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February 23
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Oh god, I wanted that Wacom Intuos tablet so badly.
I was 16 years old at that time. I had already seen so much amazing art on the internet for the last few years. Digital art, to be precise. And I wanted to be able to do that as well. I had a computer, I had installed Photoshop. The only thing that I didn't have was money. I was completely broke. Note: it's 2004 we're talking about, here. 10 years ago (yeah, I'm old) when computers still costed a fortune and one almost had to take an extra mortgage in order to be able to pay a tablet. Back then, the average Intuos tablet costed as much as the average computer; a whole damn lot of money.

I had already been drawing for years, back then.
I occasionally scanned my drawings. But as my scanner was utter crap (all scanners where, back then), my preferred medium was pencil (that never does well with scanners) and I wasn't that good with adjusting colors in Photoshop... most of my drawings ended in utter digital disappointment. 

At that time, I heard many people about drawing tablets. Whenever you asked on a forum -no matter what forum- how you could get better at digital art, the answer "buy yourself a tablet" was among the first 3 answers posted. Like all the others, I assumed that a tablet would be the answer to all my problems. I got my first tablet from my grandpa, who had gotten a hold of the thing a while ago, but never used it. I cannot even remember the brand, but it was like utter crap. Drivers refused to work. Lines went all wobbly and such. And it took the thing only a few weeks to die on me spontaneously. Not such a good experience.
Assuming it was the crappy tablet brand and the crappy drivers, I decided that I would go for a Wacom tablet this time. From the money that I earned doing my first freelance jobs in webdesign, I bought myself a Wacom Graphire tablet. They don't make that line of tablets anymore now, but it was comparable with the current entry level Wacom tablets... except that even entry level tablets were f*cking expensive back then.

Anyhow. I got the tablet. Plugged it in. Installed drivers... and ended up utterly disappointed.
Unlike what I expected from all the great story's on the internet, my drawings didn't magically get all awesome. I wasn't able to get even close to the quality my work had on paper. And I had no freaking clue why.
I tried some more. Scribbled around in Photoshop a bit. But eventually ended up disappointed and put the tablet away for the next two years. And still having no clue what the hell I did wrong.

It actually took me a few years to realize my mistakes (Okay, I was a bit slow. I admit that)
I automatically assumed that, because I was able to draw on paper, I would be able to draw on a computer. So wrong! Digital art is an entirely different medium than traditional pencils. It works in a different way. And you have to learn it first. It's like using watercolor when you're used to work with pencil. Sure, you'll have some artistic fundamentals that make you able to do something. But you won't be able to make something as pretty as usual, since you're not used to the quirks of the medium yet. It takes you time to learn. That's something you'll need to realize. Because if you don't, you'll be set up for disappointment. 

I nowadays see a lot of people making that same mistake, though.
People buying an all expensive Cintiq when they've never even touched digital art, and aren't sure they're gonna keep using the tablet. Yeah, this might come across as hypocrite coming from the owner of such a tablet, except that I know what I'm talking about. I moved my way up from my crappy old Graphire tablet to more advanced tablets. And the main reason I invested in such a tablet is because it has good ergonomic design and therefore speeds up the process for me. Having a chronic wrist injury, I haven't got the time and physical power to meddle with the same line over and over again and sit fully cramped over a small tablet. It's bad for my health. I can only use the computer for a few hours, until I have to rest. Having a tablet like that speeds up my digital drawing process tremendously. With the limited amount of time a day that I have (considering my injury), this can make a difference in days. Needless to say, this goes for my freelance design work as well. And time = money.

When I received my Cintiq tablet, I didn't expect to become magically better at drawing anymore. Because I knew this was mainly a matter of skills. I did expect my drawing process to speed up a whole damn lot, and I wasn't disappointed on that one.

When it comes to equipment, I think people should realize that equipment doesn't automatically make you a better artist. It's true that good equipment can help you work faster, but it won't make you a better artist. That's something that only skill does. And skill is something that can't be bought for money. It can only be won over by time.

I prefer to see my drawing equipment as an investment. I have a drawing tablet to save me from drawing my stuff on paper, scanning it, and then coloring it again. I have a big drawing tablet because it makes me able to sit in front of a computer longer than when I had to crawl down and cramp myself over a tiny tablet, which would eventually don't do my health any good. The hours that I save working, and that I can spend on other freelance work, make it worth the investment... for me. Your case might differ from mine entirely, though.

