Saturday, November 24, 2007

Young artists and designers and their exploding world: the digital pen and tablet and software options

Wacom demo
Originally uploaded by Matam
The digital pen and graphic tablet are thought of as tools for the designer, not the artist.

Ordinarily a Wacom pen and drawing pad (Tokyo-based Wacom is the industry leader) are mated with Photoshop, the pro level software known for providing a galaxy of graphics-creating options. They are wielded by those creating logos, illustrations and manipulating photos.

But young creators will enjoy playing with a digital paint pad. The key to accessing one, in large part, is the software. The graphic pen will come alive with programs that are are less-costly and simpler than Photoshop.

The cost of a basic graphic tablet, Wacom's new Bamboo Small, for instance, is less than $100.

Then comes the software. Wacom pushes a bundle that includes Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0 (less complicated and costly than Photoshop itself), Corel Painter Essentials 3.0, and Nik Color Efex Pro 2.0 GE. The package, with pen and pad, costs about $200. But it seems to me a dubious package.

Creative types in the fine arts who know their direction - whether in painting or sketching - might much more profitably choose programs such as Artrage, a full-featured painter's package for $25. Artrage gets good reviews and has a quite active forum. Mac users have another option that promises simplicity: Lineform (about$80).

There are other realms that can be explored via graphic pen, among them 3-D modeling and animation.

Established artists are certainly Not going to be interested in walking down the digital
road. But the next generation deserves keys to that highway.

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