En plein air


Armillary sphere, Old Main.I finally tried sketching outside while using a Wacom tablet and laptop. I was concerned about power- my CPU has trouble running the tablet if it isn't connected directly to the tower, so a little laptop that takes five minutes to launch Photoshop may see big power issues. As it turned out, I reached this point in the sketch, about ten minutes in, and the screen went dark. Or darker than usual. I unplugged the tablet, managed to get some light on the screen, then I saved everything and packed up.

I found in earlier work with my regular tower-tablet set up that working at 50% seemed most like real life. I tend to sketch small, and the larger version of this sketch was saved at 50%, or the size I worked on screen. I also had to go in to my Photoshop preferences and switch from the "actual size" cursors that I normally use to the "Regular" cursors. The actual size cursor was a tiny dot that I couldn't see while the regular cursor is a very visible tiny paintbrush.

Photoshop allows users to customize the brush tool and I had created a pencil-charcoal kind of tool a few days ago. The tablet that I used was a 4X5, smaller than my usual 6X8, but I had considerably less screen real estate squeezed on to it: the laptop is 1280X854 and I usually work with a two monitor set up that gives me 3840X1200. It felt good. I'd much rather carry a laptop to sketch than to download photos on to. A bigger battery would be nice.

It might be important to point out that I've been using a tablet for over ten years, almost exclusively. I'm interested in trying a Cintique to be able to draw directly on screen, but the tablet is natural to me, and I don't think I suffer at all because my hand isn't working where I'm looking. Truth be told, if you're looking at where you're drawing rather than at what you're drawing, you need more practice anyway.

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