There is a growing variety of tablets available each month, but award-winning comic artist Cameron Stewart knew he needed one that could meet his often out-of-this world needs.
Like many of his digital designing brethren, Stewart had been using a Wacom drawing tablet tethered to his desktop in his studio for years. For the uninitiated, Wacom tablets allow artists to draw digitally and precisely on the surface of a screen as if doodling in a sketchbook. Traditionally however the drawing tablet was not a stand-alone but rather more of an input device, akin to a mouse that was hooked up to a computer.
This changed recently with the release of the Cintiq Companion, which put all the drawing power of the Wacom technology in the portable body of a Windows 8 tablet. No ordinary tablet, the Companion comes with a Pro Pen featuring the industry leading 2048 levels of sensitivity for drawing, and the multi-touch you would expect from a state of the art tablet. The net result is the creation of a digital portable studio completely on par with one in a fixed location.
Berlin based comic book artist Cameron Stewart
Formerly a resident of Canada Stewart now calls Berlin his home. He has worked with a who’s who of comic book writers, including Grant Morrison (Batman & Robin) and Ed Brubaker (Catwoman). For the more video-game obsessives, Stewart also wrote and drew the comic-book adaptation of the wildly popular game ‘Assassin’s Creed’.
We caught up with Stewart during his multi-naitonal tour to promote the hardcover release of Sin Titulo, which won him an Eisner Award, the highest possible award in comic-dom for “Best Digital Comic” in 2010.
iQ : What do you do Cameron Stewart?
I’m a comic book writer and artist. I’ve been working professionally since about 2000. Working exclusively digitally over the last three to four years.
A series of panels from Stewart’s award winning ‘Sin Titulo’.
iQ: Tell me what led to your latest tablet purchase?
Last summer I had moved to Berlin and I got a pretty heavy job – with a serious deadline. I ended up sitting in my studio working. I missed the entire summer because I had to be in my studio with my drawing tablet, my laptop and my monitor. I thought that I really wouldn’t want that to happen again.
I’ve got two other drawing tablets from Wacom and had bought an Asus EP 121 Slate (a Windows 7 drawing tablet) as I’m always looking for stuff that will make me more mobile but it didn’t have the sensitivity I needed for drawing, to do the kind of fine line work that I like to do. I’ve been dying to get an actual Wacom portable when it was finally announced I knew I would get it.
Normally I have to travel with both my Macbook and the Wacom 12WX 12-Inch drawing tablet. For the tour I made an appointment with the store to buy the Cintiq and be forced to use it and only it on the road.
I saw from your Instagram that you posted from a plane, in fact you referred to it as ‘life-changing!’
Yeah. I can now work wherever I want and not worry that the work is living up to its full potential. I can go to the pub, the park, as you saw, work on a plane. It’s totally up to the same standards as it would be in my studio.
iQ: Tell us about your experience with the tablet?
So far it’s pretty excellent. The sensitivity is exactly what I want. Back at home my two other Wacom drawing tablets are 21” and 12” and I like the size of the Cintiq (It is 13.3″). With the screen being slightly larger I like that. Working with it is surprisingly intuitive. I like to work very small. With the Cintiq I’m able to draw and with the same hand zoom with touch. With my other drawing tablets I used a touchstrip on the side, or the magnifying glass that is a part of the software. Now I can do everything with the same hand — draw, zoom, magnify then erase and make the line work tighter if need be.
A recent drawing done completely on the Cintiq Companion
iQ: What kind of software do you use and how is it performing?
I run the full version of Photoshop and it’s been working fine. I primarily work in a program called Manga Studio and it is working great.
iQ : In addition to being able to work wherever you want, are there any other benefits to having this portable studio that you can take with you?
If I had a client job I could bring the tablet the to the jobsite and then make changes on the fly there with the client. Previously I could maybe take some notes, then go home, then make the changes then send them to the client. Now I can just make changes right there on the spot.
iQ : Is there anything you’d like to do on the Cintiq but you haven’t yet?
Back in the studio I like to watch Netflix on one monitor while I draw on the tablet. I haven’t had a chance to see if I can do both at the same time on the Cintiq. I’m curious if it will work.