Improvements in tablets and tablet software have opened up plenty of great new opportunities for digital artists. I recently received a Wacom MobileStudio Pro 13-inch device, which is much more than a drawing tablet: it offers the full Windows 10 experience.
I thought it might be useful (and fun) to bring you along while I get this machine set up for the long haul. Don't worry though, the kit in my list isn't specific to this tablet. I'll run through the hardware, software, add-ons and accessories you need to get started with any tablet.
- Free, with in-app purchases
I've been immersed in the Apple ecosystem for a long time. Truth be told, I've not used a Windows PC since the days of Windows XP. But the MobileStudio Pro comes loaded with Windows 10, and I wanted to take this time to look at what the Windows world has to offer digital artists.
One of my top picks is Graphiter. I was immediately blown away by this sketching app – it's intuitive and beautifully designed. Graphiter has one goal: to reproduce a real-life sketching experience. With simple tools like a blend tool, an eraser, and graphite pencils, I couldn't help but feel like I was using traditional tools to create my digital sketches.
An infinite canvas, you say? That's right! Mischief is a cross-platform app that puts you right into your canvas. You don't need to worry about canvas size or resolution; just launch the app and start to draw.
While Mischief isn't something I'd use to produce finished work (at least not yet), it does lend itself well to sketching and getting your ideas out of your head and onto the digital page.
03. Boxy SVG
- Mac/Windows/Chrome OS/Web app
Quite possibly the easiest to use SVG tool I've ever come across, Boxy SVG might become a new favourite of mine, earning docking and taskbar space along with Clip Studio Paint and Photoshop. Because this app supports SVG natively, there's no need to import or export images: just load them up and get to work.
There's one other feature I quite like about this app: the Developer Tools. Using the Developer Tools, I can review and edit the underlying SVG and CSS code, which helps when working on websites.
04. Pixel Art Studio
- Free, with in-app purchases
In my job, I'm about to get more involved in making game art and assets. With that in mind, I went looking for something I could use on the MobileStudio Pro. That's when I found Pixel Art Studio.
Pixel Art Studio is powerful and easy to use. If you're looking to make pixel art graphics, and you're on Windows, grab yourself a copy of this and take control of each and every pixel in your drawing.
One thing I've noticed with the Wacom MobileStudio Pro is you absolutely have to have an external keyboard. Although I already had an external mini keyboard that I use with my iPad Pro, I didn't want to deal with switching it out between devices.
This one is compatible with iPad, iPhone, Android devices, and Windows tablets. Plus, with this being a foldable keyboard, it's easier to store when it's not in use. And did I mention that it's spill-resistant?
Another great feature is its ability to be paired to multiple devices. Switching over to the next device is as simple as pushing a button.
06. Wacom soft tablet case
If you have a home studio with eight cats running around, like I do, it's not easy keeping their feet away from – and off – the equipment. I had a few choices: keep the device in the box, or get a storage case. And to be honest, the Wacom MobileStudio Pro is way too beautiful to get tossed into a boring box.
For the case, I decided to go with the Wacom Soft Case, which fits the Intuos Pro, Cintiq Pro and MobileStudio Pro. Its lightweight and simple design offers enough protection to keep it safe from critters, while making it easy enough to grab when I'm ready to work.
A word of caution: if you travel, be aware that the inside storage pockets have no way of closing. So if you swing it around too much, anything inside those pockets will have a chance of sneaking out and scratching your device.
07. Kensington SmartFit laptop cooling stand
Although I generally don't use a stand with any of my mobile devices, having used a Wacom Cintiq for so long, getting a stand felt like the right thing to do.
At this time, Wacom still does not have a stand of its own that's compatible with the MobileStudio Pro. But that's fine; the Kensington SmartFit Stand works well, and it gets the job done. It's also super portable and offers up to 50 degree tilt angle.
08. MEKO artist glove
I'm not a huge fan of artist gloves, but they do come in 'handy' (heh heh) from time to time, especially when you accidentally keep triggering random commands every time your palm hits the taskbar!
What I like about the MEKO glove is that only one finger is covered. With most other gloves, you lose two fingers to the cloth, and for me, it quickly gets uncomfortable. With the MEKO glove, I feel a lot more free.
Because I switch between macOS and now Windows, it's important for me to use software that's compatible with both operating systems. Let's face it, no round-up would be complete without Adobe's Creative Cloud suite of apps.
Despite my newfound love of Clip Studio Paint, I still fire up Photoshop on a daily basis. It's true! There's just something about the way in which Photoshop works that I haven't seen replicated in other software.
How does Creative Cloud work on the MobileStudio Pro? Great! And because the Mobile Studio Pro is a full blown Windows computer, I'm able to use other apps, like Adobe Audition, too. For me, that's a big win.
- Mac/Windows/Wacom/iPad/Surface Pro
Clip Studio Paint EX works fantastically on the MobileStudio Pro. If you're looking for a natural and traditional-feeling drawing and painting app – especially if you're working on Manga art or comic books – hands-down, this is the winning combination.
There isn't a single thing that I don't like about it.