Category Archives: Articles

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

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.
intuos2018review

New Wacom Intuos 2018: Can’t touch this

intuos2018review

image by Wacom

 

New Intuos 2018: Upgrade, or sideways move?

Wacom intuos 2018

New Intuos 2018 package. Image: Wacom

A new Wacom Intuos 2018 is here! The Wacom Intuos tablet design, up to now, has not been changed since the old days of 2015. (The Intuos line was formerly known as Bamboo). We’ll take a look at the difference between new and old and whether the new one is an upgrade or something that goes more… sideways.

In the last few years most art tablets, including tablet PCs, have gone far beyond 1,024 levels of pressure. The Intuos (non-Pro version) was starting to feel like a dinosaur in that respect. The new Intuos 2018  has 4,096 levels, plus a number of other changes to design and functionality. Most of these are for the better.

However, there is one major change that’s not great. Wacom has removed multitouch from the new Intuos. Only the Intuos Pro and older Pen and Touch models (and all Cintiqs) still have it. More on this below.

See our Intuos Draw review

See our Intuos Pen & Touch review

See our article on choosing an Intuos

 

New Wacom Intuos 2018 vs. old Intuos

What’s the same?

The active area takes up a greater percentage of the tablet, but the actual active area hasn’t changed–it just now goes almost to the edge of the surface.

There are still four customizable, application-specific Express Keys, even though their arrangement has been changed.

The new Intuoses, like the old one, come in only Small and Medium.

They still come bundled with drawing programs at no additional cost.

The pen’s reading speed (PPS) and tablet resolution (LPI) are still the same.

There’s still a tether so you can lock the tablet.

The pen is still battery-free. It still does not have rotation sensitivity and still does not have an eraser end. (In some markets, there was an Intuos pen with an eraser end; I’m referring to the U.S. market because that’s where I am.)

 

What’s different?

More pressure sensitivity

There are now 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. This way, there’s not such a huge difference from the Intuos Pro and Cintiqs, which have 8,192.

Wireless use with Bluetooth

This time, the Intuoses have Bluetooth. You no longer need to buy the optional Wi-fi kit to use your Intuos wirelessly. Only one model, the small, more affordable  Intuos S, does not have Bluetooth. All come with a USB cable so you can use them wired.

Bundled software

Newer: The new Intuos comes bundled with up to 3 programs: Currently, they are: Corel Painter Essentials 6, Corel Aftershot 3, and Clip Studio Paint Pro. With the Medium size, you get all three. With the Small with Bluetooth, you choose two. With the least expensive new Intuos, the Small without Bluetooth, you get just one–a choice between Corel Painter Essentials 3 or Corel Aftershot 3.S

So, they’re now offering a range of versatile programs that cover digital painting, drawing, and photo editing.

With the older Art Pen and Touch Wacom offered the same tablets with different software, some of which were programs in trial versions or were free anyway. I prefer the new way.

Older: The older Intuoses have different names according to what software they’re bundled with. I always found this a bit confusing. The customer may not even realize the tablets are the same.

Weight

The new Small with Bluetooth is 250g (8.8 oz.) and without Bluetooth, 230g (8.1oz.). The old Small weighed 290g (10.2 oz). The new Medium weighs 410g (14.4 oz.) and the old Medium weighed 480g (16.9 oz).

 

Pen differences

The pen is now called the Wacom Pen 4K (LP-1100K). It looks similar to the old Intuos Pen, but has 4096 pressure levels, or four times its predecessor. (For some reason, Wacom skips some multiples; it skipped 2048 in this new-generation Intuos ands skipped 4096 in the Pro tablets, going from 1024 to 8192). Now the nibs are stored in the barrel. It comes with a nib in the pen plus 3 replacement nibs. The compatible Felt and Flex nibs also will fit in the barrel. The Pen Ring that was sometimes available is gone.

wacom intuos 2018

Intuos 2018 with 4K pen. Image by Wacom

Design

Now, to keep the pen from wandering away, there’s a tray, an indent in the top of the tablet that will keep your pen in sight and not rolling off the table like a meatball off spaghetti.

