I’ve been interested, recently, in improving my digital art skills from their current state of being entirely non-existent. As a developer, I wish to be capable of doing more attractive user interfaces for applications I’m mocking up.
As an initial project, I thought I would design cover art for my novel, Lady Sacrilege. I immediately found myself hampered, in that endeavor, by the quality of my graphics tablet, an inexpensive Genius tablet. I’d been thinking about what to trade up to for several months actually.
Wacom thoroughly dominates the graphics tablet market, so naturally, my choice became a matter of deciding which Intuos tablet to buy. I’d mulled over a Cintiq, because I thought that not being able to draw directly on the tablet surface, as one is accustomed to doing on paper, would always be an obstacle.
What caused me to hesitate was less the price tag than the uncertainty of whether I could get it to work with my existing dual-monitor set-up, switching between the Cintiq and my existing second monitor with a switchbox. Wacom’s sales support was not positive that would work.
On this past Friday, I finally made a decision and picked up an Intuos 4 medium tablet at Best Buy. If you go looking for one there, you’ll find the less expensive Bamboo models with Best Buy’s Mac peripherals, and if you ask a staff member in the computer department whether they have the Intuos models in stock, he or she will likely tell you, as they told me, that the Intuos models are only available online. Actually, a nice variety of Intuos tablets are to be found in the Best Buy’s photography section, so one can indeed take one home right away if one wishes to do so.
Well, I found it to be a wonderful piece of equipment. I immediately lost any sense of being limited by not being able to draw directly on the tablet surface. The hand-eye coordination that I thought I would never develop was simply there. The fact that my eye was not watching my hand was just not an issue anymore.
That still doesn’t mean I’m any good at digital artwork. Of course not: I’ve only just started trying my hand at something for which I have little aptitude. But what I’m still lacking is the artistic imagination and enormous experience with graphic software that doing fine digital artwork requires. The Intuos has entirely solved the input problem. And even in the short time I’ve spent with it, I’ve already appreciated its incredible pressure sensitivity and even the tilt sensitivity that is unique to the Intuos line.
As far as I’m concerned, then, the answer to the question of how one can draw using one’s computer is “with an Intuos 4.” Thank you, Wacom, for producing a remarkable device.
Parenthetically, one gets to choose which bundled software one prefers. I found that other Intuos users were recommending Corel’s Sketch Pad. Indeed, I’m very impressed with that software as well. I printed out the pencil outline of the figure in my cover art on my color laser printer, and was delighted to see on the paper precisely a pencil sketch–the textures were exactly what I would have produced with a lead pencil on the same paper. And the Sketch Pad user interface is masterful: just perfect for navigation with a pen.
Here’s the initial pencil sketch of Lady Sacrilege:
I fixed her chest and slimmed her down when I inked the sketch:
And here is the finished cover concept, minus some touch-ups I’d like to make to the head, especially on the right side: