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Thread: Artist's Tablets?

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    Now available (see sig for link)! Cliff Face's Avatar
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    Artist's Tablets?

    Okay, so I'm looking into tablets that are good for artists. (I want to teach myself to draw, and I figure, in the long run, a tablet that I can draw onto, and a program that can add colour and effects, will be cheaper than art paper and pencils and etc. having to be constantly replenished.)

    So! I read one article that seemed kind of helpful, but I have ZERO knowledge about tablets. I don't even know what the difference is between different tablets, apart from the iPad being by Apple and presumably using a completely different OS to all the others.

    Anyway, the article mentioned the iPad2 as being good for artists. Can anyone agree with that? What if I was looking at an iPad1 because it's cheaper?

    Do I need special tools to draw on them? I don't intend on using my finger, as they're kind of chunkier than a pencil would be, and I want the skills to translate over to paper (eventually). Would a stylus work, or is there a newer tool that would be better?

    What tablets can you recommend for someone on a budget? I was leaning towards the iPad for a few reasons.

    1. Even though they can be pricy, if I'm buying a tablet, I want it to be able to do everything a tablet can normally do - such as type on it, browse the Net, watch videos, play music... Essentially be a computer-on-the-go that's more lightweight than my laptop, even if it is a bit less user-friendly for something such as typing a novel.

    2. I'm curious about Apple products. I considered getting a MacBook Air when I was shopping around for laptops, but eventually got this Asus Windows 7 laptop for a bargain I couldn't pass up. The only Apple product I've ever used is an iPod Shuffle, which essentially doesn't count. I just flick a switch, and it plays music at my earholes.

    In any event, what I'm hoping for is something that I can plug into my Windows 8 desktop, see the tablet's screen on the desktop monitor, and draw to my heart's content. Which is why I'm not sure about an iPad... I take it it's not going to gel well with Windows 8.

    Can any tablets do that, though? Show the tablet image on the PC monitor? Or is that a pipe dream?

    Anyone got any recommendations? Remember - budget, but a quality item.

    Thanks in advance!
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    Alternatively, some sort of device that isn't a tablet, per se, but plugs into a desktop, is compatible with both Win7 and Win8, and is designed simply to be for artists to draw on, preferably with some sort of software included.

    If that's significantly cheaper.

    I don't precisely need a tablet if the above exists, but if I do go the tablet route, I'll want a good one that can do a lot of things, because hey, why not?
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    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister SuperModerator Medievalist's Avatar
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    Wacom is the one to look for. Look for an older smaller model to start. Probably one in the Wacom bamboo family.

    But Cliff when I still hired designers and graphic artists, even for software, I looked for those with pen/ink/paint experience, and actual life drawing classes.

    Take at least a year of figure drawing classes. Really. The digital techniques and software mimic life. If you can do it live, not digital, you'll have a giant leg up.

    Really, truly.

    You can spend much less than you think on pen/ink/paper/paint/chalk, and still buy a small tablet and stylus (and seriously, Wacom owns the market).

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    Geekzilla BigWords's Avatar
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    Rick Baker uses Photoshop on a Mac, and his work is amazing.

    It all depends on what level of detail you want, and how competent you are with the tools... (I know, not very helpful)
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    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister SuperModerator Medievalist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cliff Face View Post
    Can any tablets do that, though? Show the tablet image on the PC monitor? Or is that a pipe dream?

    Anyone got any recommendations? Remember - budget, but a quality item.

    Thanks in advance!
    You're thinking tablet as in iPad, but really, think Tablet as in Graphic Tablet.

    Yes, there are a couple of ways to show an iPad screen on a PC/Mac display. Not sure if either app has been updated for Windows 8.

    But while there are some interesting drawing applications for the iPad (see the Bamboo Stylus for iPad, and the Paper app, among others) right now, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Wacom really and truly can do things you can't on any tablet/ipad/etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Medievalist View Post
    Wacom is the one to look for. Look for an older smaller model to start. Probably one in the Wacom bamboo family.
    Wacom, got it.

    But Cliff when I still hired designers and graphic artists, even for software, I looked for those with pen/ink/paint experience, and actual life drawing classes.

