Review – something about my tools

I will try not to drag it out too much (and I won’t succeed unless I will let someone else write) but a premise must be done. More and more times I’ve been asked, especially on twitter, to write down my impressions on products that I use to draw (multimedia drawings I mean). On instagram my friends coming from all over the world even add an unbearable weight on my conscience. Writing about products, making technical parallels, is already difficult using italian, that’s supposed to be my mother tongue, imagine it in English. When the others have a professional view of you, it is difficult to make them understand that you don’t have any specific competence. This is confused quite often with modesty, and in the worst case (just because the world is full of insipidness) with snobbishness, that is an offish and intended elusive attitude, in order not to declare some well hidden, dark secrets and techniques. In a nutshell, a miracle of human perversion.

The simple truth is that I don’t have any technical knowledge, and my approach to the several tools I tried out has never been studied and deepened in advance. I am totally instinctive and, not to be underestimated, I get bored very easily. This means that I never read a tutorial in my life, and I don’t know how to talk about the several specifications, just because if my infallible technique called “press casual buttons” didn’t find “that x button” or “that y function”, chances are that I just don’t know it exists. Just to give an example, if someone now told me that the iPhone camera has a flash I would be puzzled, because I just hate flash, so I never worried about looking a specific button for it, and if there was my mind cleared it away, to make room for other, more interesting things.

I don’t owe any justification to anybody, but just to summarize all the elements part of the picture, it has to be told that the immense fortune that allows me to own many different types of tools implies that I need to use a vast quantity of them. This does not mean, and I want to state it clear and loud, that I use them professionally, so if I don’t give some specific piece of information about one of them, it’s not because I don’t want, but just because I don’t know. I am enforcing this point because I’d like to write it down once and forever, so that I can give a link to this delirious post if somebody should ask.

Anyway, more and more times I’ve been asked, no matter my total incompetence, to write a post about something that could summarize my tools. I always declined, and avoided to talk even in other contexts, because to me it’s a bit sad to line up all the toys you own and blather about them, unless you want to share some good laugh. That’s why when step into posts (the Internet is so vast) that title “the bags in my wardrobe” or “all the shoes I own” I lean my head towards the desk and laugh, stomp my feed and I hardly recover. In a nutshell, extremely Cheap. If you live in a certain situation you don’t have to deny it, but there are things that can be imagined, and there’s no need to underline them. That’s it.

I am putting away my principles, my politics and my paranoias just because behind this post there’s an invitation by friends, otherwise I would never do this. First of all because I can’t, but above all I don’t want, to teach anything to anyone, and, last but not least, I don’t encourage to buy any of the products I will talk about, stressing one more time the fact that, being myself anticonventional and a bit crazy, I use these tools insinctively and not technically. So, here below there are a few thoughts and notes that I would be very happy if could be useful for someone.

The pen. On instagram I spend 99% of the time to answer the question “what pen do you use?”. I am always puzzled by this question and, no matter what part of the world the question comes from, I stare at the iPhone screen and simply ask myself “why?” What relevance does it have the type of pen? The result of a drawing, that is mainly an emotion, is not certainly given by the pen brand. But, given that I accepted to play the game and write this post, I have to abide by the rules. Generally, and for a matter of comfort (that is: they sell them in the same block where I live and I don’t have to wander around looking for them) I choose the Staedler pens, in various flavors. I like .2 to .8 pigment liner. But if I don’t have any .8 at hand I grab an eye liner and I draw. Quite frankly I don’t give a damn about the pen head. If I don’t have what I need I just change drawing subject. What I use generally is a .5 and the brand is not important. What I like is a pen with a fluid ink, fast, and I’ve been using for a while the V5 Hi-Tecpoint 0.5 Pilo, while for pencils I am particularly fond of the Faber Castell 8B, 9000 series. But all of this is totally ridiculous.

 I own a Wacom Cintiq graphic tablet, and I am aware that it belongs to a totally different category than the “common” graphic tablets. When I’m told problems that can be summarized in “but I can’t draw so well on the tablet” I understand that there’s a lack of awareness about what really is a Cintiq. And showing off saying “I’ve got a screen ‘causa I paid a thousand bucks and you didn’t oh yeah!” is not an option. The problem is that using good manners and encouragement, that should be two key things for a nice and relaxed life, I don’t get the expected results. I understand that a Cintiq is an excessive buy, but the sentence “yes but you can draw very well and I suck at it” is a bit lacking. The truth is that drawing using a common tablet is one thing, drawing on a Cintiq is a totally different thing. I’m not saying this because I’m humble, but just for the sake of sincerity. Of course, if you can’t draw a circle – and I don’t believe this can be true but it’s not the right moment to practice philosophy – using a Wacom or a Cintiq doesn’t make any difference, but writing and drawing on a display allows you to better coordinate the stroke, and everything becomes more intuitive. You can use Photoshop or Corel Painter, or any other software as if it was a real white sheet of paper. A totally different matter is using a classic tablet, in that you have to draw in a virtual surface where the stroke is not projected at eye level and you need to raise your head to perceive it through the monitor. The stroke happens in one space, the visualization in another space. Certainly not to be underestimated. Equally important are skill, will and above all practice, but with a Cintiq you certainly have an advantage from the beginning.

