General => General Discussion => Topic started by: PSNick on August 12, 2014, 05:45:53 am

Title: Wacom tablet for pixel art?
Post by: PSNick on August 12, 2014, 05:45:53 am

I'm looking to venture into the pixel art world and was wondering something that has been asked several times before for sure, but wanted to ask myself anyway after extensive search with varied results (as expected); I hope you won't mind. Do you use and/or recommend a tablet for Pixel Art?

I'm looking to create assets in the like of Risk of Rain (http://riskofraingame.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/screenshot163.png), though I have never made any pixel art work. I have mostly worked on Photo Manips and some Digital Art which you can see here (http://psnick.com/digital-art/), and I probably can't draw a stick figure even if my life depended on it, though I hope with some practice simpler pixel art might be achievable until I can make something like the previous screenshot.

The one I was eyeing is the Wacom Intuos Pen & Touch (Small) (http://www.wacom.com/en/us/creative/intuos-s), since it seems to be affordable and I doubt the extra features that come with the higher end tablets will be very useful for pixel art. What do you think about the size by the way?

While I'm at it, i may as well ask which software you use as well. I have seen many possibilities from ProMotion for the more professional maybe, to GraphicsGale and Grafx2 or GIMP and Photoshop. At the moment I'm thinking on sticking with Photoshop, but suggestions are always welcome.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read and reply, I really appreciate it!

Title: Re: Wacom tablet for pixel art?
Post by: PsylentKnight on August 12, 2014, 05:59:49 am
I use GraphicsGale. Aseprite is another one I like, but it always screwed up my colors so I just became frustrated with it and switched to GraphicsGale. The main advantage of Aseprite is that you can export gifs (you can't in the free version of GG). My way around this in GG is to export the individual frames of the animation and use this. (http://www.myspacegens.com/handler.php?gen=animatedimage) I know, I know, Myspace. But its the thing I've found that works the best. Just makes sure you save the gif immediately, because Myspace only hosts it for like 24 hours or something.

As for a tablet, I use one and I love it. I consider it necessary for seriously doing any kind of art on the computer.

EDIT: Fixed link
Title: Re: Wacom tablet for pixel art?
Post by: rikfuzz on August 12, 2014, 08:41:56 am
When it comes to pixel art, I personally use the tablet a lot less, though it's still useful.  To be honest, with Risk of Rain assets, I'd probably use only mouse, they're so small.

(For the larger profile images, of course I'd use a tablet for though, like this: http://www.yoyogames.com/images/pages/showcase/risk_of_rain/showcase_ror_screen2.png (http://www.yoyogames.com/images/pages/showcase/risk_of_rain/showcase_ror_screen2.png))

I still pretty much use photoshop exclusively. 
Title: Re: Wacom tablet for pixel art?
Post by: Ai on August 12, 2014, 09:00:42 am
GrafX2 is great IME. You can use Photoshop or GIMP for pixel art, but IMO these are best relegated to very particular kinds of operations. Using  a dedicated pixelart app for most of your pixelart stuff saves time setting up and avoids showing options that are ultimately pretty irrelevant to pixel art -- of which there are many. Some features -- like tile autocompletion -- are only found in pixel-art specific apps.

A tablet is worth it for pixel art, but I recommend also experimenting with non-pixel-art (eg CG or ink, with MyPaint, Krita, or Photoshop) -- tablets are very versatile, building up your skills in other areas will help your pixelart skills, and experimenting is VASTLY quicker with a tablet than basically anything else I've ever tried.

I don't know what the recent Intuos are like. I recall finding my previous Graphire to be very slippery and challenging to control, and upon switching to my current Monoprice tablet, I was much more comfortable with the level of friction imparted (I would characterize it as 'drawing on a whiteboard' versus the Graphire's 'skating on glass'). In any case, all tablets I know of have relatively low friction levels, so it's quite different from drawing on paper.

Pen tip also is a factor in inertia, and I understand that you get a few different tips with modern Intuos packages, so you may want to experiment there. Naturally, the more friction, the quicker the tip wears down; but you may find this useful to ease into developing the finer control you will need to draw using a more frictionless tip.
Title: Re: Wacom tablet for pixel art?
Post by: yrizoud on August 12, 2014, 09:37:49 am
For tiny pixel-levels details, you'd rather use a mouse : It's less stressful for your hand to point at specific pixels, and you gain a lot of time by having useful functions on different buttons : For example middle button to zoom in/out or drag view, right button to paint with a second color, or clear to transparency, or color-pick.

If you can't draw (human anatomy, geometry of volumes, perspective, principles of animation) your pixel art will quickly show its limits, though. You'll only improve by studying and practicing. Some mediums are better than others for improving different aspects : Pixel art is fine for colors, but for example for human anatomy, you'd rather practice with sketching on paper.

