April '09     


Ian Harrowell (Australia)

On the Cintiq front, I am a big fan.   A little studio I am running, albeit struggling, uses these PL-720 wacoms. I prefer them as they are cheaper and they are 17" as opposed to the big 21".

I guess for me, like in the 2D paper animation days, I was always trying to find the sweet spot to draw in, so you weren't distorting your body too much. You know, trying to avoid frozen shoulders and whopping headaches etc...

With the 21" I feel they are getting a little too big, and I would end up not using a big part of the screen. I have seen others use them, and they end up using mainly just the part they like. The 17" feels just right.

I also   use a Toshiba Tecra M4....a truly magic little 14" tablet notebook. Done tons of animation and storyboards on it. We also use Toonboom's Storyboard and Digital Pro, so the whole paperless thing is happening. Not that I have anything against paper, just practicality, budget, and efficiency I guess.

Another big thing we do is throw on and acetate protective film. Once you scratch these things , you will always have the annoying skritch skritch as you keep running over the little grooves. The film adds a slight paper grip to the surface that I like, and gives you the peace of mind that if you have some grit on the stylus, it doesn't matter because it's only a $30 film. The replacement for the glass screen in these things is a up there with the purchase price.

Rusty Mills (Hollywood)

I have been working on computers since the mid 1980's and have seen many different tools come and go.  My first introduction to drawing on a computer was by using the mouse.  Someone once described that to me as a kin to drawing with a bar of soap.  So when I was first introduced to a drawing tablet I thought it was much better but still had to learn the eye had coordination of drawing below while looking up at the screen.  Not only did I have to contend with this new way of drawing but the first tablets I used had the pen wired to the tablet.   When I was first given the chance to draw directly on the screen I welcomed the chance with open arms.  Though I was never forced to use a Cintiq for work I have used one by choice for certain jobs. 

I find the Cintiq to be a wonderful tool but it depends mainly upon the computer system it is attached to and the software I'm using.  To clarify, let me list some misconceptions many artists have.

1.  The Cintig is a computer.

No, the Cintig in a monitor and graphics tablet melded together. It plugs into an existing computer system so the response of the Cintiq depends upon the speed of your system.

2. The Cintiq is software.

No, though it requires a driver to interact with the computer it is dependent on the graphics software to understand the information from the Cintiq. This means some software will respond better than others.

3. The Cintiq has terrible line quality.

Again it it entirely dependent on the software.  Often the user doesn't know enough about a software package to alter the look of the line.  I have even seen particular studios mandate bad line quality because the people in       charge don't know how to use the software correctly.  Most vector software, such as Flash, or the Toonboom family will allow a texture to be applied to the line which gives it a more natural pencil look.  This however makes the file larger. In order for a system to handle the larger file it needs to be flattened/grouped regularly.  This flattening is different than flattening layers.

4.  I can take a class in Cintiq.

Wrong.  You can take a class in using a particular software and Cintiqs may be used but the class is in learning the software.

5.  2D animation can never look like traditional work done on paper.

 I have done several 2D projects completely paperless and the results look just like traditional work.  Even in the pencil test stage.

I teach several classes at Studio Arts in Glendale,CA in the use of the Toonboom programs, Storyboard Pro, Pencil Check Pro, and Digital Pro.  I've also taught Mirage (now TVPaint) and Photoshop.  I use all of these programs on a Cintiq and have been able to make them all give me results that look very close to my analog work.

Another option I use is a Motion Computing Tablet PC.  This works very much like a Cintiq and even uses theWacom technology but it is a complete computer about the size of a sketchbook.  The great thing about the Tablet PC is I can take it just about anywhere.  I have been able to work on animation and storyboards while riding the train to work or sitting in a park.

If you find using a Cintiq alters your drawing style for the worse try changing some of the setting both in your software and in the tablet driver itself.  My feeling is it might take a bit of adjustment to use a Cintig but is well worth it.

