Gadgets for Artists in Bangladesh

Official Link (where the ‘Staff Writer’ was me): http://www.dhakacourier.com.bd/?p=7812

Not that the days of the easel and the oil paints are over, a new dimension has certainly come into existence in the art world. With the advent of technology and the miniaturization of computing devices, many artists have moved to digital art. Moreover, many extremely talented artists have emerged exclusively from the realm of the digital world. Thus, it is no longer the monopoly of production houses like ‘Pixar’ and ‘Walt Disney’ to dominate digital art.

Many Bangladeshi artists are producing significant artworks with their gadgets. Hence, in this issue, I have decided to showcase this new art medium since, if you have been a regular follower of Dhaka Courier, you already know – how we patronize the arts.

Not just Photoshop

No, digital art is no longer the Photoshop work to transform our prided dark skinned brides into Caucasian aliens. There is now more to art in the digital world than Adobe Photoshop and a mouse. If you are not holding a pen/stylus (which is the modern day brush), you are no digital artist. However, it does not necessarily need extremely expensive gadgets to produce artwork in the digital medium even though more serious artists do have more complex art gadgets than mere tablets. Let us look at some of such gadgets and their availability (along with prices) in context of Bangladesh.

The iPad and a Wacom Pen Combo

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The first gadget in line is the ‘new’ iPad (or more commonly known as – iPad 3). However, simply swiping your fingers on an art-app is not suffice to produce real art. The combo of a pressure sensitive ‘digital pen’ is a requisite to avail this privilege. Wacom is world’s best selling yet very economical tablet/stylus producer. They export most of their products to Bangladesh and the most popular one is the Wacom Bamboo Pen. A Wacom pen and the iPad are sufficient ingredients to produce art of professional standards. Many artists who have become renown in the cyber world have become successful with only these means. This is probably the most viable solution for Bangladeshi ‘casual’ artists before moving on to more advanced level devices (that are presented later in the article).

Specifications: The iPad 3 sports a 9.7” screen with a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels. The only important thing to know about the Wacom tablets is the fact that they are pressure sensitive and that makes a world of difference.

Price: 45,500 Tk. for the iPad and 5,000 Tk. for the Wacom tablet/pen.

Availability: The iPad is available in almost all electronics stores in Bashundhara City but ‘Gadget & Gear’ in Bashundhara City and Gulshan will avail you Wacom tablets.

ASUS Eee Note

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The ASUS Eee Note is a very lightweight Tablet PC. Although it’s not targeted towards drawing, it can be certainly used for that. Its battery life is phenomenal but that is due to its greyscale screen, which is also anti-glare and thus perfect as an ebook reader as well. Worth of note is that it runs on Linux OS and sketching is done in the application that comes within only. Also, it can be used as a Wacom tablet if connected to your PC. The drawbacks are to cut back on the price.

Specifications: This is an 8” tablet with 4 GB storage but with a greyscale screen. Thus it is for sketches not paints. The resolution is impressive at 1024 x 768 pixels given the price.

Price: 33,000 Tk.

Availability: It can be found in ‘Gadget & Gear’ in Bashundhara City and Gulshan (if they have it in stock) but I would suggest you to scour over to BCS Computer City, Agargaon for a better deal since you may get it at a lower price from there.

Now, let me move to professional level digital art apparatuses. These are quite rare in the country even though some have shipped into the studios of several artists.

Wacom Cintiq 24 HD

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Wacom’s Cintiq line of pen tablets has long been a holy grail for artists and designers. Despite a hefty price tag, these tablets lend a fluency and efficiency to illustration that will usually repay the outlay for professionals. There’s a reason that they’re ubiquitous in the animation and art industry – a Cintiq is the fastest way to get a lot of drawing done.

A Cintiq overlays Wacom’s pressure-sensitive tablet technology on a monitor, removing the cognitive dissonance of working on a tablet while looking at the screen. The Cintiq 24HD has 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. It uses a two-button, wireless, battery-free pen with a rubber grip and a pressure-sensitive eraser on the other end. If you don’t like the pen’s buttons, you can remove them and cover up the hole with a second supplied grip.

As the name suggests, it has a 24” dimension but it doesn’t have a pivot to rotate the screen as you work. Instead, it’s robustly hinged on either side, and can be elevated to an upright position, adjusted to a drawing board angle, or dropped down over the desk’s edge and into the user’s lap. It even has two flip-out feet so the keyboard can be placed just underneath it.

This is the easel of the 21st century.

Specifications: The 24” tablet has 2048 colour levels and has an enormously rich resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels. This is made to be used with a computer and not to be carried around.

Price: 1,70,000 Tk.

Availability: As you may surmise, a gadget of this price tag would be very impractical for importers to import commercially. However, if you want to ship this in, a shop called ‘Gamers’ Paradise’ on the 3rd  Floor of Twin Towers Concord Shopping Complex, Shantinagar imports such gadgets upon ordering.

Axiotron Modbook

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This is another giant. Even though you may not have heard about any gadget with the word ‘book’ except for MacBook, the ModBook is an everyday name in the digital artists’ world.

Axiotron Modbook is the only Tablet PC with a Mac operation system. That means every Mac software can run on this Tablet. It’s actually a MacBook made into a Tablet PC. By getting a ModBook you will probably not use it just for a portable digital sketching pad, but rather many more things since it’s powerful. Note that it is not so lightweight and probably is proportionate with the price tag. “The bigger – the better” is the motto of the digital art world.

Specifications: The monster sports an Intel Core 2 Duo processor with a storage of 120 to 320 GB. The screen size is 13.3” with 1280 x 800 pixels.

Price: 2,50,000 Tk.

Availability: Same as the previous gadget.

End note

Some of these may seem a rip off but the ostentatiously priced products are meant for serious artists who are at a professional level. The features justify the prices. However, the combo of a digital pen and a regular tablet is a great means of producing art. And, believe me or not, mere iPad artworks have sold for over $50,000 in 2011. Therefore, the new wave of ‘the arts’ is knocking at our door – which we need to (and eventually will) embrace. I invite you to view marvelously eye candy digital art at Deviant Art – the world’s largest online art gallery which is free to browse. However, you need to pay if you wish to ‘own’ an artwork. Then again, deviantart.com is one place, where, if you spend 10 minutes, will construe the new era of the arts.

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