The Ugee Drawing Screen

In my last post I discussed how the effective writing and delivery of Jim Sterling inspires others in their creativity.  This week is a case in point.

I have had a hard time moving from my beloved paper artwork in this digital age.  I’ve tried drawing, scanning the pencils, then vectoring the pencil art.  It didn’t work well.  I’ve also tried having the artwork inked, then scanning it and vectoring from there.  That tended to work better, but still required about 4-6 steps before I could get it in a format to be edited digitally. I’ve tried two versions of Wacom style tablets where a tablet you hold controls a cursor on the screen.  That had marginal success, but I had a lot of trouble making the connection between the pen touching a black surface to a cursor making precise actions on screen.  It went ok but I’m not good enough at it to produce even close to what I do on paper. The next step was an Android tablet with software that simulates graphic design.  It sounded good because it would allow me to draw right on the screen.  The downside was the only styluses I could find were about the size of an eraser.  Trying to do precise markings was out of the question and even trying to tell where they stylus was touching the screen wasn’t always easy to determine.

During a book signing for Matthew Inman aka The Oatmeal he mentioned he uses a Wacom Cintiq and that sounded perfect.  It essentially allows you to draw right on the screen with a pencil-sized stylus you’re your choice of graphic software.

Unfortunately since I haven’t won any lotteries recently I couldn’t get one of those…so I began browsing off brands.
After much consideration I landed on the Ugee drawing screen and it has solved my digitization woes. The first piece of art I produced was my Jim F’N Sterling Son from my last post.

I drew into Manga Studio as I preferred the look and feel of its interface as opposed to Illustrator’s.  It just felt more like a real pencil and could be adjusted with sliders to be lighter or darker, as though I was picking a different kind of lead.

After doing the “pencils” in Manga Studio I imported the pencil art into Illustrator, created a layer, and “inked” using Illustrator’s calligraphy tool.  Probably not the best but it worked for my first effort. I was pretty impressed with what could be done relatively quickly, from pencil to colored art took only a couple hours.

The Ugee has my approval, its drivers loaded perfectly, it has a large drawing surface, and has an excellent stand.  The only “complaint” is that it can wash out a bit at the wrong angle, but that’s not a big problem when working on a project, just when using it as a regular screen.

As a side note, I’m hoping Jim recovers quickly.  Here’s hoping he’s back on his feet and giving them hell as soon as possible.  We need him in the trenches!

My original Jim Sterling post

Psych: One Year Later

Psych‘s final episode aired nearly a year ago (3/26/2014). The final episode ended well: Shawn and Gus moved Psych to another city, Shawn and Jules got engaged, and prior to that, Lassiter became the new chief.

Psych final episode

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I’m very open about how much I love this show. As silly as it seems, I miss it. I felt like a little piece of me went away when the show did. However, I feel like I should honor its memory by honoring the year anniversary.

Here are some ideas on how to survive Psych withdrawals as this difficult time of year approaches:

    • Watch an episode from each season. For the first four, I suggest: Scary Sherry, American Duos, Tuesday the 17th, Bollywood Homicide
    • Watch the Yin, Yang trilogy in order. James Roday says in a goodbye video, this trilogy is something he’s most proud of. Psych: The Musical completes Ally Sheedy’s story line, so make it a quadruple set for full enjoyment.
    • Go on a treasure hunt to find the bobbleheads. Good luck! Quick online searches show these babies cost at least $99 each. They have doubled in price, and did so well before the show ended.
    • Make Psych‘s Fries Quatro Queso Dos Fritos. Even I’m not brave enough to do this, and remember they don’t travel well. They are balls of heart attacks waiting to happen, but I must admit they look delicious. Find the recipe here on Mission: Food.
    • Eat a pineapple. And canned doesn’t count. Not only is the pineapple Psych‘s signature mascot, it’s also great for you. This may help off-set the fries, too!
    • Dress in Psych swag. Sure, you may feel silly, but there are shirts, pajamas, slippers, pillows, charm bracelets and tons more to show your Psych pride. People dress up to watch football and basketball games, so why not dress up for a Psychathon?
    • Play a game. Depending on where you live and work, this may or may not be a good idea, but I must suggest it. Spend a day telling people to suck it. Or say what? to everything everyone says. This will probably be more fun for you — although you may find others who are just as obsessed with the show.
    • Dance. Imagine working in an office, completing a project or solving a problem, and breaking out into a dance. This will certainly break up the day, and dancing is a great way to exercise. If you want to go all out, pick a Shawn and Gus dance!
    • Watch the last episode. If you haven’t seen it, watch the finale. I know lots of people who started the show and never finished it. That’s okay; there were 121 episodes. If you enjoyed the show though, check out the last one because you won’t be disappointed.

