2018

LED Tracing Board Review – RH A4

A tracing board or light board is a flat electronic pad that emits light. It allows drawings on one sheet of paper to be viewable through another sheet or even multiple sheets. This makes it easier to trace sketches, full drawings, calligraphy and more. It’s also a tool for beginners learning how to draw from the act of tracing.

Today, I’m reviewing the RH A4 LED Tracing Board. I’ve always wanted a tracing board, so when GearBest asked me to review this, I immediately said yes!

This is a USB powered device, but the package does not come with a micro USB cable, just the light board, packing foam and a pre-installed protective sheet on the surface of the board.

The board is made of acrylic and the surface provides a nice grip for any smooth sketch paper or light drawing paper laid flatly upon it. It seems like the static and texture help hold the paper in place. When I lay a sheet of paper on the surface, it seems as though the board creates a suction effect which keeps the sheets of paper from moving, even when I push it with my hand (this is without the protective film).

Along the top and left border of the working area, there are measurements to keep track of scale. I think that’s useful for architectural drawings. I don’t know what I would use it for, myself.

On the back are 4 plastic stickers… I’m not quite sure what their use is. They’re definitely not for grip because of their slippery nature. My guess is they provide an easier way to pickup the board when placed on a flat surface.

At 5mm thick, it’s quite sturdy. I wouldn’t be afraid to toss it into my messenger bag for a drawing session out in the park.

I usually trace things by holding them up to a window during the daytime which gets very tiring for my arms. The tracing board allows me to trace while seated at my desk during any time of the day.

This model has 6 levels of light intensity, controlled by a touch sensitive switch. The first image below on the left is the board switched off. The following images to the right are the 6 light levels which illuminate evenly across the surface – no stripes or flickering.

The color temperature ranges from 13,000 – 17,000K with a lifespan of 50,000 hours.

I used it at night to trace and shade a portrait for 4 hours and was pleased to find that it did not cause any eyestrain and even after such long use on the highest brightness setting, the board did not heat up. Small details from the portrait were clearly visible through a layer of printer paper.

The board provides enough light even when using thick canson bristol paper on the brightest setting.

These images were taken in a room with double-glass doors on a bright sunny day.

I also tested it outside under direct sunlight on the highest brightness setting. It’s almost impossible to see the drawing underneath unless I’m in the shade:

Under the shade, I can make out quite a lot of detail through the printer paper. So while you can use it outside on a sunny, cloudless day, you’re better off in the shade. Tracing text or drawings with very broad lines should be super easy.

Overall, I’m very pleased with this tracing board. The only con being that it didn’t come with a micro USB cable… but I have too many lying around my apartment anyway. I’m stoked that I can add this to my artist toolbox now, replacing the whole window tracing thing that I do very often in preparation for my tutorials!

If you’re interested in learning more about this or picking one up for yourself, please visit GearBest for more info!

 

 

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Super Affordable Drawing Tablet Review – Veikk S640

Great drawing tablet that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg!

1 hour speed drawing using the Veikk S640

The Veikk S640 drawing tablet was sent to me by GearBest to review. At first, I wasn’t expecting much out of this drawing tablet because of the price. My initial thought was “I better lower my expectations because the price is so darn cheap”.

Lemme tell you… I did NOT expect this tablet to perform as well as it did!

Let’s start with the unboxing!

The minimalistic packaging contains:

⦁ 1 battery-free stylus with 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity
⦁ Felt stylus sleeve
⦁ 5.3″ x 8.5″ drawing tablet with built-in 57″ long USB cable
⦁ 10 extra stylus nibs
⦁ 1 nib remover
⦁ Instruction manual
⦁ Driver download information sheet

It’s basically a plug-and-play device. I was able to use it instantly after plugging it into my Windows 10 laptop via USB. Also, downloading the driver from their website was really straight forward — no searching under rocks for the right one!

After drawing a 1 hour long portrait, I found the tablet and stylus extremely natural to use and the pressure sensitivity, tilt sensitivity and responsiveness is honestly comparable to expensive “professional” tablets! I LOVE that it does what it needs to do without all the bells and whistles and at SUCH an affordable price. It’s freaking ridiculous!

It’s a quick scratchy drawing, but judging from the tablet’s performance, I can definitely use it to create professional commission pieces.

I’ve been using it to do other tests as well as browse the internet for more than 2 hours and so far, it has been great! My only complaint regarding software is when the stylus travels to the very edge of the screen, the cursor is stuck there for less than half a second before it becomes active again. I rarely travel to the edges of the screen while I draw, so I didn’t experience this during the speed drawing process.

I experienced absolutely no lag and the tilt sensitivity allows me to draw even at a 25 degree angle.

Here are some pressure sensitivity test strokes:

 

The stylus has 2 buttons which can be programmed to do various standard functions as shown below.

After using it with light to medium pressure for about 3 hours, the nib still looks completely brand new and the tablet surface remains unscratched.

Some people might prefer a more textured surface, but I love the smooth texture so much. The stylus just glides across the surface so effortlessly.

The tablet itself is 2mm thick on the drawing surface and 6mm thick along the side where the cable is attached, which makes a great hand grip when I’m using it on my lap. Its 4″ x 6″ active area is marked out by very faint white lines that are a little difficult to make out.

The material making up the drawing surface provides a sturdy structure to draw on and handle. It’s also super thin and light, which makes it very portable.

Overall, the tablet’s simplistic design is just so refreshing!

 

The bottom has 4 super effective rubber grips that are stuck on there very very well (tried sliding them off with my finger and they wouldn’t budge). Again, I’m honestly very impressed by this tablet and build quality for the price!

The only cons are…

  • The stylus buttons are too finicky, travel is too shallow for my preference, and it would be better if they were raised by an additional millimeter or more to make them easier to find.
  • A rubber grip on the stylus would be nice to prevent it from spinning while in use, which causes the buttons to move away from my thumb (the digit I use to press the buttons).
  • When the cursor/stylus travels to the very edge of the screen, the cursor is stuck for less than half a second.
  • No touchpad capability
  • Double-clicking is difficult unless you hold the stylus very still. Any lateral movement will make the tablet register your double-click as a single click. To combat this, I’ve programmed one of the buttons to double-click.