Patrick Smith (New York)

I got used to it pretty quickly.  I think I stopped trying to make it look like pencil, and that was the key to getting a nice line.  I think it works best with the brush in flash.  I also do not rely on it for work that I need to be a bit more cinematic... the cintiq seems to excel at television type work, but lacks that feel and texture for the big screen.

Cintiq's are great for immediate gratification. There's no other tool that can get you through a deadline, particularly when working in flash. I've also found the Cintiq most helpful for photoshop work like coloring, filling etc.  But what the Cintiq destroys is texture and that gritty sense of reality. No matter what, there is the looming fact that you are NOT working on paper, and all that you draw does not actually exist in real life.  You are simply organizing one's and zeros, and when the power is off, those drawings don't exist.  

There is one other thing that bothers me about the Cintiq.. Animation as a medium used to create masses amount of tangible artwork. This artwork is very valuable and can be exhibited or sold at a gallery or from the studio.  For me, it's become a nice piece of income for the studio. I think many animators are cheating themselves out of the creation of some great artwork on paper.

Mike Cachuela (Portland)

No need to wait for scanning. You draw. It's in the computer. I still like to mix it up a little and do thumbnails and roughs on paper. Then scan those in and have a photoshop action that cuts them, crops them and puts them all in neat psd panels ready to be toned or edited or whatever you want to do.

Now then, you don't have any original drawings no more. No finished drawings. Then again, all those "Nightmare Before Christmas" boards we did with the pen that Tim Burton supposedly used at the time? All those ink lines faded and faded into faintness.

It seems like a real cool, space-age piece of technology until the radiation starts disintegrating your wrists (just kidding about the radiation --- I hope).

The trick is getting a good ergonomic work station going. It's hard to find a good place for your keyboard if you use it while you draw. Also if you're already familiar with the drawing programs you are going to use that helps too.

If you really get into illustrating on a Cintiq or any digital interface I guess, you can make your own digital brushes or copy brush sets from your friends. Also I tend to integrate more mask layers and lighting effects that photoshop layers provide. Much the same way you would lift graphite off the paper to add highlights.

James Baker (San Francisco)

I was obliged to do it by a production I was on. Suddenly, the option to do it any other way was removed; the pipeline was set up in such a way that drawing storyboard panels on paper and scanning was removed. So kicking and screaming about the injustice of it all, I joined all the other guys who had been doing it willingly for some time.

It took a while to like the drawings that I did digitally. Finding the right BRUSHES (usually given me by friends) was when I started to enjoy drawing digitally. For some reason I still cannot make my signature written on a Cintiq, look exactly the same as when written on a check... But the advantages; the easy editing and moving around of drawn elements, became apparent immediately.

I've had to learn to draw a little differently, yes. The BIG change though is in how and when I work. Before the digital revolution, I would sometimes take a little work home to tidy up in front of the TV.   The new process requires that I get my work all done at the studio, which in many ways is better for me.

In terms of DRAWINGS, I still prefer the LOOK of drawings done the old way. I haven't found digital drawing tools that QUICKLY reproduce the effect of a smudge stick, for example. But when it comes to COLOURING, the Cintiq wins. My attempts to paint analog were always horrible, but I can sometimes make a half way decent colour pic digitally.

Bernard Derriman (Australia)

I personally don't use one and don't have any interest at this stage. I enjoy drawing with my 10 year old Intuous 2, and apart from the cost, I just like my set up at the moment with two monitors, a keyboard to the left and tablet to the right. And even though I have done it for 30 years with pencil and paper, I like not having my hand in the way when I draw. But in saying all that, I'll probably have a go of one soon and have to have one...

Tom Sito (Hollywood)

I bought one about two years ago. I find it pretty easy to use, much easier than standard tablets. However, I do mourn all storyboarding being done on them now. The production expects you to cut, direct and edit your boards as well as draw them. I liked to dwell on the drawings on the board as a whole. Remember how Katzenberg would read about three rows down from everyone else? Now we are presented with a fait d'accompli mini-movie. Take it or leave it.










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