For all those people fretting over the fact that they don't have the money to buy all that awesome equipment; start small. We all had to do so at one point. Because, most often, the money will not start rolling in before you've acquired the skills to make that money. And that doesn't matter at all, because working around basic problems, will actually force you to be creative. And it's possible. I've seen people make amazing art with MS paint or just coffee. And even I made this work with nothing more than a cheap pencil on printing paper, as I was moving and all of my other stuff was packed in boxes.

For the people that ask around on the board "Should I buy this tablet/art equipment?". Ask yourself; will I really use this piece of equipment? Will I really get into this type of art? And if you're unsure about it, then start small. Start with an entry level tablet from a decent brand (that's usually cheaper), or just a few copic markers, or a few tubes of paint. If you like it, you can always expand. And if you don't, it's not a complete waste of money.
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:iconliquidinsect:
liquidinsect Featured By Owner Edited Sep 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I finally made it back to comment on this Journal entry! *Whew*

I did some computer work for a co-worker friend a long while back (around... 2002 I think). How can DA help you? He was nice to me and not only did he give me some funds (I didn't ask for anything, just doing a favor), but he also gave me a few other things that I could use... Including! A brand new Wacom Graphire 2 (still in the packaging)! Yeah! Headbang!  I had been making some digital art for a few years up till then with only the good old mouse and keyboard! We're talking about the old ball mouse at that... stock from my computer back then from Compaq (same with the keyboard). But they worked fine! ...or so I thought. Sherlock Holmes (The one upgrade that made a big difference back then was switching to an optical mouse... now days I'm using a gaming laser mouse from [Razer Copperhead] because I keep getting used to the extreme sensitivity yet now I can even customize and configure that sensitivity even more.)

I was so secretly thrilled about the graphics tablet that I could not wait to get home and try it out because back then I couldn't really afford one and I really wanted one badly! The model I was given was brand new in the stores and selling for (at that time) about $150.00 USD for the size that I was given (5"x4" smaller inner square and about a 6"x6" larger outer square total area - just guessing).

I was looking forward to saving up and buying one of the largest ones currently sold at that time so that I would maximize the features, quality, and drawing surface area because (little did I know about them much less how to use one) I wanted to be able to digitize my drawings and sketches by tracing over them on the larger surface areas (sure, I had a scanner but it just wasn't the same as what I wanted to do with my art back then).

It took me a while (few months really) to become used to how to use a graphics tablet. Sure, it wasn't what I really wanted (which was one that had a screen and you actually could draw on it - not sure if it was a Wacom Cintiq back then... but maybe it was?), and yes it took getting used to. The main idea to understand was that you are actually looking at your computer monitor which is completely disconnected from when your hand(s) are placed in order to use the graphics tablet. This just feels wrong... unnatural... and alien. I'm being abducted!

I made it work though! I got used to working with this device for the most part (at that time). I still had to switch back over to using the mouse from time to time for very detailed work because I found that it was just too easy to move the cursor with the stylus and not very easy (or impossible) to keep it completely still yet still be able to tap the pad for a click or use the side button (right-click or double click) while keeping that cursor still! This was the one thing I still find challenging and the sole reason that for some things I still prefer using the mouse for instead. I don't know what the opinion or abilities of others are with these graphics tablets... but I'm still in training with my Use the force! skills.

So... did I ever buy a larger piece of equipment or one with a screen? Sadly... I still haven't taken that plunge. For one thing, I don't make any kind of art for money or to live off of. Its just something that I like to do, for fun, to continue to dream, to continue to imagine, always need to stretch those boundaries and abilities. Still to this day, I still window shop for a screen based drawing platform of some kind, hopefully with accuracy high enough to not make me mad of the purchase... yet I still haven't taken the plunge. And guess what? I'm still using that old Wacom Graphire 2! My art work (especially digital) has been off and on over the years but I am at the next junction point where I am looking forward to expanding yet once again into the digital realm and I have DamaiMikaz to thank for inspiration for getting me started into that... (Thank You Damai Mikaz!Huggle! Love ) by the way, what's the contest going to be about??? Wink/Razz

My Wacom as it is right now:
www.dropbox.com/s/kc6olceg4dh8…
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:iconlorreinegeralde:
lorreinegeralde Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
And until now, I keep drawing with only a sometimes-okay-sometimes-not mouse.
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:icondark-momento-mori:
Dark-Momento-Mori Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
This a really good point that I have to explain to my students all the time. A lot of them think that table will make them better.
My grade school students actually understand that the tool doesn't equal quality far fast than my high school students.

