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”.)

Break It Down

I’ve got an art problem and it starts with “impatience”.

It’s much more fun look at your own than make it. At least, that’s how I feel when things start taking longer than I’d like. For the most part, I can reasonably assume how long something will take to finish because I’ve done it before. If it’s more than a day, the idea doesn’t leave my head. And I hate that.

The reason that happens is if something goes on for too long, I get bored of it, especially if I’m been working on it for several hours in a row. The longest I’ve ever worked on something was 14 hours and I still wasn’t finished. It’s not too hard to see why I didn’t want to open an art program again for a while.

I asked for advice on DeivantArt’s forum and I got two ideas I found useful. One was to take some time to make a bunch of rough drafts and sketches. It’s still practice and it’s hard to really get bored when they take about a half hour at most. That was a good idea to me because I do sketching. Can make everything messy and clean it up later. Besides, who says they all have to make it off the page? Some of my drawings never leave the sketchbook, which is probably good because some of them are really bad ideas.

The other idea was breaking down the process into smaller goals to achieve for the day instead of worrying about finishing the whole thing at once and getting it all done as soon as possible. Unless I don’t want to digitize it, my drawing process usually goes in this order: pencil sketch, transfer, outline, details, color, shade, background, sign and watermark, upload. Done. Depending on the size of what I’m trying to make, that can be a very long process, and it never looks like it took as long as it did. Something I spent three weeks on will often look like it only took half a day.

I feel like doing so makes me lazy, but I like the idea that I can just do one part at a time and decide I’m done of the day instead of trying to get it done as quickly as possible. That’s probably why they look so bad in the first place, in addition to the low skill I have. That’s not a new idea to me. Just one I always felt made me a lazy person because I’m making it easy on myself. Of course, if this is supposed to be fun, I probably should do that. I’m not exactly trying to make a career out of this. Having to rush, and still being unable to keep up, is why I never did well in art classes during high school.

I don’t know when I’m going to create or rework something again, but whenever I’ll do, I’ll give that idea a shot. Hopefully, it’s something I can manage to stick to.

Stupidly Optimistic

I haven’t been feeling well over the past few days.

I’ve been going over some of my previous posts on this blog, and some of my old stories and art on my story blog and DA account. I don’t draw anymore and I write very little. It wasn’t a conscious choice to give it up. I just began slowing down and eventually stopped doing it. Although it’s a conscious choice now since I realized that.

Some of the posts I’ve written here make me embarrassed when I go back and read them. There’s a post from January 2015 I read over where I’m pretty much confident and optimistic about the year regarding art. Now that it’s 2016, I want to go back in time and choke myself like the moron I was at the time to be writing that.

There’s a question that goes “What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail?” My answer to that question is many things. But that’s not reality, so it’s a silly question. My first failure/mistake was thinking I could draw or write anything good in the first place. And no, “everyone learns at their own pace” doesn’t help me feel better. That just tells me I’m slow.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself or my life. I do know art won’t be a part of it. Looking over the pictures and stories I made in the past makes me somewhat nostalgic and wish I could go back to those times when I enjoyed it. The truth is it’s not fun anymore. I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere down the line, drawing and writing lost their charm, especially the former. I don’t plan things to write anymore. I just write whatever comes to mind. Perhaps the loss of interest is the consequence for becoming interested in drawing for a poor reason to begin with (wanting to make fan art).

Everyone can’t be the best, but some people aren’t best at anything. Likewise, no one can be good at everything, but some people aren’t good at anything. If I could go back to 2010 (which was a bad year to begin with due to family drama), I’d never pick up a pencil to do anything except write a school assignment.

My only problem regarding art now is what to do with my sketchbooks. One is already full, but the second is only half-full and the third is completely empty. I suppose I could toss them out, but I’d hate to waste so much paper.

I’m going to end this post with a post from Whisper and my relation to it.

Story of my life. One of the biggest lies I was told as a kid is “It’ll be okay.” No, it won’t. It will not be okay.

Where I Stand

I didn’t really enjoy 2014 and I don’t think 2015 will be much different. However, it seems I’m on good standing for the time-being. My only concern is finding a job. Really, at this rate, I’m looking for multiple jobs, but I’ve got to start with one.

I have a relationship that seems to be slowly and steadily progressing. Sunny does want to see me, and the silly arguments have become less frequent and replaced by “lovey-dovey” silliness. Hopefully, we’ll meet each other during one of the remaining 360 days. He hasn’t said much more about the illness he has, so I assume he’s alright for the present. That’s my biggest hope for this year. He survives that illness.

I’ve started an art blog (linked under my list of Tumblr ones). I’ve settled on becoming a freelance animator and web designer. I still have no clue how to start, but I figured an art blog is a good first step. Of course, I have to improve my art and that’s what that blog is for. I have a lot of work to do. I’ve started with at least one drawing a week so far. Some by hand and some by computer. I know how to create animation. After I improve my art, I have to learn how to make good animation. And I do plan to attend college for those careers eventually, but not for a few more years. I’m going to work first. It’s a slow start, but it’s still a start.

I’m also keeping myself busy with games and writing. I know it’s not really work, but I can’t just lay around because I’m out of school. I’m writing chapters for my Sims games and OC groups, and playing through the newest Pokémon games, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. I also have certain characters and outfits I need to draw for more than one of my series. I’m not really worrying about getting a driver’s license since the only car we have can’t legally be driven (no insurance).

I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew because that’s what usually causes me to fail, but I’ve said I want to learn more languages and I think I may start using DuoLingo to do that. Perhaps not now, but when I get more of this stuff done. And I will finally finish up the Sailor Moon 90s anime. It’s really ridiculous I haven’t finished it yet.

I’m also going to delete the Pokémon Platinum wedlocke I was doing. That’s simply not something I’m going to get done, so there’s no point in leaving it there. I don’t like to be on camera anyway.