Seven Psychopaths: 10 Reasons to Love It

Seven Psychopaths, written and directed by Martin McDonagh, is a movie after my heart. It is so well done it deserves a list of the best things, so here are 10 reasons to love (and watch) Seven Psychopaths:

1. It’s not Tarantino, but it feels like it. I’m a huge Tarantino fan, and when I saw Seven Psychopaths in the theater I didn’t know who the director was. I assumed it was Tarantino until I learned otherwise. It’s as close to a Tarantino film as you can get.

2. The dialogue. This is hard to do, especially do well, and there are many jabs and one-liners. Some are funny, some are smart, some are deep. The film is conversation heavy, but it’s good conversation and keeps the story going. People talk about things real people would talk about; for example, two gangsters killing time by talking about people who had been shot in the eyeball and survived. The dialogue one of the best parts of the movie.

3. The cast. My favorites: Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Bonny the dog. Other good stars: Colin Farrell, Michael Stuhlbarg, Linda Bright Clay, Gabourey Sidibe, Tom Waits, Michael Pitt. The movie is full of familiar faces and talent, and they blend well together.

4. Humor. Seven Psychopaths is listed as comedy/crime. This isn’t slapstick humor though; it’s dark humor (my favorite) and sometimes very wrong. But it is funny if you enjoy smartA remarks, language, and smart people.

5. Violence. It’s violent but not tasteless. It’s bloody but the realistic blood that you’d expect when someone gets an arm cut off or shot in the head. In a lot of movies now, “blood” is colored so it doesn’t look real or it’s not seen at all, but the blood in this movie looks like movie blood. It’s red and thick, but the shots hold long enough to establish it, not to mash it in your face. And it’s a gangster movie, so there’s plenty of shooting.

6. The story. Ferrell is writing a screenplay about seven psychopaths, and the psychopaths exist in real life. All the mini stories intertwine, and the main people involved try to write the ending. (The ending is often the most difficult part.) I can see if McDonagh’s own intentions and motivations come through Ferrell’s character. He’s tired of the stereotypical psychopaths and wants something you wouldn’t expect.

7. Music. The soundtrack is one of the best aligned with a film I’ve ever heard. It’s not one I’d want to own, but it pairs perfectly with the scenes, action and story. I’ve worked to this movie multiple times and perk up when a song comes on. Artists include: Hank Williams, P.P. Arnold, The Stone Poneys featuring Linda Ronstadt, and The Walkmen. You may not know them by seeing their names, but you will know the songs when you hear them.

8. It’s refreshing. A lot of crap has come out in the last few years. However, this was a good movie that premiered in 2012, and not enough people knew about it. If all the Tarantino-style fans in the world saw this movie, it would have blown up. As a movie-buff, it’s nice to know there are still people in Hollywood who can make a good movie without it being based off an adolescent novel.

9. Creativity. The story, characters, dialogue, everything is creative and theatrical. It’s what a movie should be: entertaining and a world you want to live in for two hours. The story has not been overdone, and you don’t feel you’ve seen it before. Unpredictability is a good thing.

10. Love. Believe it or not, there’s real love in Seven Psychopaths. Walken and his wife, Bright Clay; Bonny and Rockwell; Waits and his runaway woman. The movie shows love is tough, but it stays with you into eternity. It’s not something you’d expect from a gangster movie, but Ferrell pretty much lays out the movie in the first 20 minutes. If you pay attention, you get it.

We’d love to hear your thoughts about the movie in the comments, so feel free to share!