How I designed a novelty flash drive

novelty flash drive ….

Hello, this post covers the steps, thoughts, and processes that went into creating a novelty flash drive. These flash drives have graced the shelves of Boots, Tesco’s and other international high-street retailers and to think, it all started as a happy accident (almost).

Stage 1 – The product concept

The initial drawings and images weren’t created to be flash drives – they were going to be characters as part of a marketing theme that would feature on email signatures, brochures, trade stands, and other collateral – not flash drives.

Rat animation gif
Hello!

These darker characters were created to be the opposite of the Satzuma Man which was a glowing orange character which looks like a happy marshmallow. He was the ‘goody’ so to speak.

Rufus rat
Rufus 1,2,3!

As time evolved, so did the roles and priorities of the characters. It was discussed that these characters should be turned into something else, why not a product?

Not the first attempt at creating a product

This wasn’t the first time at making a novelty product – I should be ashamed to say that the first ever character to be created was the Satzuma Man… as Elvis. He looked more like Carlton Banks from the Fresh Prince and he was a pretty terrible version at that. I’m happy to say that this design is lost to eternity, never to grace your screens.

The Original Character Art – Pre-Production

The Flash drive models were based on my designs and illustrations. Although, if I was to be brutally honest… I was never keen on the stuck-on googly-eyes. It added a bit of humour but made the product feel a cheap-looking in my opinion.

Notice the early “Rufus” was a bit more moronic looking and mean? This was because he was supposed to be a villain to the Satzuma Man, you weren’t supposed to like the gormless rodent that meddled with the products and machines in the gadget factory! As time went on, more love was given to Rufus both commercially and conceptually and he became the “goody” with this, his features softened and he became cute – for a factory rodent.

Early Rufus Rat Design
Melvin Mutt
Hello Melvin – Product Concept

Stage 2) 3D Modelling

Once I created the 2d designs of the characters, the brief and reference images were sent to a factory to start creating the prototype. The rat and the dog was made up in a 3D program which was then sent back to us for approval. After this, the factory got down to creating the tooling.

Stage 3 ) The Product

It’s alive! Once the factory had made and completed the prototypes based on my specifications. The product was then produced in bulk, packaged and shipped out to the large high-street retailers. Melvin, Rufus and the flash housing are all copyright Satzuma LTD.

Melvin Flash Drive - Dog
Dog 2
Dog 3
Little rat

If you have any questions with regards to the project or any other project feel free to get in touch. If you are looking at creating a model, miniature or a product I may be able to offer assistance.

You may be interested in reading :
How to make a successful game
My creative journey
How we to design a killer kickstarter page

How to make a product for your business

Developing a product for your business isn’t a small undertaking… but it can be a very rewarding if you do it right! This post has been written to share useful experiences for creating a product. In order to create a product you will should consider certain key aspects of its design:

  • Who is the product for?
  • Is there a market for product?
  • Is there a need for the product?
  • How much will it cost to create the product?
  • How will you market the product?
  • Where will you to make your the product.
  • Time frame for product design

The questions above cover a couple strong questions when creating or launching a product.

Tips for creating or designing a product
Tips for creating or designing a product

Also this post will cover what you shouldn’t do when developing a awesome new product. Enjoy!

My experience in creating physical products

In the early stages of my career I would never have imagined that I would have been involved in designing and launching physical products, it has been a journey that has both been challenging and exciting! Speaking creatively, designing a product opens up whole new road for innovative exploration – you just need to remember to put the breaks on every once in a while and assess why and what you are making.

My experience mostly covers designing products that are made from card and PET. I have also been involved in creating physical card/board games, developing learning products (STEM) and Flash Memory (injection moulding) and last but not least, the retail packaging that houses product.

Who is the product for? (It’s not you)

When you create a product, it shouldn’t be a product for you. This may sound counter intuitive but you need go beyond a gut-feeling if you really want to push the success of a product. One mistake I have often found is assuming that everybody else is a bit like me to a lesser and greater extent – this couldn’t have been further from truth. Not everyone is you.

Do you represent a demographic that would buy your product?

It can be good start if this is the case but try to get some idea who would buy your product through looking at information online with trends, forums, statistics and if you have the money and resources, surveys and product testing. These early stages will help to decipher whether there is viability in your product. Don’t leave it to chance.

Make your product about your customer, make it something they would love, solve a problem, entertain. It will be them that buys a the product in the end – not you.