I draw a lot using my Cintiq, and all my elaborations of drawings on photos started with it. I’m not so good at using photoshop because, due to the aforementioned lazyness, I never drilled down the levels concept; moreover I draw instinctively when I want, how I want and without thinking. Do I recommend Cintiq? I sure do. I recommend it without hesitation, but only if there are no economic problems so that spending more than one thousand euros is too much, and if it is bought for professional use, not amateur. It is an extremely powerful tool, but it’s worth buying only if one or both of the above conditions are true. Because with a classic tablet that’s worth one tenth of the Cintiq toy can do exactly the same things. Using some more time, patience and practice. Thus no. It’s NOT the tool that leads to success, or at least not in the initial phase of such works. It’s the ability to use the tool, practice, and obviously the personal attitude to arts.

Wacom Inkling is a tool that enthusiasts like me have looked at more and more, dreaming and hoping that could be available to the market as soon as possible. It is an object that, even if released lately, everybody dreamed about its existence, one day. I believed that a lot more time would have passed, and instead Wacom, leader in both ideas and their implementation, made a dream come true for all the visionaries like I am. Because it’s a pen. Apparently a simple pen, but it can bring back into multimedia format, thus digitalize, what’s been drawn on a piece of paper. A super-portable case containing a pen, that is the signal transmitter, a clip to put on the upper part of the sheet, that is the signal receiver, the one that collects drawing information, and four interchangeable pen heads (so that if the ink is finished you just change the head), plus a small power cord.

I recommend the Inkling without any hesitation and reservation. It’s pretty much like owning a Cintiq but spending one tenth, and above all having the possibility to draw everywhere. Cintiq is not portable, it’s not like an iPad, and besides being heavy, it needs to be connected to a computer, and it requires a lot of space on the desk where it stays together with computer, monitor, keyboard, printer (the only good thing is that you can fold it. I keep it folded, sitting on top of the printer, and when needed I open the lateral clamp. When I say that owning an Inkling is like owning a Cintiq I mean that the visual approach to the drawing is practically the same. That is, you draw always on the same surface, not like using the classic tablets. You’ve got a piece of paper and a pen, and then everything is automagically transferred in the computer in digital format. Thus it’s an intuitive and archaic operation, just like to draw using the old way. Certainly you have to pay attention to several factors: the most important is pressure.

The clip that you put in the upper part of the sheet, that is the signal receiver, emits a green light when it receives the stroke. This means that it’s necessary to control that while you draw the clip is actually receiving or not, because otherwise you would end up downloading a totally different drawing. The stroke is much like the one of a classic ballpoint pen, thus not fast and fluid, but an “ancient” pen, a bit static and not very fluid. For those that love drawing it could be a deterrent, but it’s not. Just because we have to relate everything to the context. It is not a “normal” drawing where you can choose heads, strokes and inks. It’s a multimedia tool that allows you to digitalize what you’re scribbling on paper. Do we want to file a complain about the static pen head? No jokes, please.

In a few grams you take home a whole office. A tool that’s (practically speaking) a graphic tablet but above all you have always available a real vision to digitalize. Given the cost, you should buy eight packs, even just to venerate them. It’s been the most exciting buy not only in the last years, but in my whole life. At the beginning you have to take some confidence and understand which are the real spaces needed so that the receiver catches the signal and doesn’t lose it, but after a few terrible minutes when you ask yourself two thousand (stupid) questions that don’t have an answer, everything will just work like a charm. If I was a person that likes to give advice not only I would recommend it, but I would point an eraser to the temple of a friend and order him to buy it.

