Category Archives: Articles

Informational articles on various topics related to art tablets and digital art, tech news, and more.

What art directors look for in an ILLUSTRATION PORTFOLIO

illustration portfolio

29 ways to wow with your portfolio

Got the illustrator blues? Pounding the pavement but not getting replies? If only illustrators could read minds, it would be easy to know what art directors want to see in an illustration portfolio. But not being psychic, many resort to plain guesswork.

Luckily, there are some things that art directors often say in in-person talks, articles, and videos. I’ve compiled a list here of valuable tips they’ve deigned to divulge. Some are things they say over and over, while others are less common but struck a chord.

These tips apply to both print “books” (term for portfolio, in case your a newbie) and online portfolios, and though targeted at be illustration portfolios, most apply to other creative fields as well, including fine art, graphic design and photography.

Here’s the list of illustration portfolio tips:

  1. Ease of use is the most-mentioned recommendation for an illustration portfolio. Keep the focus on your work, not on your site design. Don’t make people click more than once to view a larger image. Instead, have thumbnails they can choose from. Navigation should be clear and simple.
  2. Offer downloads of your tear sheets, preferably high-res. Be sure to put your contact info on each one, keeping the look (fonts, placement) consistent. Don’t make the art director do a “print screen.”
  3. Make sure your site loads fast.
  4. Separate your work into galleries on your site, such as animals, people, business, holiday, etc.
  5. Post the type of work you want to get. If you’re no longer interested in working in a style, don’t include it.
  6. Remember it’s all subjective, what one creative director sees as great art is another one’s nightmare. So don’t get discouraged, and be ready for lots of conflicting opinions.
  7. Keep in touch, but not too much. Send postcards twice a year. Holidays are good time to send. Postcards might be kept up on a wall. Include tear sheets and/or postcards in your analogue portfolio as takeaways.
  8. 8 1/2 x 11″ tear sheets are good to have in your portfolio as takeaways or downloads, as these can be kept in a filing cabinet.
  9. Put your art ON things and show them or mail them. Some ADs love little doodads and clever promo pieces. Portfolios don’t have to come in cases.
  10. With a paper portfolio, check each page to be sure it’s clean before you show it. A piece of shmutz or, worse, something scurrying is a sure way to never get a good-news call from an AD.
  11. It’s good to put art in clear plastic pages in your print book.
  12. Don’t drop off original art. Things can get lost or damaged, nothing is 100% guaranteed. Save your fancy handmade portfolio for in-person visits.
  13. Keep images all in one format. That doesn’t mean you have to make all the images vertical, just the way they’re shown. Don’t make people flip the book (or iPad!) around.
  14. They like to see blogs, to get to know you. Keeps them engaged.
  15. They’re watching you. One rep says she keeps tabs on artists she’s interested in. She said be an artist who produces consistently, not one who does things in spurts then fades. So show them you’re still out there, keep your site updated (even if it’s just moving things around), and connect with industry people on social media to subtly help them watch you.
  16. Be a polymath. If you’re open to doing more than one type of work, by casting your net wider, keeping quality and style consistent, variety gives you more chances. Editorial, children’s book, people, animals, lettering, maps, patterns, food, and character turnarounds are all great to include.
  17. Diversity is strength. Show characters of differing backgrounds, ages, and abilities. Also have diversity of format–include a multi-image narrative if you want narrative work. Show a variety of visual angles as well.
  18. Got more than one style? ADs disagree on this. Most say to include a bunch of samples of each style and separate them in a portfolio. But some only want to see one style. Some illustrators actually use different names for their different styles. Their reps may present them that way, being aware that it’s all one multifaceted person. Basically, as long as you show you have mastered each style, it’s probably OK. You shouldn’t limit yourself.
  19. Don’t have published work? Everyone starts somewhere. You can take things such as magazine articles, fairy tales, or stories and create pieces. You’re being evaluated on how you express ideas, so the concept should be clear.
  20. Pick a meaningful point in the text you’re working from to illustrate. It doesn’t always have to be the most dramatic moment–it can be a turning point, a moment before or after an event, or a quiet scene showing the character’s personality–and your interpretive abilities.
  21. Edit, edit, edit–a good print portfolio or online gallery (you can have multiple galleries) should have 12 to 20 pieces. Showing more than that risks viewer fatigue.
  22. Put your best images as the first and last images in a print book or online gallery. That gives a positive impression and last impression.
  23. Have your own site as well as being on larger ones. An art director trying to choose from thousands of creatives on a big site faces choice paralysis, according to these tips on photography portfolios.
  24. Make search easy. Use tags, categories, and hashtags. If an agent wants to see humorous animals dancing on Easter, you should make that possible using tags such as humorous, animals, dancing, and Easter. Sites such as Behance (free with free Adobe account) offer many options such as galleries, projects, and hashtags.
  25. Don’t rely on social media sites to show your portfolio. Those aren’t easy to arrange, according to these tips on arranging your work in a children’s book illustration portfolio.
  26. Make your work shareable online. Add sharing links to individual images and galleries.
  27. Keep updating and removing images that no longer reflect who you are. Pare it down and stay in the present.
  28. Think of turning through pages or clicking through images as dancing to a beat. Be aware of how the viewer will respond to the pacing of the images and page turns.
  29. Having an unusual style of “book” to show in person, such as a handmade one, or an distinctively designed Web site can make you memorable, as long as it creative and matches your brand. If you’re not sure, keep it minimal.