Honestly though, I think the pros far outweigh the cons, especially if you’re just starting out.

 

For the price, this is a truly amazing drawing tablet! If you’re interested in digital art and have been turned off by the expensive tablet prices out there, this one is a very affordable one to get you started. It’s definitely possible to create professional drawings on this tablet, whether it be for your own pleasure or for a paid client.

If you want to find out more about it, please click here. GearBest is having a sale at the moment and a September treasure hunt event as well.

 

Side Note:

If you’re using this tablet in GIMP, remember to enable stylus pressure under Edit > Input Devices. Then select “VEIKK Tablet Pressure Stylus” from the left menu and in the “Mode” dropdown menu, select “Screen” and hit save.

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How to Make Drawings POP!

In this tutorial, I’m gonna show you a few ways to give a flat drawing more depth.
Go grab a drawing that you wanna work on and try some or all of these tips to add an additional layer of depth or 3D-ness to it.
Let’s begin!
Video version of this blog post:

 

Tip #1: Apply Perspective

Perspective is used to give the illusion depth or distance on a 2D surface. So by applying it properly, you can push areas far away or pull them closer to you, which helps your drawing appear more 3D / pop out of the page.
If your drawing is a scene or a subject that recedes into the distance, remember that objects should look smaller and smaller as they move further away from the viewer. To draw a simple scene like this, you can use one-point linear perspective to find out the appropriate size to draw each object.
Just align the edges of your object to a single point in the distance, using a ruler.
Applying perspective properly sets a good foundation for your 3D drawings. For more content on perspective, visit lesson 6 of my beginners’ course.

Tip #2: Apply Blur

To heighten the illusion of perspective, just apply some blur to sections of your drawing.
For example, if you want the viewer to focus their attention on only one apple, let’s say… the second one from the left, you can blur all the others and remove some of their detail. Our eyes are drawn to fine details, so the fewer you add, the better.
Simply use a soft tissue to smudge the drawing until it becomes blurred.
The further an object is from the main focal point (the second apple), the more blurry it should be. This is very simple to do and it helps to heighten the illusion of depth. It makes far away objects look even further away than they were before. And objects that are close to you will look even closer.
If you want the viewer to focus their attention on the first apple instead, you can blur all the others, leaving only the first one looking sharp:
You have full control over what you want the audience to focus their attention on.
This technique is helpful for differentiating foreground and background objects from each other as well as imply distance.

Tip #3: Shade More

If your drawings usually have minimal shading and contain mostly white or whatever color your paper is (like the image above), it’s going to be very difficult to make it look 3D.
The first thing you can do is get more comfortable with shading the entire drawing, leaving only the brightest areas white or close to white — trying not to let too much of the bare paper show through. If you’re not sure how or where to shade, please click over to my shading tutorial before you continue with this one. It covers the topic of light, which is crucial for realism.

Tip #4: Use Gradients

A gradient is a gradual transition from light to dark or the other way around. It can be created by gradually pressing harder or softer as you shade.
Gradients exist because the further something is from the light or the more it turns away from it, the darker and darker it appears… generally speaking. So even objects with flat sides will display gradual changes in light intensity.
Here’s an example: for most beginners, drawing a deep crease or wrinkle might look like something like the image below — A set of lines on the surface of the skin.
The problem here is that it just looks like a line tattooed onto the skin’s surface.
Because the shading is a solid value, the skin looks completely flat. In order to curve the skin into a wrinkle, we’ll need to make it look as though it’s turning away from the light. This means, the skin should become darker and darker as it approaches the groove, making the transition from light to dark become gradual instead of abrupt.
This gradient forces our brain to perceive the wrinkle as a curved surface instead of a flat one.
So simply using lines to indicate wrinkles, folds or creases won’t do. Try to use gradients wherever possible to give all surfaces a more realistic sense of depth.
Don’t forget that the further a surface is from the light, the darker it will be. So even objects with flat sides will display gradual changes in light intensity:

Tip #5: Remove Obvious Outlines

Any outlines in your drawing can make it appear cartoony which takes away from any effort in making it  appear 3D… because in real life, there are no outlines. So make sure they’re erased or try to blend them into their surroundings until they disappear.

Tip #6: Make Full Use of Your Pencils

Here’s an example of a flat drawing. Now, this may look familiar to you if you’re a very light handed artist. The shading looks good but it still looks flat. And the reason is because it lacks value contrast.
Meaning, there isn’t that big of a difference between light and dark. Everything is just a light shade of grey.
Let me pull up a graphite value scale against the drawing to show you what I mean:
As you can see, my graphite pencil is capable of creating really dark values, but in the image above, only a small range is being used, which is kind of a big waste!

This makes the drawing look really flat.

To avoid this, apply a little more pressure while you’re shading or use the same amount of pressure that you’re used to but switch to a softer pencil than the one you’re currently using. That should give you a slightly darker value.
For example, if you’re using an HB pencil, switch to a softer one like a 2B or even 4B if you want.
When you shade with a softer pencil, your drawing should come out looking darker than it normally would. When you make this change, you’ll start to see your drawing take on a more 3D form.
So simply shading darker in general will create a more impactful drawing that’s much more interesting for your viewer to look at. As I increase the contrast, the drawing becomes clearly a few shades darker than the paper, which really helps to set the drawing apart from the background.
I like the overall level of shading that it has now. But it’s still not popping out of the page.
To add more depth, I’m gonna look for specific areas across the entire drawing where I can exaggerate or deepen the values without making it look unnatural. This requires some understanding of how light behaves. If you need a refresher, the shading tutorial is just a click away.
I’m gonna go for areas that are sort of hidden from direct light and reflections.
Darkening such areas can push parts of your drawing further into the background.
Here are a few examples.

