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10 Best Digital Notepads of 2019

10 Best Digital Notepads of 2019

If you’re anything like us at Pixelsmith, you’re a hands-on kinda person who likes to be able to work, sketch, jot notes and plan in a natural manner – but still be able to organise and store everything digitally. Until a few years ago, this wasn’t really possible, or at least not ideal. Now, however, we’ve been proverbially saved by digital/electronic notepads.

Coming in all different shapes, sizes and mechanisms, these notepads are a fairly new innovation on the tech scene that’s starting to catch on and see some interesting and innovative variations. These notepads serve all kinds of functions from direct to digital notes, sketches that you can store both on paper and digitally, and even screens that feel and bend like paper. The possibilities are simply endless.

We’ve put together this guide to our ten favourite digital notepads of the year, all with their own pros and cons and special nifty features. We’ve chosen some top picks, compared them all by size, price, and features, and reviewed each one individually with their pros and cons so you can find the best digital notebooks for you.

Best Digital Notepad for Sketches

Unsurprisingly, Wacom’s Bamboo Slate comes in on top when we’re looking at digital notepads for sketching. It’s responsive and accurate in terms of pen strokes and sketching style and is one of the perfect ways to begin your creative process by hand, and easily transfer it to the digital workspace.

Following Wacom’s long history of making great tablets, pads and various styles of digital sketching devices, the Bamboo Slate keeps this trend of quality products from Wacom going.

Our Favourite Digital Writing Pad

The RoWrite Smart Writing Pad is our top pick for a digital note-taking pad. It’s straightforward and easy to use, when paired with an Android or iOS device via Bluetooth, all your notes or sketches show up immediately in real time, where you can edit or adjust them.

This is a great way of organising and storing your writing while still being able to jot down notes by hand. In addition, when not paired the tablet stores everything you write internally so you can transfer, edit and organise it later.

Best Electronic Notepad Pen of 2019

The Moleskine Pen+ is a pretty innovative creation from one of the most common household names in ‘analog’ notepads. Featuring a design that doesn’t look all that different from the original Moleskine pens which clip onto the covers of their notebooks, the Pen+ Ellipse is a technological advancement like no other.

It has an infrared camera alongside the pen tip allowing for it to trace and track all of your notes, sketches and drawings. These can then be transferred to your device either live or when whenever you’re ready to connect. The ink tip in the pen is simple, tiny and replaceable, and the pen itself also has a comfortable triangle shape. In addition, it comes together with one of the best digital notebooks we could find.

Best Digital Notebooks Compared

Top Digital Notepad Reviews

These are our favourite digital notepads in no particular order. You’ll notice they each have a handy short list of their main attributes or focuses, as well as a pros and cons list underneath each product. This should help you get an idea of each tablet at a glance.

reMarkable Paper Tablet Review

Pros
  • Always Synced
  • Built to be Distraction Free
  • Anti-glare easy readability
  • Feels like a pen and paper
Cons
  • Pen tips need to be replaced frequently
  • Pen isn’t pressure sensitive
  • Price doesn’t quite match up with features

The reMarkable Paper Tablet is one of the most interesting and innovative takes on a digital tablet we could find, and stuck out to us for this very reason. While it’s got a very high price point compared to all the other devices we reviewed, nothing felt quite like the paper tablet when it came to a balance between functionality and niftiness.

The display is large and sunlight-friendly, and uses CANVAS technology to produce a display somewhere between that of a Kindle and a piece of paper. It’s made for writing, reading and sketching, allowing you to import and export PDFs, eBooks, notes and doodles via WiFi capability.

It can convert handwritten notes to typed text, sync over wifi, and without a backlight or a glass screen, it’s very easy to read and use for long periods of time in various kinds of lighting and brightness. You can also share your notes via email, or annotate your PDFs by hand, saving them with your notes written on top. Of course, since we’re in the modern age, as soon as a note is saved to your Paper Tablet, it’s available via the cloud on all devices you have synced.

  • $$$
  • 10.3” CANVAS Display
  • Global Sync
Click to Check Price on Amazon

Wacom Bamboo Slate Smartpad Review

Pros
  • Incredibly accurate tracking
  • Good battery life
  • Strong functionality in terms of cloud and export
Cons
  • None we could find

Wacom is well known for their digital drawing tablets, both those with and without screens. They’re the leader in this field, with most professionals working with drawing tablets using Wacom products near exclusively. With the Bamboo Slate Smartpad, Wacom haven’t stopped short of their usual excellence even in their venture into this new field.

The slate itself, underneath your drawing or writing pad, is the mechanical factor here in conjunction with the pen. You simply place your pad and draw or write as you usually would, and the Slate uses electromagnetic tracking and pressure sensitivity to record your movements and super accurately reflect them on your synced devices. It’s a nice balance of working digitally, yet still with analog tools that you’re familiar and comfortable with.

The Bamboo Slate Smartpad is aimed to be a creative tool more than anything else. How you use it creatively, however, is totally up to you. The app is great for handwriting to text transcription, accessing your saved notes on the cloud, and great search functionality. In addition, you can export any of your notes to a number of file formats for different graphics and design software.