Print or online, stay consistent.

We don’t have control over everything. What we do have control over is presentation. Image arrangement, easy navigation, and consistent branding are all tweaks that can go a long way. If you do the best at what you can, show it off in the best way you can, and carefully curate, your illustration portfolio can impress even the most jaded AD and help you land your dream assignment!

holiday gift guide 2018

2018 Digital Artist Gift Guide: Inspiring Ideas for Creative Cheer

holiday gift guide 2018

Yes, it’s already that time again, the time to find that perfect gift for the stylus-wielding artist in your life. Whether want to really spur their creativity, help them learn, or just make their life a little easier, you can find something in this guide (well, I hope). Or maybe you’re the artist in need of a gift. So, without further ado…

This little stocking stuffer lets you grip that slick Apple Pencil. Probably one of the least costly but most useful things you can get a digital artist.

Veikk A30 Graphics Tablet

Sleek and thin, this graphics tablets give you all the power without breaking the bank.

Tryone Gooseneck Tablet Stand

When you’re tired of drawing you can lay back and watch stuff on your tablet. Holds phones and tablets up to 10/5/”

 

Pantone Watch

This unisex Pantone watch gives a colorful burst of sleek design to your wrist. It even tells time.

 

Ergonomic Grip for Apple Pencil

Note: this fits the both the first- and second-generation Apple Pencil. It comes in black, white, and orange. It offers greater drawing accuracy.

 

Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker

A perennial fave around here. Help your artist stick to deadlines with this fast way of making coffee. Don’t forget a pinch of cinnamon!

2018 Lenovo ThinkPad x1 Yoga

A whole art studio in a laptop–the 14″ size gives you all you need while staying portable. Wacom pen included, Windows 10, up to 16GB RAM, i7 processor.

 

 

Blank Comic Book: Variety of Templates, 2-9 panel layouts, Draw Your Own Comics

A fun, inexpensive gift for kids and up to draw comics. A blank page or screen can be intimidating. There’s nothing like boxes to help you visualize, and paper still feels good.

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

This Galaxy Tab S4 with the accurate, pressure-sensitive, lightweight S Pen will bring a grin to the face of any artist who likes a Wacom pen. Android OS. Try some Android art apps.

Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made

Fascinating, behind-the-scenes takes a look at how video games are made. Paperback and Kindle books.

 


Schminke watercolors

This high-quality set makes art that will last. Also perfect for creating textures to digitize.

 

Art Socks

These socks were made for arting. Everyone needs a pair! Inspiration from, well, toe to toe.

tablet pro surface pen tool

Customize Surface Pen with Tablet Pro tool

https://youtu.be/HesybKLxT7s

If you’re looking for ways to customize your Surface Pen and even the Wacom Bamboo stylus, you’re in luck. Tablet Pro has found a way.

With the Tablet Pro Pen Tool, you can work smarter on your Surface by mapping the pen buttons to keyboard shortcuts such as undo. Or enable hover right, left, or middle click. You can remap the Bluetooth eraser as well.

