Archive for August, 2012

Samsung Slate PC Series 7 – Wacom alternative?

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Earlier this year I was craving the ability to draw directly on the screen. I had some animation work lined up and I knew my Wacom Intuos wasn’t going to cut it. It’s seen me through many years of animating and while I find I can draw pretty well with it and love colouring with it, animating on the tablet always seems to trip me up. I get the job done but it takes forever and I’m constantly redrawing frames. The disconnect between my hand drawing “down” on the tablet whilst looking “up” at the screen seems to be where I feel I come unstuck. Remembering back to my TAFE animation days of traditional cel animation, I never encountered any issues like that. That’s why I thought something like a Wacom Cintiq would solve my problem. After looking into them and reading reviews and feedback (lack of brightness, crazy cost for extending the warranty, no dead pixel warranty etc) I felt pretty uncomfortable about dropping $3K on one. I started to look around at some alternatives when a friend mentioned the Samsung Slate.

Having used Wacom tablets for almost 15 years I really didn’t want to move away from the brand but this Slate had a few features going for it. While obviously a lot smaller than the 24″ Cintiq it was also less than half the price (around the same price as the little 12″ Cintiq Wacom offers). And with the added bonus of being portable I got pretty interested. Early reviews sounded favourable so I popped down to my local retailer and had a play. I’ve never used a Cintiq so I guess I don’t know what I’m missing, but even sketching on this Slate in MS Paint with no pressure sensitivity, was a great experience. The forums over at PC Tablet Review have a wealth of knowledge on just how to tweak the S7S to get it to perform at it’s best.

Samsung Slate Series 7 Drawing with Pen

After having used it for around 6 months now I’m still happy with it. It probably doesn’t perform as well as I’d like to imagine a Cintiq (or at least future versions) might, but without using one I can’t be sure. I certainly don’t regret getting it. I get a little over 3 hours full time Photoshop use from it’s battery before having to charge it. Of course if you’re near a powerpoint that doesn’t matter. I initially used one of the onscreen keyboard shortcut apps that worked pretty well, but I really missed being able to press a tactile button without needing to look away from what I was drawing. I ended up purchasing a Razer Nostromo gamepad and loaded it up with all my most frequently used shortcuts. It’s surprising how many I use because while it has 16 available buttons, I still find myself wanting a few more (for tweaking levels or saturation etc, rather than all the drawing based ones I’ve loaded).

Samsung Slate Series 7 using the Razer Nostromo Gamepad

One downside of this smaller tablet compared to the larger Wacom ones is resolution. If I’m creating anything remotely high res I need to zoom out to see the whole piece. The various parts of the image end up being quite small. Then when I start to draw the lines, theres some very obvious resolution issues where the pen/sensor/program doesn’t have enough detail to draw nice clean lines. Instead I end up with rather jagged or stepped lines. I’ve tried to illustrate this below.

I’ve tried drawing the same circle at various levels of “zoomage” :) When I’m zoomed all the way out to 12.5% I get a very ugly chunky circle. I’d never encountered this with my Intuos but I just tried the same test from 200-12.5% zoom and get the same issue on my PC (I was a little surprised). I guess I’ve never come across it before as my PC monitor displays a lot more of the image without needed to zoom out. Something to keep in mind with the smaller 1366×768 resolution. It’s not a massive issue for me as most of my linework these days is done in Illustrator but it might trip up anyone wanting to do a lot of high res linework. Still, the tablet is great for doing rough sketches in Photoshop before moving to Illustrator to “ink”.

There’s a few other little issues I’ve found with it – occassional minor screen flickering while charging, the power button (the only button to wake it as well) is around the side and is a little hard to press (it’s recessed to avoid accidently presses), random toolbar/home screen launches (though that may be related to some clashing with inputs after I disabled touch so my hands wouldn’t register while I was drawing)  but the positives totally outweigh the negatives. I’m sure there’s going to be even more impressive tablets out soon and I’m keen to see how the Microsoft Surface performs for artists, but for me this Slate will keep me happy while I keep saving (and waiting) for a perfect Cintiq.