  • $$
  • Great Build Quality
  • One of the most trusted tablet brands
Check Price

RoWrite Smart Writing Pad Review

Pros
  • Live view
  • Great colour and style pen options
  • Carry folio is well designed
  • Good price point
Cons
  • Paper refills have to be the exact dimensions or official RoWrite paper
  • Battery life could be better

The RoWrite Smart Writing Pad is a really hot contender behind the Bamboo Slate, almost like it’s younger sibling. It serves all the same functionality, with a few slight differences, at a better price point, yet not from a titan brand.

Again, the pen uses regular ink for you to sketch and take notes as you please, but uses pressure sensitivity to digitally capture everything you do. It also comes with handwriting-to-text transcription tools, a host of pen styles, thicknesses and colours, and strangely enough, captures video of all your strokes. The reason for this feature is unclear, but we thought it could be useful if you’re creating tutorials or other video content using this tablet as a medium.

As with the Slate, the Smart Writing Pad allows you to sync to the app when you wish (until this point, all notes are stored in the app, ready to sync and edit), and also offers live viewing so you can watch what you’re writing or drawing live, in the editing app – once again a feature handy for tutors. It’s great for use in the office or at school, but even better just to have as a creative tool in your arsenal, especially if you’re someone who’s a digital content creator.

  • $$
  • Live tracking view on synced devices
  • Great selection of pen style and shape tools
Check Price

Boogie Board Writing Tablet Review

Pros
  • Simple, functional
  • Sleek design
  • Connect to PC via USB Cable
Cons
  • Contrast isn’t as strong as other Boogie Boards
  • No undo for mistakes

The Boogie Board Writing Tablet is a little step back from the digital notepads we’ve already looked at in terms of its aims. It’s meant to be simple and straightforward – you take notes, you share them onto your device if you need, and you start another note.

We’d imagine it would fit best as part of a classroom, or teaching program, or for use on-site in various professions in place of a simple analog notepad. It’s got a slick black display with bright, light writing making it easy to read in any environment, and your notes can be shared via Evernote, or to your device via Bluetooth.

With a battery the lasts for up to five days, a sturdy, child-friendly build and small form factor it makes for easy transporting, allowing you to easily take it wherever you need to go. It also has handwriting recognition when saved to Evernote. It’s a simple eWriter, but a good one, and if you’re looking for something simple then this is likely the one for you.

  • $$
  • Simple and functional
  • Great for kids
  • 9.7” Display
Check Price

Rocketbook Everlast Reusable Notebook Review

Pros
  • Super lightweight
  • No frills
  • One of the cheaper digital notepads out there
Cons
  • No sync options – camera scan only
  • Frixion pens don’t work as well as standard pens with the Everlast

The Everlast notebook from Rocketbook is a hot take on digital writing tablets. It comes in at an incredible price point, and of course sacrifices some functionality for the price, however, Rocketbook have found great workarounds to a lot of these issues.

It uses a combination of a Frixion erasable pen, and a phone app for scanning pages. Once you’ve drawn or written your notes to completion, scan them into the app and wipe the page clean with the included cloth – pretty neat. Each page also has seven different symbols along the bottom, which you can assign to apps like Drive, Email, Evernote or Slack. A simple selection of one of these symbols instantly sends your current note to the desired destination.

You can, however, use any pens (including colour) in this notebook, making it great for the creative on the go. If you’re looking for a quick and cheap way to take notes by hand and store them digitally, then this is the one for you. It’s not terribly fancy or finicky, but very effective and useful for what it does.

  • $
  • Looks like a standard ring bound notebook
  • A4, A5 and Mini size options
Check Price

iskn The Slate 2+ Review

Pros
  • Use any pen or pencil
  • Works with any paper you desire
  • Doubles as a drawing tablet
Cons
  • Calibration can cause issues
  • Some customers felt the stylus was too sensitive

The Slate 2+ is a pretty standard take on digital notepads and falls somewhere between the Everlast and SmartPad in terms of how it works. It’s got great reviews and seems quite popular among artists, more so than those looking for the best digital paper tablet for the office or school, at least.

It’s a sturdily built tablet that works with all your own pens and pencils, not requiring any fancy digital pen to use it with. It takes paper up to 0.27” in thickness, which you clip in and align, and simply go ahead and draw on.

You can use the Bluetooth sync or USB cable on the Slate 2 to then sync it to your computer or personal device, to watch and edit your creations in real time. You can also use it standalone and sync your creations at a later stage, or use it with a stylus as a regular drawing tablet with Photoshop, Illustrator, and other similar programs.

The battery lasts for around 7 hours, and the Imagink app that it comes with offers a great selection of different artsy tools for drawing whatever you desire. It’s a great choice for those with a focus on art and design, and will easily find its place in your regular creative setup as it’s incredibly versatile, with functionality that can be tailored to your personal needs.