Another difference is the footprint and weight. The new Intuos 2018 is sleeker, taking up less space on the desk, and it’s a bit thinner, about the thickness of a smartphone. The models are all a bit lighter as well.

The top part of the Intuos is about an inch smaller than before. The pen tray doubles as the Express Keys. The pen, when lying in the tray, is sitting over the keys. By redesigning the buttons, Wacom saved some space.

Formerly, there was only the pen loop, which was rather tight and a bit annoying. The pen loop is still there, but you can now use it to carry the pen with the tablet and not as way to keep the pen from rollin’.

The tablet is also thinner, with the top part being thicker than the bottom.  It’s now 5 mm in the lower part and 8.5 mm in the upper part. Slender, man.

wacom intuos 2018

Medium and small; nibs in pen barrel; thinner footprint. Images: Wacom

This design, while not in itself a reason to get a new Intuos, uses less plastic and  is smarter and better than the old one.

What’s the disadvantage?

To keep the price down, Wacom has removed the multitouch feature. Yes, I was shocked too,You’ll have to buy the pricier Intuos Pro to get touch.

(See our Wacom Pen and Touch review about the 2015 models, which as of this writing are still for sale though no longer are on the Wacom site).

One unfortunate result of taking away touch was it was a nice feature for kids, who could use it to finger paint. It also made it so if you lost the pen, you could use your finger if you had to. Now you’ll have to use your mouse if you can’t find the pen.

Without touch, you don’t have gestures, which allow you to pan, zoom, and navigate. You’ll have to use the pen and your art software commands, or keyboard commands, or Express Keys.

Touch made it possible to use the tablet as a trackpad. And, you could take advantage of the growing amount of touch commands in Adobe and other software–commands that, arguably, are mostly used by professionals.

Handwringing aside, touch isn’t needed, it’s just useful. Wacom had almost branded themselves by offering it since it was only NOT available on one art tablet, the down-to-basics Intuos Draw.

The various non-Wacom, less expensive graphics tablets and screen tablets also don’t offer multitouch.

Ironically, it’s hard to get a tablet PC that does NOT have a touchscreen.

Is it worth upgrading to the new Intuos?

The levels of pressure, as I often remind people, don’t matter all that much. I can sense the difference in smoothness between 1024 and 2048, but not after that. Additional levels do offer more accuracy, but we’re talking millimeters. For most people, 1,024 levels are enough.

Bluetooth is a really nice feature. Some reported loose ports for the USB in the old Intuos, so it’s a good thing that you can stop using the USB. You’re saving money by not having to buy the Wi-fi kit. Working wirelessly, you can now put the computer at more of a distance away if you wish.

Storing extra nibs inside the pen stand is convenient, since you might not always keep the pen stand with you. This is another smart design move.

The new tablets come in black, pistachio, and berry, which may make artists run to the refrigerator instead of sitting down to work. (Berry, a vibrant pink, is only available in certain markets). Pistachio is an aqua color.

If you have a Pen and Touch, you’ll probably be fine keeping it. It’s an individual decision. Intuoses are solidly built and can last for years.

Wacom’s redefining of multitouch as a Pro feature feels a bit off. It seems strictly a budgetary decision, not one that should affect your perception of how useful or “professional” multitouch is. It’s useful if you use it; if you don’t use it you probably won’t miss it. Non-professionals are likely to get some use out of, it but it’s true that that use may be limited. Pros find it important in saving time, as they can master a workflow that uses Express Keys and gestures.

If  you’re puzzling over it, ask yourself whether you want to just draw, more like in real life, or also use gestures and use the tablet as a trackpad with your hand.

If you do like the touch feature, I suggest grabbing an Intuos Pen and Touch while they last. If you’re OK without it, then you’d probably be happy with the positive improvements found in the new Intuos 2018.

Note: the 2018 Intuos is still not for sale quite everywhere but you can see it at Wacom.