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Monoprice drawing tablet

Posted on September 7, 2013  | Leave a Comment
Filed under Education, Life hack

[Update after 3 years] Like I mentioned in my original review, the Monoprice is far better for clean drawing than the Wacom offering so I still use the Monoprice but only on my laptop. Having upgraded my desktop to Windows 10, I didn’t manage to test or make the Monoprice  work on it so currently using a Wacom Intuos 5 pro on the desktop and the Monoprice on my Windows 7 laptop. The following pictures were drawn or sculpted on the Monoprice. Ah and the battery is a non issue as I haven’t changed it in…… 3 freaking years!!!!







[Update after 6 month of use and upgrading to Windows 8] I gave up on Monoprice. There is absolutely no support whatsoever from Monoprice and the current drivers are way to flacky for me to recommend the tablet to anyone. I loved the light weight, small size and larger usable surface than similar Wacom but the drivers are unusable and like I said, Monoprice doesn’t care about customer support. Good bye Monoprice and cheap tablets, I am back to the Wacom monopoly and just bought an Intuos (5) Pro medium. (can’t stand the touch thing and disabled it but at least the drivers are stable). [/update]

[update after three month of use] The issues I was having in Photoshop CS6 and CC were caused by old buggy ATI/AMD graphic card driver which hasn’t been updated for 2 years…. Battery is a non issue as I haven’t changed it in 3 month. Pressure sensitivity is definitely better than the Intuos 3 but there is a bit of jitter if you don’t draw fast. Do I still recommend it? well…. it is only $50 right. Digitizer is larger than the Medium Wacom, tablet is lighter and smaller than Wacom so it fits nicely in my backpack even in the Medium version. I would really like the line to have no jitter but for the ease of use, that’s a keeper. Oh! I was about to forget. It appears that the Middle Mouse button doesn’t work on Macs which really suck for OSX fans. [/update]

After reading a very positive review by an artist called Frenden, I wanted to see if that $50 tablet was really so much better than the much beloved Wacom branded tablets that cost three to four times more.

I have been using Wacom tablets since 1998, the Ultrapad A5 being my first model. I have also owned several Windows TabletPCs equipped with Wacom digitizers. To put it bluntly, I used to be a Wacom fanboy and would regularly make fun of people buying other brands.

One day, a post on the now defunct attracted my attention. Frenden was claiming that he had switched from his $2.500 Cintiq to a mere $55 Monoprice tablet and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I witnessed how clean his lines are (see for yourself). The Monoprice tablet is not available in France so I made the most of my recent London Life Drawing boot camp to order the 10×6 model and give it a try.

I have only been using the tablet for a week so hopefully I will be able to iron out some little issues I am having in the following weeks. So far it works amazingly well in Manga Studio Pro, Paint Tool SAI and Zbrush. The quality of the line and the pressure sensitivity is way better than my Intuos 3.

I do have an issue with the line quality in Photoshop CS6 64bit on Windows 7 but I will be testing it on Windows 8 next week.

So far, I am really liking it and the Intuos 3 has been gathering dust for the past 7 days. It is very likely that I will sell the Intuos 3, UNLESS, I can’t fix the Photoshop issue.

Let’s see how it goes, more to follow.

Just as a reminder, the Monoprice is equipped with an UC Logic digitizer which is the digitizer used in the Yiynova MSP 19U, an impressive piece of hardware usually refered as the Cintiq killer

Run cycle video reference

Posted on August 20, 2013  | 4 Comments
Filed under Animation, Education

Run and walks are the bread and butter of video game animators and unfortunately I hadn’t found a good source of references on that topic in the past.

Until today, I wasn’t bothered and used treadmill references since that’s mainly what they have been doing at Pixar from Monsters Inc to Up so if it is good for them, it should be good for me, but it is said that treadmill runs are actually different from the real thing.

My understanding of physics is so basic that I can’t see why it would be any different (does anyone actually understands inertia or references frames?) so I decided to do some research and was lucky to find two great references of World record marathon runner Haile Gebrselassie. One of him on a treadmill and a second one shot during a marathon. I didn’t spend too much time on walks since everybody’s walk is unique and I am pretty sure the difference would be too subtle.

