Thursday, January 31, 2019

Frozen hearts + Etsy update

Can you believe, I drew something that isn't Wicked?! Don't worry, it won't last, I'm already working on two more Wicked illustrations, but I wanted to share this Frozen drawing that I doodled while watching the movie. I'm really into Frozen at the moment, it's been my favourite Disney film for years but the Broadway show has helped it grab my interest all over again and I'm going through that phase. Hans and Elsa are my favourite characters, and as messed up as it is I do kind of ship it (only not kind of, I ship it a lot, but people can get pissy about that kind of thing so I mostly keep it to myself). This is more of a "I wonder what they'd look like in my style" than a proper illustration, but I'm really pleased with it and want to make some proper Frozen art at some point!

Also I've opened my Etsy store!🎉 I only have two items on there right now, a set of postcards and a set of stickers both based around my Wicked character illustrations, but I figured I may as well just get it open and let more and more items trickle in to my inventory otherwise I'll always have excuses not to open it!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Cintiq vs iPad Pro

I said goodbye to my Wacom Cintiq this week, which actually makes me really sad!

It was around two years ago that I decided that I wanted to start getting into digital art, and I knew that the first step was to upgrade my drawing tablet. At that point I only owned an 11 year old Wacom Graphire 4 which no longer worked on my OS as the drivers were so outdated, and I'd never gotten along with it when it had worked. I believe it was the precursor to the Bamboo as it was the cheapest tablet Wacom sold at the time, and I could never get used to looking at the computer screen whilst my hand drew elsewhere so it ended up just being used for cleaning up scans of traditional work.

I was always fascinated by Cintiqs ever since I first heard of them, and when I enrolled into art school it was one of the first things I checked for in resources. They had an old 12XW model which I was so excited to borrow that I never even realised I needed a HDMI port which my laptop at the time didn't have! Gutted! However when I did manage to get it working, I loved how natural it made drawing on the computer feel as there was almost no learning curve like there had been with my Graphire.

By the time I was at a point that I could afford my own display tablet, the iPad Pro was coming more and more to the fore which threw me into a bit of a quandary. Initially I wasn't keen on getting an iPad as I own an iPhone, and an iPad just felt like a larger version of that. Plus I'd used a Cintiq and knew I liked it. However what I wasn't keen on with the Cintiq was how long it took to set up, all of the wires required, and the fact that it didn't offer any portability. After A LOT of research on both tablets (unfortunately there weren't any comparison reviews back then) I went for the iPad Pro mostly for the portability aspect. I loved the thought of being able to take it anywhere without being wired up to my laptop, I envisioned it as being like a digital sketchbook. However it didn't take me long before I felt I'd made a mistake, and that I should of gotten the Cintiq after all.

When I first got my iPad Pro I honestly hated drawing on it. A large part was due to the glass screen, which probably sounds trivial but it means the tip of the Apple Pencil has nothing to grip so there's no friction. It just glides around the ultra smooth surface, making it difficult to have the same level of control and precision that I have drawing traditionally. I also couldn't get to grips with Procreate, the biggest art program for the iPad. It frustrated me as I was on a learning curve with digital art anyway, so to also have zero familiarity with the program I was using left me ultra lost and I craved the comfort of Photoshop that I knew so well. Also little things began to bug me, like the fact that I felt like I was constantly transferring files between my PC and my iPad. I ended up mostly using it to watch YouTube whilst the Apple Pencil collected dust, and six months later I bought a secondhand Cintiq 13HD on eBay.

I loved the Cintiq immediately, and did use it quite a bit in my final year of art school. I bought a 15" laptop sleeve to carry it about in, but my back soon grew weary from carrying both the Cintiq and my laptop around every single day. I didn't have the space to have the Cintiq set up on my desk constantly, and getting it all out and putting it all away again felt like a real hassle - especially as the Wacom drivers usually crashed and needed to be restarted almost every time, or the pen pressure sensitivity would randomly cut out, so it would take me a while to get everything set up before I could even draw anything. Obviously the biggest positive to the Cintiq was the fact that it still allowed me to use Photoshop, the program I'd been using for 15 years and was used to, as well as having all of the files on my computer right at my finger tips so it really complimented my work flow. But the lack of portability and huge set up meant that I wasn't using it, and so owning it hadn't made me want to experiment with digital art like I had hoped it would.

Last year I heard of PaperLike, a screen protector for an iPad that feels like drawing on paper, and although it was pricey I bought it immediately. My iPad already felt like a waste of money by then that I was considering selling, and I was skeptical about how much difference a screen protector would make, but decided to make one last ditch attempt at getting along with it. Thankfully PaperLike was true to it's promise, it literally makes it feel like I'm drawing on paper and it's made my iPad feel more comfortable to my traditionally trained mind. The only draw back to the Paperlike is that it does stop the screen from being quite as crystal clear as it is without. It doesn't obscure anything so it's fine for drawing, but when I do just want to curl up with YouTube it can be slightly annoying. Although expensive, it's worth every penny to my mind as it's taken my iPad to being a fully functioning piece of art kit that I wouldn't be without now.

After I'd gotten the screen issue sorted out, it took me a really long time to actually sit down and force myself to learn Procreate, mostly as I had art block and wasn't motivated to draw anything. But as soon as I had drawn a couple of pieces I was well on my way and pleasantly surprised with how much Procreate can do. Now I know what brushes I enjoy and which shortcuts to use, drawing on my iPad feels as natural as drawing in my sketchbook, and I'm actually starting to feel really passionately about digital art and the limitations it removes from my process.

Also, just like I'd hoped when I originally bought it, I love the portability of the iPad. It's even more portable than my sketchbook as it's much slimmer and I only need the one pencil to have a full range of art supplies in every colour imaginable. I have the 9.5" model which is perfect for me as it's slightly larger than A5 which is the size I most frequently work in, and obviously it keeps it portable as a larger iPad wouldn't fit in my everyday bag. I feel large screens are only really necessary for Cintiq's as you are restrained by Photoshop's frames and toolbars which need to be large enough to be able to access. Procreate is so much more intuitive and allows me to use the full screen so it's not an issue. I also love the fact that I can't ever lose work on my iPad as Procreate saves my progress automatically - I can't tell you how many times I've cried real tears because I forgot to save something in Photoshop and lost hours of work when it crashed. The iPad has quickly become my preferred drawing method, even over traditional art right now. Really now the only drawback I have with it is the fact that I can only draw for as long as the battery will last, which isn't the end of the world, just a slight annoyance.

I obviously couldn't justify keeping my Cintiq as well, plus I'm saving up for a big trip this year, so this week I sold it on and said goodbye. Like I said, I am sad to see it go, as despite how much faffing about it took to set up I did really love using it. I just hope I don't come to regret it now! 😬
© a soot sprite. Design by FCD.