  • $$$
  • Doubles as a standard drawing tablet
  • Great for drawing
Check Price

Moleskine Pen+ Smart Writing Set Review

Pros
  • Great quality pen and paper
  • Very cool and innovative tech
  • Moleskine Notes app is quality
  • Ncode paper can be replicated and bypassed
Cons
  • Pen is just a rebranded Neo Smartpen

So, as we previously mentioned, the Moleskine Pen+ works in two parts with the pen forming one, and their smart notebook forming the other. This means you can’t effectively use either of them independently, but together the set is a quality piece of innovative electronic notepad tech.

When writing or drawing, the pen uses an infrared sensor to detect movements across the dotted Ncoded paper in the diary. When synced with the Moleskine Notes app, you can transfer all your notes and sketches to organise and edit them digitally. There are handwriting to text transcription features, colour editing options and more, all stored on the app.

Your strokes can also be paired with real-time audio, again making this a great tool to use for instructional or tutorial purposes. It’s also easy to export and share your notes as PDFs, images, vectors or text files, although it’s probably still best used as a fun creative tool and a breakaway from solely using digital or analog for these kinds of purposes.

  • $$$
  • Size and shape of a regular Moleskine
  • High price point
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Newyes Robot Pad Review

Pros
  • Simple, straightforward
  • Child-friendly
Cons
  • Limited Functionality

The Robot Pad from Newyes is essentially just a digital whiteboard. It’s got one-use note functionality, meaning that it doesn’t store your notes anywhere, nor sync them, but simply is a place to write things down, then erase and repeat. In many ways, it’s like the Boogie Board only in a simpler form.

It’s super thin and weighs nearly nothing, allowing for easy carry and use on the go (ie. for shopping lists, or something for kids to draw on in a restaurant), and comes with two big magnets on the back so you can attach it to a fridge.

It’s plain and simple, with no frills, and isn’t really a work or productivity focused tool. It would be best used simply as a digital whiteboard, or as something for children to sketch on in car rides or on an airplane. You could even use it for notes at a talk or something similar, although be warned – the erase button clears everything, so don’t write anything important on it that you might forget!

  • $
  • Simple memo pad
  • No sync, export or save options
Check Price

Rocketbook Wave Smart Notebook Review

Pros
  • Microwaveable
  • Great partner app
Cons
  • Limited Reuse
  • Pretty simple overall

The Rocketbook Wave is an interesting variation on their Everlast notebook. While not fully reusable, like the Everlast is, its mechanisms still piqued our interest and we felt it deserved a place on this list. This was not only because of the name brand, but also because it seems like some of the tech in this electronic note pad could serve interesting uses in the future.

Unlike the Everlast, it’s not fully reusable – the manufacturers say it’s got a realistic 5-20 reuses available, depending on a number of factors. It also uses a Frixion erasable pen, and similar smart note syncing functionality (complete with the app designated smart sending), and has 80 pages each with a dot grid pattern, and a QR code which tells the app the page number. Like the Everlast, there is no sync, but rather a page scanning via camera feature.

The microwave feature is the most interesting part though. To clear the notebook, simply pop it into the microwave until the pages appear blank. This heat sensitive technology isn’t particularly groundbreaking nor special, however, it’s a very interesting use of it and we’d be interested to see where Rocketbook takes it in the future.

  • $
  • Not fully reusable
  • Microwaveable (?)
Check Price

Elfinbook Everlast Smart Notebook 2.0 Review

Pros
  • Reusable up to 500 times
  • Fantastic Price
Cons
  • No sync functions
  • Partner App needs improvement

The Elfinbook Everlast is your replacement option on a budget for the Rocketbook Everlast. It’s just about identical in how it works, and how it looks and feels, from the erasable Frixion pen to the scan-only, sync-free functionality.

Half the pages are lined, and half blank making it ideal for a bit-of-both approach to drawing and taking notes, however, it can be hard to open or turn pages due to the tight ring binding on the side. It also wipes clean with a damp cloth, although one isn’t included in the package so you’ll have to prepare your own ahead of time.

The scanning itself is pretty accurate, and while this is really nothing special, it’s still a decent quality product that works and described, and will serve its basic function. We’d personally recommend the Rocketbook product more, however, if you’re on a tight budget then this is the better choice.

  • $
  • Erasable Pen
  • No sync, Camera Scan only
Check Price

Digital Note Pad Buyer’s Guide

After writing these reviews, we decided to put together a short guide on what to look out for when shopping for a digital notepad.

More than just an electronic notebook with a pen, you’re going to want something that not only works for you in terms of what you’re going to use it for, but it helps if the technology helps teach you to work in new ways that you might not have otherwise discovered.

Firstly, you’ll want to check if it has sync capabilities. If you’re a creative, artsy tech head like we are, you’re going to want a notepad that has a simple sync function, so you can either move your notes onto a device to edit and share, or store them on the cloud without fear of losing them.

Secondly, and quite an overlooked factor, is the pen itself. It’s important that you look at the measurements and dimensions of the included pen to make sure it’s going to be something you can use comfortably without having to really adjust to the size and shape of it (especially when you’re using a pen in a new and innovative way).

A good way to do this is to go to an art shop, find the pen or pencil most comfortable for you and write down the measurements – other than this, you could just pick one of the tablets which allow you to use your own pencil.