Example #1:

Darkening crevices and nooks can push them further back. But you do wanna make sure it’s not over done. So work in layers, adding more graphite just a little bit at a time so you can save yourself from erasing later on.

Example #2:

Cast shadows, especially ones on dark surfaces are great areas to exaggerate.
You might have noticed a very subtle cast shadow along the part of the eyeball that’s directly below the top eyelid. I’m gonna exaggerate the darkest area along it which happens to be the iris.
There is a slight cast shadow here to begin with. Let’s see what happens if I add some darker graphite.
Now, the iris looks deeper, and even though I didn’t touch the top eyelid at all, it looks as though it’s been pulled towards us.
I know the changes between each image are very subtle. So if you wanna view it more clearly, please watch the video version of this tutorial: click here to watch it on Youtube.

Example #3:

If you’re drawing from your imagination, it really helps to understand some basic anatomy :)
For this example, I know I can shade the pupil much much darker because it’s actually a hole in the center of the iris that absorbs light. So it should appear very dark. It doesn’t look like a hole right now, but that will change as soon as I shade it some more:
Not every drawing needs to have such dark shades/values in it. Just do whatever is right for your specific drawing.
Looks like I’ve covered all the values in my scale…
You might have noticed that after adding all these dark shades of grey, the eyelashes and eyebrow look much lighter in comparison to the rest of the drawing, making the entire drawing look rather bland and uninteresting.
Dark values can create interest. guiding the eyes to look wherever you want them to. So to give the drawing more… of a balance, I’m going to darken the eyelashes and eyebrow as well:
That’s much better!
Now I’ve made full use of my graphite pencil by including all the shades it can possibly create. Of course you don’t have to use all the values in the scale, but it does make the drawing look a lot more interesting.
So… we’re done right? Not exactly!
We traveled far over to the right of the scale, but there’s still another value on the left, and that’s white!
If your drawing contains a lot of white areas already, this might not create much of an impact.
Okay, so here are a few areas that could use some brightening… these shiny, wet surfaces reflect a lot of light, so turning them white or close to white will make them pop, immediately:
Use an eraser to remove graphite in such areas. I like to use a kneadable eraser for high precision. For a very bright white, try correction fluid/white-out.
Use your dark and light values to continue to push and pull your drawing further. If your drawings doesn’t have any wet/shiny surfaces, just brighten your highlight further. When you do this, it helps to know where the light source is coming from so the patterns of light make sense and look as convincing as possible. Click here for the shading tutorial, if you need a refresher. In the image below, the ribbons in the eye, spokes and eye whites have been lightened, among others.
Here’s a comparison between the drawing before and after:
Well, that’s it guys!
If you have any questions, leave them down below and if you have any before and after photos, I’d loooove to see them!!

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How to Shade for Complete Beginners

How to shade for complete beginnersWhen you add light and shadow to your line-drawings, you can make your subject come to life by creating the illusion of form and depth.

You can make a flat line drawing jump right off the page or push things far away into the distance!

In order to shade better, here are 3 things you’ll need to learn…

  • Pressure control
  • How to shade smoothly
  • Understand how light behaves

There are more, but let’s keep things simple! I’m going to walk you through all 3 topics and then we’ll shade something together, step by step!

This blog post is a written version of my video tutorial below:

 

Let’s begin!

 

Pressure Control

Realistic shading is done by creating a series of values/shades ranging from light to dark. The harder I press down on my pencil, the darker the strokes will be.

Portraits displaying a limited value range, can end up looking very flat. While portraits with a wider value range will pop:

 

To have good pressure control, practice shading from one end of your sketchbook to the other while pressing harder and harder until the values get darker gradually.

Another way to practice is to draw a long rectangle and divide it into several squares. Fill the squares from right to left, start with the darkest value you can possibly make and work your way towards the lightest.

 

It’s important to maintain a consistent pressure between each back and forth stroke or each individual stroke. This will take some practice and concentration to develop the muscle memory for. Here’s an example of what I mean:

 

If you’re interested in the tools I use and want to learn more about the different pencil types. Check this page out.

Some tools can make shading easier for you, but you absolutely DO NOT need any special pencils to get started. Because you can draw and shade realistically with pretty much anything that can make light to dark marks! Here, let me show you! I’m gonna draw using this random stick I found in my kitchen. Once it’s burnt, I can use it just like a regular pencil. And it erasable too!

My point, is that any old pencil will do. There is no reason why you can’t start shading today. Really, the most important thing is just to start!

How to Shade Smoothly

To shade smoothly, try to keep your pencil strokes close together. Eliminate major gaps between your strokes while maintaining good pressure control.

Now, it’s difficult to eliminate gaps if your pencil is sharp. So what you can do is wear the pencil down until the tip is dull or use the side of the lead to draw so your strokes come out thicker:

 

If you’re shading a large area and want to avoid dark stripes (the ones that form when your strokes overlap each other), avoid using the writing grip while pivoting at the wrist. When you pivot from the wrist, your stroke length is very limited:

Instead, try using an overhand grip and pivot from your elbow and shoulder to achieve much longer strokes:

This is very useful for shading large areas such as backgrounds. Just remember to keep your strokes close together, eliminating gaps that can make your drawing look scratchy.

 

Understand How Light Behaves

Have you ever tried shading something over and over without it looking even close to your subject? For most beginners, shading is probably a guessing game. That’s totally what is was for me! Until I learned a few basics about light.

Things just started making more sense!

Knowing where to correctly add light or shadow can make a really big difference in how realistic your artwork will come across.

I’m going to use a sphere to point out the different elements of light because the patterns are a lot easier to point out than a complex form such as… a nose for example.

Here we have a plain wooden ball, with a light source coming down from the top left.

We have two distinct sides, the light side which is facing the light source and the shadow side which is turned away from the light.

Here we have something called a core shadow which is a dark strip running along the boundary between the two sides.

