Graphics tablet for an artist and photographer

Discussion in 'What Tablet PC Should I Buy?' started by Blacksky, Feb 21, 2013.

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  1. Blacksky

    Blacksky Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I've been after a graphics tablet for as long as I can remember, but I have never found one that actually worked properly. As an artist I have been thinking about starting a webcomic for a while


    1. What is your budget?

    About £300\$500 unless there is something really special.

    2. Would you consider purchasing used/refurbished?

    I don't really mind as long as it works as well as when new and preforms as well as possible.

    3. Do you prefer a media/mobile tablet like the iPad, Windows tablet PC, or notebook convertible?

    I really don't want to get an iPad but I would be really interested in a computer screen you can draw directly onto as long as it is not extraordinarily expensive. I could be persuaded to spend more if it was something I could use as a regular computer screen as well since I am buying a new PC soon.

    4. What size Tablet would you prefer?

    More than ten inches for preference, I really hate drawing at small scale and would really like at least eight inches to work with.

    5. Which country do you intent to purchase from [where do you live]?

    England

    6. Do you have any preferences to brand loyalty or dislikes?

    No, but I have been looking at Wacom tablets (Though I hear they wear out pen nibs at an extraordinary rate). I'm really just after one that behaves as much like a piece of paper as possible. I have thought about getting a laptop with a touch screen but I am really after a PC at the moment.

    7. How many hours battery life do you require?

    I would rather it connected directly to the computer and could run off the mains.

    8. What will be the primary usage scenario of this tablet? (Email/Web Surfing/Drawing/Word Processing/Entertainment/Notetaking etc)

    Drawing, high-end photoshop work, and screwing around when I should be drawing or photoshoping. :p

    9. Do you have an OS preference? For example, do you own an iPhone and a Mac, or are you a Windows fan? Do you own an Android device and use Google services frequently?

    Windows 7 is my preference. Windows 8 is just too much like owning a gigantic mobile phone for me.

    10. What software and tasks do you intend to run? (Microsoft Office or other Word Processing Suite/Photoshop/3D Studio Max/Autocad etc)

    Creative Suite 6 and I am thinking tentatively of doing some sort of 3D work.

    11. Do you intend on playing Games? If so please list.

    I like games, but this isn't the primary thing I would like the tablet for

    12. Would you like to stream content through your home theater system?

    I wish I had one of those. :p

    Screen Specifics

    1. Any preference on screen resolution?

    More the better really.

    2. Will you be using the tablet outdoors? Do you need to be able to see it through glare from the sun?

    This is unlikely

    3. Do you require a pen? With or without pressure sensitivity? Do you prefer Wacom or N-trig?

    I would like to be able to use a pen, regular pressure sensitivity is not necessary and I'd rather ditch it if it lowers the price or makes the tablet hard to use.
     
  2. Blacksky

    Blacksky Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Ah, damn, did I leave anything out?
     
  3. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    You're in luck;

    For regular web-comics making, even at high-resolution which can be later printed in a book, any of the older tablets will serve you very well, running Photoshop without real issues so long as you max out the memory, and it's all well within your budget.

    This is additionally true as you are planning to use wall-power, since the battery lives of those older Tablet PCs are quite poor compared to newer models. (Around 3 hours on average).

    As well, you can't find any new machines in your price range with screens physically larger than 10" (though, the newer machines tend to have higher resolution screens in their 10" dims than the older ones.)

    Pressure sensitivity is really important, and while you may think you can do without it, you'd be missing out on a very empowering art tool experience. Fortunately, pressure control comes part in parcel with any Tablet PC, (or should); which is why artists use them. Without pressure control, Tablet PCs are basically non-tools when it comes to art software.

    I personally like the higher resolution legacy 12.1" tablet line from Toshiba, (the M200, M400). The Toshiba Tecra M7 was also a popular older model with a larger 13" screen and lots of power under the hood which you might want to look at. There are also other brands well recommended by other users; The HP elite line (2710p, 2730p, 2740p, etc.) while having lower resolution 12.1" screens, are really nice machines by all accounts.

