Astropad vs. Wacom Cintiq – which one to buy?

Graphic-tablet-review

For the past few years, I have been wanting to digitize my drawing process in order to work more time-efficiently. I have tried moving from paper to screen multiple times, but it always felt like I lost the control of my pencil when I tried to do this with Wacom tablet. Having heard lots of positive stories about illustrators who have switched to drawing tablets with a screen, I figured I should perhaps invest in one as well.

After having done some research into drawing tablets, the best options for me seemed to be the almost legendary Wacom Cintiq or an app called Astropad, which converts your iPad Pro into a drawing tablet. Whilst researching the pros and cons of each option, I watched a lot of Youtube-reviews comparing them. The most useful video was this one.

I’ll spare you the suspense; I ended up buying an iPad Pro, Astropad and an Apple Pencil. Here are the main reasons for why I chose Astropad over Cintiq:

Disclaimer: The following list is purely based on my personal preferences and information that was available prior to purchase.

1. Price: That’s probably the first thing people think of! Getting a new iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and Astropad was a couple of hundred euros cheaper than getting one of the better Wacom Cintiqs. If you buy a refurbished iPad Pro like I did, you can save even more.

2. Functionality: Although Wacom Cintiq is referred to as The Drawing Tablet for The Real Pros, it’s is just that: a drawing tablet. iPad Pro is multifunctional, and since I don’t have a whole lot of smart devices at home, an iPad was a more practical choice.

3. Mobility (sort of): I enjoy drawing the most whilst chilling on the couch. The fact that Cintiq works only when it’s wired up to a computer was therefore a fairly big minus. Astropad only needs WiFi to connect to your computer, allowing you to draw pretty much anywhere as long as you stay within the WiFi’s reach.

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4. Simplicity: My aim was to make the switch from paper to screen as comfortable and easy as possible, as I tend to get impatient when needing to familiarize myself with something totally new. (Yep, I’m the I-want-it-and-I-want-it-now type.) Astropad basically turns your iPad’s screen into a double screen of your Mac, letting you draw directly into Photoshop or any other app on your computer. Since I already feel comfortable working with the software on my Mac, Astropad seemed much more convenient than Cintiq.

5. Features: My goal was to be able to sketch digitally in a way that would feel as natural as drawing on paper. I planned to use the drawing tablet mainly just for sketching, so although Cintiq is said to have more drawing functionalities, Astropad and my computer’s software seemed good enough for my purpose.

6. Styluses: Apple Pencil is very narrow and pretty much the same size as a regular pencil, whereas Wacom’s styluses are thicker. The nibs of Wacom styluses also recess slightly into the pen when you press them onto the tablet, and that can make them feel less natural than drawing with a normal pencil. As I wanted to be sure that using the drawing tablet would be as close to using normal paper and pencil, choosing an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil felt like a safer option.

Graphic-tablet-review

To compare Astropad with hand-drawing, I drew another one of my couple comics, which I have so far always drawn by hand. Below you can see the Astropad drawing next to one of the earlier hand-drawn comics. I used a Kyle Brush from the Animator Pencil Package, and was really happy both with the process, feeling of drawing and the end result.

And as a grande finale, here’s my first Astropad-piece in its entity:

Colours of Baltics

travelling-baltics

I have an obsession. No, I’m not talking about chocolate (although I am indeed quite passionate about it, too);  I’m talking about photographing buildings. Last year on our trip to Italy I spent a good amount of time taking pictures of charming rainbow-coloured houses. So, when we travelled through Baltics this year, I again found myself pointing the lens of my camera up towards different kinds of buildings.

Here’s a glimpse of the colours of Riga and Vilnius. Both the cities were definitely worth of visiting – they are affordable, full of history and yet to be discovered by the biggest masses of tourists. Especially Riga stole my heart with the many parks, second-hand shops, cafes, market halls and museums.

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Favourite children’s books: The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce the fifth book in my collection of inspiring children’s books. This time it’s going to be one of my personal childhood favourites – a book straight from the 90s!


The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
Written by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith and designed by Molly Leach

Badge of greatness for the hilariously odd stories and extraordinarily entertaining design



“A long time ago, people used to tell magical stories of wonder and enchantment. Those stories were called Fairy Tales. Those stories are not in this book. The stories in this book are almost Fairy Tales. But not quite. The stories in this book are Fairly Stupid Tales.”

The memory of my dad reading this book to my 7-year-old sister and my 9-year-old self is one of the clearest childhood memories I have about books. The reading experience of this one was quite special for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was written in English, so my parents simultaneously translated it to us. Secondly, the stories were so amusing and the design was so playful that I can still vividly picture us sitting on a bed looking at the graphic details and laughing at them together. This book has been incredibly dear to me ever since – so much so that it’s pretty much impossible to look at it objectively without walking down the memory lane!

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales is a collection of parodies of popular children’s stories. The stories are tied together through some reappearing characters and the narrator Jack, who introduces the stories and deals with the rest of the cast.

The stories in the book are extremely funny to begin with, but they would not make such a strong impact without the expressive illustrations AND the design. It’s typically said that it’s the combination of text and illustrations that either makes or breaks a children’s book. However, in this case the design plays a key role as well, bringing all the different elements together into an all-around amusing entity. In fact, the author of the book, Jon Scieszka, wrote an insightful article called “Design Matters”, which shows first hand what a difference Molly Leach’s designs made for The Stinky Cheese Man and some other books.

And what about the characters? Well, they exaggerated and very outspoken, both in text and images. There’s dissatisfied, nagging Little Red Hen and a truly crazy-looking Ugly Duckling, just to mention a few. Created by an acknowledged illustrator Lane Smith, the characters show a range of strong emotions from fearful to angry, disappointed, greedy and surprised. It’s very interesting to observe how Lane Smith has translated these feelings into the illustrations using a variety of techniques from painting to collage. And here’s a fun fact: Lane Smith and the book’s designer Molly Leach are actually a couple, who have collaborated on many of the books written by Jon Scieszka. Quite a super trio, I would say! When asked about their working process, Lane answered:

“Jon writes a story, gives it to me, I work out the art, give it to Molly, she works out the type then we all get together and tweak stuff. Then we turn it in.” (Quote from www. blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings)

I keep on finding myself drawn to books that are charmingly absurd. This is a realization that has led to some self-reflection: when I am working on my own story ideas (yep, I’ve got a couple!), I tend to be Very Serious about it. Naturally, I want to bring my stories to life in the best way possible, which often leads me to just thinking and doing research instead of actually creating anything. It feels my stories are in danger of becoming watered-down by my over-analytical approach. I should definitely try to keep the process more light-hearted and leave some space for absurdities. After all, I can relate to this thought of Lane Smith:

“I make the kinds of books that I liked as a kid. I don’t like ordinary, middle-of-the-road books. I like funny, odd books that excite and challenge a child. There are enough people doing nice books about manners and feelings and magical unicorns. I do not do those kinds of books.” Quote from www.lanesmithbooks.com