Ipad. This is another critical point. Also in this case the most asked question is “how can you draw using an ipad?”. The answer is always the same, and I’m not saying this ’cause I’m arrogant. Who is so unlucky to know me in person knows that I’m totally the opposite but clearly if the question is “how can you draw so well on the Ipad? I can hardly make three circles” there are several answers available. If it’s a rhetorical question the answer is a simple thank you, while you smile and throw around small hearts. If the question is serious and demands an answer, like many times it happened to me, then you have to say something more suitable than just “you have to know how to draw”. That’s why the starting point is always the same. I strongly believe that anybody can draw, and that there is a substantial difference among to be able to draw, the willing to draw and the style in the drawing, but this is not a post about drawing philosophy (that might well be the second step), it’s a post about tools. So the answer can be summarized as follows: if there is a person that knows/likes/wants to draw, even if you give this person a piece of coal that you would use to fire the barbecue and roast some meat, that person will draw a landscape on the balcony floor.

If a person loves drawing there’s no need of any specific professional tool or instruction manuals, if there is a way to do it that way will be found. I’ll give you an example. When some years ago I saw the ipad my first question was neither “how much memory has it?” nor “how long will the battery work?” but “can you use it to draw?” Every single thing I see always causes this single question to pop up, since I was born and have memory. Because I live to draw. I live in my drawings. I want to die drawing. So the answer to the question “how can you draw on the ipad?” is: because I want it more than anything else. I want to draw on anything. The real answer is this, but as far as the others, the trivial and technical ones: I use and Ipad 2 and I’m shivering waiting for the 3 so much that I won’t sleep until I won’t have it in my hands, but that’s not the point. Many times I’ve heard “ah, I’ve got the Ipad1”. I used to draw also on Ipad1 and there was no difference. The-very-same-thing. I have been using any pen, and this might be a deterrent. It’s clear that there are ridiculous pens on the market, and it’s the same for Iphone (where by the way I can draw as well) but there are some that are quite good. Wacom is once again the best and not by chance, I would add, given that they’re specialized in drawing digitalization, where they’re undisputed world leader. For this reason the Bamboo Stylus, specifically designed for Ipad is unrivaled. Furthermore it’s colored, and if you’re as crazy as I am you could think of having a pink one for the blue mood days and a classical black one to appear as a serious professional.

The Bamboo stylus pen heads sometimes get punctured, and it depends on the pressure, on the use and above all the care you have of the pen, but they’re available at a reasonable price on the Wacom web site, where I buy without problems. To the point that my Cintiq, Inkling and Bamboo Stylus have all been bought on the official store Wacom; they’ve been both kind and on time. The Inkling usually is not readily available due to the amount of requests coming from all over the world. On top of that I would add my 2 cents worth reassuring everybody (irony mode: on) that you will NEVER EVER receive the email “inform me when the product is available”, because it just doesn’t work. The japaturinese has been spending countless hours browsing the store in order to find it available one lucky day, only to find that after three minutes (I needed a second one) it was again “not available”. On Ipad I used all drawing programs. It’s not a figure of speech. I mean it. Every single free program, every single program with fee. The Bamboo paper (free) is an efficient and nice application that allows you to create many small moleskine notepads and real visual notepads. It’s produced by (surprise surprise) Wacom, and it’s just delicious. Considering that it’s free it’s certainly worth a download.

Whiteboard is interesting, Doodle Buddy as well, and to make a long story short: the best in class are Ibis Paint and SketchBook. Two prodigy of programs. Ibis Paint is a community and, using a youtube account you can have the various phases of the drawing in video format. Within my blog I showed many of them. You can add music, extrapolate parts and it’s just fantastic. You enter the ranking if the drawing is clicked, and you socialize just like in a usual social network. Interesting at least (This is my account. Unfortunately put a bit apart because holypizzetta I don’t ever have the time). Sketchbook is another valid tool that, much like Ibis Paint, allows you to trim various heads and color gradations, not counting the multitude of brushes, sprays and pencils. The drawing can be saved and then updated. It’s really great. Furthermore the Ipad screen can be zoomed in and, using the pencil, you can take care of those details that so much bother those “but I can make three circles”. Needless to say but I say it: time. It’s obvious that the more detailed and precise is a drawing, the more time it takes, the more is realistic and interesting. In digital drawings time is fundamental. These are the three technical tools that I use the most. Wacom, Inkling and Ipad. As far as drawings made using Iphone, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Tab and other gadgets that I use I suggest to scribble about them in another post. The primary package is complete. The secondary will be taken care of later. I do hope that somehow I’ve been helpful, please feel free to ask questions in the comments to this post, hoping furthermore to be able to answer somehow.

My wonderful friend Max has  translated this for me  because I have little time but  He also and  that’s why I love him. Thanks Max. Thanks for being in my life.

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11 thoughts on “Review – something about my tools

  1. No my dear, thank YOU for being in my life. You’re one of the best things that happened to me in my whole life. And I’m ot gonna let you go. Sallo.

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