Product Validation

A very good way for a businesses to get a product validation is by testing the waters on a crowdfunding platform such as Kickstarter or IndieGogo. If you are going to do a Kickstarter, make sure you have a crowd and an audience ready on the launch day. This is not a mandatory way to validate a product, but it does show if there could be a demand for your product.

If you would like help with your Kickstarter design you can read more on this post.

Is there a market for your product?

Assuming that you may or may not have gone down the crowdfunding root for your trailblazing new gadget or product do you have any evidence that the world ‘needs’ or would like your gadget or product?

A good way to check is to see whether other companies are selling something similar – I know, I know – you want to create something SO unique that you would have made Tesla shed a solitary tear but creating something without knowing if there will be demand can be a huge financial risk, and you could end up selling something that the world does not want or need.

It is a crushing feeling

if your product can’t get of the starter blocks when you have invested so much time and money into your passion. Make sure you do your homework first and maybe consider the – paragraph above “Product validation”.

Who knows, perhaps after creating your first few products you will be in place to show the world what you offer is better than what they want.

Show the world what you have to offer...
Show the world what you have to offer…

Great women inventors

Keep the cost down to create your product (*MVP)

If you are a creative or a student reading this post, you are probably going to hate this point. For your product to be commercially successful, somebody will need to be able to buy it! I know, who would have imagined!

Unless you are creating a product for wealthy people with large disposable incomes you will need consider if the man or the woman on the street can afford what you are trying to sell them. That will generally come back to keeping that initial manufacturing cost down.

As business owner or Start-Up

This may sound like familiar territory to you. The lower the set up cost, the better the margin or the cheaper you can sell your product and it have a wider market appeal. A lower RRP will make your product more accessible to a larger buying market with shallower pockets.

The type of product, brand or businesses you want to be is down to you. It will come down to you how much you believe the customer is willing to pay for your product and be brutally honest the the prices. This may influence whether you do mass production, batch or stay with smaller scale cottage industry production. The choice is yours!

How much does it cost to make a product?

It can cost anything from 10p a unit to £1000’s of pounds for a large mass produced run, it comes down to the materials, where you have your product made, speed and many other smaller factors.

Costing and pricing is a crucial stage to the success of your product. Below are a few factors which you should take into consideration when pricing the development of your product :-

  1. How many units will you make

    Generally the more units you manufacture, the lower the unit cost is in larger quantities.

  2. Where it is manufactured

    It is common to find products which are manufactured over seas. This is common in manufacturing as it is generally cheaper to manufacture products. You may find businesses based around the UK or the United States that offer competitive rates, but it may require more research and digging around.

  3. Packaging

    Depending on the level and complexity of packaging this can affect the cost of your product per unit. Having too much packaging could be costly and frowned upon by a modern and more eco conscious market.

  4. Transport and unit weight and size

    The weight and size of your product will affect the unit cost of your product.

  5. Other languages

    If you are intending on creating a product that will be sold globally, you may wish to consider having translations added to the retail box. It can be inexpensive for translations to be created and worth considering as it will open up a much larger audience to your product. Certain retailers will want it as a requirement.

  6. Barcodes

    If you are intending to sell your product to high-street retailers you will need a product Barcode. I wasn’t involved in the process of creating product barcode in the past, but as far as I am aware it is relatively cheap.

  7. Instructions

    Large retailers will expect instructions as a basic requirement for your product if it something like a piece of electrical equipment, a gadget, a game, a tool and item with moving parts. Instructions can be made cheaply, but they need to be made ‘properly’.

  8. Other Admin and legal areas

    Your product may need testing for chemicals and toxic substances to meet with trading standards. These requirements differ from country to country and isn’t something I can advise on. I can only mention that you should be aware of it is best to seek professional advise.

* it should also be noted that Brexit ‘may’ have an affect on goods being imported and exported in and out the EU.

Marketing Your Product – A very important step

This step should not be scrimped on but is often is. It is a waste time and money putting all of your effort into creating product that the world cannot see. Don’t rely on blind faith and hope that consumers looking to a buy a product will stumble of yours. You will need to be proactive and there are actions you can take with a short or non-existent budget.

Invest your time, energy and planning into some good marketing and if you cant invest money, research low-cost or free marketing ideas.

