Posted in Art, IRL

New Drawing Monitor – XP-PEN Artist12

For many, many years, I have been digitally drawing on the Wacom Cintiq 12WX that Syn gave me back when she got an upgraded Wacom. It has served me very well all of this time, and actually still runs despite a slightly loose connection wire and a crack in the screen. If it tells you anything, these were released back in 2007. So, I’ve had it a LONG time.

Everything was overall fine until I built my new machine this year, which runs on the standard Windows 10. The Cintiq drivers worked, but sometimes the Wacom service would randomly shut down and I’d have to restart it, and overall, it just didn’t have as smooth a feel drawing on it as it did on my Windows 7 machine.

I knew there was nothing to be done for it but eventually upgrade. But I’ve been putting that off for a few reasons:

  • Drawing monitors are expensive
  • Monitor size

It may seem weird to you, but I don’t want a 21 inch drawing surface. It’s just too big. I want something I can half prop in my lap and on the desk while holding in my hand, just as I always did with my Cintiq.

For a while, the drawing monitor craze was bigger is better. Everytime I shopped around, it seemed impossible to find much under 15 inches. But that seems to have changed lately.

Also, back in the day, Wacom was the only brand to use. Period. So, I got it in my head that when I updated, I should only look at Cintiqs. And again, for a while, Cintiqs were HUGE in form factor. Lately, they’ve started making a 13 inch. But even that model is $800… which is getting close to the cost of building most of a new PC for me!

So I’ve been holding off. Until I saw a sale for Black Friday on Amazon last week. I admit it was somewhat of an impulse buy, but at $160, I picked up a XP-PEN Artist12. It had good ratings, was the right size – just a little smaller than what I’m used to – and for the price (a fraction of the cost of that Cintiq!) I figured I could try it out.

I got the tablet last night, actually a day earlier than expected. Won’t complain one bit about that. Setting it up was much easier than I thought it would be using the info in the user guide. I just had to make sure the monitor resolution was right, the app size was at 100% in Windows, and a calibration later, I was inking a test Wayrift page.

The only one issue I do have is that both it and my normal monitor run through HDMI. For some reason, my video card has 2 Display Port slots and only one HDMI slot. Go figure. So, to use the tablet, I have to switch the ports out.

I already have an HDMI to PD adaptor ordered and on the way, so hopefully that will fix that issue. I just want to set up the tablet as a second monitor to use whenever I need.

So far, I like what I’ve seen with this tablet. The resolution is much higher than what I was used to on the Cintiq, so that makes all the UI elements feel really tiny in the art programs I use. That’s just something I’m going to have to get used to, and not really an issue.

I went through and set up all the extra keys on the tablet and the pen, and everything is working as my previous tablet did control-wise. I also really like the matte finish on the tablet screen. One little nit-pick I had about the old Cintiq is that if things were hot and humid, or I’d just come from taking a shower and tried to use it, my hand would often stick to the surface, making it harder to draw. This tablet came with a little drawing glove to help with that, too, but I haven’t tried it yet.

So far, so good. We’ll see how it holds up to my art schedule. I kept the old Cintiq as a backup just in case.

Posted in Art

Amazing World of Sketchbook Tours

I never knew that sketchbook tours were a thing until this past week. A friend from my FFXIV RP Tumblr circle posted a video of a sketchbook she developed alongside of her FFXIV-inspired webcomic, and I was amazed.

Sure enough, if you search the term on YouTube, you can find a bunch of inspirational and amazing traditional art. What’s even better, is as the artist walks you through the sketchbook, they discuss the media the used, their inspirations, and things they learned from the process.

I mean, look at this amazing stuff!

Gosh, this makes me really want to think about Inktober and a sketchbook of my own this year. I’m generally not patient enough to work with traditional media, so all my stuff ends up scanned in and fixed up, like it did last year. So, seriously, props to people who work in this wonderful media and share it through videos like this!

Posted in Art, FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Commissioned Character Artwork!

I don’t often commission artwork, but I do like to support fellow creators and artists, especially when they’re such kind a friend and FC-mate as Bean Baguette.

I was stoked at the opportunity to have her draw my FFXIV character. I requested her wearing the birthday gift I got from my FC – the Eastern Garb. Not only did Bean do that, but she drew some of the other gifts – the Doman Magpie and a pose inspired by the Eastern Dance.

I’m all ready for Stormblood! Woo!

What’s even more incredible is that I was able to watch her stream the art as it came to life yesterday. Just magical. You can check out that stream here!

Thank you so much, Bean!!

Posted in Art, Gaming, Webcomics

New Year, New Creative Goals

I’m finally back home after a good chunk of time away on holiday vacation… which means I’m going through that readjustment period where there’s no food in the house and I have to clean up the messes the cat made while being cared for by someone else… and that kind of thing. I’m also shaking off the cobwebs on my blog like I do every year.

I already wrote about my gaming goals for the month, but I also want to talk about some creative goals I have in mind for 2017.

RPG Making

I didn’t buy a whole lot during the Steam sale this year. In fact, my only big ticket purchase was RPG Maker MV… something totally unexpected. Mostly because it costs $80 when not on sale.