The core shadow is most visible on a white table because white is highly reflective. Light rays come down, bounce off the table and illuminate the shadow side of the ball, leaving a dark band.

So as you can see, we have two types of light. Direct light and reflected light.

That’s why shadows are rarely all black. There are so many things in the environment that light can reflect off of: walls, nearby objects or even dust particles floating around in the air!

 

Do keep in mind that black surfaces absorb light, so in the example image below, the core shadow is no longer visible:

 

Looking at the image below, can you tell which areas are lit by reflections and where the core shadows are?

 

Answer…..

 

 

As mentioned earlier, light rays can reflect off of many things in the environment, but they have a difficult time bouncing their way into tight spaces such as the area where the ball touches the table. This is called an occlusion shadow.

And where a form blocks light from reaching another, that’s called a cast shadow. In this case, the ball is blocking light from reaching the table.

 

The cast shadow can tell you where the light source is coming from. All you have to do is trace the edges against your object, like so:

You can also flip this around…If you’re drawing an entire scene from your imagination, you can specify a light source and create a set of lines resting against the edges of your object to find the cast shadow’s length.

How many cast shadows can you find in the image below?

 

Answer…..

 

 

 

Let’s take a closer look at the light side of the ball.

On this side, there are only 3 things I need to point out. There’s the core light which is the area facing the light directly. Then there’s the highlight which is actually a reflection of the light source. This is the brightest point on an object. The edges of a highlight can appear soft on matte surfaces like this wooden ball or hard on shiny surfaces such as a polished plastic ball.

And as unintuitive as it seems, the highlight can change position depending on where you’re standing.

The very last thing are mid-tones or half-tones. Mid-tones are the darkest values on the light side of the ball where the edges start curving away from the light source. These areas of the ball receive less and less light the more they angle away.

 

Can you point out the core light, highlight and mid-tones on the nose?

 

Answer…..

 

Shade With Me: Step by Step Shading for Beginners!

Let’s shade an apple together without looking at any reference images. With our basic knowledge of how light behaves, we can essentially draw from our imagination! It’s a great way to actively think about how light behaves.

 

Step 1

First sketch your apple. It doesn’t have to be perfect at all just try to get something down on your sketchbook. Try to keep your outlines as light as possible. My sketch is extra dark so you guys can see it better.

You can use any pencil you want :) To learn more about the different pencil types, click here.

If you look closely, I started out by drawing a very light circle and then used that as a base to draw the apple.

 

Step 2

We want it to be sitting on a table, so draw the edge of that table behind your apple. Then erase any unneeded lines.

 

Step 3

The next step is to determine where the light is coming from. Let’s have one shining down from the top left. Draw a little flashlight or sun just to remember where the light source is.

 

Step 4

Where the apple blocks light from reaching the table, let’s draw a cast shadow. You can use a ruler to find the cast shadow’s length. Just align the ruler to your light source and the edge of the apple. Now we know how long to draw the cast shadow. I’m just going to draw a long oval shape on the table’s surface.

 

Step 5

Where the dotted lines touch the apple, we have our boundary between the light and shadow side.

Let’s say the apple is sitting on a white table. How do you think the shadow side will look, taking reflected light into consideration? Don’t forget that light can bounce off of walls, nearby objects or even dust particles.

Once you’re done visualizing, draw a core shadow. My core shadow is thinner on the left side because there are more reflections on that side (yours might look different depending on the apple’s surroundings).

Make sure the thickest section of the core shadow is darkest.

 

Step 6

Where the apple touches the table, there is less light. So let’s shade that area darker.

 

Step 7

Now that I’ve taken care of those two areas, I’m going to fill in the rest of the shadow side by laying down a flat layer of graphite that is much lighter in value.

The 3 areas we just shaded look very separate from each other, so let’s soften the transition between each one to avoid the abrupt changes between light and dark. I like to shade from the darkest area into the lighter one, using medium pressure to start.

Now the apple looks a lot rounder!

If you’re shading an object with a matte surface, an abrupt or immediate transition can indicate a sharp edge while a gradual transition can indicate a round edge.

 

Step 8

Let’s shade the cast shadow now. The further the cast shadow is from the apple, the more open it is to being hit by reflected light rays, so I’m gonna shade the area directly under the apple darker and then lighter as the shadow stretches away.

 

Step 9

How bright do you want the light side of your apple to be? It’s totally up to you! Pick a light value and then shade the entire space flatly. Just focus on your pressure control and stroke spacing.

 

Step 10

The next thing we need to do is blend the two distinct sides of our apple so it all comes together nicely.

Where the form turns away from direct light, add your mid-tones which will immediately make the surface appear rounder.

The more the surface of the apple turns away from direct light, the darker it becomes.

 

Step 11

When you’re done, use an eraser to indicate the highlight.

 

Step 12: Bonus

If you want your drawing to pop out, exaggerate your values to create depth (make dark areas darker, light areas even lighter).

You can only go so dark with graphite pencils. If you wanna achieve a deep black, try adding charcoal to the drawing.

Outlines can make a drawing look cartoony, so if you want your apple to look more realistic, make sure the outlines blend in with your shading or erase them as you go along.

Definitely try to make your initial sketches as light as possible so they don’t show through in the end. If they’re too dark to erase, you can add a dark background until they disappear!

 

Practice!

Place a few objects on a table under a single light source. These objects can be various fruit, vegetables, eggs, etc.

Observe the patterns of light and shadow on each object as you move the light around to try and understand what you’re looking at. Then draw the scene in a fairly organized manner. For example, start with the core shadow first, then the occlusion shadow etc.

Sometimes it can help to pick an object up and turn it around to study it from different angles.

If you want a bigger challenge, ask a willing friend or family member to be your study subject. Use only one light source on his or her face. It really helps to draw people that you know very well!

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Want to download a FREE PDF version of this tutorial for offline viewing or printing? Please share this page with your friends using the buttons below to unlock the PDF. Thank you! Alternatively, you can purchase ALL my tutorials in PDF form at once, for a small price. Click here for more info.
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Huion GT 191 Pen Drawing Tablet Review

If you’re new to RFA, I’m a traditional pencil portrait artist of 13 years and this is my very first experience with a graphic display drawing tablet.