    Take at least a year of figure drawing classes. Really. The digital techniques and software mimic life. If you can do it live, not digital, you'll have a giant leg up.

    Really, truly.
    I would love to take some drawing classes, such as life art, but at this point I can barely do anything with a pencil. It'd seem (to me at least) that I'd be spending decent amounts of money to take those classes when I don't feel I'm ready yet.

    However, this isn't intended to be a money-making venture. It's just something I want to learn how to do.

    You can spend much less than you think on pen/ink/paper/paint/chalk, and still buy a small tablet and stylus (and seriously, Wacom owns the market).
    Mmm, but I think while I'm learning, it'll be somewhat cheaper to use a tablet (Wacom it seems) for what will no doubt turn out to be dozens, if not hundreds of drawings before I'm decent at it, than to spend that much on art supplies.

    And in the end, I do want to be able to do digital art, so I'd have to buy a Tablet at some point anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by BigWords View Post
    Rick Baker uses Photoshop on a Mac, and his work is amazing.

    It all depends on what level of detail you want, and how competent you are with the tools... (I know, not very helpful)
    Well, as I said above, this isn't for work - it's just for fun. I'm sure I'll get competent eventually, and as for level of detail... That, I hope, will continually improve. I want to be able to get some of the images in my head out into the world. Some of them are vague, some are very detailed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Medievalist View Post
    You're thinking tablet as in iPad, but really, think Tablet as in Graphic Tablet.

    Yes, there are a couple of ways to show an iPad screen on a PC/Mac display. Not sure if either app has been updated for Windows 8.
    Gotcha.

    But while there are some interesting drawing applications for the iPad (see the Bamboo Stylus for iPad, and the Paper app, among others) right now, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Wacom really and truly can do things you can't on any tablet/ipad/etc.
    So I just have 1 more question.

    Does the Wacom come with any image software? It might be cheaper than a regular tablet, especially if I get the small size, but if I have to add software on top of the price, it might be pushing my budget a bit thin.
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    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cliff Face View Post
    Wacom, got it.

    I would love to take some drawing classes, such as life art, but at this point I can barely do anything with a pencil. It'd seem (to me at least) that I'd be spending decent amounts of money to take those classes when I don't feel I'm ready yet.
    Keep in mind that a tablet counts as an entirely different media to the traditional ones. A good traditional knowledge will feed into your digital art skills, but it will still take a lot of practice to adapt to the digital pen and software.

    Seconding the recommendation for a cheap and cheerful Wacom Bamboo (US link here). It seems to come with the software 'Artrage'. Haven't used it so I can't comment on it., but the US version also comes with Autodesk and their software's a lot of fun for tablet users.

    Paint Tool SAI has about a month's free trial and some good features. Be careful though, once the trial is up it will stop you saving any new files.

    iPad-style tablets aren't anywhere near as useful as a pen tablet for digital art.
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    The Crazy Man in the Sun. Feel me. WillSauger's Avatar
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    Yes, get a graphic tablet. Aside for highly expensive graphic tablets that have screens, tablets or touch screen laptops aren't very accurate (they might be good for fingerpainting, but nothing refined).

    They is also a very big difference in drawing on paper vs the graphic tablet, and mostly that you're not drawing on a surface, but broadcasting actions onto one. It takes some time, but after a while you work it out.

    Wacom is loved in this field. But I went a bit cheaper and got a Monoprice graphic tablet. I got the 10" one on sale, but I've found I don't need all the space. If you're curious of drawing on one and don't want to spend the big bucks right off the start, get the 5.5" one and see how it goes (I do think that's all the room someone needs).

    There's a lot of drawing programs, the most basic (and most complicated IMO) is Photoshop. Other than the free trials for the other painting and drawing programs, you can grab Gimp, which is freeware.

    And you don't need a Mac to do anything special nowadays. (in the past, Mac had a lot of artistic software, but now, everyone has migrated to windows and even to linux/GNU, so there's no need to switch)
    Last edited by WillSauger; 01-09-2013 at 05:55 PM.
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    Geekzilla BigWords's Avatar
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    Y'know, the money thing alone - if it is "what is cheaper" that is driving the need to have a tablet - doesn't add up for me...