Lastly, always remember to check the dimensions of your tablet. It’s easy to think it looks bigger, or smaller, than it really is. This could lead to issues, either with you being disappointed by how small your digital notepad is; or buying one that’s too cumbersome to be effectively portable.

Conclusion

You’ve now got a nice variety of options at various price points, all with different features and extras, to choose from.

If you’re still undecided, we’d recommend either the Wacom Bamboo Slate or Rocketbook Everlast. We felt these were the two best-made and most functional digital notebooks without too many frills that you’re paying an arm and a leg for.

Please do send us over some of your creations from these nifty little devices, we’d love to see what you came up with and how you found them to use!

12 Best Drawing Tablets for Animation in 2019

12 Best Drawing Tablets for Animation in 2019

Considering most of our lives are moving online, it was only a matter of time until art took the same turn. Digital art and animation have been around for many years, but that used to require large, expensive machines to handle the drawing and animation process.

Those days have long since gone, and now we have many small, personal drawing tablets that allow every individual to take advantage of the technology, and express their skills. You don’t even need an office, just your tablet, desk, and imagination.

Below are our favourite drawing tablets that beginners can use to start with digital art and design, or professionals can use to continue projects or start new ones, from the comfort of their couch.

Best Tablet for Beginners

The best tablet for beginner animators is the Wacom Intuos Pro. This tablet is simple, yet powerful and is so reasonably priced, it is the perfect entry-level tablet.

It has 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, allowing for a wide range of drawing and design opportunities. It is very customizable, and you can adjust almost all of the settings and buttons to your needs.

Best Tablet for Artists

Our favorite tablet for artists is the Huion H610 Pro Tablet. It is ideal for artists on the go, and even though the tablet is incredibly compact and portable, it still has a large drawing surface.

The are multiple customizable buttons to adjust the tablet to your needs, and the tablet is designed to be used by left and right-handed users, ensuring the drag of your hand does not affect your work.

Top Drawing Tablet for Animation

The Huion KAMVAS Animation Tablet is our top pick for the best tablet for animation. The extremely high-resolution screen and the 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity make for a powerful and highly detailed tablet.

The fact that the tablet has its own screen ensures you can draw and work anywhere, and the powerful computer driving the tablet allows you to get incredibly detailed animations done without sacrificing speed or efficiency.

Best Tablet for Illustrators

The best tablet for illustrators is, once again, the Huion KAMVAS Animation Tablet. This tablet has a high-resolution screen with 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity that allows you to draw incredibly detailed images.

The computer that runs the tablet is quick and powerful, and no amount of detail will slow it down. The buttons and pen are also customizable, allowing you to change the set-up of the tablet to fit your needs.

Best Animation Tablets Comparison Table

Tablet Best For Image Budget Overall Check Price
Wacom Intuos Pro Beginners $$ 9.5/10 Check Price
Huion H420 USB Tablet Beginners $ 9/10 Check Price
Huion H610 Pro Tablet Beginners $ 9/10 Check Price
Wacom Intuos Draw All-Round $ 8.5/10 Check Price
Huion OSU Tablet All-Round $ 8/10 Check Price
XP-Pen Artist Pro Tablet All-Round $ 8/10 Check Price
Huion 420 OSU Tablet All-Round $ 8.5/10 Check Price
Wacom Cintiq 13HD Tablet All-Round $$$ 8/10 Check Price
Apple iPad Pro 12.9" All-Round $$$ 8/10 Check Price
Apple iPad Pro 11" All-Round $$ 8.5/10 Check Price
Simbans PicassoTab Tablet All-Round $$ 8.5/10 Check Price
Huion KAMVAS Animation Tablet All-Round $$$ 9.5/10 Check Price

Best Animation Tablets Reviews

Wacom Intuos Pro Review

Pros
  • 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity
  • Compact and lightweight
Cons
  • No Major Cons

The Wacom Intuos Pro is a medium-sized, yet power tablet that is ideally suited for graphic artists of all kinds. The tablet is slim and lightweight but still has a large work surface, keeping the tablet compact, but not sacrificing any workspace.

The tablet itself has multiple gesture capabilities that allow you to speed up your workflow. The tablet pen has natural tilt support and is battery free. The tablet has customizable Express Keys, Radial Menus, and pen side switches. Wacom also redesigned their devices and the new ones look slick, but their previous models still look pretty damn good.

  • 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity
  • Slim and compact
  • Large work surface
  • Very customizable
Click to Check Price on Amazon

Huion H420 USB Tablet Review

Pros
  • Compatible with all major graphics applications
  • Full kit
Cons
  • Slight sensor issues

The Huion H420 Tablet is a relatively cheap, budget tablet with 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity. This means that this tablet is ideal for graphic artist beginners, but experts will find that it lacks a depth of functionality.

The tablet comes with a full kit. This kit includes the tablet itself, a digital pen with 2048 levels of pressure, a USB cable, a user manual, 4 pen tip replacements, a removal tool, a driver CD, a wool liner bag, anti-fouling glove and a cleaning kit.