Investing in a tablet is never going to be a waste if you're doing photo manipulations anyway, because it will give you pressure sensitivity for a lot of tools.
And a tablet is great for extending your artistic world, because you can load up Krita or MyPaint and discover and practice :
- pencils and charcoals
- India ink
- Watercolors
- traditional painting
All this without paying the expensive art furnitures, the ink stains on your fingers, the canvas frames filling your house!
Title: Re: Wacom tablet for pixel art?
Post by: 9_6 on August 12, 2014, 10:46:45 am
I use my bamboo fun medium exclusively when pixeling in photoshop or graphics gale.
Not even touching the mouse, that just slows me down.

I used to have a small wacom graphire tablet before that one but tapping on it would sometimes not make a pixel, making it almost useless for precision pixeling but that was over a decade ago and I assume modern tablets have such kinks ironed out.

Also, if you do photo manipulation, a tablet will speed things up for you. A lot.

There is somewhat of a learning curve to tablets though, don't expect it to be like on paper.
Title: Re: Wacom tablet for pixel art?
Post by: LarkoftheRiver on August 12, 2014, 11:17:29 am
I have always used a tablet when doing digital art. It feels weird to use a mouse in all honesty. You get more control with a tablet its quicker (at least on my desk) to move the pen than a mouse. So yeah, without repeating what's already been said, a tablet definently.

I use a Wacom Intous Pen+Touch currently for about six months. Before then I used a Wacom Bamboo fun. The Bamboo I've had for five years, used almost every day, and is still in nearly perfect condition. It goes without saying that I recommend Wacom products.
Title: Re: Wacom tablet for pixel art?
Post by: Cyangmou on August 12, 2014, 01:28:11 pm
For a really small resolution like risk of rain a tablet isn't really necessary, although it definitely speeds you up in the early stages (sketching).
Tablets work best if you are actually drawing something bigger or something organical, for clean lines and small stuff a mouse should do the job.

I am using both, mouse and tablet.
I recommend to everyone who does any form of drawing on the pc at least to test out a graphics tablet.

Sizewise You don't necessarily need something bigger than an A5 sized tablet for pixel art, the small bamboos should do the job, since you will anyways work mainly in the middle of the tablet and with a higher zoom and a preview window.
Pen Pressure also doesn't matter for pixel art, so it's not important that you have a highly pressure sensitive tablet, if you intend to use it for pixel art only.
For professional illustration a wacom cintiq is a very comfortable tool to have, since it shows you what you are painting and feels a lot more like paper.
But you will need a while to get used to the hand/eye coordination you need for handling tablets without a screen.

-Graphics Gale
-Pyxel edit

the one you prefer and like most.
Some programs are more efficient for certain tasks.
To start out, a program you can get for free is enough. If you like spriting, it might be worth to invest a few bucks in programs, most programs you can use for pixel art are fairly cheap compared to other game industry software licenses.
Title: Re: Wacom tablet for pixel art?
Post by: yrizoud on August 12, 2014, 02:51:33 pm
I would not put Photoshop at the top of the list. If OP sticks with it for all computer graphics, he won't realize what features he's missing out :
- A real indexed-colored mode
- "game-related" features (grid, snap-to-grid, tilemap tools)
- sprite-related aspects (anim preview, timing tools, onion skinning).

Even for doing the CG version of traditional art, I'd recommend to try Krita or MyPaint : They propose individual tools "Watercolor", "Large ink pen" etc. which is much more handy than having to customize Photoshop's single "brush" to reach the same behavior.
Title: Re: Wacom tablet for pixel art?
Post by: PSNick on August 12, 2014, 03:49:44 pm
Wow, I wasn't expecting so many replies! THANK YOU!

As far as I can see, pretty much everyone recommends buying a tablet. In some cases people use the mouse for something as small as the example I gave, for details or otherwise, but it would seem using the tablet would speed up other aspects of design anyway and I could use it for my Photo Manipulations as well (even though I have honestly not worked on them for a very long time).

As far as software goes, opinions seem to be somewhat varied, with some of the programs having a few advantages over others in some aspects or tools. I guess I'll have to give them a try and see how it goes!

I have just placed the order for the Wacom tablet I mentioned before, so hopefully I'll be able to share some of my creations. If you'd like to continue the topic with more opinions on the tablet or software, I'd be grateful to know what you think!

Finally, let me say it once again because you've really helped me decide on what to do. Thank you!

Title: Re: Wacom tablet for pixel art?
Post by: LarkoftheRiver on August 12, 2014, 08:38:51 pm
The great thing about Wacom is.. Free software! They put in several programs for you to try in most tablets (I got Photoshop, Corel, Anime Studio, and others with both my Bamboo and Intous) so once you get it go to the Wacom site and download them all. I don't think specific pixel programs are included, but its fun to try out the different programs and find the one suited for yourself.
Title: Re: Wacom tablet for pixel art?
Post by: Ai on August 13, 2014, 12:28:32 am
Even for doing the CG version of traditional art, I'd recommend to try Krita or MyPaint : They propose individual tools "Watercolor", "Large ink pen" etc. which is much more handy than having to customize Photoshop's single "brush" to reach the same behavior.