I’ve puttered around with many of the older RPG Makers in the past. Some of my best memories were while making a game using the fan-translated RM2K by Don Miguel back before it officially came to the English audience. I also messed around with the RPG Maker VX, but didn’t like the limitations I found in that version.

The new MV is supposed to fix a lot of the things I didn’t like in VX. It has a lot of nice features that I feel are essential, such as side-view battles. But again, it’s so pricey that I didn’t consider purchasing it until this sale.

Nefol RPG

So what is the purpose of purchasing the new version of RPG Maker? Well, because once again, Syn and I have started kicking around the idea of making a Nefol RPG game.

This is not the first time this idea has come up as it’s something we both really want to work on. I hope we can put some time into it, because it could be fun to have a long-term collaborative project like this again.

“But didn’t you just start posting up Nefol as a webcomic?” you might ask.

Well, yes, I did. And if we do start developing a game, obviously, I won’t continue working on the webcomic version because of the time trade-off.

The webcomic really just came about from me messing around with Inktober last year and the fact that I really want to make some progress on the Nefol story in one form or another. To be honest, I haven’t had much response to the comic, anyhow. So I don’t think anyone will be too sad to see it discontinued in exchange for a game.

Inking Explorations

On the other hand, I also don’t want to give up inks just yet. Practicing using more traditional media is a challenge for me as I’ve become too reliant on digital art tools. If anything, I really want to make time to practice inking more.

Obviously, if I’m nixing the Nefol project, then I need to find another project to ink. Now don’t hold me to it, but I’m considering the possibility of reviving the old Shimmer webcomic project. Only, if I did, it would be a complete remake that followed the revised Shadows of Zot storyline with a darker tone and inked style.

When Shimmer first started back in 2004, it was meant to be an experimental art project. Just something I did on the side when I felt like it. But I got a lot of strong positive feedback, which encouraged me to make it a weekly comic, so I managed to keep it going while I still had the time to do so during college. After graduating and getting a full-time job, I ended up having to cut back on a number of my creative projects, and Shimmer was one of them.

I know that Shimmer is still some folk’s favorite story, so it’s one that I’ve tried to keep around in some form or another. Novelizing it has helped flesh it out a lot, and I think that it would be a fun story to practice inking. I can’t promise I’ll color it and all, though.

We’ll see where it leads.

Posted in Art, Geek Stuff

Krita: Digital Image and Painting Program (Free)

krita

I’m always keeping my eyes open for new digital art programs to try, though old Photoshop remains tried and true for me. Anytime I find a solid art program that’s an affordable alternative to Photoshop, I try it out and pass the word around.

Krita has been around for a good while, but I didn’t hear about it until this past weekend. There’s two versions of this program:

Krita Desktop which is “a professional FREE and open source painting program. It is made by artists that want to see affordable art tools for everyone.” You can pick it up at the official downloads page.

Krita Gemini which is “painting application which adjusts to your needs – with a powerful, feature-rich interface on your PC, and a streamlined touch-friendly sketching interface on your tablet or convertible. With a range of tools and features suitable for novice or professional artists.”

Interestingly, you can purchase this on Steam. Priced at $9.99, yes, this is very affordable art program.

There seems to be two upgrade packages:

We are offering two options for purchasing Krita Gemini – a cheap “2 releases” version, which provides around a year’s worth of feature updates, and a “lifetime upgrades” package which will receive all future releases.

So if you don’t mind dropping $10 a year on the program, you can get the newest upgrades. Or, if you try it out and fall in love, you can buy the lifetime upgrade for $119.99.

Personally? I’d try out the free desktop version first. I’m not quite sure how an art program tied to Steam will perform as I always turn off big ticket items like Steam when I’m painting my digital work. The less running in the background, the better for my art.

I found the Desktop version to be pretty easy to learn, but that’s also coming from someone who’s known the ins and outs of Photoshop for 15+ years. It looks and feels like I’d expect from a paint program – somewhat a cross between Photoshop, Illustrator and Painter. I haven’t sat down and actually tried to do any heavy art in the program with my tablet, but it has all the features of modern paint programs – layers, masks, brush stabilizers for inking, etc.

Even if all you’d like to have is a program that’s better than MS Paint to touch up images, crop, resize, edit and such, the free version is something to look into. If you’ve ever used Krita, let me know what you think about it!

Posted in Art

Attempting InkTober, Nefol Style

nefol1small

nefol1colorsmall

So it’s been years since I’ve actually drawn in ink. But, yesterday I picked up a new set of pens and a new sketch pad, though I’d forgotten about the whole InkTober thing until today.

I know that I said I wanted to write out the story of Nefol, but then I decided to see what it would be like if I rough inked by hand and painted the outcomes frame by frame instead. So every day this month, I’m going to attempt to draw a frame from the Nefol story. If I like it, then I may continue it in a comic form. We’ll have to see how much time it takes!

The first frame is a young JinRai sitting at a campfire where he is responding to his father after a story. The top is the plain ink, the bottom is the quick paint version. Not too terrible for a first ink in many, many years. I could certainly use some practice to get a bit more line confidence and structure, though.