    The board I use was around a hundred pounds when I bought it, but everything else is relatively cheap. I use A2 sheets, which come in at about £1 per sheet, the bottles of ink are £2.50 (and they do last a while), packs of 6 pastels are about £4, charcoal is... I think somewhere in the region of £3 for a lot of varying sizes and lengths (the box may look small, but there are a lot of sticks in it), and the pencils I use start at about £8.

    For someone who is starting out, maybe jumping straight to digital art isn't the best idea...
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    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigWords View Post
    Y'know, the money thing alone - if it is "what is cheaper" that is driving the need to have a tablet - doesn't add up for me...

    The board I use was around a hundred pounds when I bought it, but everything else is relatively cheap. I use A2 sheets, which come in at about £1 per sheet, the bottles of ink are £2.50 (and they do last a while), packs of 6 pastels are about £4, charcoal is... I think somewhere in the region of £3 for a lot of varying sizes and lengths (the box may look small, but there are a lot of sticks in it), and the pencils I use start at about £8.

    For someone who is starting out, maybe jumping straight to digital art isn't the best idea...
    So I feel a bit nervous about disagreeing, given that I'd hardly even call myself a doodler, but...

    Speaking personally, traditional media can be both expensive and nerve-wracking. Say I wanted to try painting with gouache, I'd have to get suitable colours, possibly a few new brushes, and the right canvas/bristol board for it (I think gouache users use canvas/bristol board? Maybe?). Then I'd have to hope I don't make a horrible mess of my first few attempts.

    If I want to try painting with a gouache-like brush digitally, I just change a few settings over and get to it. I can undo if I screw up. I can switch back to an inking or watercolours if I want something more familiar. And I don't have to pay anything more than the £40 I paid to get my tablet years ago.

    I love traditional media and do a lot of sketching and inking traditionally but for experimenting with new tools, learning colour theory and figuring out shading, working digitally has been a nice and easy way to do it.

    (Plus, two lifesavers for me -- digital media doesn't smudge (I hold a pencil oddly and a lot of sketches get ruined by it) and digital line-smoothing technology helps cover for my shaky hands.)
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    I have to agree and disagree with you both.

    It'll be like writing and choosing between either longhand or buying a keyboard and typing it out (not knowing how to type beforehand).
    You're learn the same techniques doing both, but one (keyboard/tablet) you have to work a bit harder to learn the nontraditional input.

    Still, a sketchbook and pencils wouldn't be bad nor expensive to keep around.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EMaree View Post
    Say I wanted to try painting with gouache, I'd have to get suitable colours, possibly a few new brushes, and the right canvas/bristol board for it (I think gouache users use canvas/bristol board? Maybe?). Then I'd have to hope I don't make a horrible mess of my first few attempts.
    Yep. Bristol board is expensive, and the colors can amount to a fair bit if you go wild and get them all at once. Thing is - I don't know anyone who has gone out and bought all the colors they could ever need in one go...

    Quote Originally Posted by EMaree View Post
    If I want to try painting with a gouache-like brush digitally, I just change a few settings over and get to it. I can undo if I screw up. I can switch back to an inking or watercolours if I want something more familiar. And I don't have to pay anything more than the £40 I paid to get my tablet years ago.
    It may just be me who finds it easier to work with the paints rather than tablets... Also, there are some things which I have never been able to replicate digitally - this may be due to impatience, but I like seeing the immediate results. *shrugs*

    Quote Originally Posted by EMaree View Post
    (Plus, two lifesavers for me -- digital media doesn't smudge (I hold a pencil oddly and a lot of sketches get ruined by it) and digital line-smoothing technology helps cover for my shaky hands.)
    I scan all of my work, then tweak it in Photoshop anyways.

    Quote Originally Posted by WillSauger View Post
    It'll be like writing and choosing between either longhand or buying a keyboard and typing it out (not knowing how to type beforehand).
    You're learn the same techniques doing both, but one (keyboard/tablet) you have to work a bit harder to learn the nontraditional input.
    With this I'm immediately thinking of how different I write when I am writing longhand... There are certainly benefits to both methods (digital and traditional), but a solid foundation in the mechanics would surely make moving to digital later easier.

