4 reasons you SHOULDN’T buy a drawing tablet!

So you want a drawing tablet? Well here’s why you SHOULDN’T buy one!

Advertisements

1. Won’t Digital Take Forever to Learn?

To learn? No. To master? Yes.

But that’s the beauty of art.

I got my first drawing tablet around 2006. I opted for the cheapest model that offered pressure sensitivity at the time (I knew this was a must, even then). I suppose it would be closest to a Wacom Bamboo but I don’t remember the model I had back then.

It was tough. For a few hours. But then it wasn’t.

All the nerves I had leading up to it were blown away when I realised it’s the same thing I’d been doing for years! You already have the skills. Head over to YouTube or Skillshare to learn the specifics of something like Photoshop, but the truth is that ever looming learning curve is much smaller than you think.

2. The Price is Too Damn High!

Without actually getting your hands on one, how can you know whether it’s worth it? The highest of the high-end will set you back a horrifying £3000+. Can you imagine spending that only to find you don’t even like using it?! Screw that! Luckily, that’s where low-end tablets come in. Tablets like the Wacom Bamboo can give you a feel for a drawing tablet without that beastly price tag. Of course, you’re compromising on quality. You’re not going to get the same product at 2% of the price but even if you’re not planning on upgrading anytime soon there are tons of fantastic creators using super low-end hardware.

As they say: It’s not the tool, it’s how you use it!

If you do pick one of these up I’d recommend sticking with either Wacom or Huion. These are the two most trusted manufacturers so you can’t go wrong.

Wacom Bamboo

Huion Equivalent

3. But Won’t Paying Less Get Me Less?

Well…yeah.

But you’re a drawing tablet newbie, right? Do you think you’re going to use all the features of something like the godly Wacom Mobilestudio Pro? I know I wouldn’t and I’ve been working digitally for nearly a decade.

You’ve got to start somewhere and there are established pros who work Wacom Bamboo tablets. So start!

4. What About Portability?!

Portability, portability, portability. Back in my day it was never even a consideration! The Wacom Intuos Large was bigger than an A3 drawing pad and while I did have a carrying case it pretty much stayed at home.

These days anyone starting up has boatload of options. I’m seriously jealous.

The Wacom Bamboo is great to pair up with a laptop and will fit in in any standard sized backpack with ease.

Or if you’ve got cash to throw around, you could pick up one of the Wacom Mobile Studio range.

Point being, there’s a world of possibilities!

But…I’m Still Not Sure…

If you’re still on the fence I’d recommend checking out some tutorials and unboxings over on YouTube. They’ll give you a sense of just what these things can do. But be warned. They’ll also get you waaaaay too excited and you just might spend some money*.

If you’ve already got an iPad Pro you could pick up an Apple Pencil and give those a shot for much less than you’d spend otherwise. Personally, I can’t stand drawing on them but fantastic artists like WhytManga have shown some fantastic work on Instagram.

If you’re not convinced by now, they’re probably not for you. If you can’t afford any of this awesome hardware, don’t sweat it. Sure, they make thing a lot easier and they can be exciting, but in the end drawing tablets are just tools. You’ll still grow and develop without them.

But if you do want to go digital, you can’t get much better.

Come back next time when I’ll probably be ranting about how terrible Crazy Baby earbuds are.

*If you’re under 18 and spending someone else’s money just make sure they’re okay with it, yeah? I’m not responsible for any whuppings you’ll earn if you don’t.

 

The Ultimate Mangaka Starter Pack II: Colours and Screentones!

Ben here! Welcome back to The Ultimate Mangaka Starter Pack! If you haven’t read part one (Pencils and Inking) check it out because this week we’re jumping straight into colour!

As far as first impressions go, colour is make-or-break! If your manga looks like it’s been scribbled with a biro you’re not going to get very far (unless it’s intentional, of course). If you followed my advice last week your equipment for pencils and inks should be good to go so let’s jump right in!

Colouring pens

The Pro Route: Copic Set B Ciao Marker (£181.70)

Getting Started: Letraset ProMarker Student Designer Set (£36.99)

Ciao Markers
Just look at these beauties…I may be getting carried away.

If you’ve ever spent two minutes on Instagram you’ll have seen the words ‘copic markers’ at least twelve times. And for good reason. Even established pros are known to use copic markers. Check out some of the awesome artwork for WhytManga (Apple Black) and you’ll see why! There really isn’t a better way to go.

Unfortunately, there’s a massive range of prices for these beauties. The Ciao Markers used by the incredible WhytManga will set you back £181.70. More than worth the price for a whopping 72 markers in a range of colours that should cover everything you’re likely to need. But if you’re just starting out you’d be better off trying your hand with a cheaper package.

Letraset make great markers that will more than suffice as you’re learning the ropes. Even after you’re good with them the Student Designer Set should give you plenty of options with 24 markers and a handy carrying case.

 

Screentone

Marker toning: Letraset ProMarker Set – Neutral Tones (£9.79)

Screen tones: Deleter Manga Writing Screen Tone (£17.88)

Letraset Pro Markers 12 packs bundle

‘But what if you’re not going for colour?’ I hear you ask, ‘Most manga is black and white anyway!’