Actually this is false: For both Krita and MyPaint, brushes near-entirely determine the painting behaviour. The only 'special tools' are precision-related: eg. drawing straight lines, connected straight lines, curves, ellipses or boxes; they affect only the (virtual) pressure and location that the brush is applied with.

Photoshop (or GIMP) actually has *more* individual tools for different  paint types than Krita and Mypaint : Pen/Ink, Smudge, etc.. which are all just part of 'the brush system's of Krita and MyPaint. Personally this is why I find Krita and especially MyPaint's painting more approachable and understandable than other apps.

It should be noted that it's also the case that a number of the programs proposed here are free or have a trial version :

Free: MyPaint, Krita, GIMP, GrafX2, MTPaint, Aseprite
Trial: GraphicsGale

It may be getting slightly OT but Blender could also be put on the Free list -- I've been finding recently it's great for constructing refs of 3d forms or even text -- with the large arrays of addons and non-destructive modifiers that can be applied to an object, I think of it as a kind of 3d inkscape in terms of it's capability for constructing clean/consistent mockups; With BLAM, it's possible to directly match the camera setup to the camera of your drawing. Also Inkscape itself, which is more on the drawing side than painting.

While I'm being excessively complete -- the GIMP-GAP suite of plugins for GIMP I have also found extremely handy for constructing animations. It's video-oriented, so you have to keep in mind that you don't 'set frame time' -- you just duplicate frames if you want them to show longer, and the actual time frames are shown for is determined by the FPS.  Pretty suitable for longer or more ambitious animations (eg, if you want a scrolling background with objects animating in front of it..)
Title: Re: Wacom tablet for pixel art?
Post by: Kasumi on August 13, 2014, 01:13:28 am
It's worth noting the Aseprite is no longer exactly free.
You can download an older (and very stable) version for free. (I recommend it!)
It is also open source, so if you know how to compile things, you can get the latest version for free.
Or you can just buy it.

It is the only software I know that is paid-open source, heh.
Title: Re: Wacom tablet for pixel art?
Post by: PsylentKnight on August 13, 2014, 01:24:08 am
Ah, that's a new development since I used it first. As I recall, it was totally free then, but I guess that was about a year ago. Damn, time flies.

Maybe the paid version has fixed the color issues I was referring to.
Title: Re: Wacom tablet for pixel art?
Post by: EvilEye on August 13, 2014, 03:54:24 am
I highly recommend a small tablet ( I use a small size Intuos 3 ) if you will be doing any serious artwork.

Yes you can use a mouse for small scale stuff, but even for that a tablet will make things easier. For years when I first discovered I could draw stuff on the computer I used a mouse. Actually back in those days I don't know if there were tablets.

I got my current Intuos 3 off ebay for about 70$ used. It's the smallest size which I recommend actually. The larger sizes are more expensive and also more cumbersome to use IMO. So unless you can't afford 70$ I don't see why you wouldn't pick up a tablet.
Title: Re: Wacom tablet for pixel art?
Post by: PSNick on August 14, 2014, 04:00:17 pm
Well, apparently due to the lovely way my country works I can't import the tablet so it's being returned and I'm getting a refund.

Problem is, the Pen & Touch isn't available to buy here, I can only buy the Intuos Pro (or better) which instead of being at $250 is at $400. I'm considering buying it, but it's more than i thought I'd pay for something I'm not sure how much I'll use. It's just a little rant; I'll post again once i'm sure.

Title: Re: Wacom tablet for pixel art?
Post by: 9_6 on August 14, 2014, 04:37:15 pm
Can you not et the bamboo one?
Title: Re: Wacom tablet for pixel art?
Post by: PSNick on August 14, 2014, 05:51:16 pm
Well, technically they do have a very small selection of them, but they're around $350-380 when the Intuos Pro is $400, so it makes absolutely no sense to buy them.

I just bought one in Argentina (Intuos Pro Small) and it should arrive to my city in a week, hopefully with no trouble :)
Title: Re: Wacom tablet for pixel art?
Post by: PSNick on August 20, 2014, 07:52:03 pm
Apologies for the double post, but i just wanted to tell everyone i got my tablet yesterday and today i gave it a try with "speed" painting following Eddie on Digital Tutors, and here it is:


I know there's lots to learn, and using the tablet feels a bit weird for now, but i'm feeling confident and motivated :)

Once again, i'd like to thank everyone for their comments and suggestions, they were more useful than you think!

Title: Re: Wacom tablet for pixel art?
Post by: jalonso67 on January 18, 2021, 02:59:41 am
I use mouse for Pixel modification with Photoshop and illustrators. I also use a very cheap XP-PEN ( https://www.xp-pen.com ) tablet for some painting. In My opinion, The tablet is very easy to use and very precise in a lot of situation(e.g selection tool etc.) and once you get use to the tablet it is like drawing on a piece of paper.
But you can work anything out with your mouse like pixel art creation and other stuff. it just harder and more work. If you just use for pixal art and want to save money then you don't really need tablet. but if you do more like comic and speed painting then i would say yes to get a tablet for sure.