Digital versus analog

Having this depot of two-wheeled inspiration is extremely helpful for pointing you in the right direction, but it won’t carry you across the finish line alone. To produce a motorcycle that fits your unique desires, donor bike, skill level, and wallet, you’ll need to sketch your own design.

In doing so, you’ll create a solid vision that will keep you grounded with every decision you make during your project. That way, every choice will be in service of that end goal. Conversely, if you simply do whatever sounds cool on any given day (ape hangers on Monday, rear sets on Friday), you’ll end up with a Frankenbike that isn’t cohesive, intentional—or perhaps even rideable.

The two ways you can go about this are analog and digital drawing. Analog tools, like pen and paper, are a cheap and accessible option that anyone can start using immediately. You don’t need much to get started either. All you need is a pen, paper, and your ideas—that’s it.

However, that is not to say expensive art supplies won’t help down the line once you’ve acquired the skills to wield them. Once you’re on your second or third build, you might see the value in quality colored-pencils, design markers with precision tips, and tracing paper.

Digital drawing is exactly what it sounds like—using a digital device and software to create imagery. In the past, this medium was out of reach for many builders due to the specialized equipment it required. Now, the explosion of mobile devices and design apps has made it widely available to the masses. Whether it’s a tablet, a touch-screen laptop, or even a large mobile phone, you likely have a device that will work for digital drawing.

If you don’t have a tablet kicking around, digital drawing still isn’t out of reach. Companies like Wacom offer digital design tablets for reasonable prices. In place of a screen, they feature a rectangular drawing surface that maps to the screen of any desktop PC. Wherever you draw within that space using the included stylus is where the line will appear on screen.

There are many advantages to digital drawing.

  • It is more versatile and forgiving, allowing builders to design with layers while eliminating the need for tracing paper, instantly undo mistakes, avoid making a mess, and can pick virtually any color without having to buy individual markers. 
  • Furthermore, you’ll be able to produce a more refined image and choose from myriad digital brush sets that imitate physical mediums like pencil, marker, charcoal, paint, and more. All of this makes digital drawing excellent for producing a crisp, detailed image towards the end of the design process.

Analog drawing, then, is for early concept generation and rapidly exploring ideas in bulk. It’s a quick and dirty way to get your ideas on paper. It pays to always use pen, too. Without the ability to erase, you are less likely to succumb to the temptation to make every stroke perfect. Instead, you are encouraged to embrace “mistakes” and let your creativity flow uninterrupted. Who knows? You might prefer that extra bulge in your fuel tank after the pen got squirrely on you.

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