But remember, free is rarely free. Time is still a cost also and if you can avoid doing it all yourself I would advise looking for help.

https://www.shopify.co.uk/blog/how-to-market-a-product

Shout out Marketing
Shout out Marketing

The marketing of your product can cover a large area; from the branding to the packaging to the website. 1 idea for marketing your product could be to consider crowdfunding – if this fits your business model.

A method for getting your product out there

a) Make a good product
b) Create awesome packaging
c) Present the whole package.

Show your cool packaging to a buyer and let the large retailer do the heavy promotional lifting and display your product. I have seen this method work time and time again but you need to master your pitch.

Other Notes on creating your product

There isn’t a guarantee.

I feel this should be added, not every single product you develop or make will rip it into success. Although, I hope that this article may guide you and help you steer clear of any pitfalls in the early stages. I think many inventors make many products and prototypes before they blow it out of the water. Eventually they find that eureka! And so will you if you if you have right skills, knowledge and attitude.

IF you found this article helpful free free to link to, share or show friend.

‘Do Not’ for developing a product.

– Don’t rely solely on your gut when creating a product. Try to do some research and understand your target demographic

– Developing products for the tech market can be volatile – especially if you are making products which are accessories for a model of (which ever product) Creating something for the latest release lasts as long as the that model does. You either have to move quickly or end up with a warehouse full of products you cant sell.

– Don t assume that customers only look at pictures on packaging, they do read the details on the back of the packaging, and if something is a little bit off – they will email you to let you know.

* Minimum Viable Product Quick Answer : What does it mean?

If your manager or boss has just mentioned the term MVP this stands for ‘minimum viable product’. A minimum viable product is just that, a product that is still worthy of being sold but is stripped back to the bare essentials.

E.g a car with 5 wheels, bike rack, rear view camera, fine leather interior, sky television etc

MVP version = 4 wheels, plastic interior, simple functional car (Save money in other words)

Maybe you’d like to read : How to create a game in steps >
Or Develop packaging

If you have any questions feel free to contact me through my website >

How to get packaging printed in China | 9 insights for designers & entrepreneurs & Startups

How to get your packaging printed in China in simple steps. This topic covers how to get your packaging printed in China from the concept to sending your design to a Chinese factory and getting printed proofs.

Getting your packaging made in China
Getting your idea made!

General information about this post :

– The pit falls
– What to expect when working with the factories.
– The typical stages
– Other details experiences

This article discusses my professional experience in getting your work printed with Chinese suppliers told from a design perspective. I hope that this post will help you make an informed decision and how to go about getting the results you want from your suppliers.

You can get your artwork printed in China from a reputable factory or supplier. The challenge is finding a reputable factory and supplier. When you can’t speak the language, it can be difficult.

1 ) How to get your packaging made for your product (Chinese Factory)

If you are a business, an entrepreneur or someone looking to get a product manufactured for the retail market you will need packaging for your product, unless you are intending to sell only online using brown boxes.

To be taken seriously, you will need to have professional packaging made. Working with Chinese suppliers can be a great cost saving measure but you will need make sure you select the right one.

Mass production packaging
Mass production packaging

2 ) Why do companies get packaging for their products manufactured in China?

There are many reasons for a why a company may want to get a product or a piece of the packaging made in China if you are from a western country such as the USA or United Kingdom.

By far most common reason for getting products manufactured in China is to save money on production, printing or manufacturing fees. From a business perspective this is great news – but it isn’t always as ideal or as cheap as it sounds. If you pick the wrong supplier it can cost you time and money and can even lead to trouble further down the line.

3 ) How to supply your packaging design to a Chinese factory

This isn’t as tricky as it sounds from the designers perspective but be prepared to teach the factory how to suck eggs. DO NOT Assume they will understand what you want. And DO NOT assume that things will be created ‘as is’, on occasions factories may ‘help’ and tinker with your work without your consent. Stay vigilant.

Frustrated Designer… Frustrated factory, Frustrated business… etc

When you create a design you will need to annotate and make it as clear to follow as possible, be it using spot UV or any extra features this will need to be told in FULL. I would also strongly advise on sending rough mock ups or drawings to help communicate what it is you are setting out to achieve. Visuals often make one of the best lines of communication when having your sample made with a Chinese supplier or factory.

Getting angry at the factory won’t accomplish anything, it won’t fix the problem, it wont make you wealthier and it wont speed up the process. The ball is in your court in the end and it just needs to be right.