 

tabletpropentoolTo use the Pen Tool, you’ll need Windows 10 Home or Pro and a Surface Device and pen.

The Surface Pen is fully supported, and the tool also works on other two-button pens including the Wacom Bamboo Ink. Use the tool with your favorite 2D and 3D art programs. It can truly save you time.

You can also stand across the room and use Bluetooth to control a PowerPoint slideshow, or play and pause a video or switch on Cortana. Yup, remote control has come to your pen.

You do not need to use the Tablet Pro app along with the pen; it works on its own.

It will only set you back a few bucks and you can find it here in the Windows Store.

The folks at Tablet Pro have dedicated themselves to make life easier for digital artists. See more about Tablet Pro here.

 

huiongt190review

Huion GT-190 review with art software testing

Huion GT-190 review: affordable drawing monitor (Kamvas GT-190)

huioncheapdrawingmonitor

This Huion GT-190 review looks at this cheap drawing monitor Wacom Cintiq alternative in detail. The Huion Kamvas GT-190 is the same tablet.

Type of tablet: tablet monitor with screen, attaches to Mac or Windows computer.

Features

Display 19″
2048 levels
16:10 aspect ratio
1440 x 900
250cd/m2
5080 LPI
14.6 lbs.
17.8 x 12 x 2.4 inches

What’s in the box
Huion GT-190 Tablet Monitor
Two Pens
Pen holder (8 pen tips included)
Pen Charger
VGA Cable
Power Adapter and Cable
USB Cable
Artist Glove

Opening the Huion package, it looks like most of the affordable tablet monitors I’ve reviewed before. It’s got a solid metal build, comes with some nice accessories, and comes with a stand. The box is printed, and everything came safely packed. The accessories are sealed in plastic, and there are two pens. This one has a built-in screen protector, so it doesn’t come with a separate one. Gearbest sent me this unit for this  Huion GT-190 review.

huionkamvasreview

Here’s all the stuff that comes with it. Photo by Tablets for Artists

This stand arrived detached from the tablet, which is unusual; it needs to be attached. Huion thought ahead and included a Philips head screwdriver.

It comes with a VGA cable, two pens with charging cables, pen stand that holds nibs, a cleaning cloth, CD with driver, and booklet. It doesn’t come with adapters for Lightning or HDMI ports.

You charge the pen via your computer’s USB port. Charging takes about an hour. The LED light is red while charging. The pen is batteryless and lightweight. It’s thick but comfortable to hold. It’s a standard pen for this type of tablet. I’m glad it comes with two pens, since you can charge one from your USB port to use when the other one runs low.

It installed great on my Mac. With Windows, I had trouble opening the latest version. But an earlier one, the one right before the latest one installed fine and has the same functionality as the Mac. Huion told me this does not usually happen, and I haven’t seen it reported in other Huion GT-190 reviews or articles.

There’s less squeak on this one than on some, I guess because of the screen protector. The screen is not very slippery, nor is it overly reflective.

huionkamvasgt190driver

Huion Kamvas GT-190 driver for Mac

As with other similar Cintiq alternatives, the driver does only basic functions (if you’re eagled-eyed, you can spot the typo on the driver screen). You can program the pen buttons with shortcuts.

Ports

The ports are under a panel in the back, which is more awkward than if they were on top, as they are in the XP-Pen Artist 22E. The cords are secure, they won’t fall out.

The tablet is sturdy with a good, standard range of positions with the stand. The screen protector and screen offer a pleasant drawing experience. I do wish I could press less hard.

Adapters needed

The most unusual thing about the Huion Kamvas GT-190 that this comes with only a VGA/DVI port, something you don’t see much anymore. Most newer tablets have HDMI ports. If you’ve got an older computer, you’ve got it made, but if your computer is newer you’re going to need adapters. For Mac you need a VGA to Lightning adapter, and for Windows you will need an HDMI to VGA adapter.

FOR PC

The inexpensive ones I used worked fine. For my PC I used the Vic Tsing Gold-Plate HDMI to VGA for PC (VS1-VC38BVT-VD)

FOR MAC

I used the Vic Tsing Gold-Plated Thunderbolt Mini Display Port to VGA Male to Female adapter for Mac.

You can use other brands too, of course but these did the job.

huion gt-190 review

Back of Huion Kamvas GT-190. Adjustable stand.