Those that do end up liking the tablet and wanting to continue using them at home will ask for where they could get one. All wanted a tablet with the live area of a piece of paper.
The brand I recommended is VisTablet. Their tablets with at least live area as a piece of paper, costs between $90- $200 and have at least 1000 levels of sensitivity to the pen. They aren't the most sturdy and sometimes disconnect, but for a first tablet they're pretty great.
www.vistablet.net/
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:iconleahplainandtallish:
LeahPlainAndTallish Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I recently got a (admittedly crappy) tablet and was so horrified with it I boxed it back up and put it in the closet. I'm back to colouring with the mouse. I think it is always going to be xerox paper and ballpoint pens from the supermarket for me.
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:iconwhetsit-tuya:
Whetsit-Tuya Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2014  Student Filmographer
"Anyhow. I got the tablet. Plugged it in. Installed drivers... and ended up utterly disappointed.
Unlike what I expected from all the great story's on the internet, my drawings didn't magically get all awesome. I wasn't able to get even close to the quality my work had on paper. And I had no freaking clue why.
I tried some more. Scribbled around in Photoshop a bit. But eventually ended up disappointed and put the tablet away for the next two years. And still having no clue what the hell I did wrong."

Weird, the first thing I drew with a tablet looked 5x better than anything I had drawn on paper and it did make me magically better, maybe it's the brand?
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:icondamaimikaz:
DamaiMikaz Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Nah... you might just have been less critical, or had more experience with real life painting 
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:iconkaelekompot:
kaelekompot Featured By Owner May 29, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I'm going to sound like a total fangirl, commenting on so many of your journal entries, but I will proudly say that I am becoming very much a fan of yours, both the texts and the drawings. Somehow you are commenting on and have experienced so many things similar to what I have experienced myself, I am really astonished!
I thought too, that getting a Wacom tablet would magically make me a fantastic digital artist, but nothing really happened and I stored my tablet somewhere dark for a lot of years and the next time I brought it back to the light, it was so old that it could not communicate with my computer.. bummer! Then I bought a new one and though my art did not improve extremely much overnight, there was a difference, maybe because I had gotten older or because the equipment worked the way I wanted to and expected it to and this time I did not expect miracles, so now I am working very slowly with it and gradually improves.

Apart from the rant, thank you for opening up your thoughts on so many subjects which a lot of artists struggles with, it is really nice to see somebody put words on what a lot of people are secretly thinking!
Oh, and lastly - do you also have good advice for getting the imagination and vivid fantasies back? ;D
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:iconliquidinsect:
liquidinsect Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Imagination... I have some clues on what works for me... long walks, running (more than a mile of course... takes me about 1.5 miles before my mind starts to kick in and I can run up to 12 miles now... slowly), cycling long distances... walking/hiking in nature... getting outdoors... cloud watching - see what shapes you can make out as objects or different things... Or... anything else you do that you find your mind begin to wander off on its own. I tend to start to think about all kinds of things at great depth when I am active somehow and physically exerting myself in some kind of exercise or that such. There is also meditation, if you have the patience for it, that helps me a lot too. It's difficult to clear the mind completely and think of absolutely nothing (I dare anyone to try it at least once). If you keep doing it you may find that your mind becomes more clear and easier to think about different things. Question yourself with simple questions! What are you interested in... if your feelings were a color today, what color would you be... maybe you could chose a theme for your next art project(s)? I also like to think about creating fictional stories and playing them out in my mind... also - I keep a sketch book by my bed so that when I wake up, if I can remember a cool dream, I can try to sketch as much of it out as I can. It's interesting to go back to it for ideas and additional thoughts from time to time. Also... if you do watch TV or use electronics very much... unplug yourself from all of it for a while... see what happens?

These are just a few ideas I came up with on the spur of the moment. I know there has to be endless ways to get your mind charged back up - oh! That reminds me of something else, a good diet (what you eat) and keeping in shape (at least stay active some every day) and getting good regular rest will help your mind to be at its best. Hm... OK! That's all for now.
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:iconkaelekompot:
kaelekompot Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you for the inspiration :)
My mind tends to wander the most when I read homework, but I am not sure that is a positive thing ;)
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:iconliquidinsect:
liquidinsect Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Ah, no problem! Homework tends to load up the mind with ideas and concepts that you need to think about and learn or understand... it takes up some temporary room that you might be using for imagination. So, try to clear the mind before working on your art and hopefully this should help you. Don't feel bad if you still have trouble with this as it seems like many people have this similar trouble. It's common and I'm sure frustrating at some point for everyone. Also, my mind wanders during homework that I am at that moment not very interested in - in order for me to really learn something I have to try extra hard to motivate myself to become interested (if not fully interested) in the homework that I am working on. Its definitely a challenge there too. It can take me around an hour or so (and up to three hours sometimes) to wind down my mind enough to concentrate and get into the mood of working on art.
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