Advices for buying digital artwork-inclined computer & hardware
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    Advices for buying digital artwork-inclined computer & hardware

    Hi everyone, this is my first post on CA, I hope I am doing this in the right category.

    I'm a 25 yrs old comic artist / illustrator in Belgium.
    I am to buy a new computer soon, one that can handle large images working out with Pshop and the like and I am seeking advices, especially from established pros.

    I've been doodling to this day with a really poor 4 years old ACER laptop with intel chipset and 1 Giga RAM (2 for the last 2 months but it's not really improving anything). I'm also using a Cintiq 12.

    As much as I tweak my way with softwares, I'm a total ignorant of hardware stuff, and I'd be eager to hear what the people working in digital art industry are using to sustain their art production.

    - Desk computer / laptop ?
    - Mac / PC ?
    -What video card ?
    - I also saw on pictures you guys at Massive Black work with 2 screens. I can figure out the point but how do you configure this.

    I've also considered buying a tablet pc... cintiq is a cable nightmare and I'd be glad to work on something smaller and simpler but still keep the interactive display. But then again what type, what configuration would do the trick (are tablet pcs as good as standard, recent laptops ?)

    A huge thanks in advance to any and all who will give their piece of advice... I'm sure it will help others than me, too.

    Cheers,

    Mathieu (french for Mathew)

    Proud belgian beer drinker !
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    Anything with duo processor and 4gb ram will put you in the comfort zone. Computers today are way more powerful that software requirements.

    Video card not that important if you're not doing 3D.

    Mac and PC not really drastically different in terms of software workflow. OS workflow is very slightly different.

    Monitor just get one 24 inch LCD will do. Get one at the start and see if you need a second. You'll know afterward.

    If you don't need to carry your computer around, there's no need to buy a laptop.

    Parka Blogs <- Most dangerous blog for artists (and their wallets).
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    I am a graphic designer so i use photoshop and illustrator daily, and I would say the only important thing needed to use photoshop at a good capacity is around 4GB ram, and 2 or more hard drives. Thats about the only things i noticed that are really needed to get photoshop running good.

    PC or Mac is up to your taste in workflow, though i find it better using Mac because finding images is so much faster (but thats my opinion).

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    cs 4 finally brings rotate canvas to photoshop. But to use that you need a video card with at least 256 mb of memory. (a low- to mid-end gaming card will be super cheap and good enough for this purpose.)

    Personally i couldn't work without my dual screen setup. nothing like having one screen dedicated to the canvas and one screen for reference, zoomed out window, etc etc.

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    Thanks for those answers, it's helping me out a lot.

    Has anyone any advice on the usefulness of tablet pcs ?

    Pros & contras in using tablet pcs for digital drawing ?

    thanks again.

    Proud belgian beer drinker !
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    Pros: Its portable, and you get to draw directly on the screen.

    Cons: It gets very hot, so having it in your lap might be troublesome. It will also make your hands sweat. In the three different ones i've tested there's been a slight offset between where the pens touch and where the cursor appears. The models i've tried also had only 512 levels of pressure sens, so the response curve felt weird. Battery life was also an issue in the models i've tried.

    The biggest con in my book is that the technology is underpowered for the price compared to say, a laptop+tablet.

    I'd recommend getting a bigger bag and just fit a laptop + small tablet in there if you're looking for portability.

    Actually, what i'd really recommend is going to a store (if that is an option for you) that carries a tablet pc and try it out for yourself.

    Good luck!

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    Tablet pcs are twice as xpensive as separated solutions for the same results.

    Sketchbook is one click away:
    Never forget the Magicman
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    I have 4GB ram with a 3.4ghz processor and 512mb video card and I'm good to go with everything I use. My PC is 5 years old approx too

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    I'm also pretty unknowledgeable in this area but as someone mentioned before two HDDs make a sizeable difference. I have a PC circa 2001 with average to low stats, 2gb of ram. Not half a year ago I had one 90 gb HDD and photoshop had a hard time handling anything that at 100% 200dpi was a bit bigger than my screen and had five or more layers. Now I have two HDDs and I can even make smooth lines in Corel Painer with huge Artist's Oils brushes with hardly any lag (my PC used to crash at it)

    Last edited by ChristmasBunneh; October 19th, 2009 at 05:28 AM.
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    A very important factor when digital painting is the processor. When you have a slow one, you can add all the HDD's and RAM you want but brush strokes will still lag on bigger canvases. It took my old duo 3 seconds to draw one line at 2.8ghz clock and and 5-6 seconds at 1.8ghz clock. So I suggest picking up fast RAM and a good CPU that can be clocked to 4+ghz.

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    Tablet Pcs are tied to the hardware so they age quite fast.
    Something like a Cintiq or a tablet will work on any computer, so in five years you can still use it with a state of the art machine.

    Also another thing is that cintiq uses a much better screen than laptops or tablet pc.

    If you don't like tweaking computers and os much , I would suggest a mac.

    Marc

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    I have a fujitsu lifebook T series and I have to say the tablet functionality is poor when it comes to trying to do anything serious, artistically that is. It's supposed to be pressure sensitive but basically it is an on off, and as far as the pen not drawing where you point it this is easily fixed by recalibrating so not much of a problem.

    My laptop is several years old running a 2.0 dual core and 2gb of ram. I recently upgraded my hard drive to a 7200rpm one and have noticed that painter is now running much smoother. There is a hot swap bay which can have a cd drive, extra battery, or an extra hard drive... so there is the possibility of dual HD's but I haven't tried this yet.