Send them visuals and explain EVERYTHING.

4 ) How to find a Chinese packaging a supplier

There are hundreds, possibly 1000’s of businesses online that are looking to print your packaging in China alone. You could go onto website such as Alibaba to find a supplier or through Linkedin. I still hear from suppliers coming through my Linkedin account.

By the far the most effective (not cheapest) way is by hiring or contracting someone to work as a middleman or woman to work between you and the suppliers.

Communication is key in getting your design correct otherwise you will get something you didn’t want from the factories.

I would argue that getting a good supplier from one of the factories should be a top priority. A bad supplier will result in bad results – funnily enough! Here are some key points when finding a factory or supplier to work with:

– *Find someone you can trust*
– Find someone that offers quality
– Get as much written down in the beginning as possible
– Try to get prototypes or samples from factory supplier before mass production.

5 ) What to expect when having your packaging or product made in China

It all comes down to your supplier, communication and how you supply the artwork. It’s best to have everything ‘exactly’ as when supplying artwork to factory and also be prepared for a bit of randomness when it comes to how they may produce the work. Be vigilant and make sure to get proofs from the factory.

I have written a couple of quick steps for you to follow when producing your packing:

– Find a reputable supplier, if you have somebody that is fluent in Chinese this can help tremendously

– See if you can get proofs or past evidence of packaging and material samples. What they sometimes say you will get and what you actually get is not uncommon in my experience.

– Getting digital proofs of your artwork through photos, and flat screen image is a must.

– Delays can happen due to miscommunication from either or both parties.

Don’t let the factories take the initiative.

– The factories are generally better at giving you want you want if you send a 3D mock up and illustration.

– They are often very good with the cardboard engineering stage but not so much on the creative side.

– The factories can improve as with any working relationship with the more work you send them.

– Weather can affect how and when you packaging may arrive.

– The Chinese factories can damage the packaging during packing if they are rushed. Try not to rush them if you can help it.

– When supplying artwork, leave nothing to the imagination.

6 ) How long will take to see your design once it is printed and shipped from a Chinese factory?

When having packaging printed In China, I have often seen a sample come back within one month, they can be very quick! Occasionally 3 months, depending on the weather, suppliers work load and method of transportation.

Shipping from China!
Shipping from China!

7 ) The realities of having your work printed in China

When it is good it’s great and you will generally save money. When it isn’t great, as with some things in life, it can be a complete nightmare.

Working with new suppliers can be the most problematic as neither of you are familiar with working with each other, you don’t know each others strengths, habits, communication etc. One of my mistakes when working with a new Chinese supplier is ‘assuming’ – assume NOTHING.

– Don’t assume that they know what is in your head.
– Don’t assume that single colour should go all the around the packaging.
– Don’t assume that they will offer the same level of service twice, they may be busy or rushed.
– Don’t assume that the factory understands what is to be made when you supply the artwork. You need to make what you want as clearly and as transparent as possible – in the end, if you are the designer, or manufacturer, the buck ends with you.

Get it right you will have a great piece of packaging. Get the communications wrong and you will be in for a whole load of pain.

8) Great reasons for having your work made In China

I feel that I have covered many of the perks scattered through the post but it may be easier to bullet point why it is a good idea to have your packaging and product created in China.

– Getting work printed In China or overseas is often cheaper than getting work printed in western countries such as the UK or United States
– There is a abundance of suppliers of products and packaging manufactures on websites such as Alibaba
– It’s easy and quick to get wholesale and bulk quotes for your product
– Using factory in China will help you save money if you are looking to reduce overheads.

9 ) The challenges with getting things printed in China

For it’s many perks and plus points for getting packaging and products printed in China it also comes with its short comings and challenges. I have listed a couple of points below.

Copyright theft : the factories are notorious for stealing and selling your product idea as their own. Not every factory is like this, but it is not uncommon. I have witnessed Chinese factories use my previous employers artwork and pass onto a competitor. There are other random knock off’s I have stumbled upon ranging from copies of renown books, bad copies of Hollywood films etc.

Stealing Kickstarter’s : I have seen factories steal Kickstarter campaigns and under cut the creators. Worse, the factories release their copy to the retail market before true creators have made it themselves.

Decrease in quality : This isn’t something that always happens but on occasions the suppliers I have worked with would do little things like : use less glue, ship scuffed or damaged work, rush on packaing if you have blisters inside your box etc. I think this was often as a case of reducing expenses and over heads.