There’s a video to go along with this blog post. It covers pretty much the same stuff except the post has more technical specs.

For full specs, please go to Amazon.

Here’s the video:

This was sent to me for free by Huion in exchange for a review. Needless to say, this is going to be an unbiased review.

Here’s what comes inside the box:

  • Cute thank you note
  • GT-191 HD monitor
  • Anti-glare screen protector
  • Tablet stand
  • 2 Rechargeable styluses
  • 8 pen nibs
  • Stylus holder
  • Screwdriver
  • 4 Screws (to attach the stand)
  • Thick and soft cleaning cloth
  • Stretchy two-fingered glove (to help your hand glide across the tablet as you draw)
  • USB cable
  • HDMI cable
  • VGA cable
  • Power adapter
  • Power cable
  • Installation CD
  • Manual
  • Warranty card

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Closer Look at the Pens and Pen Stand

Pen Specs:

  • 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity
  • Rechargeable

I love that this comes with an extra pen because I can always keep one charged while working. The build is plastic from end to end with a nice metallic accent and two programmable buttons. The buttons have a good amount of travel and make soft clicking sounds which I found a little addictive playing with admittedly…

One concern I had was that they don’t have rubber grips, but after using it for the last few days, I haven’t found that to be an issue at all. It’s very comfortable to use and so far it hasn’t slipped out of my hand.

I like how sleek and simple the design is as well.

Both are rechargeable via the small port at the end of the pen. The cable snaps into the port real snug. I haven’t tested it long enough to know how long the battery lasts on a full charge yet. So far it’s been good!

I’ve used it everyday (on and off) for about a week.

The pen stand can be twisted open to reveal 8 extra nibs (which are all identical to each other) and a nib extractor. I couldn’t get the nib extractor to work. I think the hole is too large for the pen nib. If I need to replace one, I’ll probably use a pair of tweezers.

 

Closer Look at the Stand

The stand is made of plastic and metal as well as a non-slip rubber bottom, just like the tablet itself.

Here is the locking mechanism inside of the stand, which gives you 20 to 80 degrees of tilt. What I like about this stand is that the teeth are really small which means I can tilt the screen in tiny increments exactly to my liking. The stand is very easy to install and it holds the tablet up very firmly. The rubber grips keep the tablet in place while I draw.

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Closer Look at the Display Tablet

Display Specs:

  • 19.5″ HD IPS Monitor
  • Wide Screen: 16: 9 ratio, 1920 x 1080 HD resolution
  • 3000:1 contrast ratio
  • 16.7 million colors
  • 72% NTSC color gamut
  • Viewing angle of 178 degrees guarantees uniform color from edge to edge
  • Three signal ports for image transmission (HDMI, VGA and DVI).
  • Net weight 3.3kg

The tablet comes with a pre-installed anti-glare screen protector which is attached by 4 double sided stickers at each corner which means you can easily reattach it.

With the stand attached, the tablet feels very sturdy. Making adjustments to the tablet angle is smooth and I find the lever very well positioned.

This is the lowest angle of the tablet. When pressing down on the corners, there is a bit of movement, but I am using a lot of force on it. It definitely feels very sturdy and well built – I don’t feel like I need to be gentle with it at all.

 

Setting Up

Make sure the usb cable is plugged directly into your computer. I used a usb hub in the beginning which caused me some trouble. Also, don’t forget to turn your Anti-virus off during installation.

With the screen protector off, the monitor looks really sharp and colors are more vibrant. Later on I’ll be testing this out with the protector on and off to see which I ultimately prefer.

Installing the driver only took a few minutes. In the Huion desktop app, you can reprogram the two stylus buttons on the pen (there are many options).

You can adjust pen pressure sensitivity. The lower the number, the more sensitive the pen will be.

You can also calibrate the pen to the screen using 9-point calibration.

Out of the box, the cursor is about 2 millimeters off. After I go through the calibration process, it’s about half millimeter off. I’ve tried calibrating many times and I get similar results. I got used to it after a while though.

 

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Testing the Tablet with a Speed Drawing

For this review, I wanted to test the tablet by drawing a complete portrait. I’m also a total beginner to Photoshop, so this section of the review will also include my thoughts about going digital.

I watched one basic Photoshop tutorial before attempting this, so please excuse my newness with this program.

Drawing with the stylus felt quite natural. I like how light and ergonomic it is as well. I found the placement of each button just right and they’re also easy to distinguish from each other because one sticks out further than the other.

Regarding response time, there is no noticeable lag.

When it comes to shading, I think the pressure levels are great. I didn’t need to do much erasing or undoing, so that’s a good sign. Even though the cursor isn’t perfectly positioned under the pen, I got used to it really quickly. It only bothers me when I’m zoomed all the way out and I’m working on small details. Other than that, I don’t think it’s a big issue for me.

By the way, at this point during the drawing process, it’s almost 3 in the morning and I was pretty much finished the portrait but I was having a total blast so I decided to color it as well. This is the most exciting thing about working digitally for me. Normally I never add color to my portraits, but doing it digitally means I can always revert back to the original version if my experimentation goes wrong. So I feel like I can push my boundaries a lot more if I use this more often.

I calibrated the pen in the beginning but after a few hours. the cursor was an additional millimeter off, so I quickly calibrated the pen again which only took a few seconds to do.

 

One thing I love about working on this tablet is how large the screen is and how rich the colors are.

Regarding screen protector vs glass, I much prefer drawing on the glass because everything just looks sharper and the stylus glides across the screen pretty effortlessly which makes the drawing experience feel super smooth. The stylus squeaked a lot in the beginning but after a few minutes, it ran silent. I think the nib just needed to be worn down.

Conclusion

Okay, let’s check on the nib. I used it for around 3 hours straight and a bunch more throughout the week and it’s still in great shape! Also, the pen kept its charge.

