Screen Vs Screenless

I mentioned in a previous post I opted to buy a new graphics tablet: XP-Pen’s Artist 12. I also purchased their Deco 02 tablet, which was the package I had trouble with via Amazon. There is a newer version of that tablet, one they call Deco 03, but I chose Deco 02 because it uses the same pen as the Artist 12.

So, why do I need two graphics tablets? I don’t. But the reason I bought the second tablet is I wanted to try my hand at working with a screenless tablet.

I love using a graphics tablet for, well, what I feel are obvious reasons. A pen is a lot easier to handle than a mouse, less for my hand, and overall feels nicer. Regular paper and pencil still rules, but if I don’t want to use paper, I can sketch on my tablet instead.

When it comes to a screen tablet versus a screenless one, everyone has their own preference. I personally prefer screen tablets. I consider them a little easier to use than a screenless tablet, and having my drawing form on two screens at once is fun. I know some people prefer screenless because it prevents their hand from getting in the way, but I’ve not had a problem with that, so I can’t list that as an advantage.

That said, I have come to enjoy my screenless tablet just as much, and it has its own advantages for me. For starters, it’s a little less set-up. Just one wire, configure the pen settings, and I can draw right away. Thinking about it, that does make sense. I don’t want to call it a complaint because it’s really not aggravating to set up my Artist 12. Just a little less hassle with my Deco 02. That also explains why it’s so much cheaper.

I also like that I’m, to my surprise, able to draw without looking down. There is something to be said for that skill. However, this is where it’s a little harder to use than my screen tablet. I struggle to be as precise and it’s more annoying to try to get those little areas. I struggle simply to draw a curved line exactly where I want it to go. Maybe that’ll change as I use it more, but as it stands now, it’s a little bit of a nuisance. I’ll probably stick to using my Deco 02 for simpler work and use my Artist 12 for stuff that’ll be more time-consuming.

I’m happy I have both tablets. Minor gripes aside, I have fun with both of them and I don’t think I could ever (willingly) return to using a mouse. That said, if you are a mouse user for your artwork, I admire you. While my own skill counts too, I feel like I may not have had such an on-and-off feeling with art if I’d been able to get a graphics tablet back when I first started since that’s when my interest was at its highest. Better late than never, I suppose, and I was able to buy them myself instead of needing to ask for money. There’s certainly that pride to uphold!

Knock-knock, knock-offs

I haven’t had much to do with anything art-related in a long time. A constant schedule of school, work, studying, and tiredness makes that difficult. Nevertheless, I managed to squeeze a little time in to start playing on my art tablet again. It’s a year old, but still works without issue. However, to some artists, casual and professional (probably especially professional), my graphics tablet has an ongoing problem that can never be fixed:

It’s not Wacom.

Let me explain. Wacom is considered by many artists, if not most, to be the best of graphics tablets, similar to how Apple is considered superior when it comes to mobile devices. It’s to the point any tablet that isn’t Wacom is seen as a “cheap, Chinese knock-off” (never mind many American products are manufactured in China…) that isn’t worth any real artist’s time. There are some artists who go so far as to say you shouldn’t bother with digital art if you don’t have a Wacom tablet.

There are two problems with this. First of all, a tablet, no matter what brand it is, does not make someone a good artist. A graphics tablet makes artwork easier, not better. Only skill does the latter. Using a top-of-the-line tablet will not turn a beginner into an expert. Insisting someone shouldn’t bother with art because they can’t attain a Wacom tablet, or any tablet, is absolute nonsense.

Second, being a “knock-off” doesn’t automatically make a product inferior. Many artists look into alternatives to Wacom for the price (much like Apple, Wacom’s tablets are very pricy) because, simply put, some people have a tight budget and a pricy tablet isn’t high on their list of priorities. In addition to that, every technology has its flaws. I’ve found as many complaints about Wacom as I have praise for it (mostly related to their customer service and to their tablets’ drivers), and the same can be said for any other brand of, well, anything. Using Apple again as an example, google “Apple versus Android” and get some popcorn. I wonder what side you’re on when you have Apple and Android (I have an Android phone and an Apple iPad Pro with the Apple pencil). My point is going for an inexpensive alternative does not always mean you’re sacrificing quality to save money.

Going back to art tablets, when I first began to look into getting one, I was dead set on getting Wacom’s Cintiq 13HD because of how much Wacom was praised as being the best. At the time, this tablet cost $800 and I actually did go for it. However, it did not go well and twice, I had to contact Amazon for a refund due to third-party sellers (the only way you can purchase it from Amazon). After that crashed, I got some advice from a very helpful user who taught me about Wacom alternatives and had even created a detailed list of them (and the list includes Wacom). In the end, I settled on the tablet I currently own, one called Artist 10S 10.1” from XP-Pen. There is a second version of it released now, but as I said, it still works without issue and I have zero gripes with it. That said, I decided to purchase XP-Pen’s newest tablet, their Artist 12, while it’s on sale and my Artist 10S is going to my best friend when my Artist 12 arrives. I could afford a Wacom tablet, even their most expensive one (via credit cards) I linked to above, which is $3,300, but XP-Pen is cheaper, good quality, and satisfies me, so why should I switch (other than for the experience)?

Note I do not hate Wacom or fans of their products. That’s not what I take issue with. I take issue with the idea Wacom is the only good brand of tablets, or you’re not a real artist if your tablet didn’t come from Wacom. I confess to still wanting to try Wacom myself, if only for the sake of knowing if I would personally prefer it to XP-Pen (if my experience with Apple and Android is anything to go by, probably not; take a guess at my preference between those two, despite owning both). Plus, is it really a good idea to promote the concept that tools make the artist instead of the other way around?

