Saturday, 16 March 2019

An Essential Tool of my Art

An Essential Tool of My Art


I've been drawing for many years, and while I ventured out with traditional media, I decided to explore other avenues as I grew more confident. So I drifted away from paper and pencil toward digital media, namely Photoshop (my interest in anime and gaming might have helped steer my nose this way!).

Arguably I'd now say the most important tool I use for this is my Wacom graphics tablet. I started using these in 2006 (back before there were multiple kinds of tablet) when I saw one at my local John Lewis store. That was a small Graphire 2 tablet (which I still have, and it still works, alas the nib has seen better days), and I was super excited to try it out.


Mine is rather more worn out than this photo, but this is the same model!

Of course, whenever you start using a new toy, it takes a ways to get used to, and when I started I still had to trace over scanned paper sketches. My colouring was pretty basic, too, but that was more my inexperience.


One of my earlier fanarts, a tracing of a sketch, this is Luke and Tear from the PS2 game Tales of the Abyss

My mum also found me a Trust tablet of similar size one day in Aldi, which I did use on occasional, but while it had a much sturdier nib, the pressure sensitivity wasn't as good, so that soon went into storage.


Starting to form a collection now...

After a few years using my Graphire, however, I started to feel constricted by the small dimensions, as it was difficult to make longer lines or trace bigger picture. So my next investment was a Medium Bamboo Tablet, which I got from Amazon.


It's so shiiiiny!

I remember finding it hard to decide which tablet to get, as my Graphire 2 came with a wireless mouse (which after the Graphire line ended was no longer the case with any graphic tablet), so in the end I opted for a bigger tablet and to use a mouse separately. My Bamboo was much sleeker and larger, and it was on here I gained the confidence to draw directly into Photoshop. It also came with Photoshop Elements, which I still use to colour to this day. This was my first attempt without tracing a pre-done sketch on paper:


More fanart, this time Sothe and Micaiah from the Wii game Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn

So began a transition phase where I graduated off pencil and paper and started to do all my art digitally (and did my part to save many trees in the process, of course). It does take some getting used to, as you're drawing on one surface and looking at a separate screen, but it is definitely feasible, so if you're new to using drawing tablets don't give up!

Alas, my wonderful Bamboo abruptly stopped working one day when I finished this picture:



Shock horror another fanart, this time Leliana from the PS3 game series Dragon Age


...which was somewhat ironic as a few days before I had been casually browsing for draw-screen tablets. I'd seen many professional artists use them and it was tempting to be able to 'draw exactly' rather than make corrections from looking at another screen. Thus, excited I had an actual excuse to splurge, I decided to dive in and I bought the Huion GT 220.


Well it looked attractive...

Alas, tragedy struck, as to my utter and complete dismay, this didn't work. Despite uninstalling my old tablet drivers, downloading the most up to date ones from Huion, and even formatting my entire PC and reinstalling everything, the pressure sensitivity just didn't work, which is so very crucial to digital painting. I spent hours and hours trying everything I knew, but eventually I had to give up.

And so with my faith shattered, I returned the tablet, and got a full refund. Huion were very good customer-relations wise, and accepted that I preferred a refund rather than a replacement. Now I don't know if it was just the tablet I received that had a fault, but this experience has left me reluctant to try other screen-tablets (they are quite a bit pricier than the pad tablets after all), but I might give it another go someday.

So, after almost a month without any means to do any digital art, I jumped back to Amazon and bought my current tool of the trade, my Wacom Intuos.


My beloved Intuos!

This has proved a good choice, though I only wish it came with more nibs and that the pen wasn't so light-weight as it can feel a bit brittle to draw with. Regardless, it's given me results I'm very happy with, and so shall it be used until it meets the fate of my Bamboo, or if I get the courage to try screen tablets again.

So, to any artists out there, what are your tools of the trade? Do you like jumping between different media or sticking to just the one? I'd love to know!