  • Great for beginners
  • Works with all major graphics programs and applications
  • Full starter kit
  • Very well priced
Click to Check Price on Amazon

Huion H610 Pro Tablet Review

Pros
  • Compact
  • Large drawing area
Cons
  • No Major Cons

The Huion H610 Tablet is a lightweight, but a large tablet that is a great mix of size and functionality. The tablet itself has a paper textured surface, which not only makes you feel like you are drawing on a natural surface, but it prevents your pen from slipping and compromising your work.

The tablet has 8 customizable buttons along the side, and 16 along the top. These buttons can be fully customized to suit your wants and needs. The tablet comes with a two finger glove that reduces hand to screen friction and prevents your hand from making any movements or strokes on the tablet.

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Large drawing area
  • Many customizable buttons
  • Full kit
Click to Check Price on Amazon

Wacom Intuos Draw Review

Pros
  • Very well priced
  • Perfect for beginners
Cons
  • Connectivity sometimes unreliable

The Wacom Intuos Draw is one of the best beginner animation tablets on the market. Wacom is known as the leader of graphics tablets, and this one is no exception. If you are just starting in graphic art, this is the tablet for you.

This beginner-friendly tablet comes with a free Draw Pack. This pack includes Art Rage Lite sketching and drawing software, online tutorials to help you get started and get your head around the basics, and an 8×10 metal photo print.

  • Brilliant beginners tablet
  • Pressure sensitive pen
  • Free Draw Pack included
  • Connects to both Mac and PC easily
Click to Check Price on Amazon

Huion OSU Tablet Review

Pros
  • Very lightweight and compact
  • Works for both left and right-handers
Cons
  • No Major Cons

The Huion OSU Tablet is a simple and very well priced tablet that is great for anyone getting into graphic art. There are 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity, giving you just enough range to get into finer details.

The tablet is relatively small and can easily fit into a laptop bag, a briefcase, or a carry on for when you need it on the go. The digital pen has two customizable buttons, while the tablet itself is suitable for both left and right-handed users.

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Very portable
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Customizable buttons
Click to Check Price on Amazon

XP-Pen Artist Pro 15.6″ Tablet Review

Pros
  • Great Price
  • Neither too big nor too small
Cons
  • No touch display
  • Pen can be pricey to replace

The XP-Pen Artist Pro is a high-end drawing tablet made for those who want to draw on-screen, such as dedicated and passionate artists and designers. It’s built for professionals with the utmost attention to detail and plenty of features to keep your workflow fresh and productive.

The tablet features a 200RPS display with full HD 1920×1080 resolution over a 344 x 193 mm active area. It’s a mere 11mm at its thinnest point, and features 8 shortcut keys, as well as arriving with a P05R Battery-free pen.

This pen has 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, 60 degrees of tilt recognition and a 200RPS rate to boot. The tablet also features 8 customizable shortcut keys, as well as a red dial interface which you can adapt to your workflow.

This tablet has a vivid color screen, with anti-glare and anti-scratch treatment, making it perfect to work on for hours at a time. It’s a great choice for the professional digital artist, ideal for everyday use, and comes with a whole host of cables and cords in the package to make setup a breeze.

  • Great for professionals
  • Customizable Shortcut Keys
  • Comes with a stand
Click to Check Price on Amazon

Huion 420 OSU Tablet Review

Pros
  • Well-priced
  • Compact and portable
Cons
  • Software sometimes glitchy
  • The pen is very delicate, breaks easily if dropped

The Huion 420 OSU Tablet is a simple, yet effective graphic art tablet that can easily be used by beginners and experts. It is compatible with all of the most popular art and graphics applications.

The tablet has a 4×2.23 inch active area. The tablet is fitted with 3 programmable Express Keys that allow you to customize them to your needs. The tablet is very compact and light and can be easily transported wherever you may need it.

  • Compact but powerful
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Works with all popular graphics applications
  • Compatible with Mac and PC
Click to Check Price on Amazon

Wacom Cintiq 13HD Tablet Review

Pros
  • Trusted brand and great quality
  • High customizable
  • Easily adjustable for left / right handers
Cons
  • Price point is quite steep

The Wacom Cintiq 13HD is a slightly smaller alternative to the XP-Pen Artist Pro, again made for professionals, or those looking for a drawing tablet which can be used for hours on end without fatigue.

While it ranks in at a slightly higher price point than its larger alternative, it’s got just as many features. It comes with a 1920×1080 display over a 13.3” screen, offering around 5 hours of battery life and 2GB of RAM.

The included Pro Pen has 2048 levels of sensitivity, allowing you to accurately recreate hand-drawn styles. It also features the RockerRing, and four customizable ExpressKeys allow you to dial in custom shortcuts to speed up your workflow.

Overall this is a top-quality, compact tablet that’s great to use flat on a desk, at an angle or in even in your lap, which won’t leave you feeling drained or strained after a hard day’s work with it.

