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.