Before you watch the videos and make up your mind, one thing I should mentioned is that the treadmill run was only a 4 minutes run and he was wiping his face with the towel in front of him few frames before the beginning of the footage. You can find the link to the original footage below. The video on the right is a real marathon race.

Here is a Vimeo version if you prefer

What can we notice?

The upper body is possibly slightly bent forward on the road race but I don’t think there is a real difference for the back leg to be honest, at least not at 30fps.

For runs, I would suggest people to pay attention to the running style instead and get to learn about the Pose Method.

The Pose method is dramatically different than a regular run since you hit the road with the ball of your foot rather than the heel so your calf muscle plays the role of a shock absorber rather than the sole of your expensive trainers and your knee joint, leading to less joint stress/pain. Hum it looks like I should do an other video showing regular runs compared to Pose ones ;-)

As animators we are having a tough time to understand runs but don’t worry…. so do runners!

This guy found out that depending on the brand of shoes he is wearing, or not wearing, he would hit the ground in a different manner, check out those great references:

Original references:
Haile Gebrselassie Treadmill Run
Haile running slow motion

Ringling “Spyfox” and some painting

Posted on August 18, 2013  | Leave a Comment
Filed under Animation, Drawings, Education, Painting, Portfolio

What, wait! Three Ringling students made this?!?!! How the hell is this possible !

I just love it, especially the character design. Really good work guys! I want to see a sequel to this!

and here is a link to the artist’s blogs where you will find a great making of video:

Yoav Shtibelman
Taylor Clutter
Kendra Phillips

While I am posting, here are some news for you. I am currently attending Nate Wragg’s “character design for production” class and it is awesome. I always manage to screw up and not respect the deadlines but the character I am working on is developing really nicely. I will be posting all my work when the class finishes but here is a little work in progress for you. We are not supposed to do any rendering but I felt I needed to shade this guy for this week’s turnaround.

I learnt that painting technique at Schoolism. This is the technique used by Nathan Fowkes, Bobby Chiu and Andrew Hou.

I will probably share my Photoshop brushes at the end of the class. Here is that work in progress, the mouth is completely out of whack but I think it is a fun painting.

Related post:
Francesco Giroldini, lighting tutorials

CGMA 2d academy

Posted on July 16, 2013  | 1 Comment
Filed under Education

Hurry up!!! Only few seats left for the best online Storyboarding and Character design classes. I attended both last year and will highly recommend them! Nate and Steve not only have packed some great informations in their lectures, they also do great weekly demos.

One thing I want to mention about Steve’s class. It is not only a class on Storyboarding but also a class in Story. If you ever wanted to make short films or just get involved in the story process, this is the class for you.

Nate Wragg’s first class was so good that I have enrolled for the follow up class: Character Design for production

I can’t believe there are still any seats left. Both Nate and Steve went to Calart, got jobs or Internships at Dreamworks and Pixar. You are basically paying for a proven CalArt class at a fraction of the cost….

Despicable Me 2 Behind the scene

Posted on June 14, 2013  | 6 Comments
Filed under Animation

Despite the whole industry having embraced the Bluray format for several years, they still don’t seem to be able to fit any “Behind the scene” videos or director’s comments on the enormous space that offer bluray discs. This is why we’d better celebrate the release of videos like that one, especially since it is a studio that is well known for being very secretive.

Steve Carell shows you how 3d is done at Mac Guff. It is great to see that Zébé is actually a real person. I thought he was just a myth, a machine that could crank up great drawings after great drawings ;-) Interesting he doesn’t work on a Cintiq. Make me feel better for not coughing up for one myself.

2d Portfolio June 2013

Posted on June 13, 2013  | Leave a Comment
Filed under Comics, Drawings, Portfolio

I would love to be paid to draw more and realized the best way to achieve that would be to put together a 2d portfolio and apply for 2d animation related jobs when they come up.

