Tag Archives: wacom

Artist Review: Smudge Guard

After 5 years of using a hacked up $1 work glove (it was actually a dollar for the pair), I finally got a Smudge Guard glove to use with my Wacom Cintiq tablet. The question is, does it perform 15x better than the work glove to justify the $14.99 price tag?

Dollar Store work glove with 4 fingers cut off.

The benefit of using a pair of fabric work gloves is that if you take a pair of scissors and remove the thumb and first three fingers, you’ll end up with two gloves that you can use on your drawing hand. Also, it will only cost you a dollar plus sales tax. The disadvantage is that they probably won’t fit very well and let’s be honest, it looks pretty shoddy.

Smudge Guard Glove

The advantages of purchasing a Smudge Guard glove are that you’ll get a glove that is specific to the size of your hand and it will look and feel much more professional. The only disadvantage is the price. Many people have a hard time justifying $14.99 for what is essentially a mini sock for your pinky finger.

Both the work glove and the Smudge Guard are helpful in preventing your hand from sticking to a Wacom Cintiq screen. However, the Smudge Guard’s material feels much nicer on your skin and if you plan on drawing for hours each day, comfort is definitely a factor to consider. If you’re a serious digital artist, which you probably are if you’ve already made the $2000-$3600 investment for a Wacom Cintiq, it’s worth picking up a Smudge Guard in my opinion. It fits well and looks so much nicer than a hacked up work glove. 

Going from Analog to Digital

I recently watched “Dear Mr. Watterson“, the new documentary about Calvin and Hobbes’ and their creator. It reminded me of how my childhood dream was to become a cartoonist. Seeing current cartoonists still drawing on paper inspired me to pick up a sketchbook and a pen again. I actually haven’t drawn on a piece of paper since I was first able to afford my first Wacom tablet in 2005.

poster
Dear Mr. Watterson – All rights reserved & copyright owned by creators.

I was quickly reminded of how much I rely on digital luxuries like undo, straight line, color picker, copy, paste, etc. Regular drawing is a lot more difficult than I remember.

After I drew some crude initial character sketches, I decided I might want to use the drawings in my latest app for Maddie Bear Books. Instead of using my wireless scanner to scan in the pages to my computer, I decided to use my iPhone, which was already in my pocket. I took a picture of the sketch, dropped it over to my Macbook using DeskConnect and imported it into Adobe Flash.

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 8.31.51 AM

There’s a feeling of something very native of drawing with pen and paper that I had forgotten about. Something about the feel of the pen or pencil touching the rough surface of paper that digital tablets can’t seem to replicate. I still prefer to color and finalize drawings digitally, but it’s a nice break from a computer screen.

App Review: DoInk

As many of you probably already know, Wacom announced their new mobile tablet line, which allows digital illustrators to draw on the go. This is a great idea, but many people aren’t too fond of being tied to Windows or Android operating systems, or dropping $1600-$2500 USD for the luxury to be mobile. Wacom also announced a pressure-sensitive stylus for the iPad for a more reasonable $100 USD, but it doesn’t have much of a benefit if your drawing app of choice doesn’t support it.

So lately I’ve been the hunt for a good drawing app that is similar to Adobe Flash and supports Wacom’s new stylus, does animation, vector lines, .PNG exporting, canvas resizing, and has features like pencil, paint brush and paint bucket. After downloading about 20 drawing apps, I’ve come to the conclusion it doesn’t exist or I still have yet to find it. A few I’ve tried are Sketchbook Pro, Sketchbook Ink, Adobe Ideas, Animation Desk, iDraw, Paper, Penultimate, Bamboo Paper, Skitch, Drawing Pad, Procreate, Artrage, ArtStudio, Inkist, and FlipInk.

Charles McKeever (@CoronaGeek) mentioned DoInk to me a few days ago, but before I bought another drawing app that didn’t fit the bill, I first decided to email the company who makes it. I asked if it supports individual .png exporting and Wacom’s new pen. To my surprise, DoInk is created by one developer who gave a prompt response saying those items were on his to-do list, but it’s difficult implementing everything he would like to see in the app. As an individual developer myself, I completely understand the balance of features you want to create and time available to do so.

I decided to give DoInk a shot, especially since I figured it’d be a fun app and it’d support a fellow indie app developer. The app is very similar to Adobe Flash, which was a great surprise. The lines aren’t vector, but they’re still pretty crisp and there is paint bucket support. The user interface is pretty intuitive, as soon as I opened the app I was able to draw a character and animate him. Once you have your animation drawn, you can overlay it on top of a background drawing, a pre-made background, or even a picture from your camera roll. Then when your scene is setup, you can export the video to your camera roll. From there you can send it to your DropBox or even edit it in iMovie.

So is DoInk the drawing app I’ve been searching for? Not really, it doesn’t support .png exporting or Wacom’s pen yet. Is it a lot of fun to use? Yes, it’s nice being able to create Flash-like animations on the go. Honestly, I think I might be stuck to sitting at a desk when it comes to drawing artwork for my apps, but DoInk is definitely a great app when you want to animate away from your computer chair. If you’re looking for a good animation app, definitely pick this one up.

Wacom Bamboo Stylus vs. Targus Stylus

I was using styli to write on mobile devices well before Steve Jobs deemed them uncool and Draw Something made them cool again. You didn’t have much of a choice if you wanted to use the old Palm devices, they all came with a stylus for a reason.

Now I just want a stylus that is good for the occasional sketch in Sketchbook Pro, but more importantly, feels like I’m writing with a pen when using a note taking app like Penultimate. I try to keep all of my work as digital as possible, but writing on an iPad with a fingertip feels awkward so I always found myself hunting down a sticky note to jot down something.

The first stylus I had purchased was the Targus stylus ($19.99) at my local Best Buy. I went with this model because at the time, it was one of the very few styli on the market. It functions okay, but you feel as if you’re using one of those tiny pencils they give you at a golf course since they don’t trust you with an expensive adult-sized pencil. For light use, it will operate just fine as long as you don’t rush it along. If you’re just looking for a stylus to make Draw Something easier than your finger, this will suffice. However, if you’re looking for something that you can use to easily write notes, the sluggishness of the rubber tip and the small size isn’t great.

Targus Stylus - image propery of BestBuy.com
Targus Stylus

I also received an all-in-one stylus/ink pen from Adobe while at a conference in Toronto, but it’s like using a fat pen with a car tire as a tip. Please stick to making software, Adobe.

Finally, the most recent stylus I’ve purchased is the Wacom Bamboo stylus. I was hesitant to spend $29.99 on a stylus, especially after some so-so reviews I have read on the internet. However, I’m on my 3rd and 4th Wacom drawing tablets and they just keep getting better, so I figured it was a name I could trust. It’s only about 3/4″ longer than the Targus stylus, but combine that with the Wacom being substantially heavier, and it feels like a much better experience. The rubber tip glides effortlessly across a glass tablet screen and the added weight makes it less taxing on your hand after long periods of use since you don’t have to press down nearly as hard. I tried the Bamboo in Penultimate, Draw Something, Sketchbook Pro, and Wacom’s app, Bamboo Paper, and it worked well in all of them. I would recommend this stylus to anyone who uses note taking apps on a regular basis.

Wacom Bamboo
Wacom Bamboo- Image property of Wacom

Overall, the Targus stylus is good for light use and it’s $10 cheaper than the Bamboo. However, if you’re looking for a stylus that’s comfortable to hold and good for note taking and drawing, the Bamboo is worth the extra money.