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Master of the Tablet

... Cher Threinen-Pendarvis

When we first received the Photoshop and Painter Artist Tablet Book we knew you'd like to hear from Cher and share some insights about painting with the tablet! Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to welcome Cher Threinen-Pendarvis to DT&G today.

DT&G   Cher, it's been a while since our last visit, so we were really pleased to see your new book and have the opportunity to catch up. I know you're deep into the final states of the next book -- The Painter IX Wow! Book -- so, we'll keep it short.

Cher:   Thanks so much for this opportunity, Fred. Yes, it's been very hectic getting this next WOW book out the door, but it's always nice to chat and help anyone interested in digital fine arts!

DT&G   Cher, what prompted you to put together this book -- I know you cover tablets in the Painter books, but this is more of an art book than it is software.

Cher:   That's right, Fred. I was inspired to write a book that would teach as a traditional art book would teach. The focus of The Artist Tablet Book is on the art concepts and the development of the art instead of just technical directions. I have enjoyed using digital art tools for nearly two decades, and I am amazed by how the tools have matured and become more sensitive and user-friendly.

DT&G   What is the best thing about working with the tablet today?

Cher:   The new pencil, the new paintbrush, the new pen! The Wacom Intuos tablet is so improved that it is very intuitive to use for drawing. The tablet and stylus allow me to express myself naturally, and take better advantage of the brushes in Painter and Photoshop. The tablet allows for more expressive brush work. My hand gets less tired if I use the tablet and pen for pointing and navigating.

DT&G   In the book you cover both Photoshop and Painter instructions, and you've done a great job of illustrating the differences and similarities. But you never really commit to which one to use?

Cher:   Both are excellent, but they do have their differences. My favorite Photoshop features are its efficient selection tools, masking and layer organization, retouching and color tools, and brushes. If you need to retouch, or if you enjoy collaging elements in your art, you need Photoshop.
      Painter was created for artists who draw and paint. The natural media brushes, textures, and color palettes are central to Painter, as are its unique special effects. Also, Painter's brushes can sense more of the subtle movement of your hand whfle drawing with a tablet. If you're serious about painting on the computer, you need Painter.
      It's a really difficult decision if you can afford only one.

DT&G   Do beginners have a hard time acclimating to the tablet... getting their "hand-to-eye" coordination going?

Cher:   A few do. It can take a little time, and practice, but most people take to a tablet easily. In the book I show a number of techniques the new user can practice to get their brush hand in good condition. I also urge all digital painters to keep a scrap book handy and practice drawing whenever they can. The more comfortable they get with a traditional pencil, the more comfortable they'll be with the stylus.

DT&G   What are the most important aspects of tablet painting that beginners should focus on for good results with the tablet?

Cher:   Choosing brushes and colors, and practice with their hand drawing. It's a good idea to warm up your hand for drawing, so that you are not tense. You want your hand to move freely on the tablet without inhibitions, just like you would with pencil and paper.
      Knowing your software is extremely important. Photoshop and Painter overlap in some areas of functionality, and they both have unique strengths. Both programs have brushes and features for working with color, layers, and selections. The portability between Photoshop and Painter has improved, too. You can now move files with layers, layer masks, and alpha channels between the programs with the layers intact.
      It's also very important to understand resizing, resampling, and interpolation. Resizing changes the physical dimensions of a file, without changing the number of pixels in the file. Resampling, however, uses a process called interpolation to increase or decrease the number of pixels in the file. Resampling can cause softness and artifacts in a file. When you're using interpolation, Photoshop and Painter remap pixels to enlarge or reduce the size of the image. If you enlarge the image, new pixels are manufactured. Pixels are discarded when you resample to a smaller size.

DT&G   Cher, what about the tablets? Which one should I get?

Cher:   The best one for getting started would probably be the Wacom Intuos3 6 x 8. The size is very portable, and I can put it on my lap, or on my desk while I'm drawing. I can also take it out in the field with me, when I sketch on location with my Powerbook. It generates 5080 lines per inch so it's very accurate. For smaller budgets, the Graphire tablet makes a good choice but only has 512 levels of pressure where the Intuos3 has 1024. More levels means greater sensitivity to the subtle drawing movements.

DT&G   Quite often I get asked about printers and output. Fine arts almost always demand oversized printing. Can you shed some light on the decisions here?

Cher:   Yes, everyone is always thrilled when they see their work printed in large format on paper; especially any of the art papers available!

I recommend the Epson line of printers, and the 2200 is a good choice for a small studio. You can also order larger prints from service bureaus, that use larger format Roland, Hewlet-Packard, Epson and other machines. There is a list of resources for hardware and output services in the back of the book.
      As for resolution, you should always start the image at your final dimensions (for instance, 20 x 16 inches), with a resolution between 150-300 pixels per inch. I've not noticed improvement in quality with settings higher than 200 pixels per inch.
      If you're using an outside fine art printer, speak to their technical person to find out about the specific equipment requirements. Service bureaus use equipment from different manufacturers like Iris, Epson, Hewlett-Packard, and Roland. The printing equipment might require different resolutions, and some might require that you convert your RGB file to CMYK color mode. If you know in the beginning, then the file is right from the start.

DT&G   Well, I see it's about time to wrap up. Cher, can you leave our readers with some words of encouragement into the world of dgital painting?

Cher:   Sure...
      Whether you are an experienced artist or are just beginning to dabble and are nervous about your artistic skills, the computer can help you reach new freedom and confidence. If you are an experienced artist, you can paint from life using the eye-to-hand coordination that you developed as an artist. If you don't feel confident drawing from scratch, this book offers exercises that will give you practice.

Remember that painting with a computer is more forgiving than most conventional media because you can draw or assemble a composition and save multiple versions as you work. You can try new approaches to your composition, undo without ruining your work, and open a previously saved version and begin again from that point. So much is possible with the computer.

Drawing using a good quality tablet and cordless stylus is completely free and natural whether you draw from life, from memory, or use a reference. The art tools and hardware have become so good in recent years that you can work with the new tools and become immersed in the creative process in much the same way that you can using traditional tools.

Go for it!

DT&G   Thank you very much for joining us today -- it was really great! I know you've inspired many creative digital artists over the years and this latest book will help them evolve to a new level of creativity.

Well folks, that's it for today

The The Photoshop and Painter Artist Tablet Book is for artists, illustrators, photographers, and designers of all levels who want to tap the creative power of using a tablet with Photoshop and Painter and develop their own unique style of painting with these applications. If you don't have a tablet, you should try one! If you get into tablet painting, then you'll definitely want to pick up a copy

Also see: our complete review of The Photoshop and Painter Artist Tablet Book, and
our previous interview with Cher: The painter behind Painter WOW


Cher Threinen-PendarvisCher Threinen-Pendarvis

An award-winning artist, author and educator based in San Diego, California, Cher Threinen-Pendarvis has always worked with traditional art-making tools. Also a pioneer in digital art, Cher has created illustrations using the Macintosh computer since 1987. She has been widely recognized for her mastery of Painter, Photoshop and the Wacom pressure-sensitive tablet, using these electronic tools since they were first released.

Don't miss
click hereThe Photoshop and Painter Artist Tablet Book: Creative Techniques in Digital Painting
by Cher Threinen-Pendarvis

Paperback: 256 pages; Publisher: Peachpit Press; 1st edition; List Price: $44.99 - buy now: Price: $32.44 and You Save: $12.55 (28%)


 

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