    Some of the Motion Computing slates (le1600 and le1700) are also favorites among artists, though they don't come with keyboards.

    Fujitsu and Lenovo both offered some excellent Tablet PCs as well, all used/refurbed for reasonable prices on eBay.

    Of course, there are advantages to getting into some of the newer, thinner tablets; they're both pretty and powerful, but they generally have 10" screens; I find that to be a large drawback with modern Tablets, along with their much higher price tags. However, if you can wait a few months, Lenovo is releasing a 13" screen/stylus combo device which you can plug into any modern computer via USB and which will behave like a Cintiq, (minus angle awareness in the stylus), and the projected price is only around $300-$400. It looks like it could a really great product which can fit many artist's budgets.

    Hope that helps!
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2013
  4. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Oh yeah. . .

    I should also mention, that if you're not planning to leave the studio, (I'm not clear if you're looking for true portable Tablet PC like the ones I listed above, or a full-on standalone Cintiq screen designed to plug into your workstation and stay there), there is an alternative to Wacom's vaunted line which has been growing in popularity of late...

    The Yiynova 19" monitor has been refined in hardware and driver support to a point of true professional application, and you can get them for around $600 nowadays.

    Read this artist's review, (who apparently has used both Cintiq and Yiynova devices, and found that he preferred the Yiynova):

    Drawn - The Yiynova MSP19U Cintiq Alternative Swings for the Fences

    It sounds like a pretty awesome machine for the price. (So long as you get the latest version; the older ones have an inferior digitizer system inside.)

    Cheers, and good luck in your choices!
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2013
  5. Blacksky

    Blacksky Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Thanks! What I am really after is something I can plug into a computer that is basically a screen you can draw on like it's paper. I'd really like something that is good at reproducing nice smooth lines. I'm not too keen on the idea of getting a laptop or stand-alone tablet because all I really want it for is drawing, but I do like the look of the Yiynova. Would being able to sense the angle of the pen make much difference?
     
  6. Blacksky

    Blacksky Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Whoops, when I say I don't want a 'stand alone tablet' I mean something like an iPad, etc.
     
  7. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    For photography, angle awareness in the stylus isn't really very useful, I would imagine.

    Where it comes into play as a useful tool is in painting programs; Being able to angle your pallet knife, or a square-head marker. Calligraphy. --Or see the expected effect from the nozzle of an air brush spraying from an angle rather than straight down at the canvas.

    I use a Tablet PC for making comics, and my machine has no angle awareness in the stylus. I've only once felt the lack, and that was while using ArtRage to try to manipulate paint with a pallet knife. That was frustrating!
     
  8. Blacksky

    Blacksky Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Would be nice, but that does seem alright then. I'm not really trying to replicate paint in my art, but I do want something that's going to give me really nice clean lines so I can get a professional-looking finish. Is Art Rage better than CS6 for art stuff?
     
  9. Blacksky

    Blacksky Pen Pal - Newbie

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    If you think they are the best for the price then I might get a Yiynova, but I'm having trouble working out which one would be best. Does anyone know what I should get?
     
  10. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    You'll probably find that you'll end up using more than one art package, as each has it's own strengths and weaknesses.

    Photoshop is my most often used tool. It's just too useful not to own for many, many reasons I won't go into here.

    Artrage is ideal for simulating real media painting.

    Your other options for digital studio stuff live mostly in the land of Wacom, and you're looking at $900 minimum for a used 12" screen. --Unless you get one of their really old screens. There are some good ones in the 17" / 18" range for around $400-600 I believe, and some of them have resolutions higher than 1024 x 768. But one of the regular members here just had his 18" Cintiq die on him a few days ago. Old gear can be cranky. eBay can be great, but you have to aware of that side of things.

    I personally use a 14" Tablet PC mounted to my drafting board. I built a light table kind of wooden deck for it, and it's really nice to work on. It was also quite inexpensive, and even though it's very old gear nowadays, I've been fortunate in that it has worked out for me really well. I actually own two of them these days; one for taking to the coffee shop.

    If you're going to go for a Yiynova, it sounds like you really need to make sure it's got the newer internal digitizer by UC Logic and not the Waltop one.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2013
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