Drawing Software and Digital Tablets
Wacom Graphire 3 4X5 USB Digital Tablet
More and more, I use the computer in various stages of my artwork. I still create most of my drawing with simple pencil and paper, but I use my computer to look at and organize reference photos, to compose the basic structure of drawings, and to get the finished drawings online. Some of this can be done with a mouse but, to really "draw" on the computer or do any of the other precise work needed to compose and get work online, I need a tool that's much more natural feeling and free moving.
I use a slightly larger version of this tablet now, but I started out with the 4x5 size. I could easily do everything I needed to do with the smaller size. I recommend this Wacom Graphire Tablet if you can't afford a larger one because it has the most sensitivity and the lowest price. Many times, this tablet comes bundled with a "Classic" version of Corel Painter that I review below. The link to the right is an Amazon link and may not come bundled with any software. It would be worth your time to shop around and find a tablet that comes with Painter Classic.
Wacom Intuos3 6X8 Digital Pen Tablet
The Intuos Tablets are more sensitive than the Graphire and this is the type I work with now. Drawing with it is a pleasure. I'm enchanted by the "feel" of it and I'm making more computer generated art because of it.
You can buy more pens and each one can be programmed differently, so you can quickly switch between them without interrupting the artistic flow by stopping to choose a new tool from the screen.
Painter is the most amazing real media simulation software on the planet. It's been around, in one version or another, since the dawn of the PC age and it's gotten better and better. It has to be experienced to be believed. Colored pencils act like colored pencils, oil paint acts like oil paint, watercolors act like watercolor, graphite pencils act like real ones, and I could go on and on.
You can find the "Classic" version bundled with Wacom Tablets, and you will definitely need a tablet to take full advantage of all the features of this program.
If you don't need a painting program with brushes as infinately customizable as in Painter, Sketch Something is great. It has a few easy to find tools located intuituve onscreen palattes. You just touch a tool icon with the pen to switch between them, and that helps the artistic process flow without a hitch.
The pencil "brush" excellently mimics graphite
The program has the excellent media feel and visual quality of Painter's brushes, along with layers, import, export, .....
I use photoshop to help get my images ready for the web and I compose my drawings in it by using the "layers" function. I make quick sketches in it with a bush that feels very much like a pencil, and I use it to make my art "print ready" by cleaning-up boarders and correcting contrast. I use this program more than any other and I wouldn't want to try to do what I do without it.
I'm currently using Photoshop CS4, but older versions still work great and can be found for a lot less money with a little quality internet Power Shopping time. Just make sure you can run the older version on your current operating system.
If you can't find an older version, or just don't want to hunt for one, Photoshop Deluxe has more than enough features do a great composing job and get your art web-ready in just a few clicks.