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couple comics

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.

Graphic-tablet-review

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:

Times they are changing

One day, I woke up to notice that my blog had pulled a disappearing act. In fact, the blog had not only disappeared, but it had pretty much become non-existent. So, I took a few deep zen-like breaths (admittedly, after freaking out and writing a few emails including bold fonts and capital letters to communicate how…well, displeased I was) and built the whole thing from scratch. Unfortunately, I had been foolish enough not to make a second backup of the blog’s content, meaning that I also lost all the posts I had written in the past months. Oh well…

I’ll raise my tea cup to a fresh start, learning experiences and the millions of backups I’ve made of everything since the incident!

Next to my blog collapsing, there have also been some other changes in my life recently. A few months ago, I started a new job and went from being a full-time freelancer into becoming a part-timer. Now I’m a copy-editor of sorts during the day and an illustrator by night…or early mornings and evenings. Although this change came as quite a surprise even to myself, it has certainly been very welcome; it doesn’t only give me the peace of mind that comes with a stable income, but it has also brought me more creative freedom, as I’m no longer dependent on client work. Some people around me were a bit concerned that I would slowly give up illustration, but I feel like the total opposite is happening: I have spent much more time doodling for fun recently. I’m also increasingly enthusiastic about getting started with some bigger projects of my own, which I didn’t really have much time or energy for when I was illustrating full-time for others.

So, here’s to new work-life balance and creative freedom!

Another small change in my life is called Instagram. I’m one of the dinosaurs, who take their time with the new and exciting technological developments and always approach them with some level of skepticism. I don’t have a smart phone, which is one of the main reasons why Instagram didn’t lure me into its visual world already earlier. I still don’t have a smart phone (and I pray my good ol’ Nokia will last at least for another 13 years, letting me continue my retro-smart life as long as possible), but I found my way around it. That said, you can check my little updates by following @emmimarjukka. Amongst other things I post on Instagram, I’ve been sharing little comics about the life in our household. Although it is just a funny little thing I do for fun, it’s also a nice exercise to draw people and incorporate little stories into simple drawings.

So, here’s to my good old Nokia and the holy matrimony of Instagram and my sketchbook: hurray, hurray, hurray!

Whathedudesays1-by Emmi Ojala-lowres

Whathedudesays-by Emmi Ojala-lowres

Whathedudesays2-by Emmi Ojala-lowres

Speaking of Instagram, any recommendations for interesting illustration-related accounts to follow…?