  • 1080P HD Resolution
  • Great response time
  • Customizable shortcut keys
  • Portable
Click to Check Price on Amazon

Apple iPad Pro 12.9″ Review

Pros
  • Full 4K Quad HD
  • Up to 1TB of storage
  • Large yet portable
Cons
  • Price
  • Warranty unreliable

Like most Apple products, the iPad Pro is the next generation iPad that is changing the way graphic artists design. Not only does it have all the capabilities of an iPad, but the massive storage space allows you to download any design and animation application available.

The latest iPad Pro 12.9” comes in three options for storage size – all the way from 64GB to a whopping terabyte. It has a curved-corner, 2732 x 2048 pixel, 12.9-inch liquid retina display with Promotion, True Tone and wide color, up to 10 Hours of battery life, and a USB-C connector for charging and accessories. Its A12X Bionic chip is one of the fastest Apple can offer to date, and the performance shows it.

It comes with a 2nd-generation Apple Pencil and is ideal for a home-computer workstation replacement for the professional animator or designer. The combination of high functionality and great performance makes it a great tool all around, which won’t soon become obsolete with such top-of-the-line specs.

  • One of the best displays on a tablet
  • Wifi Enabled
  • All the usual iPad Bonuses
  • 10-hour battery life
Click to Check Price on Amazon

Apple iPad Pro 11″ Review

Pros
  • Fast processor
  • 10 Hours of battery life
  • 4K Video Recording
Cons
  • Pen and Keyboard not included in price

The Apple iPad Pro 11 inch is the little brother to the 12.9 inch model. It’s got the same A12X advanced chip, a 12MP camera, 4K video recording, and 2nd-generation Apple Pencil that the 12.9” is fitted with.

The iPad has 10 hours of battery life and can be used on the go, whether you are at work, or on a plane. It works great, both stood on a desktop or for portable use. The storage size options range from 64GB to 1TB which is quite a feat for a tablet, and the Wi-Fi / LTE options make it great for on-the-go use as well.

It’s a great secondary option if the 12.9” iPad Pro isn’t for you, and will do all the same with just about as good performance. Leaving you stress-free and ready to get creative.

  • High Performance
  • Lightweight and Portable
  • Fantastic Display
Click to Check Price on Amazon

Simbans PicassoTab Tablet Review

Pros
  • 2GB Ram, 32GB Disk space
  • Incredibly versatile
Cons
  • Quality control inconsistent

The Simbans PicasoTab Tablet is a very versatile, all-in-one tablet that allows you to draw, design, watch movies, and be used as a regular tablet. If you are looking for something that does more than just allow you to draw or design, this is the tablet for you.

The storage capacity allows you to store large amounts of data, images, and videos. You can use the Google app store to download the design applications you need, as well as be able to draw on the tablet and save all of your work.

  • Versatile
  • Can be used as a general tablet
  • Huge storage capacity
  • Connects to the Google Play store
Click to Check Price on Amazon

Huion KAMVAS Animation Tablet Review

Pros
  • Widescreen HD display
  • 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity
Cons
  • Price

The Huion Kamvas Animation Tablet is a tablet with an interactive 1092 x 1080 resolution HD display. The display produces incredible color, displaying 16.7 million colors incredibly vividly.

This incredibly high-quality graphics tablet has a very fast response rate and very little lag. The pen, with its 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity runs smoothly and quickly, and once again, with very little lag, if any.

  • High-quality display
  • Crystal clear color quality
  • Fast and responsive
  • Very well priced for its capabilities
Click to Check Price on Amazon

Tablet Stand Review

Although we have reviewed these tablets, it is essential to consider ergonomics and that’s why we also included a tablet stand review.

Best Adjustable Tablet Stands Reviews

Lamicall iPad Stand Review

The Lamicall iPad Stand is a very sturdy, and fully adjustable stand that can be used for every size iPad and tablet. It is also ideal for viewing photos, videos, and movies, and is perfect for drawing and animation, using it as an easel of sorts.

The stand is completely adjustable and allows for you to either use it horizontally or vertically, although we do suggest you use it horizontally for any tablet larger than 12 inches, to ensure it stays balanced.

Click to Check Price on Amazon

AmazonBasics Adjustable Tablet Stand Review

The AmazonBasics Tablet Stand is a simple, yet effective tablet stands that can fold up and fit into any bag, and then unfold to hold your iPad, tablet or Kindle. It’s simple design and sturdy materials ensure it’s long-lasting.

The stand can easily and effectively hold any tablet, with or without a sleeve or case, in a vertical or horizontal position, while the non-skid base ensures it stays stable, even when bumped.

Click to Check Price on Amazon

MoKo Smartphone Stand Review

The MoKo Smartphone Stand is a cheap, versatile, and very compact stand that can easily hold any smartphone or tablet. This stand is designed for smaller devices, as tablets larger than 11 inches will fall off.

The stand itself is lightweight and ultra-compact and folds flat to be stored in your pocket or bag. It has 6 adjustable slots for multiple viewing angles and can hold your tablet vertically or horizontally.

Click to Check Price on Amazon

Animation Tablet Buyers Guide

When purchasing a drawing tablet, there are a number of aspects to take into consideration. Namely, its functionality, and like always, its price. There are a number of other considerations, but the price to functionality ratio is usually the most important.