Jasper!

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Jasper - Pencil Drawings

Every now and then I get an amazing job offer and this was one of those. I was recently commissioned to draw up an awesome little French Bulldog called Jasper. The best part was the client wanted it drawn in my style. All too often I need to tweak and adjust (or completely change) my normal, fat, cartoony style to fit the job. I’m more than happy to do that as I feel it helps strengthen me as an artist and I tend to pick up little tricks that I can bring back to my more recognized style. However being told to draw in my own style was such a refreshing change and I really hope to get more work like this in the future.

This particular drawing was a gift for the client’s wife for their first wedding anniversary and the tradional one year gift is paper. This meant it was time to dust off my Derwents and create some art that could actually be held with your hands rather than viewed on a screen. I’ve been churning out so much digital work on the pc via my Wacom tablet for years now that I wasn’t sure how I’d go without the luxury of Ctrl+Z. Thankfully I managed. I was super happy with how they turned out and really enjoyed getting back to doing some non-digital art.

2012 – You’re going too fast!

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Wow, its been waaaay too long since my last update so I’ve got a fair bit to write about. Lets see if I can remember everything!

VELLA CAMPBELL

VELLA CAMPBELL

On and off since the start of the year I’ve been helping my wife prepare for the launch of her clothing label, VELLA CAMPBELL. It’s been amazing seeing how much work goes into preparing for something like this. She’s been spending long hours every day getting everything just right and it’s all looking great! I teamed up with Dean from Thrive to design the her website which turned out great. I also got to play around with Adobe After Effects and Premiere to create a short film for her first range entitled “The Fox Hunt Chapter”. After Effects was great fun to play with and wasn’t too hard to come to terms with as I’m super familiar with Photoshop and Flash (AE feels a lot like a combination of those two, to me at least). Please take a moment to stop by her facebook page and like it, then head over to her website to see the video and of course, the awesome clothes!

Sangers and Ra

Life - Cover art for Sangers and Ra
I’ve done a few jobs for these guys now and have developed a style for them that they seem to like (quite a bit different from the fat lil guys I normally draw). I’ve just finished off a cover for their latest release “Life” featuring N’FA (from 1200 Techniques). The image was all done solely in Photoshop on my Samsung Slate tablet (except for a 3d rendered background). They wanted a black and white image set in a rainy, empty city street (as the song was inspired in part by the 2011 floods that hit my hometown of Brisbane). You can check out the guy’s facebook page here! You can also take a listen to the track here - soundcloud.com/sangersandra/life-om

I’d also done up a prison mugshot type piece for Sangers earlier in the year too. I’m really happy with how it turned out, especially the grungey textures.

Sangers Mugshot

Battle Group

Battle Group

Last year I worked on another mobile game with Bane Games called Battle Group. This was quite a bit different to our first game, Flick Buddies, and the art required had much more of a “hand drawn but based in realism” vibe to it. I proposed a few variations of what I thought might work for the game before we settled on one particular style, then I was in to full production mode, pumping out heaps of ships and land based assets in both pristine and damaged states. I got to know the ships pretty well, so much so that I’ve been able to name a few when I’ve seen them pop up in movies or tv shows. The games been really well received and we’ve had great feedback on it. It’s available across a bunch of platforms now too, not only iOS. You can pick it up for Android, PC and even from the Mac App Store. If you check it out, let me know whatyou think of it.

Little Mouse Brown

Little Mouse Brown

Another client I’ve been working with for a couple of years is Little Mouse Brown, an Australian tween Couture label. Over the past few years I’ve done a series of illustrations for various boy’s and girl’s garments, some of which you can see above. To check out the amazing current range and see where you can purchase the clothes, head on over to Little Mouse Brown.

I’ll leave it there for now. Theres a few recent jobs I’ll talk about soon as well as a couple of unannounced projects which will have to wait until later. Hope you like what you’ve seen :)