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Wacom’s new Fine tipped Stylus’

The holiday season is quickly approaching which means it’s time for our favorite product manufacturers to start releasing updates to their products just in time for the holiday shopping season. Last year Wacom released the Intuos Creative Stylus and it was their first pressure-sensitive iPad stylus. I personally found this first stylus to not be the best solution. It didn’t really mimic the real feeling of drawing on paper or drawing on my other Wacom products. Last year’s model from Wacom, the Intous Creative Stylus, had a large rubber nib on the end which made it hard for me to do precise drawings. I never understood why stylists were designed this way. I am assuming it was to mimic using a finger when writing on a tablet, but I thought a stylus should be more precise than using any of your five digits.

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Well, this fall Wacom will be offering two new products to try to fix this issue. The first is the new Bamboo Stylus Fineline. It’s a smart stylus with a new thinner tip. This new tip is made of a 1.9mm solid plastic tip and can register 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity. The Fineline is available in an assortment of colors including silver, blue, grey, orange and pink.

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The iPad screen doesn’t support pressure sensitivity so Wacom makes up for this by having the pen register the pressure you are applying and sending it to the tablet using Bluetooth technology. For this to work the application you are running needs to also register the pressure you’re applying so the software and the Stylus need to be able to communicate. The Fineline has some great 1st and 3rd party app support including Wacom’s own Bamboo Paper app, Noteshelf, Notes Plus, INKredible and GoodReader. But the best feature of all is that the Fineline lasts up to 26 hours on a single battery charge.

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If the Bamboo Stylus Finetip is not your style and you would like to step up Wacom has also updated there Intous Creative Stylus. This new offering simply called the Intous Creative Stylus 2 has 2,048 pressure levels of sensitivity, that’s the same level as their professional desktop offerings with their’s Cintiq. I’m not saying the two are comparable but the specs are the same.

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It has a 2.9mm solid plastic tip and works with a wide range of apps including Bamboo Paper, SketchBook Pro for iPad, ArtRage and ProCreate. It can also connect to Wacom’s own Cloud services. Both of these new stylists are compatible with iPad 3, iPad Mini, iPad Air or greater. If you’re interested in these new stylists you can pick one up for $79.95 for the Creative Stylus 2 or the Bamboo Stylus fineline for $59.95 from the Wacom online store or from one of their registered retailers like BestBuy or Amazon.

About the author

  • Norm GrockNORM GROCKContributor, Founder

    Having grown up on the shores of Maui, Hawaii, Norm has always had a love for drawing. Since leaving the Islands’ beautiful beaches and landing in Oregon he went to college and received a degree in graphic design. Now living in Beaverton, Oregon, Norm has been working as a full-time graphic designer and illustrator for the last 12 years. He has spent countless hours perfecting his craft as a freelance illustrator working on several children’s books, a few video games and creating numerous educational products. His ability to draw has given him the chance to do the thing he truly loves — Create.

Making The Legend of Halloween Book Cover Part 2

Thanks for checking back for the second part of this two part post about how I created the Magical World of Sebella: Legend of Halloween book cover.  In part one we discussed how I started this project learning the clients expectations and how the client suggested scenes from the book that might make good imagery for the cover. Next, based off these discussions how I design characters to fit into this magical world. Finishing up last weeks post with talking about how I created a final Black and white line drawing, got it approved, and ready to be colored. This week I’m going to show you the process I used for coloring the entire image and how I finished the project up by laying the cover out in InDesign. If you’d like to read part one you can find it here.

For my coloring process I screen recorded the entire session of me painting the cover. This process was over several days and the video is sped up quite a bit. I think it took me about 10 hours to paint the cover and the full-length of the video is about nine minutes. I hope you enjoy zooming through 10 hours of my life.

When coloring I normally use five or six different tools: brush, eraser, gradient, smudge,  lasso selection, and the magic wand tool. In this case I took my color rough and snapped it to the right side of my Photoshop layout, just for reference as I’m adding color. In this illustration’s case the first thing I started with was a gradient just to establish a base color. From there I roughed in some of the background elements. Once I was happy with the rough background I began adding a base color for the characters. For me, it’s easiest if I use the brush tool and establish the outline of the area I’m trying to fill and making sure there are no open areas. Using the magic wand tool I select the inside of the area. Once that selection has been established I expanded anywhere from two pixels to six pixels out as to avoid the nasty pixel ring that can be left behind if you don’t expand your selection. To do this quickly I create an action in Photoshop that expands my selection two pixels out. Once the flat colors are laid down for all the characters, I begin establishing some quick shadows on the characters using the gradient tool. I know a lot of artists don’t like to use the gradient tool, they say it makes it feel more computer-generated and for the most part I agree. Since this is just the base and I’ll come back painting over these areas later, I don’t have a problem starting with the gradient tool. It just helps me define shapes. Now I’m going in and adding a few lines to faces and areas so I won’t need to use my sketch layer anymore. I never delete the sketch layer until the end because I will refer back to it several times.

At this point (2:00 minutes in) in the drawing I’m looking at it and not really enjoying the way the characters are turning out. There’s a lot of things that I could nitpick about it but instead of scrapping the entire picture I decide to focus on the background. Hiding the characters layer I find myself enjoying the task of painting the background and it really energizes me for the rest of the image. Sometimes I find myself worrying about silly things like the way layers are organized and making sure I use selections so that I don’t paint outside defined shapes. When I feel this way I normally do the scariest thing I can, which is flatten the image. It helps me let go of all that silly stuff and just paint.