Size

First off, the size. The size of the tablet actually refers more to the functionality of it, and not so much how easy it is to carry, store, or the weight of it. The size of the tablet will determine its input capabilities, and whether or not it has a built-in screen.

Most smaller tablets require you to plug them into a screen, whether it be a monitor, TV or laptop screen. The tablet itself acts more like a writing pad, with your work being displayed on the screen.

The bigger tablets most often come with a built-in screen, allowing you to use it as the input surface, as well as the display. These tablets are almost always more expensive, but they do have a lot more functionality.

Pressure Sensitivity

Pressure sensitivity refers to how much information is exchanged between the pressure of your pen or input, and the tablet itself. In simple terms, a tablet with pressure levels of 1024, will have less variation of input compared to a tablet with pressure levels of 2048.

For example, a tablet with pressure levels of 1024 will only produce a few line thicknesses, whereas a tablet with pressure levels of 2048 will give you many more line thickness options. It really just depends on how detailed you need your work to be.

Controls

The control capabilities of a tablet are mainly for personal preference and work speed. Some tablets have buttons on it that you can customize to improve your workflow and shortcuts. Some tablet pens also have buttons, once again, to improve your workflow.

These buttons are almost always customizable, allowing you to add any shortcuts you may need. The higher-end tablets will also have these buttons on their pens, which adds another, more in-depth level of customization.

Budget

What you have, and are willing to spend will obviously make a difference in which tablet you are able to purchase. The budget does play a huge part in buying a tablet that has all the functionality you need.

The cheaper models often don’t come with a screen, and they also usually come with less functionality with regards to how customizable they are and how in depth you can get with your art or animation.

The more expensive models will often come with their own built-in screen, are bigger, have a higher sensitivity level, and almost always will have more powerful functionality. These tablets are more for experts, as a beginner wouldn’t use all the tablets capabilities.

Capabilities

The capabilities and functionality of the tablet are completely up to you. It depends on what you are going to be using the tablet for and how often, or in depth, you will want to get with your animation or art.

Once again, the more expensive tablets will clearly have more functionality and capabilities, but if you are a beginner in graphic art, then you will not need every function a tablet can offer, you just need enough to start your journey.

Conclusion

Animation tablets have very quickly come to the forefront for artists, animators and designers alike. They are able to capture every detail you need them too, are powerful art tools, but still affordable enough to be accessible to everyone.

Whether you are a beginner or expert graphic artist or animator, these tablets will definitely take your art to the next level, even expose you to new methods and new ways of expressing your creativity.

PixelSmithStudios is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.
Pixelating with style

Pixelating with style

Today we have quite a talented individual on our blog: Walt Viviers. He is currently the Creative Director at Menzies Media, and also the person we’ll be talking to about Pixel Art.

Firstly though, the formalities:

 

Please tell us a bit about who you are and where you’re from

I’m Walt and I’m from all over South Africa, small towns and big cities, I’ve settled down in Randburg, Gauteng (near all the action). I love vintage science fiction novels, classic Star Trek and old school 2000AD. I work as a full-time Creative Director and make arty stuff in my spare time, for now I’m spending that time on Pixel Art.

 

 

What’s a normal day in the office like for you?

No such thing as a normal day, haha – I oversee a team of specialists (writer, designer, social media manager, web designer) along with some freelancers to meet the demands of my superiors and their clients’ needs. I used to be much more hands-on, building myself up from the very bottom as a junior designer over a decade ago, but these days I mostly brainstorm, direct and guide. Every day is a little unique, but every day also has a lot of social media to deal with (SO much social media). I get in, go through status with the crew, go over client projects and then take it from there.

 

 

Which artists have been a big influence on you and your career up to this point?

Crumb, Rembrandt, all of the MAD & 2000AD artists, as well the artists at Ghibli and Disney (hand-drawn days) and the people whose names I don’t know but thankfully made all those tutorials I’ve been watching my whole life, and many many game designers and artists (but mostly the old school Lucasarts adventure games crew).

 

Are there any shout outs you would like to give to anybody?

My wife Cathy, she’s my partner in life; my Managing Director Heath, he’s my partner in crime; and the crew where I work, you guys make my life easy.

Now for the juicy bits that we’ve promised, Pixel Art:

 

 

Why Pixel Art?

There’s a kind of abstract nature to it, a type of cubism if you will, with normal illustration I can get so lost in the details that I’ll get tired of something before it’s even close to being done, with Pixel Art there is only the details, every single pixel counts, and I love how your brain takes these little blocks and translates them into eyes, mouths, hands and whatnot.

 

 

What do you enjoy most about this style?

It sort of feels like I’m like doing a puzzle, I’m big into games, so the fact that it feels like a game, and is also used in games, are big drawing points for me.

 

 

Please give us a break down on your thought process before you start a piece

This might be the hardest part: the time before starting a piece. Somehow it always feels impossible until you actually start, I guess it’s just really whatever it takes to get me started because once I get going I keep going.

 

 

Are there any special tips you can recommend for making the process of creating Pixel Art smoother?

