Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wacom Intuos4 Review

As you all know, I've been eying the Wacom Intuos4 Tablet for the longest time. I have been using the precursor to the Wacom Bamboo series, a Wacom Graphire3 Sapphire. After much thought and hesitation, I finally justified that I've been working hard enough, and I deserve a present for myself. I ordered it on Sunday and got it on Tuesday, so I was very excited (after like 11 months of coveting it). I started out by stalking E-bay for a while, but in the end, I gave in and purchased a new one, because I was tempted by the sensation of opening up a pretty new box and E-bay prices were not that much cheaper. I enclosed some pictures of the box, inside the box, the tablet, the pen and the mouse. Everything is very sleek and pretty in black.

I had the hardest dilemma of choosing between an Intuos Small and Medium (the most popular and recommended size). In the end, I chose a Small because as an amateur hobbyist, I couldn't justify paying over $100 more for a couple square inches more of drawing space. I'm glad I chose the Small, because firstly, I just don't have space on my desk (though I like drawing on my bed), and also, I use a laptop with a 15.5 screen, hence having a bigger tablet won't do much for
me anyway. Plus, the Intuos working space dimensions is still bigger than my old Graphire. I ended up getting a good deal on my Intuos4 Small, the best deal I found on the net, so I'm pretty satisfied. I would like to one day try drawing on a Medium though.

Truthfully, I haven't used my Intuos a whole lot yet because I'm a bit afraid to to
uch it. Lol. Off the top, the Inuos4 pen has a 2048 levels of sensitivity, twice more than its predecessor, Intuos3. My Graphire had 0 sensitivity because I dropped the pen very early on, and the nib end went dead, so I have been using the eraser end to paint all this time, which is basically like using a mouse in the shape of stick. So, yes, I never really got to experience the whole "pressure sensitivity" before, and it was amazing to have tilt recognition and actually be able to sketch straight into Photoshop/ Paint Tool SAI. And I like how the Intuos pen is heavier and more solid feeling, and with the pen holder, hopefully I won't drop this pen as much.

I'm rather used to the smooth, slippery plastic feel of the Graphire tablet, whereas Intuos4 has a rough, papery texture which some people love, some people don't. There have been some complaints on the net regarding pen nib-wear, which I guess I will experience eventually. The pen-holder comes with 10 replacement nibs, which I have yet to play around with, which come niftily inside the pen holder. The mouse seems pretty useless as usual, but is at least more functional than the Graphire mouse. The biggest difference on the Intuos4 tablet is the ExpressKey buttons and the I-Pod like radial scroll button, which is very useful. I have yet to fiddle around with the different functions of the ExpressKey.

The biggest issue I had was in the beginning, getting the drivers to function properly. The latest driver was useless--it made Photoshop crash. Anyhow, after two hours of fiddling around with different drivers, ev
erything worked. Truthfully, the first time I used the Intuos, I sort of missed my Graphire and having to do everything manually, from changing pressure to switching between functions. And then, perhaps it was the papery texture of the tablet that I began to miss traditional medium, the feeling of paper and pencil, of watercolor and color pencils, of my brush. Of course the first thing I drew was Sakura and Syaoran--it didn't take me too long to adjust to the Intuos, because after using the eraser end of a pressureless Graphire, you realize how little effort you need to be able to sketch with an Intuos4 (which still requires more hand-eye coordination than drawing on traditional medium). I haven't really painted with Intuos much, but hopefully I'll get a chance to. I might put some comparison pictures up of my Graphire and Intuos for reference if anyone wants it, because I know I would have liked some reference pics.

I haven't really finished inking the sketch yet (so you can see the rough sketch underneath) and began on another piece, but I might finish this one up later. Truthfully, I'm having the worse case of a writer's block at the moment. January and February have been pretty crazy, but I've finally been trying to catch up on emails. I've been staring at Chapter 65 for the past two weeks without making a dent (though I had quite a bit written from back in December/ January). Drawing CCS related stuff usually is a first step to recovering from a writer's block for me which I failed to mention in my fanfiction writing process guide.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Lunar New Year! Music Spotlight: Radwimps

Young Sakura and Syaoran Date by ~wishluv on deviantART

It's the year of the tiger now. Time seems to fly by, doesn't it? I wish I had more New Trials news, but I've been so busy that I haven't had much time to work on Chapter 65 (which by the way I am having so much fun writing ^^). I just posted an old fanart of young Sakura and Syaoran on a date. A Valentine's date, I wonder? Lol. They used to be so cute. I wanted to coordinate them in complimentary preppy outfits. I think one of Syaoran's appeal is his awesome fashion sense; he breaks the mold of male characters and never appears wearing the same day-to-day clothes twice. I remember when I first saw CCS, I wondered how Syaoran, this poor, fatherless boy who is very serious in his "mission" and a tough guy to boot has such a fabulous style of fashion. It was quite a conundrum until I watched Card Captor Sakura Movie 1 and finally realized, ah, he has four sisters. And then, everything made sense to me.

So, Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Today's song is a sort of an anti-Valentine's Day song? :P I discovered Radwimps some time ago from Order-Made (one of those simple but surprisingly profound and resonant songs that you must hear/and watch the PV) and they've been on my playlist a lot lately. They started off as high school friends in 2001 and have since then exploded in popularity in Japan, one of those rare indie-group success stories, I think. One of my favorites is Radwimp's 05410 - (n) because it's angsty lyrics in contrast to the upbeat and very addictive tune. The vocalist Noda Yojiro has a really smooth voice and his English is pretty good since he lived in the US for a couple years; Radwimps does quite a few English songs, sort of like Ellegarden. Do check out their other songs as well; they have many awesome songs with catchy melodies, poignant lyrics and just a raw, unpretentious and sincere ambiance about their music (coming from someone who's been guiltily indulging in a lot of over-processed pop lately).

The title 05410-(n) (0="o" 5="ko" 4="shi" 10="ten" - (n) can be translated to "Okoshite~" which means "wake me up."
Radwimps - 05410-(ん)

Wake me up, wake me up, wake me up when you come back
I'll be here, I'll be waiting here for you.

I can be your best friend
I can be your least friend
I can be your boyfriend
But I don't wanna be your ex-friend.
Don't you know this guy who sang a song
About the highest common factor and so
It's kind of how this is, I'll tell you what it is
About all your questions you have asked.

Wake me up, wake me up, wake me up, when you come back
I'll be here, I'll be waiting here for youIf the size of the sky makes you frightened then come back
And then cry so that I might, could hug you.

This is our fifth talk of breaking up, but this time there is something different
The usual "short term memory loss" for some reason isn't working this time.

It's fine by me if you thought "I don't want this anymore"
But you are the one who said "goodbye," so why did you cry?

Wake me up, wake me up, wake me up, when you come back.
If that answer is "no", what should I do?
Should I cry? Should I die? Or go crazy and then fly?
Better yet should I kiss myself "don't mind."

Wake me up, wake me up, wake me up when you come back
I'll be here, I'll be waiting here for you.
Pick me up, pick me up, pick me up when you come back
Until then, I will save this song for you.

Now come back, now come back, now come back, I'll take it back
I'll be here, I'll be here, I'll be waiting here for you.

Lyrics partly from here.