I am certainly not giving up on 3d animation don’t worry, I just live in a place where there are just as many 2d and 3d positions. Ultimately, 2d and 3d skills work hand in hand so cultivate one and you will get stronger in the other one.

Here is a selection of work done in my free time or during the AnimC and CGMW character design classes.

Thanks to Nate Wragg, Chris Sasaki and Albert Lozano for being such great mentors and inspiring artists.


Posted on June 7, 2013  | Leave a Comment
Filed under Acting, Animation, Education

I just discovered some really fun and catchy music videos based on News footage with very colorful characters and doing a bit more research on how those were done, I realized they were using a music software plug-in called Auto-Tune which allows to tweak the pitch of an audio clip.

So I am not going to talk about Auto-tune, instead, I want to share with you a nice video clip where X-factor’s Simon Cowell does a great “Take” following a contestant’s attack on one of the jury. This is almost a “double take” and it is so cool to be able to see his thought process so clearly and more than anything, the fact that it happens at the same time he was finishing his previous action (he was lowering his “cold pop”).

Obviously, I also have to share those other fun music videos I found. Those are real characters!

Rethinking Maya’s hotkeys for animation

Posted on May 25, 2013  | 6 Comments
Filed under Animation, Education

Having studied Psychology and Ergonomy at University, it always bothers me when I have to use tools that haven’t been carefully thought out with the final user in mind.

Let me share with you the Maya hotkeys’ layout I have been using for the past few years. Just by looking at it, you will quickly understand how much more practical those hotkeys are. By having all the hotkeys on the left side of the keyboard, you don’t need to look at your hands anymore and have immediate access to the most useful scripts and tools. I wish changing hotkeys was as simple as in 3dsmax where you can save and load layouts on the fly. Imagine having Parent constraing, open graph editor or Grease pencil built-in hotkeys.

Note the position of the next/previous keys and frames, this is the most important thing when like me you work in the manner of a traditional 2d animator and constantly “flip your drawings”. Bare in mind I am right handed. Left handed people, share your layout!

Click on the picture to zoom in.

Related posts:
My Maya settings and preferences

Pixar animation software

Posted on April 28, 2013  | 8 Comments
Filed under Animation

[update]Don’t forget to check Part 2[/update]

Wondering what animation software Pixar uses to bring us magical movies like Monsters inc 2? Wonder no more!

In a latest Open Subdiv demo, Autodesk Meet the experts presentation, Pixar’s engineer lead Dirk Van Gelder lets us have a quick peek at his computer screen so we get to see what Pixar’s Marionette looks like.

If you didn’t know, the software’s 30th iteration of Marionette or Menv (the name comes from the original name, Modeling environment), is now called Presto, as a tribute to Doug Sweetland’s 2008 short film.

Around 18 minutes into the presentation, we can have a good look at the interface and see Monsters University’s character, Dean Hardscrabble, the dean of the School of Scaring faculty, in motion. Here is a screenshot.

Pixar Marionette Menv screenshot

Pixar Marionette

Instead of being displayed in the viewport as we are accustomed to, the controls or Avars (this is how they are called at Pixar) are tucked to the bottom right of the screen and displayed as some sort of advanced channel box or spreadsheet since this is the term used in Animation Language AL, the ancestor of Pixar’s Menv.

An other interesting thing we notice is that Presto runs on Linux and the Gnome environment. This could be surprising when we think that Pixar’s CEO was also Apple’s CEO.

Animator working on Brave

If you want to see Presto in action a little bit more, check out that Guardian’s interview with Toy Story 3’s Animation Supervisor Bobby Podesta : (the video seems to have been pulled out, here is an other one instead)

or that one with Sanjay Patel:

Ah and to finish this post, what a better way than posting Monsters University’s third trailer!!! As a side note, Monsters Inc is still my favourite Pixar feature ;-)

Related posts:
Pixar Brave wireframes

Zbrush fun

Posted on April 21, 2013  | Leave a Comment
Filed under Modeling, Portfolio

testing some asymetry and a facial expression in Zbrush. Fun stuff.

[update] Found a better material or MatCap

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