Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pinging Art #3: Wacom Intuos4!

In the heart of Kuala Lumpur there lies a place of called Plaza Low Yat. It is called an "IT Mall". Everyone knows it as THE place to buy anything electronic. I'm told that in US they call them "Fry's" or something like that. Or was it "Curry's"? No, wait- I think that's British.

Hm... fries and curries...

Well, anyway... in KL it's Plaza Low Yat.

Mind you this place which exists in perpetual organized chaos is not quite like the chain-store atmosphere of Fry's. It's simply an entire marketplace-like mall consisting of miscellaneous little outfits dedicated to selling electronics and electronic media.

I hate malls, so I have never been there in my life.

But due to certain circumstances which require I obtain a new graphic tablet, I decided to venture to the only place I could be certain to 100% find a Wacom Intuos 4 which I had long coveted.

My main worry was the price. I had already visited other stores in search of my dream tablet. I was really hoping not to have to resort to going to Low Yat, but tiring of condescending shop assistants trying to fob off old stock to me at jacked up prices (Think Intuos 3's at 30% more than recommended prices) I figured that intense competition would help me find a tablet my poor budget could afford.

Of course, on arriving there on the first day of the end of Eid, I ended up avoiding maybe 50% of the usual crowds. Not too bad at all. But as it turns out, lots of the vendors in Low Yat aren't above trying to fleece naive-looking girls looking for esoteric pieces of computer equipment either.

I hope I don't come across as too pompous when I say I am neither. But after some intense search, a lot of walking, price checking, and some very interesting observations on the art of dodgy salesmenship yielded an interesting experience.

"Oh those models aren't out yet, try this one, this is the latest!" (Intuos 3, HAH!)

"My price is the best miss! My competitor says he's selling them for 300 ringgit less but I assure you, he has none in stock! I checked!"

Fortunately I DO check. And competitor has them in stock for price within and below my budget. I emerged triumphant with a brand new shiny Intuos 4 and a hole in my credit card.

Well, a metaphorical one, ok?

So what can I say about it? (the tablet, not the hole). After my teeny A6 Graphire 2, the Medium Intuos4 really is very very nice. I can draw directly on the comp with this thing, and I found that the bundled software it comes with works much better than Photoshop for drawing and painting.

One of the first things I drew with the tablet. A self portrait where I look like a deranged killer. You'd look like that too if you'd spent your whole day in a mall.

It has to be said the Intuos 4's control is so much better (I still have more control with my chienese brushes, but let's not compare apples and oranges here). I am definitely enjoying learning to use it, ranging from the funky LED buttons and the touch wheel that lets me change brush size on the fly. It will come in handy when I go back to full colour comics again.


Let's just hope that it's as hardy as my old Graphire 2. Now that was a solid piece of work...


So far I find it quite possible to create an entire comic digitally. In fact I think the textured surface and the standard nib do a pretty good approximation of pencil on paper. I haven't quite experimented with the different nibs (felt and brush) yet. We'll see how that goes, but for the meantime, sample of the digital comic making process:

I still think my rough blues had more energy though.


  1. Extremely relevant post for me, since I also just upgraded from an A6 Graphire2 to a Medium Intuos4, and am looooving it.

    On the hardiness front, an important thing I thought I should mention is that due to the new slightly more textured surface I've found that nib wear is happening far more quickly than before. I began to see wear after less than a day of use, which was a bit alarming compared to my old Graphire where I only had to replace the nib once in five years of heavy use.

    Apparently it's a pretty common complaint, so what I ended up doing was buying a sheet of clear A4 plastic and taping it over the active area and it stopped the problem completely.

    It's not a pressing problem since the tablet comes with something like ten nibs, but I rather like the one with the spring in it, and it only has one of those... anyway, I hope that's helpful. :)

  2. Wow... definitely not kidding about the wear on the nib. I'm seeing it on mine too!

    I haven't really experimented with the brush nib (I think that's the black on with white tip), but I think I will try inking with it next time.

    I find I really like the roughness of the surface for preliminary sketches with the pencil tool, but when I want to ink I like the surface smooth. I might go buy a transparency slide or something to put over it, I think.

    Thanks for the tip! And that's some neat stuff you're doing with your tablet, I must say!

  3. Yeah, the nib wear really is crazy. The textured surface is nice, but I think I'm far too used to the plastic surface anyway, and I'd rather not be going through a pack of nibs a month. Expensive!

    I think a transparency slide should do the trick nicely, I have mine taped to the tablet on one side so I can still flip it out of the way if I need to. As a bonus it seems to be doing a pretty good job of keeping the tablet clean, too.

    And thanks! I certainly do get a lot of use out my tablet at the very least, haha.

  4. I did Bang Barstal on an Intuos 3. It's a fine way to work, but eventually I grew to miss the smell of ink in the morning.

    The only problem I had with doing the art 100% digitally is that zooming out isn't nearly the same as leaning back and looking at the paper from a distance. I wish I could explain how that is easily...

  5. wow I love the blue self portrait, your loose colouring techniques are lovely :)