    Quote Originally Posted by WillSauger View Post
    Still, a sketchbook and pencils wouldn't be bad nor expensive to keep around.
    This^ The Daler sketchpads are perfect for quick roughs, and soft pencils are cheap enough to get plenty of.
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    Sophipygian AW Moderator Alessandra Kelley's Avatar
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    I do find it easier to work with physical media than tablets, but tablets are fun for a lot of digital effects. You absolutely need a stylus; finger control is haphazard at best and if you are like me it will drive you batty. My experiences with Wacom tablets are pretty good.

    One of the benefits of drawing in physical media is that you still have the drawings. Working on a tablet, the images are stored on computer. Working on paper, you can spread the images out in front of you, touch them and see where they work and what you learned.

    Gouache is, well, tricky. Frankly, every painting medium is almost like learning a whole new art, digital painting included. But they are all of them easier if you already know how to draw. Drawing can be ported from medium to medium, and is universal enough and important enough that it really should be practiced no matter what medium you take up. Painting is more varied and more difficult.

    Another virtue of physical drawing is that you can carry a little sketchbook and pencil in your pocket and draw anything, anywhere, when you see it or when the inspiration hits you. No batteries required.

    Tablets are fun, but the integration of a little physical media will help accelerate your learning curve.

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    waxing digital artistic Gale Haut's Avatar
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    My recommendation is a newer model of Wacom. You could probably handle a medium or a small wired model. They aren't that expensive and the tilt and pressure sensitivity is the closest thing you can find to pencil on paper except for the real thing. The tablet should also come with a painting software unless you purchase used.

    I started out on paper a long time ago, and now that I'm reflexing old muscles I've completely transitioned to only working on my tablet and Mac. But I have come into contact with amazing digital artists through DeviantArt, who have learned everything on their tablets.

    My thought is that if you are already motivated to do everything on a tablet, then go for it. You can take art classes online and learn various skills through video tutorials that are found free all over the internet.

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    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister SuperModerator Medievalist's Avatar
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    Not too long ago, I bought the Very Large high end Wacom tablet for the artists in the production crew. They had all wanted it, and management finally ok'd it.

    But then a year later, they'd all gone back to the smaller sized "entry level" size, though they still preferred the high end version.

    There was one exception; the artist who did all the technical documentation graphics for patents etc. She preferred the Very Large tablet.

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    I have a Wacom Intuos. However, I do artwork on the side so I wanted a bigger badder model. For just starting out, I'll have to agree with those who suggested the bamboo model. Of course, if you want to spend the money....

    Drawing on a pad that shows nothing and having to look at the screen took me a bit to get used to but it's not bad at all. It works with any program and is a blast to play with.

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    Abuses commas at will. milkweed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EMaree View Post
    So I feel a bit nervous about disagreeing, given that I'd hardly even call myself a doodler, but...

    Speaking personally, traditional media can be both expensive and nerve-wracking. Say I wanted to try painting with gouache, I'd have to get suitable colours, possibly a few new brushes, and the right canvas/bristol board for it (I think gouache users use canvas/bristol board? Maybe?). Then I'd have to hope I don't make a horrible mess of my first few attempts.

    If I want to try painting with a gouache-like brush digitally, I just change a few settings over and get to it. I can undo if I screw up. I can switch back to an inking or watercolours if I want something more familiar. And I don't have to pay anything more than the £40 I paid to get my tablet years ago.

    I love traditional media and do a lot of sketching and inking traditionally but for experimenting with new tools, learning colour theory and figuring out shading, working digitally has been a nice and easy way to do it.

    (Plus, two lifesavers for me -- digital media doesn't smudge (I hold a pencil oddly and a lot of sketches get ruined by it) and digital line-smoothing technology helps cover for my shaky hands.)
    I paint with gouache and on a regular basis, I use watercolor paper that comes in tablets and buy when on sale. As for smudging when drawing etc., put down a cover sheet under that part of your hand that is dragging or get one of those sticks that keeps your hand elevated off of the substrated.

    As for drawing by hand versus by computer there is no comparision they are not even in the same state let alone the same park.

