Purchase the Right Digital Toots for the

Odds are you may already have the computer that best fits the environment you like working in. If not, and you have some money to invest, look into the right computer for you. If you happen to like working outside, purchase a good laptop that you can take anywhere. If you prefer working at home, a solid desktop machine will be fine. (Or if you already have a laptop, look into a docking station and treat it like a desktop.)

The good news with this program is that it doesn't require the absolute top-of-the-model system; any computer from the last couple of years will work just fine with Manga Studio, with no significant (or very little) drop in performance. So, if you don't have the budget for the latest computer, check out some online auction sites and see what used and/or refurbished machines are available.

Regardless of the type of system you want to work from, the one item you should seriously look into buying is a drawing tablet. Oh sure, you can use a mouse if you really want to. If you're looking to do simple tasks, like selecting areas to fill in with tones, a mouse works just fine. If you plan on doing any intricate drawing with a mouse though, let's just say it can prove to be difficult. Actually, it feels like trying to draw with a brick — not very intuitive, and you're going to spend a lot of time trying to clean up mistakes.

Several manufacturers produce drawing tablets, but the 800-pound gorilla is most certainly Wacom (www. wacom. com), and rightfully so. Wacom produces some of the highest-quality tablets around, both in construction and functionality. And they cover a wide range of tablet styles that tailors to both skill level and budget. For the beginner digital artist with a small budget, the Graphire series is a great entry-level tablet. For more advanced users with a bit more money to spend, there's always the Intuos series of tablets, which provide additional functionalities (such as shortcut keys) and increased pressure sensitivity (which is the ability to accurately simulate light and heavy strokes while drawing).

If money's no object, or if you happen to have a decent budget to work from, you can consider a couple of (relatively) more recent innovations. Both let you draw directly on the screen, but choosing one or the other goes right back to tip number one of this chapter: Where are you most comfortable working?

If you prefer working at a desk, the Wacom Cintiq may he perfect for you. Much like the Intuos series, this 21-inch monitor has 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity (compared to the 512 levels of the Graphire series), as well as a series of programmable hotkeys that you can use for shortcuts while you work. It's probably the closest you'll come to drawing directly on paper in a digital plane. Also, because it's a monitor, you can hook it up to either a PC or a Mac (or even a machine running Linux!). The expensive catch is that the monitor costs (as of this writing) around $2,500. So start saving now!

Another option, especially for those that prefer to work on the go, is a tablet PC. While there are various types of tablet PCs on the market, they all have one thing in common: They're all laptops with screens you can draw directly upon. Compared to the Cintiq, tablet PCs have much lower pressure sensitivity (256 levels) and no programmable keys. Oh. and they're only for PC (although the third-party Apple Modbook should be out by time this book sees print, so you Apple users may be in for some luck). But, most Tablet PCs cost about the same as or less than the Cintiq, and you can take your Tablet PC anywhere. (The Cintiq weighs more than 20 pounds, and it's a 21-inch monitor tethered to a desktop — not exactly the easiest thing to port around.)

The moral here is that if you have the chance, find the right setup to go with where you feel most comfortable working.

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Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Learn to sketch by working through these quick, simple lessons. This Learn to Sketch course will help you learn to draw what you see and develop your skills.

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