Work small then enlarge afterwards, coming from a fine art and illustration background I’m used to pushing the size up as much as possible, it was a bit of a paradigm shift to work the other way around: one pixel at a time. Also, this might seem kind of obvious, but when you enlarge, keep it square, don’t enlarge it just by any random amount or it’ll start to lose its solid shapes, and when you rotate things you have to rotate on the square or it will start to feather and displace pixels.

 

Pizza, Burgers or Pasta? Or a big juicy piece of steak and chips with onion rings?

All of them… together, haha.

What are the first steps you take when you start making an art piece?

Thinking about it, I mean really thinking about it. I try and have as concrete a concept in my mind as possible before I start to craft it, or else I lose the plot (which makes me lose enthusiasm).

 

 

I’ve seen some of your pieces move, you know, as if animated. What part of this do you enjoy most?

Even though it takes forever to animate it, when it’s finally done it’s as if it has come alive; it’s pure magic, unlike any other feeling, a bit of a god complex I suppose.

 

 

What do you look out for while making your art?

Keeping it clean. It can take longer to clean up a mess than to work carefully from the beginning (thus the concrete concept).

 

 

Tea? Covfefe? Coffee? Or beer? (Which of these do you consume the most while working?

Haha. It used to be beer and coffee, but I’m having a kid soon so I’m trying to keep it a bit healthier these days: ginger tea and juice (and way too much coca cola).

 

 

When working on Pixel Art pieces, how do you keep the art looking consistent so that everything feels like it belongs in that space?

Colour palettes! Too many colours will make it look messy. I know it sounds simple but it’s really not, I’ll often recolour my stuff many times over before I consider it to be perfect.

What are some tips and advice you can give to anyone looking to start making their own Pixel Art?

Don’t be shy of tutorials, also, looking at other people’s art is cool, but tutorials are where it’s at, the more you understand the foundations of how things are put together, the faster you can work, the more you can make, the better you become.

 

 

What would you recommend artists look up before starting their own art pieces in this style?

The size of the work area and what settings to use (I work in Photoshop): you want crisp clean pixels, I couldn’t get my pixels to stay crisp until I did some tutorials and tweaked my settings. My biggest foe was (and sometimes still is) feathering, it’s so easy for everything to become smudged and shite.
And now lastly, after all the formalities and the juicy bits, all good things must come to an end.

 

 

If we’d like to find or follow you online, where can we go stalk you?

I’ve got a bit of this and that everywhere, but Instagram always has the best bits: https://www.instagram.com/waltviviers/

 

 

Do you have any thoughts you would like to share for upcoming artists or students?

There is enough of everything in the world, every art form is saturated, there is no need for any more artists (ah geez Walt, thanks a lot) so my advice is to do what you enjoy doing, don’t force yourself to be any kind of specific artist, be the artist you enjoy being, if you’re not having fun you’re wasting your time.

Remi Abrahams – Local Illustrator Feature

Remi Abrahams – Local Illustrator Feature

For today’s feature we’re giving some love to a very talented and humble local illustrator, Remi Abrahams. Below are some of the amazing illustrations he’s done and if you want to see more go and have a look at his Behance Profile and give this guy some love!

1. “Wrath”

I have been a huge Diablo fan since the franchise kicked off way back in the mid to late ’90’s. Ever since playing the first game I have been fascinated by the Diablo lore and it’s characters. I’m surprised that I have not done many Illustrations/paintings related to the games but I am happy that I finally am getting into it in terms of fan art. Here is a fan art piece of the Crusader using one of her signature spells,  “Heaven’s Fury”.

Remi Abrahams Illustrator Cape Town Wrath

2. “The Black Centurion”

I have not played “Ryse: Son of Rome” but when I saw the trailer telling the story of Damocles I decided I just HAD to do a fan art piece. I recommend checking out the trailer. It’s a work of pure art.

Remi Abrahams Illustrator Cape Town Damocles

3. “Daydreamer”

This was based on an old character I designed way back in 2007/2008. I decided to develop her personality and look further and it ended up going in a totally new direction. So this title might be a misrepresentation of  the project’s current state but I reckon it could be part of a series eventually 🙂 Time will tell.

“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.” – Bruce Lee

Remi Abrahams

Animator, Storyboard Artist, Concept artist, Character Artist, Right Shift

 

Remi also has a profile on Pixelsmithstudios, go and have a look at his skill sets and bio!

 
 

Call For Projects – Digital Lab Africa

Call For Projects – Digital Lab Africa

SUBMIT YOUR MULTIMEDIA PROJECT before the 31st August 2016
PITCHEZ IT AT DISCOP AFRICA Johannesburg (2-4 nov 2016)
AND MAKE IT HAPPEN thanks to the support of Digital Lab Africa partners
 

Digital Lab Africa Submission

The Digital Lab Africa call for projects targets artists, producers, designers, start-ups, students in the media and creative industries. It is open to any professional or individual in Sub-Saharan Africa having an innovative project in 4 categories of multimedia production:

# Virtual reality
#
Web creation/transmedia
#
Video game (Serious game)
#
Digital music

More information on www.digilabafrica.com
Deadline to submit your project : 31 August 2016