    Learning to draw by hand will teach you how to see things, if you have a decent enough teacher, that you'll never notice when drawing electronically. Drawing and painting isn't so much about lines as it is seeing blocks of color, shadow, texture, pattern, etc., that makes the object three dimensional. One of the first mistakes made, when learning to draw, is to draw only the lines, which leads to frustration and the artist eventually giving up if they don't have someone to show them how to see.

    I imagine that there is an equal comparison here when it comes to learning how to write.

    As for being able to draw due to hand issues, you can get a strap for your hand in which you can attach a pencil, those carpenter pencils come in the same lead hardness/softness as regular drawing pencils. Check out the artist Chuck Close to see how he draws and paints.

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    waxing digital artistic Gale Haut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Medievalist View Post
    Not too long ago, I bought the Very Large high end Wacom tablet for the artists in the production crew. They had all wanted it, and management finally ok'd it.

    But then a year later, they'd all gone back to the smaller sized "entry level" size, though they still preferred the high end version.

    There was one exception; the artist who did all the technical documentation graphics for patents etc. She preferred the Very Large tablet.
    I don't really think the size of the tablet is an important enough investment. I find myself focusing on small areas of my medium tablet, and I'm sure I would be perfectly content with a small one. It's hard to understand why that is until you've had experience panning the screen with one, and to be fair everyone's process is different.

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    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister SuperModerator Medievalist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by milkweed View Post
    Learning to draw by hand will teach you how to see things, if you have a decent enough teacher, that you'll never notice when drawing electronically. Drawing and painting isn't so much about lines as it is seeing blocks of color, shadow, texture, pattern, etc., that makes the object three dimensional. One of the first mistakes made, when learning to draw, is to draw only the lines, which leads to frustration and the artist eventually giving up if they don't have someone to show them how to see.
    I think life drawing and learning to sketch especially makes a difference in terms of light effects/shadows, perspective, and understanding how to not end up in the uncanny valley wrt digital characters.

    One of the things I used to ask prospective artists to do was to freehand draw a crumpled up paper I crumpled for the occasion.

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    Abuses commas at will. milkweed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Medievalist View Post
    I think life drawing and learning to sketch especially makes a difference in terms of light effects/shadows, perspective, and understanding how to not end up in the uncanny valley wrt digital characters.

    One of the things I used to ask prospective artists to do was to freehand draw a crumpled up paper I crumpled for the occasion.
    I'm starting to wonder if you're my drawing prof from way back when! Not only would she have us draw on a crumpled piece of paper but she have us draw with the other hand as well. I found it to not only be very freeing but I discovered I draw, and now paint, better with my left hand than I ever did with my right hand. It's those types of exercises that makes one learn who one is deep down inside as an artist/writer.

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    Now available (see sig for link)! Cliff Face's Avatar
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    Wow, okay, lots of responses overnight...

    I'm still more inclined to try digital art than I am to work on paper. There's been some discussion over expenses, such as "Nobody would buy every available colour straight away." But I'd like to be prepared. Software will have an astounding number of colours that never run out. Like I've said, I think that in the long run it's the cheaper option.

    As for classes... At this point, I'd rely on places like youtube. I'm not in any rush to learn to be an expert. If it takes me several years to even create one image that I'm happy with, that's fine by me.

    Anyway, thanks for all the replies. I'm going to look into the Wacom lines a bit more when I have some free time.
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  22. #22
    Outline Maven Tirjasdyn's Avatar
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    I have used Wacom for years. Drawing on a tablet is very different from drawing on paper.

    Having said that, two years ago I bought my first Tablet PC. I won't go back to a regular wacom tablet now.

    By tablet pc, I mean a convertible laptop which has a pressure sensitive stylus. Tablet Pcs that are comparable (or have screen made by) to Wacom are very pricey. However the higher end tablets with Windows 8 coming out now from makers like Kupa and Gigabyte have pressure sensitivity comparable to the Wacom Cintiq monitor/tablets.

    I've had larger tablets in the past, but my 12 inc tablet pc made a big difference and replicates drawing on paper, and painting on canvas in ways a regular tablet cannot. Having said that, you'll still want to use pencil and sketchbook around.

