How do I learn to use a Wacom tablet to make digital art?
July 19, 2008 6:21 PM   Subscribe

step 1: learn how to draw
posted by Dreamghost at 6:48 PM on July 19, 2008 [10 favorites]

Wacom Tablets: How to Get Started
posted by Tenuki at 6:56 PM on July 19, 2008

yeah, that's kind of it. there aren't any advanced photoshop techniques at evidence, in that video. multiple layers. varying layer opacities. a gaussian blur or two.

i mean, the internet is awash in "tutorials" of limited value that will, like, help you with that perfect rain-splatter, or whatever, but they're only a supplement to basic drawing skills.

i teach figure at my university, and i'd be willing to bet you'd have an easier time picking those skills up using actual drawing media and paper (a computer interface just adds one more level of disconnect between what you see and what you draw, rarely--if ever--making matters easier), but you, your wacom, and few years of practice should suffice. in a pinch.
posted by wreckingball at 7:00 PM on July 19, 2008

Lots of tutorials on:
posted by querty at 7:11 PM on July 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Here's how.
posted by dpcoffin at 8:04 PM on July 19, 2008

Also, the person using the tablet might be tracing the images.
posted by winston at 8:21 PM on July 19, 2008

You can do it now.

Take your spidey cartoon and slip in under the plastic plate, then trace it. I am sure that is what Missfeldt is doing it that video. Most books on drawing the figure/comics will show quite a different process than the one you see there.
posted by pointilist at 8:45 PM on July 19, 2008

Seconding both Dreamghost and wreckingball. The quality of whatever you produce using that tablet is going to reflect HEAVILY how much traditional skill you have. While I consider myself a digital painter, I couldn't have gotten as far as I have without my training in drawing and painting.

Yes, PAINTING. It may not seem obvious, but if you have even beginning training in drawing/painting, it's going to help you a lot, especially when it comes time to color and blend. If I tried to explain it here, it would take forever, but having knowledge of color theory and basic painting practices was oh so very useful for me.

Also, I HIGHLY recommend Painter instead of Photoshop if you're going to be drawing from scratch. Yes, Photoshop is usable, but I find that Painter just plain makes for a better experience for tablet-made artwork. The interface and controls are about 80% identical, and you get a bazillion more brushes to work with (and most Photoshop plugins also work with Painter).

Layers ARE your friends. Use at LEAST three (from top: layer, color, background); more is always better if your system can handle lots and lots. Again, LAYERS ARE YOUR FRIENDS.

Finally, the first couple days of making the transition from paper to tablet are VERY jarring and you're going to produce a lot of crap. This is normal. You WILL adjust if you don't give into the temptation to throw the thing out the window. :) Once you adapt, it gets much easier.
posted by Yoshi Ayarane at 9:12 PM on July 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

Previously re: Painter vs. Photoshop for drawing/painting.
posted by dpcoffin at 9:49 PM on July 19, 2008

A print resource that I've found to be useful is ImagineFX, a UK magazine. Most of their content is comes from professional concept artists and illustrators, and they always have some interesting tutorials, as well as a section in each issue where a panel of artists will answer reader questions. The downside? It's pretty pricey per issue, and subscriptions are expensive too. I usually pick up an issue every now and then from my local Barnes and Noble or Borders.

However! The good news is that they have tons of tutorials available, for free, on their website, in pdf form. Check them out here
posted by kosher_jenny at 10:18 PM on July 19, 2008

The best Wacom artist I ever saw was my color theory professor, a former Disney animator and professional watercolorist. She rocked the house at it, because she had the traditional-media background to start with.

Start there. If nothing else, a color theory class is a ton of fun, even if you, like me, suck at painting and only have the faintest of clues about traditional media.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:39 PM on July 19, 2008

Drawing tablets and photoshop do not substitute for knowing how to draw. Echo everyone ^^
posted by JJ86 at 11:06 AM on July 20, 2008

"Learn to draw" is good advice up to a point, but it's a bit more complicated than that in practice. Working on a tablet is completely different than working on paper or canvas. You're focusing on the computer monitor, not on your drawing hand, which is a really disconnected way to work. I had a lot of trouble transferring my (admittedly limited) artistic skills to digital art; my real-life sketching relies on an entirely spontaneous line, which doesn't really translate to a tablet. Yoshi Ayarane's advice is very good: layers really are your best friend. I use dozens and dozens of layers for even simple sketches. For instance, if you're having trouble drawing a simple shape, such as a rectangle, you can create one layer of parallel horizontal lines and another layer of vertical lines and wield your eraser at each corner. (That seems like a silly example, but often it's the simple things that give me the most trouble.) Group your layers judiciously, so you know where everything is. Experiment with shifting the opacity of certain layers. It can be useful to create a rough sketch on the first layer, then make that layer transparent and work over it. The control-z command is also your friend; I'll sometimes hit control-z twenty times before I get a line that I really like. I also prefer Painter over Photoshop. The variety of brushes that Painter offers is really quite astonishing. Oh, and finally, if you dislike the "slick" feeling of a tablet, tape a piece of your favorite drawing paper over it. Works a charm. Good luck!
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 12:50 PM on July 20, 2008

« Older What was this horror/thriller from the late 80's /...   |   Books I remember fondly (but not their titles) Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.