Uses This

Interview

What do people use to get stuff done?

Dominik Johann

Dominik Johann

Designer and illustrator, Crows Crows Crows

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hi, I'm Dom, a graphic designer and illustrator based in Germany. I'm the art director and a co-founder of Crows Crows Crows. We've made games like Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, And The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist, and Accounting for Virtual Reality. Right now I'm also working on the monochrome Zelda-like Minit. I'm into old cartoons, plants, and music.

What hardware do you use?

Most of my digital art is done on a 13" MacBook Pro. I've got the one with the weird touch bar and it's been glitching out on me a lot, to the point where I can't turn off the keyboard light sometimes.

I draw on a Cintiq screen (which I'd recommend over conventional tablets because it feels a lot more precise and immediate), but at home I've got a big Thunderbolt-knockoff Dell display. There's a little button connected to a cable connected to a hub that switches from my Mac to a PC. That one's used for Real Gaming, or when I bolt virtual reality headsets to my face.

Sometimes I do music and voice work, so I've got a Rode NT1-A microphone hooked up to a bright red Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface. Both are pretty affordable and make voices sound nice. My headphones are Beyerdynamic DT-770, huge but lovely and comfortable.

Sketches, notes and ideas go into a small Leuchtturm1917 book with dotted pages. I can't really deal with pencils so I use Staedler pigment liners exclusively. The 0.2 mm version works perfectly for me.

And what software?

Most of my time is spent in Photoshop CC, a heavy duty tool for almost everything I do in 2D. The animation engine is terrible and unreliable, so I've been trying out Aseprite for pixel art and animation. Illustrator is great for vector things but I recently switched to Affinity Designer, pretty good so far!

My team works in the Unity game engine, which I'm using in combination with Substance Designer for node-based textures and materials. I love to prototype story ideas in Twine, a free little tool for interactive fiction.

There's Ableton Live for music composition and sound design, or when I need a five minute break to just mess around with little loops. Web and application design happens in Sketch, which gets really really good if you use Sketch Toolbox and its plugins!

The more boring ones: odrive to manage my synced Dropbox and Google Drive files (AKA most things on my computers). Sublime Text for code and quick notes. Discord - The Chat for Gamers - for team communication, Asana for planning and productivity, Tower for version control.

On my iPhone, I use Tweetbot and Headspace to adjust my level of calm. And since most of my work is visual I listen to lots of podcasts with Overcast on the side.

What would be your dream setup?

Most days I dream of this: a standing desk, a neutral room with a smooth concrete floor, flooded with natural light, in an office with friends and collaborators doing the same sort of things I do. But I've been travelling a lot and I just wish your typical digital art setup could be more mobile, disconnected from any specific work space. No tower PC rig, laptops only, and I'd love to draw on the go, outside in the grass, maybe on an iPad? There should be lots of cool flora and bird ambience, and a cabin for cooking, music and contemplation.

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