    As far as multiple monitors I run two 21" gateways off of my laptop using a matrox cad. LINK HERE. With the intuos 4 you can switch between multiple monitors with the push of a button, so that's how I've been handling that.

    Hopefully this helps some... I know that the fujitsu's are excessively expensive so this isn't a solution for everyone; and like stated above with prolonged use it can get a little toasty to work with on your lap but overall it runs everything well.

    Let me know if you have any more Q's

    -Nick

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    Quote Originally Posted by mcg1355 View Post
    I have a fujitsu lifebook T series and I have to say the tablet functionality is poor when it comes to trying to do anything serious, artistically that is. It's supposed to be pressure sensitive but basically it is an on off, and as far as the pen not drawing where you point it this is easily fixed by recalibrating so not much of a problem.
    That's weird, I have a T5010 and the pressure sensitivity works fine. I've done plenty of "serious" work with it because I use it for in-house freelance jobs, and in actual use it really doesn't differ that much from the Cintiq 12WX which I also own.

    And personally I think the Fujitsu screen is actually much better than the 12WX.

    To the OP though, I would say get a Tablet PC if portability is important, but if not then stick with the 12WX and save money.

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    I own a Lenovo X61T tablet pc, been using it for freelance jobs while traveling the world the last year. Works great. It is one of the only ones which does not get hot, very good batterylife, great black and white values and high-res screen. Con: quite expensive (the most expensive of the tablets when I bought it). and the colors are not great. But enough for your average fantasy card illustration jobs. A good screen to edit things on would have been nice though. (It's just quite heavy to carry a 24 inch in a backpack ).

    I would recommend a Tablet pc if you are away from home a lot and still have to do work. Otherwise, just get a good Desktop and a sketchbook .

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    Smile

    So after reading the post from frog from itchy I was confused because my tablet pen has always been basically on off. So I went to best buy to try a different pen but still on my computer thinking my pen was broken... and it worked like 100 time better!!! I then called fujitsu to get a new pen and the guy said that I must have had a defective pen and that this problem was fairly common, (back when I ordered my comp), so they are sending me a replacement for free. I just wish I had known it sooner

    Thanks frog from itchy! I feel like I'm getting a free cintiq in the mail!!!

    sorry to kinda hijack the thread... I got excited

    -Nick

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    Do not get a tablet laptop for drawing... ever, I made that fatal mistake and now feel stuck with it until I can afford a new laptop that will not be touch screen...

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    Quote Originally Posted by zwarrior View Post
    Do not get a tablet laptop for drawing... ever, I made that fatal mistake and now feel stuck with it until I can afford a new laptop that will not be touch screen...
    Haha, ehm can you please say why it sucks?
    I've made that 'fatal mistake' too, but for me it worked out perfectly. The tablets are not perfect yet, but good enough for my current situation.
    If you just say 'it sucks, don't do it'. Give a reason. Your reason.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidSmit View Post
    Haha, ehm can you please say why it sucks?
    I've made that 'fatal mistake' too, but for me it worked out perfectly. The tablets are not perfect yet, but good enough for my current situation.
    If you just say 'it sucks, don't do it'. Give a reason. Your reason.
    after I wrote that, I read your comment and meant to edit mine to explain further but I had to leave.

    what I should have said was make sure its from a great manufacturer, which you must have had, because for mine (HP) the tablet part of the screen worked whenever if felt like, I could restart over and over, wont work, but the next day I try again, it does.

    Besides that, Im so used to drawing on a plain tablet and having to look up a monitor while drawing, that I prefer it. it felt weird to be doing digital work in a way different than that. And its just not as good as wacom, at all.

    But my biggest mistake was assuming that I'd enjoy drawing that way as a replacement to drawing on a sketchbook. I purposely bought a small 12" 'top hoping its small size would reminisce a portable sketchbook, but it really doesn't... I didnt take into account; 1) its weight compared to a book 2)heating as others mentioned, and 3) that a tip of a pencil breaking isnt a head-scratcher like software/hardware malfunction.

    edit: and how could I forget 4) Battery

    I bought it at a time when I was easily swayed by technology and it was a great wake up call... to stick to the basics.

    Last edited by nauvice; October 23rd, 2009 at 04:27 AM.
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    Thanks all for your answers, this thread grows really interesting and helpful, with lots of different advices and that is what I aimed to. I've been caught with flu last days so I haven't been able to read everything yet.. but I'm sure everybody can profit from these informations

    Proud belgian beer drinker !
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    I always thought the cintiq was the apex of tablets. I'm glad I didn't fork over thousands of dollars for a disappointment.

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    for a monitor. get one without a TN panel. S-IPS, S-PVA is what you want

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    Quote Originally Posted by mcg1355 View Post
    So after reading the post from frog from itchy I was confused because my tablet pen has always been basically on off. So I went to best buy to try a different pen but still on my computer thinking my pen was broken... and it worked like 100 time better!!! I then called fujitsu to get a new pen and the guy said that I must have had a defective pen and that this problem was fairly common, (back when I ordered my comp), so they are sending me a replacement for free. I just wish I had known it sooner

    Thanks frog from itchy! I feel like I'm getting a free cintiq in the mail!!!

    sorry to kinda hijack the thread... I got excited

    -Nick
    Isn't that great ! I start a thread on CA from Belgium, people answer and you realise your pen was defective all along... Butterfly effect !

    Proud belgian beer drinker !
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