So what are my opinions on this tablet so far?

Here are the pros:

First of all, I completely kicked my old monitor to the side because this one beats it out of the water hands down. From now on, I’m definitely going to use this as my main computer monitor. The colors are more true as well which is great because I do a lot of video and image editing daily.

Again, the screen quality looks amazing, colors are vibrant, everything looks super sharp, the build quality of this tablet feels and looks great. It’s really strudy. I don’t feel like I need to be gentle with at all.

The rubber base keeps everything perfectly in place while I draw and there is no noticeable shake (I usually apply light to medium pressure when drawing).

The stylus feels light, natural, comfortable to use and I’m very happy with the pressure sensitivity.

I did have some trouble setting this up in the beginning, but that was totally my fault because I hate reading instructions.

Cons:

A few cons are that even after careful calibration, the cursor is still about half a millimeter off. I don’t notice it if I’m zoomed into the section I’m working on and I got used to it fairly quickly but it’s most noticeable for me when I’m zoomed all the way out and trying to work on small details like the eyes. I’m very very nit picky about precision, so this might just be me.

The cursor position does change depending on where I am on the screen. The cursor is an additional millimeter off in the right corner of the screen.

Also, I couldn’t get the nib remover to work, even after reading the instructions, so that will be an issue when I need to replace one. Although, I’m sure a pair of tweezers will do the job.

When I lower the stand to the bottom most tier, the wires are in the way, which makes a part of the stand lift up off the table. But if I position the cables over to the side, this doesn’t happen anymore. This is just something for you to keep in mind if you want to prevent the wires from pinching. You can see what I mean at the end of the video.

Overall, I really enjoyed drawing on this tablet, I think it’s really easy to use. There’s really no learning curve at all. Using Photoshop though is a different story, I feel like once I learn more about Photoshop I’ll be able to create even more realistic renderings. But that’s aside from this review.

As a traditional artist, I love drawing on this tablet and I’m so excited to play with it further. I have to admit, I’ve been starting to loose interest in drawing, but this was just so refreshing for me. It definitely reignited a spark somehow.

It works very similarly to what I’m used to without the fear of wasting paper or making permanent mistakes, so I feel like I can draw anything with this. It was also really fun to push my boundaries by adding color to the portrait, something I would otherwise never really do drawing traditionally.

I’m giving this tablet a big thumbs up. I think the price point is great considering the quality and I think the pros far outweigh the cons.

If you want to check out more detailed specs on the Huion Kamvas GT 191 or pick one up for yourself, click here to see it on Amazon.

I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions about the tablet, let me know. I’ll try my best to answer your questions.

And thanks again to Huion for sending me this awesome drawing tablet. It’s been a lot of fun to play with!

 

 

Huion GT 191 Pen Drawing Tablet Review Read More »

Lesson 10: Putting it All Together!

In this final lesson, I’m going to challenge you to put everything you learned in the previous lessons into practice.

I’m going to show you several images and you need to draw them using some or all of the techniques from lessons 1-9. If you forgot what each lesson was about, click the links below to refresh your memory, or see the list below that (each link opens in a new tab):

Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

1.) Intro to sketching
2.) Break things down into simple shapes
3.) How to make things look 3D
4.) Proportions
5.) Commons drawing mistakes (example: continuity)
6.) Perspective
7.) Line quality
8.) Shading techniques
9.) How to shade

 

Draw Image #1

Before you pick up that pencil, run through the list above and see where you can apply each technique. Use it as a checklist.

Below is my approach. I encourage you to try it out for yourself first. So don’t scroll down until your drawing is finished!

 

My Approach For Image #1

There’s no single right way to do it. So don’t worry if your approach was different from mine.

Step 1: Observe the Reference Photo

Get to know the scene, objects, proportions etc. Can you use one-point or two-point perspectives to help you draw some objects more accurately?

It looks like the wooden planks can be drawn using one-point perspective. Let’s draw on top of the reference photo to see if this is true:

I extended each wooden plank towards the ships until the lines met at a single point – called the vanishing point. Now that I know one-point perspective can be used to draw the dock and I know where the vanishing point is located, I can save this information for later and apply it to my drawing.

Note: Notice how the lines don’t exactly meet at a single point? The dock is made of wood, which can warp due to changing weather conditions, so it’s normal for the vanishing point to be a little ambiguous.

 

Step 2: Break Everything Down while Checking Proportions

Before you draw, you can trace the rectangle shape of the photo so you have enough space to draw everything. If you don’t want to trace, just eye it and then revise the rectangle along the way.

The whole image can be broken down into 3 main sections horizontally: the dock, the water and the sky. The dock takes up about 1/3 of the photo width-wise while the sky takes up about 1/4 of the remainder.

Pay attention to angles as well. The dock should slant downwards on the left side.

 

Next, pick out the main subjects within the scene and sketch them in one after the other, roughly. You can break a subject down into a much simpler shape and add details after you measure, compare and confirm the proportions.

 

While adding details, make sure to constantly check if the proportions are right. How much space is there from the top of the right shoe to the edge of the water? What angle is the left foot rotated and how far is the heel from the right foot? The more observations, comparisons and measurements you make, the more accurate your drawing will be.

Have a look at the checklist on the right hand side. You’ll notice that I crossed off number 1,2,4 and 5: “continuity”. If you haven’t been paying attention, I applied continuity twice throughout the drawing already – Once where the dock line crosses through the feet and another where the water level line runs through the boat.

 

Step 3: Sketch More Details

So far, it’s just a rough sketch. Not too much commitment has been made to the drawing yet, so it’s the perfect time to check over proportions again. I noticed that the second boat from the left was a little short, so I extended that one slightly.

Add a few details here and there…

I sketched some patterns on each shoe, further defined the shape of each boat and drew some tiny boats in the distance (over on the right side). If you’re happy with the shapes, you can darken your lines.