As with anything, there are always challenges that can come when producing products. I have also worked with printers in the UK which have ignored specifics such as bleed and just printed it as is. Although one bonus as with most things online, is that you can check reviews

Getting packaging and artwork printed in China

Thank you for reading on how to get packaging and artwork printed in China. If you would like to know more about getting your work printed feel free to get in touch.

You may wish to read more on :

Packaging Design
Creating a Killer Kickstarter Page

Packaging Projects | high street retail ready design

It has been while since posting a project update, as many of the other posts have covered industry insights and experiences.

One of core project that appears to get a lot of attention is the post on how we created a successful game project. A post that is packed full of information on our design approach and what we did.

This Design Post

This post covers a range of packaging designs that were used and are still actively being used in the retail market – a phrase that was used often when creating the packing was “retail ready”.

These designs range from Tech Girl, Satzuma Gifting, Stem and a whole range of projects and pre-production artwork. These products have graced the shelves of Boots, Tesco’s TK Maxx, Robert Dyas, Menkind, Staples and stores across the globe.

Unicorn Power Bank

Unicorn Power bank packaging
Yes… yes it is a Unicorn. And a Power Bank
Idesign for Smartphones, retail
Packaging and branding design for a ‘build your own Smartphone cover’ product

You can read more on the project on the portfolio website. It covers the branding, the packaging, the marketing and the digital design.

Proof Of Concept Packaging

The proof of concept packaging was used for design approval, used in product pitches to large retailers and also used to ‘visualise’ the package for print factories.

Beard Bib Packaging
Early Beard Bib Packaging, This was put together very quickly to get a feel for the concept.
Packaging design
Packaging illustration
Packaging design for game
Boogie Pong Game Box Mock Up
Packaging design - mock up
Another Tech Girl Mock Up – Typography would be ‘Rose Gold’
Jeantech Power Supply
Mock up / Render of a power supply box
Flash Memory Top - FSDU
Flash Memory Top – FSDU – Final Proof
Neon Packaging concept
Neon Packaging – Product – Testing look and feel

Packaging Nets

The images below show the flat nets of the packaging. This is the print ready or near print ready artwork that is generally sent of production after approval.

Early Joystick Design
Early Joystick design – Packaging – Card + PET – Concept (shelved)
Flat net of am expansion pack
Card box net for packaging an expansion pack.

This is one part of a larger gaming project, if you would like to read more this product please feel free. Or if you would help with you card or game design feel have a look.

Net for a VR Google Card
Google Card Design
AR Blaster Packaging
AR Blaster Packaging Net
Stem Product | Build You Own Robot
Stem Product | Build You Own Robot
Beard Bib Dev
Beard Bib Dev

Final Products & ‘In Situ’ Shots

These are the completed products based on the designs I supplied.

Memory Capture Box & Product Design
Memory Capture Box & Product Design
Head phones packaging
Head phones packaging
Counter Display for Product
Counter Display for Product – VR Goggles
Packaging design - neon sign
Make your own Neon Sign
Joystick
Joystick Packaging
Joystick Packaging
Flash Drives 8 GB - in store photo!
POS design inside a retail store.

That’s all on this packaging post!

Retail Read Packaging

If you would like any assistance in your latest packaging design be it the concept or putting together a punchy, relevant and cost effective solution feel free to get in touch or have a look at projects on the brochure website.

Retail Ready Packaging Projects – Perhaps you’d like to read :

How to draw on the computer with a stylus & tablet for beginners

The best way to draw on a computer is by using a Stylus and Graphics Tablet with an art creation program. As beginner, you may draw with a mouse but this can a bit tricky to use. For more information on how create digital artwork on computer, read on!

This tutorial will outline some of the basic and professional ways in which you can draw on your computer or smartphone. If you don’t have a drawing tablet or stylus, or a large budget there are other low cost ways to start creating digital art – even as novice or ‘newb’.

Create Digital Artwork
Tablet & Stylus

Beginner – drawing on your computer and creating digital art

Drawing on a computer can be more straight forward than you think. I started out using a regular old rubber ball mouse and Microsoft Paint when I was child – long before a Stylus and tablet came into my life.

So, the absolute bare essentials for drawing and creating digital art for you computer are as follows :-

– A regular old mouse
– A keyboard
– A computer
– A graphics program (digital art software)

Should be noted… it doesn’t have to be an Apple mouse. Maybe something from the 80’s?

