I like to work in coffee shops. I like the vibe, the smells, the people; the atmosphere. It’s very conducive to making comics. Inevitably the question I’m asked when I start doodling on a page is “What’s that?!” They aren’t talking about the artwork necessarily, but about the tablet.
Since page 20, AZURE moved to an entirely digital realm. From beginning to end, Azure remains in the computer. When you talk about working, digitally tablets come into the conversation. When you talk tablets, Wacom has a monopoly. Their brand has become a staple in the comic industry, and while its rare to walk around a comic convention and see people working digitally, the majority of the colorists out there use Wacom tablets to color their comics.
An overview of Wacom’s tablets:
Cintiq 21UX– Arguably the best tablet on the market. This 21” monitor/pressure-sensitive tablet sports a new sturdy yet slim frame with adjustable vertical/horizontal positions. The surface physically rotates on a center axis and has a native resolution of 1600 x 1200. There are now 16 customizable express keys and rear mounted touchstrips (a big improvement as on both the older model UX and the Intuos3’s – it wasn’t uncommon to accidentally brush over a touch strip while working). The new pen has 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity. The previous 21UX model was slightly less cool, but just as functional, and a number of Zuda creators use this, primarily for coloring their comics. HIGH MOON artist Steve Ellis, uses that model and recommends it. The big drawback? It’sprice tag: $2,000. This is the tablet pros use and it’s an investment. If you are unsure about whether this whole ‘making comics’ thing is your bag or if you should work digital or not, don’t drop 2 G’s on this. I recommend finding someone who has one and playing with it. Often you can see and test one at the major conventions.
Cintiq 12WX – This is the little brother to the 21UX and is also a monitor/tablet. It has less sensitivity than the 21UX model and the surface size is considerably smaller. I liken the differences between the two to drawing with your wrist vs drawing with your arm. The 12WX is still a great tablet and somewhat portable unlike the 21UX. I RULE THE NIGHT creator Kevin Colden uses one of these to do clean-ups, coloring, and design.
Intuos 3 and 4 – This line of tablets is my weapon of choice when working on Azure. Other Zuda titles that use Intuos’s in some capacity: GULCH, ROCKSTAR, & DEADLY to name a few. I have a 12×9 Intuos 3 which translates roughly to their large Intuos 4 model. The newer model has higher pressure sensitivity and the express keys are now located all on the left side. On the Intuos 3 there are keys and sliders on both sides. I love my Intuos and take it everywhere I go. Easily it is the most portable of the Pro lines. The big difference between these and the Cintiq’s is the disconnect from the work surface. Because there is no monitor integration on the tablet surface, some artists find it tough to draw what you see on the monitor, not your tablet surface. I find this something you just have to get used to, like Guinness. To pick up the older but just-as-cool model, I recommend EBay and Craigslist.
Lastly there are a few other tablets to mention – Two other Wacom models – the Bamboo and the Graphire. Both tend to be lesser versions (in all ways) to the Intuos line, and in my opinion after playing around with them, are poor substitutes for even the smallest size older generation Intuos. They are less expensive and seem to be designed for a younger artist. A new tablet that’s pretty impressive, less expensive than the Intuos but in the same league, and has a nice kick stand for propping the tablet up, is UC-Logic PF1209-PRO. A last tablet of note, also along the same lines as the Intuos, (many makers try to copy this style of tablet), is the new CyberTablet Z12. It is also less expensive than the Wacom model, but has less precision and comes in fewer models.
Know of another cool tablet? Drop a note here!