    There is a lower cost option. The Nintendo DS and 3DS both have art games that teach basic drawing and painting. The UDraw for the Wii has tutorials to follow on lighting, colors, basic drawing etc. As educational games go, I'm fairly impressed by them.
    Last edited by Tirjasdyn; 01-10-2013 at 05:06 AM. Reason: Had a thought
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    I used to be amused by Utopians. With life experience, I have grown to fear them. The great failing of Utopians is that they can never accept that someone else might not want to
    be a part of their utopian vision. Like ill-mannered tourists, they assume that if you don't agree with them, it must be because they're not explaining it simply enough, or often enough, or loudly enough, or ultimately, because you're stupid. Utopians always think achieving Utopia is simply a matter of education—and then re-education—and then coercion, legislation, litigation medication conditioning threats book-burnings eugenics surgical modifications hunting down the counter-revolutionaries killing the reactionaries genetic engineering—and ultimately all Utopians, no matter how nobly they begin, always end up at the same conclusion: that the only thing that keeps Man from building a secular heaven here on Earth is the nature of Man, therefore we must build a New and Better Man.


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  23. #23
    Outline Maven Tirjasdyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cliff Face View Post
    In any event, what I'm hoping for is something that I can plug into my Windows 8 desktop, see the tablet's screen on the desktop monitor, and draw to my heart's content. Which is why I'm not sure about an iPad... I take it it's not going to gel well with Windows 8.

    Can any tablets do that, though? Show the tablet image on the PC monitor? Or is that a pipe dream?
    Wacom Cintiqs.

    Ipads, even 2s are not very good for drawing. The stylus are unwieldly, and frankly there isn't any pressure sensitivity to even cough at that comes close to even a non-wacom tablet.

    However. If you get a high end win 8 tablet such as a kupa...you already have a pressure sensitive tablet comparable to a wacom. And you don't need to connect and extra drawing tablet.

    As for software. Adobe Photoshop Essentials, Alias Sketchbook, and Artrage are all lower cost options. Many illustrators and comic artists I know are hooked on Paint Tool SAI. The new Manga Studio is more of a painting app than an inking app. These are a bit lower cost options to Photoshop or Painter.
    Tirjasdyn
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    I used to be amused by Utopians. With life experience, I have grown to fear them. The great failing of Utopians is that they can never accept that someone else might not want to
    be a part of their utopian vision. Like ill-mannered tourists, they assume that if you don't agree with them, it must be because they're not explaining it simply enough, or often enough, or loudly enough, or ultimately, because you're stupid. Utopians always think achieving Utopia is simply a matter of education—and then re-education—and then coercion, legislation, litigation medication conditioning threats book-burnings eugenics surgical modifications hunting down the counter-revolutionaries killing the reactionaries genetic engineering—and ultimately all Utopians, no matter how nobly they begin, always end up at the same conclusion: that the only thing that keeps Man from building a secular heaven here on Earth is the nature of Man, therefore we must build a New and Better Man.


    --The Ranting Room



    Insurance is a bet that only the insurance company can win.

  24. #24
    Now available (see sig for link)! Cliff Face's Avatar
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    Thanks Tir, I wasn't sure about software, but now I have some names to look into.

    As for the DS or 3DS or Wii games... I only own a Wii out of that lot, and I keep having problems with my main controller remote. As in, they last for about 6 months, and then just stop working, no matter what I do.

    And the thing is, I don't intend to use those gaming systems for any actual gaming, so they would only be a temporary solution to learning to draw - because once I outgrow those games, I won't use the system, and because I'd still need to buy a Wacom or somesuch, well, it might be a bit more money up front, but the Wacom is what I'd go with out of those options.
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  25. #25
    I draw comics, lots of comics. Sharii's Avatar
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    I'd start with SAI paint tool or Sketchbook pro if I were you. They're mainly for painting/drawing without other tools to distract you like Photoshop or Manga Studio. Painter essential is also good in that regard, except for the fact that it hogs RAM like there's no tomorrow. Especially when compared to SAI.

    tl;dr Sketchbook pro + Bamboo is a good start.

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