Is creating digital art easy?

Yes and no, getting started with creating digital art can be very easy and low cost. Getting to a stage where you could call yourself a professional artist takes time and years of practice. The best ways of getting started with creating digital art is by downloading graphics software and get practicing to improve you digital drawing techniques.

I wish I could find my very first digital drawing, it was created on a Windows 3.2 in the era of the awesome floppy disk – you can read a bit about me here.

What digital art software should I use?

There are so many to pick from, but for the sake of just creating something you can call ‘digital art’, begin with something you may already have, MS Paint In Windows. by delving into Paint, select a colour and away you go!

Gimp Icon
Gimp Logo

There are other art programs out there which are also free such as Gimp and Krita. I have personally never used Krita but the results on the website show what it is capable of and it has also been given a recommendation from a reputable digital art magazine IFX (Link(. This magazine is dedicated to creating fantasy, digital and traditional artwork.

Advanced digital artwork software

As both a designer and digital artist, I use 2 main programs to create my art and design work, these programs being: Abobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop.

Adobe Illustrator often gives very clean cut appearance that you may seen in books, posters, life style magazines etc – this is called ‘vector art’.

Adobe Photoshop is a versatile piece of software that behaves like a drawing and painting tool and offers an intuitive work flow. The example below shows the two different program styles and what they can create. This is just an example created by me – Jimmsdesign.

Vector Art and raster art example - how to draw digitally. Painted, flat, vector.
style examples, Photoshop Vs Illustrator

It should be noted that these programs can both be tricky to master and you may be more drawn to one that the other. You can get a free trial or purchase a subscription to use the software by going to Adobe Creative Cloud (link) and downloading it. If you are just starting out on your journey to becoming a digital artist or illustrator, I would test a free program first.

What type of graphic artist or designer do you want to be?

As budding digital artist, designer, illustrator or painter what sort of outcomes are you looking to achieve? If you are unsure and just trying your hand at creating digital art on a computer that is fine a starter step.

Here is what may suit you more if…

Adobe Illustrator may suit you more if you want to become a designer or a clean cut vector artist. The way a vector drawing behaves inside a program is a quite a different to raster art program such as Photoshop. Adobe Photoshop is great If you are wanting to work as a traditional illustrator, digital painter, game artist etc.

There are thousands of examples of digital artists on social media with websites and professional blogs. Some to mention : Behance, imagine FX, Artstation. Design Week are filled with a colossal range of talented designers and artists.

Imagine FX Magazine
Artwork Copyright Future Publishing – Imagine FX – Source – wikipedia

This person here is a terrific vector artist and designer – Vicky Doodles

What equipment to use for drawing on a computer?

Very old computer mouse for drawing on a computer!
If you are actually drawing on a computer with these legendary relics… Kudos to you. Image Source – Wikpedia

Using a mouse to create digital artwork (beginner)

The humble computer mouse has been around for decades and is often the first got and very basic tool for drawing on a computer. You can still use a mouse be it a optic or USB (these still around?) to create digital art in MS Paint, Paint Shop Pro and Photoshop or any other 2D graphics software.

Using a computer mouse when trying to draw onto a computer is fairly simple. It is often a case of selecting a colour, a brush shape and size and drawing around the white space. As I already mentioned, I can recall using paint has far back as Win 3.2 back in the early 90’s. the left mouse button and start applying pixels or digital paint.

A computer mouse in action | digital drawing

This example shows the end result of some digital artwork created using a mouse in Photoshop. It’s a bit trickier to use although it’s not bad for straight lines!

Drawing with a mouse! Visual example
Drawing with a mouse! (An Apple Smart Mouse)

I would advise moving on from a computer mouse at some stage if you are thinking of getting serious with drawing on a computer, be it for graphic design, illustration or your own sanity.

If you are thinking of spending many hours drawing and creating digital artwork, using a different input will save on potential wrist ache also.

Using a stylus and graphics tablet to create artwork (beginner + intermediate)

The day I plugged in a Wacom graphics tablet was the day I changed the way I created digital artwork on a computer. Using a drawing or graphics tablet can make the experience of creating artwork on a computer much more organic.

Below is an example of me sketching something in Photoshop using a Stylus, Tablet. It’s quicker, smoother and much more human way for creating a drawing, or in this example a black line sketch.