And you’d be right! If you’re sticking with black and white you probably don’t want to a massive pack of colour markers.

So, your options are:

  1. Marker toning
  2. Screen tones

Marker tones are exactly what it says on the tin. Pick up some Letraset markers and use the various shades to create shadows. Simples.

But if you want to create an authentic manga experience you’re better off going for screen tones. Unfortunately, that means shelling out a lot more of that hard-earned dosh. I must admit I’ve never taken the leap and tried screen tones but the effect is fantastic. They come in a number of varieties; as a rule, the higher the percentage, the darker the tone. There are also a number of ways to achieve this effect digitally which I’ll explore in a later post but almost every mangaka you’ve ever seen uses traditional methods. If you want to continue that proud tradition you’re a braver artist than I.Next time we show the world!

Next time we show the world!

 

So, whether you’re going for colours or tones you’re ready to go! Come back next week when we’ll be taking your manga from the page to the screen and showing the world your awesome new manga.

Don’t miss The Ultimate Mangaka Starter Pack! Part 3: Scanners and Software!

The Ultimate Mangaka Starter Pack I: Pencilling and Inking

Manga is the most popular and influential form of comic book art in the world today. And while most western comic books rely heavily on digital methods (more on that here) over in Japan manga authors (or mangaka) stick to the old-fashioned methods. And the results are staggering!

Bakuman
Bakuman by Takeshi Obata and Tsugumi Ohba is an amazing guide to the world of manga.

But before you can join the likes of Eiichiro Oda (One Piece), Takeshi Obata (Death Note), or Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball) you’re going to need the right tools for the job!

Paper

  • Daler-Rowney 70gsm Manga Sheets A4 (£6.75) UKUS
  • Winsor & Newton Extra Smooth Bristol Board Gummed Pad – A3 (£13.20) UKUS

If you’re planning on using colour it’s hard to beat Daler-Rowney. Their products are incredibly high quality for the price and their manga sheets are designed to prevent markers leaking through the paper (more on markers in part 2).

But if you’re not planning on using markers (or even if you are and can afford the best) I’d recommend Winsor & Newton Extra Smooth Bristol Board. Bristol Board is the comic book industry standard and is incredibly high quality. Ink won’t leak through but it’s main strength is that it’s perfect for scanning onto a computer for digital work (more on that in part 3).

Bristol Board
It’s just so beautiful… *sobs*

Pencils

  • Pentel Graphgear 500 Mechanical Pencil (£5.73) UKUS
  • Faber-Castell 9000 Art Set 12 x Pencils (£9.74) UKUS

A lot of mangakas use mechanical pencils and I’m a diehard fan of the Pentel Graphgear 500. It’s considered to be one of the best, and I have to say it works like a dream.

Graphgear 500
Behold the sword with which you conquor the world of comics! Or like, draw dicks in textbooks and stuff…

If, however, you’re looking to keep it old school (or opting for pencil shading over colour) I highly recommend the Faber-Castell 9000 Art Set. Faber-Castell are consistently amazing for affordable art and this set is no different. Offering a range of softness, from 2H to 8B (more on that here). The best choice if you’re not into mechanical pencils. (Just don’t forget your sharpener!)

Inking pens

  • Deleter Manga Starter Kit (£8.85) UKUS
    • Deleter Comic Pen Nib G-pen 3pc – 2set (£26.08) UKUS
  • Zig Cartoonist Mangaka Markers x3 (£5.99) UKUS
  • Kuretake Japanese Brush Pen (£3.28) UKUS
    • 4 pack (£11.91) UKUS
  • Kuretake No. 40 Fountain Brush Pen ($36 USD or £28.08) Global

Not all pens are created equal (learn more here) but some are truly outstanding. Manga artists over in Japan are in love with the G-Pen (more on those here) as you may have noticed if you’ve read manga like Bakuman (Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata). But, in all honesty, they’re super hard to use. If you go down that route I recommend the Deleter G-Pen. The starter pack will have you ready to go before you know it. (It might also be worth picking up some spare nibs too for when those wear out but it’s not a necessity just yet).

Fine liners are a more modern tool but no less important. They’re less fuss than the G-Pen as you don’t need to worry about ink or cleaning out your nibs. So, if you’re not committed to going old school they’re definitely a fantastic way to go. The Deleter G-Pen pens are even specially designed for manga! They’re available in most craft stores or you can pick up a pack online. (Just make sure you’ve got a spare so you’re not caught short!)

Kuretake Fountain
If you don’t find this absurdly cool you’re probably on the wrong website.

Kuretake brush pens work amazingly alongside either a G-Pen or fine liners. They’re available in both disposable and refillable versions and even western comic book artists like Ryan Ottley (Invincible) swear by them. These things are not only a joy to use but make you feel like a Shaolin monk while you do!

Next Time: Getting Colourful!

So that just about covers everything you’ll need for pencils and inking. Come back next week for The Ultimate Mangaka Starter Pack! Part 2: Colour and Screentones!