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Submitted on
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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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.
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.
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?
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 
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
FlowerFreak Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Oh, just had to add this. Probably everybody knows this (I apologize in advance if this is old news) but playing video games made it easier for me to learn digital art with a tablet. Hand/eye coordination, you don't have to look at your hands (controller, tablet). Your brain just "knows". I'm an old hand at painting now, but also great on the tablet. And playing Final Fantasy and EarthBound for years helped. (Hell, I even had MarioPaint, which is the precursor for the tablets. Fun, and the answer to my prayers, but very limited in what you could do)
Whetsit-Tuya Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2014  Student Filmographer
That's very intersting, I never would have thought of that :iconlegaspplz:
Vapolord Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2014  Student Digital Artist
I agree. I've always drawn stuff on paper back in the day ( and again these days) but stopped doing it for a long while. I had much drawing anxiety then, because i was (and still am) the best student in my artclass. Because of this I always had the fear to not be able to draw as good, as expected.  Its my last schoolyear, and iam planning to study design. Because i knew i would be doing much digitally there i decided it would be smart to buy a tablet. Its true, that the artwork you do at the beginning of using your tablet is most likely worse than the stuff you did with pencil. But when you do it more and more often you get more confident really fast. 

I wanted to start with a tablet, because I never liked it, when i had a shit drawing or artwork on paper for everyone to see. It was always a pain in the ass for me to erase again and draw again, and the paper slowely getting bit ruffed up^^. Because i had drawing anxiety after my longer break from drawing the Tablet helped me a lot to just draw, and erase and redraw again and again. This made me more confident on paper again, too and I found it much easier to draw now, since I improved my skills alot over the last year, since i got my tablet.

But overall its just locial, that tabletstuff seems more shitty looking at the beginning, because the surface of the tablet is way more slippery than the paper surface. 
FrayedFlight Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2014
I am TERRIBLE at scanning and I don't know much about digital art (I did a lot of isometric and very basic stuff with a mouse back in the early 2000s, I believe).  The lack of being able to scan pencil art properly is a huge headache for me.  I haven't found much help online with this, but I know it's not the equipment; I've had access to several levels of scanner and they pretty much all scan the same, so it's something I just am not good at.  I am not particularly worried about it anymore at this point, what happens, happens.
DamaiMikaz Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Have you tried this tutorial already?…
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