Drawing with Stylus and Tablet example
Drawing with Stylus and Tablet. Handles, curves and waves and is much easy to flow with

Reasons why a stylus and tablet are great options for drawing on a computer

– It will offer a greater level of control when trying to draw on a computer – when you get used to it.
– It will offer a better work flow.
– It may reduce wrist strain when drawing
– The stylus and pen often come with pressure sensitivity, allowing for a greater level for control and hopefully moving you closer to the digital artwork you want to create.
– Short cut commands can be added to the drawing tablet to speed up the work flow.

Once I started using a tablet after a couple of days it became second nature to me.

Drawing Tablet Equipment
Tablet as shown in top of post

How long does it take to learn how to draw with Wacom drawing tablet?

When drawing with a Stylus and Wacom tablet it can take as little as 1 hour to start creating digital artwork.

I tried an experiment on a friend to see if he could use the drawing tablet… he found it strange at first but quickly got used drawing on a Wacom Tablet (Intuos Pro).

It should also be added that he is neither an illustrator or an designer, or a somebody who can use Photoshop! Within 1 hour, he was drawing! That is how quick you could pick it up, although what who drew on the day wouldn’t look amiss from something a 7 year old would bring home – that is beside the point.

He could use the tech.

Have the drawing technology wont make you an digital artist overnight. It takes time.

A Cintiq allows you to draw straight onto a computer screen

Cintiq display, used to create digital drawings and artwork
Cintiq Display – draw straight onto it

Using a Cintiq removes the disorientation of drawing from a Tablet to screen, you can work straight onto the display using your drawing stylus. You will create the graphic art you want sooner but it is a higher price point as this technology is generally more expensive.

A Cintiq is one the best tools to create professional digital art on a computer. It acts just like pen paper offering great results without technological limitations.

My professional use of Cintiqs is very limited due to it’s price and being satisfied with Bamboo (now Wacom Intuos Pro) tablet. Cintiqs are great quality and are top of the range pieces of equipment. If you are a beginner I would recommend starting with one of the cheaper tablets first.

This video, shows a Cintiq in action. This is not me by the way.

How to draw on Smart tablets and Smartphones

In recent years technology has come a very long way for digital artist’s, designers and illustrators. We are no longer confined to just drawing onto a computer, we can now create artwork on the go with smartphone and stylus.

Tablet artwork
This artwork was not created by myself.

David Hockney has created artwork on his tablet (iPad) and exhibited it without limitations or reduction to the quality of his style. The only observation I have made is that the edges if the pixel perfect brush strokes is that they have a slight spongy and blurry feel, but that could be due to the scaling up of the artwork from a tablet or phone – a smaller screen blow up big can reduce image quality.

You can read a bit more about his David Hockney artwork here :

You can now create digital artwork from your Samsung, Iphone, Ipad, or most ‘Smarttech’ which is available online.

Drawing on a tablet or a Smartphone using stylus can be and low cost way of trying your hand at digital drawing or painting. This the equipment you will need to draw on a Smartphone or Digital tablet :

– A Smartphone or Tablet
– Drawing or graphics software download onto your phone or tablet. You can look on the app store or Google play to find an application that suits your phone or spec.
– A tablet or smartphone stylus.

It should be noted that I have used a Wacom Bamboo Stylus Mini to create artwork on my phone just for doodling. It’s light, small and convenient. But gave me personally ‘meh’ results.

Bamboo Mini Stylus - draw on Smartphone or tablet

Summary | how to draw on a computer using a Stylus and Tablet.

If you skipped the the basics on how to create digital artwork on your computer this how to do it simple steps.

1) Buy a stylus and drawing tablet of your choice.
2) Install the hardware on your computer.
3) Check the drivers are up to date – calibrate the software to your computer
4 )Download a graphics program such as Photoshop or one of free applications mentioned previously.
5) Open the software.
6) Start creating digital art!

Summary | how to draw on a computer using a Mouse (PC) in quick steps

1) Check your mouse is installed
2) Open the relevant art program such as (MS paint) or if you have something better – great!
3 )Voila! Start creating your masterpiece.

Credits – All the best with your digital art journey and creating digital awesomeness on your computer.

Thank you for reading, hopefully this post has given you some insight into how to create digital artwork and an idea of tools you can use to draw onto a computer.

If you would like any professional assistance please feel free to contact me on my website.

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