Reviews

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!

 

 

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:

‚¶Ā 1 battery-free stylus with 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity
‚¶Ā Felt stylus sleeve
‚¶Ā 5.3″ x 8.5″ drawing tablet with built-in 57″ long USB cable
‚¶Ā 10 extra stylus nibs
‚¶Ā 1 nib remover
‚¶Ā Instruction manual
‚¶Ā 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.

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!

 

 

Wacom Intuos Pro Paper Edition – Unboxing & First Impressions

Wacom Intuos Pro Paper Edition Medium Unboxing 1_1This is the Wacom Intuos Pro Paper Edition, which was very generously given to me by the awesome folks over at Wacom! Playing around with this tab for a few days already gave me a bunch of cool ideas for future tutorials, so I’m super excited to see what I can do with it!

Thank you Wacom!

This tablet can turn traditional pen and paper art into digital ink right in front of your eyes! How cool is that?

As I familiarize myself with this awesome new toy (*ahem* medium), you’ll see me use it in a lot in upcoming video tutorials. It’ll help me speed up my work flow which means I can finally create content for you guys on a more regular basis! Yay!!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.

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Unboxing the Wacom Intuos Pro Paper Edition Medium

Before delving into my first impressions on the tablet, I wanted to share a snippet of my unboxing experience with you because… it was AWESOME!

To skip the unboxing, click here.

It opens like a book!

These are the goody boxes!

The first box contains a pencil case, clip, ink pen, extra ink and paper. The paper is packaged so beautifully – I just can’t bring myself to open it!

The pencil case is really soft inside. There’s a lot of room for additional drawing supplies and even fits the tablet clip.

The ink pen has a soft rubber grip which feels comfortable to write with. I tested the pen on a notebook and the lines came out very fine without any blotches. The ink dries almost instantly.

I was pleasantly surprised when I found three extra ink refills in the small rectangular package. The method for removing the ink cartridge is genius! By the way, I love how their instructions are all visual!

The second box contains the tablet, stylus, stylus holder and a USB charging cable. The tablet was so beautifully packaged that I felt bad removing it from the plastic cover haha.

The surface feels cool to the touch. It’s thin but doesn’t feel fragile at all.

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There are programmable buttons on the side and one of them is magical! I’ll tell you about it later.

 

Here’s what it looks like with the clip.

Everything else was hidden under the tablet. I immediately thought of Iron Man’s arc reactor when I saw the stylus holder. It’s such a cool looking holder!

The stylus comes with a silver decorative ring near the tip and there are four other metallic colors to choose from. The rubber grip on the stylus feels a lot more comfortable to hold than the pen and it’s also a little plushier.

Besides looking cool as heck, the stylus holder has other uses as well. It helps with removing the stylus tip and also holds extra tips inside its body.

Here’s the difference between the ink pen and the stylus:

Ink Pen: It writes like a real pen with real ink. When used on the tablet, anything you draw can be digitized. It can be used to trace under-drawings.

Stylus: It’s a digital drawing tool which can be used to paint, draw or even replace a mouse.

First Impressions on the Wacom Intuos Pro Paper Edition

I plugged the tablet into my laptop and got a few prompts to download the software: Inkspace and Bamboo Paper.

Inkspace: As the name suggests, Inkspace is for turning paper sketches into digital ink. I’ll go more in depth down below.

Bamboo Paper: It’s a notebook app that you can draw in! The app looks like a notebook and has flippable pages. I LOVE¬†writing notes, lists, plans and sketching out my ideas on scrap paper. But I always end up losing them! This app is really going to come in handy.

Wacom’s Inkspace app has a really cool live area where anything drawn with the ink pen can be instantly viewed on the screen in real time and a copy is¬†automatically saved in the app. I had so much fun playing with this feature!

 

I haven’t drawn for leisure in a very long time but for some reason this makes me want to draw more!¬†There’s something about seeing the ink appear on the screen that makes it so much more satisfying. I can’t really explain it.

Side note:¬†When I put my laptop into¬†“stand mode”, the tablet replaces the¬†touchpad and this setup works quite nicely. Bonus point.. The tablet is exactly the same width and length as my laptop which means I¬†can put them both in one travelling case!

All saved drawings are conveniently stored on the main screen of the app. From here, they can be exported into several different formats such as: Text, JPG, PNG, SVG or PSD.

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The app can even convert handwriting into text!

Remember that magical button I was talking about?¬†Whenever I hit the small circle button on the tablet, my drawing gets saved. I don’t even need to be connected to the computer or internet since it can save to the internal memory. So that means I can work on the go even without my laptop and 8 pound scanner! Score!!
Usually when I scan my step by step tutorials, it takes anywhere from 1 to 10 minutes per scan depending on the quality I want.

This only takes about 5 seconds!

Every time I save my progress, it actually saves it in layers. This is going to come in handy for capturing step by step drawing tutorials! When I want to turn this into a full image, I simply stack them on top of each other:

 

Here, I tried tracing a face from a 3 millimeter thick coupon book. It came out exactly how I traced it.

I tried it again. This time focusing on pressure sensitivity. The¬†ink pen doesn’t seem to have pressure sensitivity (not that I know of anyway). If you compare the shading of the nose bridge from one image to the next, you’ll see what I mean. So if I want to shade, I’ll need to overlap lines or play with stroke spacing.

I wanted to test if the stylus had pressure sensitivity, and it does! On the right side, I tried to shade a nice gradient and it worked beautifully! It can almost pass as real graphite!

 

Here, I’m using the stylus to color the Iron Man drawing I made earlier:

RapidFireArt Coloring IronMan Wacom Intuos Pro Paper EditionWith the stylus, I can only see what I’m doing by looking up at the screen. It’s a completely different experience from using the ink pen but it was just as enjoyable!

I’m really excited to play with this further and see how I can create realistic drawing tutorials using a combination of pen and stylus!

This is going to speed up my work so much! Once I figure¬†things out, I’ll be able to quickly pump out more tutorials (most likely on fundamentals)! Don’t worry, I’m still going to do traditional pencil art as well.

Have you used a drawing tablet before? If so, how was your transition? Also, is there anything you’d like to see me try?

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