Color

The color seems to change with different viewing angles. Sitting right in front of it, the color is bright and clear. It’s adjustable using the controls on the outside of the monitor.

Resolution

The screen isn’t high res. Since the screen is large, I don’t find it to be that much of an issue, since I’m sitting near it and mostly looking at parts of drawings close up. Still, it’s lower than HD. It’s the same resolution of the MacBook Air. The color is adjustable via the driver, like most of the tablets of its type.

Drawing on the Huion Kamvas GT-190

The EMR digitizer is sensitive and springy, similar to Huion graphics tablets, and pressure sensitivity works well, offering a thin to a thick line without blobbing or skips. Make sure the pen is fully charged; if it isn’t, you’re in for some blobbing and skips, but once charged, it works well. I had to press down fairly hard to get a steady line even after adjusting settings.

Drawing programs

Photoshop, Gimp, and Sketchbook Pro all work very  well in Mac and Windows. Gimp on Mac was hiccuping so I couldn’t test each feature that fully (am not sure if it’s due to the driver or Gimp itself), but the other programs worked fine with line and opacity pressure. (Haven’t tested Windows Gimp yet).

There’s a slight parallax but that’s to be expected due to the thickness of the screen. Calibration works out of the box. As expected, there’s no pressure sensitivity in Illustrator or Inkscape, nor would I expect there to be, so again, to get vector art with pressure you have to use Manga Studio, which doesn’t let you export to vector, so you have to keep it as a native file type.

Pros
Affordable
good pressure sensitivity
pleasant surface
comes with two pens
comes with a screwdriver for the stand

Cons

VGA port only, leading to needing adapters
driver is limited in function; had installation issues in Windows 10 (used the slightly older version which was OK)
viewing angles not great
Not high-resolution

huion gt-190 review

Color image on Huion GT-190. Photo by Tablets for Artists

Huion GT-190 review verdict

All in all, the Huion Kamvas GT-190 is a decent drawing tablet monitor comparable to other affordables. The pressure sensitivity works well across drawing programs, which is the main thing. It’s best for beginners, students, and artists who don’t want to spend a lot. The VGA adapter is likely to put off some people, since they will need adapters (or older computers).  I guess between the VGA and the low resolution, this probably wouldn’t be my first choice. But If you get one for a good price then go for it.

GearBest sent me this to review and you can see it on their site here.

Paint Tool Sai and XP-Pen troubleshooting

The following is from XP-Pen, for users who are having cursor trouble with Paint Tool Sai. They have given me permission to share this free download of SAI for users who are having issues. (I’m going to remove it end of March, but can send it to users on request if they are having trouble with their XP-Pen and Sai.

1.     SAI only supports windows version.

2.     Actually, SAI has a lot of bugs and the users question there are 2 ways “maybe” can solve them.

Method 1. Use this installation of SAI:

(please contact me for the link, it is free)

Download it from Google Cloud. When the download is complete, please EXTRACT then open the folder to run SAI.exe. Try to test this version cans solve users question.

b.     If this doesn’t work, please follow the FAQ below about how to setup SAI, please see the attachment.

Method 2. If the download of SAI above does not solve the issue, please follow these instructions:

Q: My tablet won’t work with Paint Tool SAI; the cursor will not move at all. Other creative software does not have this issue.

A: Please follow these directions:

  1. Ensure that all tablet drivers, including your XP-Pen driver, are uninstalled completely. To do this, open Start >> Control Panel >> Programs and Features and check your programs list. Reboot your computer after uninstalling any tablet software.
  2. After rebooting, click “Start,” then search for “Tablet preferences.” If you find a match, you still have tablet software installed; please repeat step 1.
  3. Reinstall your tablet’s latest driver from the Support >> Downloads section of our website. Reboot once more.
  4. Ensure that your tablet functions correctly in software other than SAI.
  5. Open your SAI installation path, then open “misc.ini” in a text editing program such as Notepad.
  6. Scroll down to “TabletMouseSimulation.”paint tool sai troubleshoot7.
  7. If it is set to 0, please change it to 1, then save and exit.8.
  8. If it is set to 1, please change it to 0, then save and exit.9.
  9. Open SAI and test for the issue.