Tablet-centric art tutorials?
December 12, 2010 4:16 PM   Subscribe

Tablet art tutorial videos?

A young relative of mine is receiving a Wacom tablet for Christmas. It's overkill, but I got a good price, so they're receiving the Intuos 4.

I'd love to be able to point them to video tutorials that demonstrate basic drawing skills and techniques using a tablet and photoshop elements. I saw several previous threads about this topic where people essentially said, "Take a few years and sketch/paint the traditional way." That response won't be helpful here.

There are basic ideas about how and when to use layers, and how and when to change brushes/brush size, that I think they wouldn't notice on their own for a long, long time. Ditto for efficient use of the buttons on the tablet.

So the goal is to find videos that:
1. Expose tablet features and concepts and/or
2. Utilize a tablet in demonstrating fundamental, basic drawing/painting techniques that would apply just as well to analog art

Bob Ross style "paint along" videos for tablets and middle to high-school aged kids would also be welcome.
posted by jsturgill to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure if the tablet adds much of anything to the question of learning to draw. There's an adjustment period as the sketcher gets used to the idea of drawing on the tablet, but looking at the screen, but that's about the extent of it. Everything else returns to learning the basics of drawing and learning to use the software.

This is not to say there aren't any differences between tablets and paper, but a lot of rules of thumb when learning to sketch on paper just don't apply to computer drawing, or apply with caveats.

So, one thing students hear a lot of is "don't be afraid to work big." This is because there's a very consistent tendency of students drawing tiny, super-detailed things without paying attention to the overall composition. Well, unless you have a huge tablet, you don't have the luxury of large, free strokes. Also, you can just zoom in and out as you see fit: start at low zoom, sketch in your form, then zoom in to work on small detail. Yes, you do see a lot of fanart that shows evidence that the artist proceeded exactly like this and never grasped the basics of laying in a good foundation, but that's got nothing to do with the tablet.

There's all sorts of other ways software allows amateur sketchers to hide, disguise, and otherwise ignore a lack of basic technique. Another constant criticism is a lack of range in value: typically, everything in a sketch is a similar shade of grey, and the student has no idea about which areas to make dark or leave light. Well, in Photoshop, you can just crank up the contrast to see how you like it. Yes, you can use this feature intelligently, or you can use it indiscriminately. But that's where the learned skill comes in.

My one single suggestion would be to consider Autodesk Sketchbook as the software of choice. It's a lot closer to the experience of sketching on paper that Photoshop, has a clutter-free interface, and is very easy to use.
posted by Nomyte at 4:36 PM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding Nomyte's advice. Be aware that it takes a couple hours of practice before using the tablet becomes somewhat natural, and another week or two before you develop some sort of workflow.

Marco Bucci's video is one of my favorite ones. You can find some useful ones at the Gnomon store but they are pretty expensive (and be aware there's nudity in some of them).

The most popular tools are Painter and Photoshop but you should definitely experiment with as many programs as you can until you feel comfortable. Most of the Photoshop tips should carry over to Photoshop Elements. If I recall correctly, PSe doesn't have layers (my information is a couple years old and might be outdated) and that's a pretty big handicap.
posted by yaymukund at 5:09 PM on December 12, 2010

Response by poster: The tablet comes with PSe and Corel Sketchbook, both of which have layers. It comes with a starter copy of Autodesk, which doesn't do layers, so that's not an option.

Any drawing tutorials you can recommend, Nomyte?
posted by jsturgill at 5:20 PM on December 12, 2010

John K. gets down to the basic nut of drawing in the many, many tutorials on his blog.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:43 PM on December 12, 2010

OP, I think you may be confusing two different applications. Corel's app is called Painter and Autodesk's is called Sketchbook. I am using layers in Sketchbook right now. In fact, I can't think of a dedicated drawing app that doesn't support layers.

Wacom tablets come bundled with Painter Essentials, which I'm sure is easier to use than full-featured Painter, and PSE. My suggestion was, in part, to ditch both of those, since they're largely targeted at people doing basic photo-manipulation, and jump ship to Sketchbook, which was explicitly designed, from the ground up, to make digital drawing as natural and intuitive as possible. I am not, of course, insisting that you take my advice.
posted by Nomyte at 6:47 PM on December 12, 2010

Response by poster: Whoops. It's Corel Painter Sketch Pad, not Sketchbook.

The Autodesk Sketchpad Express version it comes with only supports three layers. I believe PSE and Corel support an arbitrary number of layers.
posted by jsturgill at 7:02 PM on December 12, 2010

I'm not sure why Autodesk came out with a reduced version of Sketchbook when the full "pro" version costs a whopping $70. Compare with full licenses of PS and Painter at several hundred dollars each.

Of course, those two are industry workhorse tools, and are far, far more useful in many other settings. But Sketchbook is (for me) the most fun to just draw in.

I'll shut up now.
posted by Nomyte at 7:07 PM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

« Older Where should we overnight near Adelaide?   |   I'd think of a title if it wasn't for this sinus... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.