Once again happy with the background, I turn my attention back to the characters. When I find myself unhappy with a part of the painting it’s nice to focus on something else and come back later to the problem areas. Just don’t wait too long. Remembering to flip the canvas horizontally helps me see the problem areas of the image. By flipping the canvas you can see the image in a whole new light. Sometimes I’m staring at a drawing for too long and I start to gloss over the mistakes I’ve made. In this case a characters eye was to low on his face and when I flipped the canvas I was able to correct this mistake (3:30; it goes by really quick). I continued to add details where needed. I added some needed color to the sky and bats flying in the background. Now back to refining the characters. I start adding darker shadows and highlights of the edges of characters to help better define the light sources. Finally, I add details, details, and more details. My last few steps are to add some missing pieces of candy (7:45). A color adjustment layer and a dark blue gradient from the top of the image to help sell the idea of night. It also helps the title pop off the page a bit more.

Once again I send this image to the client and her only change is to make the text “The Legend of Halloween” a different color.

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Now that the cover is approved it’s time for me to lay out the artwork in Adobe Indesign. With this cover there was also a design element which was designing the back cover and spine of the book. The author had already sent me the text for the back, so it was really just a matter of defining the colors, coming up with some decorative elements, adding the UPC code area and applying some of the design elements from the back cover to the spine.

I hope you enjoyed my process for creating this cover. It was well worth it and I really enjoyed creating it. I really appreciate Thea Berg allowing me to share all of this with you. If you have any questions about this process please leave them in the comments below and I’ll be sure to answer them.

About the author

  • Norm GrockNORM GROCKContributor, Founder

    Having grown up on the shores of Maui, Hawaii, Norm has always had a love for drawing. Since leaving the Islands’ beautiful beaches and landing in Oregon he went to college and received a degree in graphic design. Now living in Beaverton, Oregon, Norm has been working as a full-time graphic designer and illustrator for the last 12 years. He has spent countless hours perfecting his craft as a freelance illustrator working on several children’s books, a few video games and creating numerous educational products. His ability to draw has given him the chance to do the thing he truly loves — Create.

Making The Legend of Halloween Book Cover Part 1

In this post I’m going to walk you through my process for creating a book cover. A self-publishing author, Thea Berg, approached me to do a cover in her book series The Magical World of Sebella. The first book cover was illustrated by Wilson Williams, Jr. who sadly passed away last year. So I thought it was very nice of the author to think of me to do the second book’s cover. Wilson was a good friend and I was honored that I could continue the work he had started with the first cover.

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I’m going to breakdown my entire process for creating the second book cover in the series The Magical World of Sebella book 2: The Legend of Halloween. I’ll show you the character designs, the cover sketches, color comps, my coloring process and finally how I laid the book out in Adobe Indesign. With all that being in this post, it’s going to be a little bit longer than normal so it may end up being broken into two parts. Let’s get started.

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My process begins with talking to the client. In this case it was a few emails and a phone conversation. During these conversations we discussed her characters, who her target audience is, and the story. I wasn’t able to read through the entire book’s script so she sent me over chunks of the book that she thought would make the best imagery. In our conversations we kept coming back to this same scene, in which the characters are entering a magical candy garden. This ended up being the area we chose for the illustration to take place in. With all of that out of the way I was able to start drawing. First, I looked at the first book’s cover and the look of the characters that were established in the cover. With this book taking place on Halloween we knew that these characters would need completely new outfits. The first thing I wanted to do was establish the characters’ costumes. We had already discussed what costumes the characters would wear: witch, cowgirl, Princess, and ninja costumes. When I’m designing characters I usually start off with a silhouette of the character but since a majority of that was already established from the first cover I was really able to focus solely on the characters’ outfits. I started with really rough sketches and then continued to refine. By dropping the opacity of the layer of my last rough sketch, creating a new layer and continuing to draw over the top of the last sketch, I refined the image until I came up with an image that I’m happy with. Once I  created a sketch I enjoyed, I darkened the line work and added some color. Then I sent the designs over to the client for approval. The sketches were approved rather easily with one minor change; the witch character looked a little old. I reworked the image and was on to the next step of rough sketches for the cover. Continue reading

Launch Report – PACT

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Last year I supported a Indiegogo campaign for a project called Art PACT. PACT stands for professional artist client toolkit. PACT is a tool to help freelance fantasy, sci-fi, and comic book illustrators negotiate a better living wage for themselves. On Thursday the site when live and I thought I would give a quick update on what the site offers at launch. You will hear me say this several times, but I’m sure the content on this site is going to continue to grow. At the beginning of every site content is limited because they are still continuing to produce it. So please keep that in mind as you read this that I’m writing this on day four of the sites launch.
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ctrlpaint.com is Helpful Resource for Digital Artists

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Recently through a website called tutsplus.com I found a very helpful website called Ctrlpaint.com  that has a lot of helpful tutorial videos for digital painters. This site was created by Matt Kohr an illustrator and concept artist.

I recently went through his entire course catalog on Ctrlpaint.com and found it very helpful. The site has wonderful information for beginners and advanced artists alike. His philosophy on tutorials is based more on a foundational approach as opposed to other tutorials which just show the process but not why the artist makes particular decisions. He walks you through the process of creating illustration step by step and the best part is he lets you know his tips, tricks and thoughts. Continue reading