. All the cave paintings have been drawn up in Procreate and then put up on the walls in cgi. We also used it to draw poses we could then share with the animation team to nail the right attitude on the characters.

"Back to Cave One"

We don’t use Procreate’s animation features. We work a lot on 3d software (like Maya), so we usually pass into that. But we’ve seen people using it and it would be fun to dive into it more.

Procreate has a lot of cool and powerful effects, but one thing we actually miss from Photoshop is the adjustment layer, where the changes you do affect all the layers under it, rather than applying it on a per-layer basis.

The references system is much better in the latest version of Procreate, but still has room to grow. It would be awesome to have all your references on the sides of your canvas. This is probably also a limitation of the Ipad’s computing power, though.