(Side note: XP-Pen is a Japanese company, not Chinese. If it’s a knock-off, it’ll be a “cheap, Japanese knock-off”.)

Top Four Cutest: Alola Pokemon

I’ve noticed my Pokemon posts are very popular, which is a shock to me since those posts are at least three years old. Nevertheless, I stopped at Kalos because Alola, the seventh generation of Pokemon, wasn’t released yet. Unfortunately, I couldn’t fill this list even halfway to ten. I guess I’m either too picky or Alola has a few less cute pokemon than previous generations. I’ll assume I’m picky.

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Treat Others… And Yourself

A long conversation with my boyfriend this early morning gave me huge insight into something.

I enjoy writing, particularly fan fiction and my opinions (gee, what gave the latter away?), but it dawned on me less than half a day ago I’ve been writing fan fiction for twelve years – nearly half of my life!

I never put thought into it or considered it a hobby or noticed it becoming one. I don’t recall what sparked it. All I remember is I started shortly after I watched “The Little Mermaid” when it came out on DVD in 2006, when I was 12 years old. It was the first Disney movie I ever watched, and what introduced me to Disney to begin with. I don’t remember that being any sort of inspiration, but it’s closest I can think of as a reason I may have started writing.

There were other hobbies I tried to develop later on, but I failed at them, despite genuinely liking them. As it turns out, it’s not always a bad thing to be selfish.

When I wrote, it was always for myself. Even if I made it public, and I do enjoy sharing, I was still writing for my own sake. I did it when I was bored or had some random idea pop into my mind. Most of the stories I write are kept private. As a pre-teen, I kept it secret partially out of embarrassment because they weren’t good (not to suggest my more recent stories are), but being a reserved person even back then, I didn’t care for anyone to know anyway.

But when I started drawing or playing some games or learning languages, it was for other people from the start. Drawing was sparked by my then huge love of Winx Club and jealousy of others’ amazing art, and the goal was becoming skilled enough to create fan art to share with the fandom. After finding the Sims community, I played the game more and more to create stories to share with the community. I first began learning another language in second grade, but when I got older and tried to study on my own, it was for the sake of being able to communicate with other people, not because I wanted to study. And I should mention I hated writing too… when I was forced to do it.

None of those reasons are necessarily bad, especially not the last one. But the pattern there is I became miserable with those hobbies because I was doing them for other people’s sake, not my own. Yes, I truly liked them, but they reached a point of solely being done to share with other people for their enjoyment. I stopped caring about my own. Realizing that, it’s no wonder they eventually died when I tired of trying. Yet, I never tired of writing stories, nor can I remember ever feeling burned out. I once wrote eight pages in a day. In the huge world of literature, that may be amateurish at best, but for me, it was a big deal because I wasn’t trying to.

This is not restricted to hobbies either. I did poorly in a number of things, particularly school, because they were for the sake of pleasing someone else. For a while, I succeeded in school over, but after a certain age, being a people-pleaser became too exhausting to keep up and I stopped trying so hard just to hear some praise that meant nothing to me because I didn’t want to do it in the first place, nor was I getting anything valuable out of it. Yet, I’ve discovered I am good at finding friendships, as I’ve made friends even when trying to avoid it, and I am good at holding my own relationship. But I am good at those things because although they involve other people, they are still for me. My friendships and my relationship make me happy, which is why I’m rarely hesitant to and very much enjoy doing things for my friends and my boyfriend. And the reason I hold them so highly is because they care for me. What I got out of friendship is love (platonic and romantic) and happiness I didn’t find elsewhere (please forgive the cavity-inducing sweetness). And I clearly have no problem sharing my friendships with the world!

Of course, there’s such a thing as priorities and some things have to be done, no matter how dreadful they are. This is not about that. What I’m referring to are things that are optional (yes, that now includes school). The truth is I have missed those hobbies. I miss when I did draw in my sketchbook, drawing either from imagination and tips I read, or trying to recreate a specific picture. I miss when I played video games because they relieved my boredom and I was interested in continuing the game’s story, not trying to create a story from the game to upload (though I have been slowly getting back into this one). I always hated studying, but I did like to try reading books in other languages after some weeks of classwork in my language classes, and much of the time, I could. I didn’t care I couldn’t understand what it was actually about (because I couldn’t translate quickly). I just enjoyed I could read it. I once got fun out of reading an Italian dictionary when I was still taking Italian class in tenth class, and I used to play around with DuoLingo, an app for learning languages, for the fun of the games. There may be other hobbies I’ve dropped as well, but I don’t recall them.

All along, the burn out wasn’t from doing too much, but from trying to give so much. During most of my childhood, I heard how “giving to others is a gift in itself” and “it’s better to give than to receive”. Maybe there’s such a thing as too much giving. As I said, I rarely am hesitant to give to those I care most about because I also enjoy sharing. It’s much simpler than I’m making it sound. It makes more sense to go through so much effort for someone you really love instead of dozens or hundreds of strangers you’ll never meet.

My boyfriend asked me if there’s any way to reignite those former hobbies. After realizing what I did, I think there may be. If I choose to try picking one or more of them up again, I have to remember who they’re intended for: me. They’re for myself and my pleasure. If I make them public, it’s because I want to have another place for them, not because I’m after attention and recognition. I realize those can be good motivational tools for some people, but I’m clearly not one of them. For me, hobbies are much more fun when it’s my enjoyment I have at heart. Thinking only of myself is selfish, but this is not exactly hunger I’m talking about. I’m talking about pastimes. I’m positive no one’s getting hurt.

However, I don’t think I’ll ever overcome the shock of taking twelve years to discover this. I now fear for what else I may be oblivious to. Can I trade this “identity crisis” thing for some more sketchbooks?