 

Step 4: Perspective

Remember step 1 where I found the dock’s vanishing point? In the drawing below, I drew a dot to represent the vanishing point and used a ruler to draw straight lines, creating individual planks of wood.

I’ve crossed “perspective” off the checklist as well.

 

Step 5: Line Weight

Pay attention to each of the lines you make. The thicker your lines are, the more attention you will bring to that particular area of the drawing. In the picture below, I’ve added some waves using light pencil marks. This makes them subtle.

The main focal point for this image are the shoes and the dock. You can pull these things closer to the viewer by using a variety of thicker lines where appropriate. If you look really close, you’ll notice that the squiggly designs on each shoe are thicker the closer they are to the viewer.

I also thickened the lines for each wooden plank. It’s just something you can add to make the drawing look more impactful. Let’s cross number 7 off the list.

 

Step 6: Shade Everything and Make it 3D

I like to shade the darkest areas first. Especially if the value is solid.

Take a look at the reference image and see if there’s any white. I didn’t find any true white, so there shouldn’t be any white areas on my drawing. The lightest color seems to be a light gray, so I went ahead and shaded a base layer of light gray over the whole drawing.

 

It’s been shaded but it still looks flat. Observe where the light is coming from or simply where the lightest/darkest areas are and then use the shadow-lining technique to outline all the major shadows along the legs and shoes.

 

Then shade those shadow areas using the appropriate values. It’s starting to look more 3D.

I went ahead and shaded the mountain and boats as well. Those values were pretty solid, so it was quite easy.

 

Introduce more midtones to the shoes so the surface has more planes (what are planes?). Make sure your shading is gradual where it needs to be (gradual transition around smooth edges, less gradual around hard edges).

Time to shade the water. To make the waves look calm, you can use the contour shading technique. For rough waters, try a mix of hatching and squiggling. If you don’t want the viewer to take their attention off the main subject, avoid adding too much detail into the water.

 

I think that’s enough shading. Look over the drawing once more to see if anything is missing…

I forgot to add the weaving patterns on each shoe, the wood grain on the dock and I should probably add more detail into each boat…

 

That looks much better! Anything else missing? It never hurts to check again you know!

There’s no shadow underneath each leg/shoe! Once the shadows are added, the feet look more relaxed and less like they’re photoshopped into the scene.

Hey! I’ve managed to cross everything off the checklist!

 

Draw Image #2

If you couldn’t help but read through the steps for image #1 before trying it yourself, you should be able to do this one on your own now :) There’s no harm in trying!

 

My Approach for Image #2

 

Step 1: Observe Reference and Find Vanishing Point

When I first looked at this image, my brain filtered out all the clouds! After some time, the clouds became very apparent and I also noticed some shadows coming from the trees and people.

Observe your reference image well, a glance is never enough.

It looks like one-point perspective can be used to draw some elements in this photo. I extended the train tracks and grass edges until the lines met at a single point. Now I know where to draw the vanishing point on my drawing later.

 

Step 2: Break Everything Down

From the reference photo, I measured the ground vertically and found that it took up about 1/3rd of the photo, so I made a horizontal line 1/3rd of the way up from my drawing. Again, if you want, you can trace the outside of the photo to get the correct rectangle shape, or you can revise it as you go along.

Before drawing the mountains and trees, I drew a dotted line down the entire reference image and drawing, crossing through the spot where the vanishing point will eventually be drawn. This dotted line helps me break the images in half, which simplifies the crowded scene while also providing me with a great way to measure where each mountain and tree should be drawn.

EDIT: Looking at the drawing now, I realize that the mountains should have an equal amount of space from the dotted line. I didn’t pay enough attention and instead, drew the smallest mountain too close to the dotted line.

Try to avoid making assumptions like I did.

The trees are very detailed but I just want to draw a loose representation, so I’m using teardrop shapes for each one. To make sure the trees are drawn roughly the right size, you can measure and compare them against the image’s width, against each other and against the mountains.

 

Step 3: Perspective

Where the horizontal line meets the dotted line, draw the vanishing point. The train tracks and grass edges can be drawn from there.

 

Step 4: Sketch More Details

Give the trees some more detail making each one a little different from the other.

Step 5: Address Continuity

I want to draw the people last because they cover a part of the horizon line. Again, I’m using a simple shape to represent the space they take up in the scene while checking to make sure I placed them in the right spot.

Continuity is now crossed off the list!

 

Step 6: Line Quality

If you want to give your drawing more depth, make the train tracks thicker in the foreground and thinner in the background.

 

For the grass edges, I’m using the straight line I drew earlier as a guide to draw random squiggly shapes. This creates a more obvious difference from the train tracks.

 

Step 7: Shade it

I’m shading the mountains first because I think they’re the easiest things to shade compared to everything else.

 

Look at the reference photo to see what the lightest value is and then shade a light layer of that value across the whole drawing.

Shadow-line the lightest areas in the sky and then shade around it. You can use a random scribble shading technique for the grass.

 

Soften the outline in the sky so the lighting looks more gradual.

 

For tree detailing, I like to use squiggly lines.

 

For the tree branches in the top left corner, I’m using a variety of triangles and loops to represent individual leaves.

 

Time to add the rest of the details! There were so many clouds that I just sloppily scribbled them in.

 

Draw Image #3

This one’s a bit of a challenge, but I’m confident you’ll be able to check off everything on the list with some effort. You might not know how right off the bat, just trust in yourself that you can figure it out along the way!

 

My Approach for Image #3

 

Step 1: Observation and Vanishing Point(s)

While observing a scene, it may help to describe what objects there are, people, colors, reflections, lighting observations, etc. Think about what shading techniques can be used and where.

There are several objects in this scene that can be drawn using one-point perspective – the two laptops. The unique thing about this image is that our two laptops have different vanishing points.

Let’s keep this in mind for later.

Note: The reason I didn’t use one-point perspective for the paper is because the edge of the page is covered, giving me only a single edge to find the vanishing point with – I need at least 2 edges to find the vanishing point of a single object.

 

Step 2: Break Things Down

The scene is really busy, which can be super intimidating to start drawing. All you have to do is start with one line or one object. Once you have the first few main objects drawn, the rest will be easy.

I’m starting with the table because it’s the largest object and is very straight. I can see the far edge of the table quite well and I know it’s about 1/3 of the way down. The right edge of the table is really hard for me to make out and it’s mostly covered, so I’m making my best guess here.

 

The next thing I want to sketch is the second largest object – the laptop in the foreground. Since I’m going to draw the side edges using one-point perspective, I’m only going to sketch the two furthest edges from view.

Step 3: Perspective

Draw a dot where the vanishing point for this laptop should be. Once that’s in place, drawing the rest of the laptop should be a complete breeze!

 

Using the same approach, I’m going to draw the other laptop as well. The vanishing point for this one is in a different location because neither laptop is a fixed object (they can be moved around freely on the table). If they were attached to each other, their vanishing points would be in the same spot.

 

I checked the reference photo to see how much space there was from the far edge of the laptop to the edge of the table and made a small tick where I wanted the laptop to end.

Once I defined the laptop’s width, everything else fell into place.

 

I’m happy with the placement of everything, so I’ll go ahead and add details like the keyboard keys (using the vanishing points).

 

Step 4: Sketch More Details

Now that I’ve drawn 2 major objects, The rest of the drawing should be a lot easier to fill in.

Hands are complicated to draw, so I like to start out by roughing out the general shapes I see. No details yet! Focus on the positioning/alignment and size.

I’m crossing continuity off the list now. Can you see why?

After I’m happy with my sketch, I can finally erase all the unneeded lines crossing through the hands and arms.

 

Now I can add more details while keeping my construction lines as a rough guide.

 

Step 5: Shade and Make it 3D

In this scene, it looks like the light is coming from a window on the far wall or a light source coming from that direction, evident by the light patterns on the wall and the bright reflection on the laptop screens. I know where the lightest and darkest values are.

Instead of shading the whole drawing with a light layer of gray, I’m going to take it step by step this time. You can approach it any way you want.

Again, I’m starting with the darkest values: The laptop borders and keys, shadows on the hands and shirt, etc…

Adding some midtones…

The arm is already starting to look more 3D/round.

Here, I’m adding more details like the fabric wrinkles which I sometimes like to draw last because they can be distracting. Along areas of fabric that need highlighting, I’ll just use my kneaded eraser to lift away the precise amount of graphite needed.

 

Slowly adding more midtones to other areas of the drawing…

For the wooden table, I’m using lines of various thicknesses to convey the texture of wood. The reference image doesn’t have such obvious lines, I just thought my drawing could use that bit of detail.

The laptop screens have also been shaded. I used a kneaded eraser to create some clean, light reflections along the screen.

Shadowline the ring of light on the wall and shade the area around it.

Shade inside the shadowlined area until it’s the right value.

I forgot to draw the pencil tip being held by the hand in the foreground, so I’m adding that while making sure the pencil is straight from tip to end (if you haven’t noticed, the eraser end is visible through the thumb webbing).

Also forgot about the lines of text on the paper. I don’t want these lines to be too distracting, so I’m making them very subtle.

Finally, look over your drawing to see if you missed anything else. I forgot to erase the continuity lines going through the other pencil.

Were you able to check all 9 items off your list?

 

Your Homework and Challenge

Try to draw all of the images below. You can improvise if you want to.

What techniques will you use? It’s all up to you! You might not be able to cross everything off your checklist, as some techniques may not be appropriate. But that’s up to you to decide.

 

For the image below, what are you going to draw first? Second?

 

So many pots and they’re all different sizes! How will you draw them all in proportion?

 

What shading technique(s) will work best to portray thick, rough elephant skin? What shading technique will help the trunk look round? How can you make the two elephants in the foreground pop out from the elephants in the background?

 

There’s a lot going on here! How can you filter out all the little distractions and break everything down into larger, simpler shapes?

Once you’re done, share your artwork with me on Facebook. I want to see your unique approaches!

Submit all 4 drawings from the challenge with a detailed description of how you drew each one, share with me any realizations you made (aha moments) and explain any techniques you came up with along the way.

If you would like some constructive feedback, please let me know when you share your work :)

If you complete the challenge, I’ll feature your artwork down below with a link to your website or social media profile so other readers can learn more about you!

 

What’s Next?

Finished the whole course and have no idea where to go next? Here are a few suggestions:

 

1.) Discover and try my other tutorials on RFA and Youtube. Here are a few that I highly recommend:

 

2.) Go on a 365 day drawing challenge

Draw something everyday for a year! It doesn’t matter how sloppy your drawings are or whether you feel like it or not. Just get something down on that sketchbook. If you’re having a bad day, just draw a triangle and shade it in plainly – doesn’t have to be fancy, brilliant or perfect!

You’re training your muscles, your brain and developing a good habit of setting a goal and always following through.

 

3.) Discover and learn from other artists and art styles

There’s always something new to be learned and you’ve got a great resource right at your fingertips… the internet.

If you’re only interested in realism, watch some cartooning tutorials on Youtube. I just discovered an amazing and super creative Youtuber, Jazza, who inspires me to create more and helps me get those creative juices flowing.

If you’re afraid of making mistakes, watch abstract artists in action!

You never know what awesome nuggets of information you’ll find along the way. Just know that everyone has a unique perspective, approach, story etc… always something valuable for you to learn.

 

And with that, I hope you enjoyed this free course and learned at least a few useful things from it. Whether you learned a lot or only found one technique useful, I want to congratulate you for making it all the way to the end and thank you for making that commitment for yourself and trusting me to assist you along your artistic journey!

If you want to become a part of my Patreon community and support what I do, check out my Patreon page for more info.

And if you want to continue following my tutorials, subscribe to my Youtube channel for new ones coming your way!

 

Darlene

Lesson 10: Putting it All Together! Read More »

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