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Hue Animation Studio Kit Review – A Great Tool For Kids and Beginners?

hue-animation-studio-kit-reviewIf your child has just seen the latest blockbuster animated movie and wants to get started on their own little animation project, then the key to maintaining and channelling that enthusiasm is to help them get results as quickly as possible, while having a lot of fun.

Lots of fiddly equipment or long instructions are a no-no.

In this respect a stop motion software can be a great way for your child to make their first animated cartoon and get the feel of it, working either by themselves or with friends.

My top pick is the Hue Animation Studio Kit from HueHD. So let’s take a closer look and see what it can really do.

Benefits

The first thing you’ll notice about the Hue Animation Studio Kit is that it is an all-in-one package providing your child everything they need for their first animation.

There’s nothing worse than getting excited about starting a little project and to realise that you are missing an important piece of equipment or software. It’s like buying a toy and realising once you are home that the batteries are not included.

There’s no problem like that with Hue.

The box is good quality and everything is neatly packed inside. You get:

  • High Definition Camera with USB cable
  • Hue Animation software on CD
  • Free How To Animate book
  • Free access to Creatubbles – an online area for children and parents to share their work and communicate safely

Camera

When you purchase the kit you have a choice of colour for the camera – red, green, blue or black. As it has a swan neck it is very easy to place it wherever you need and your children won’t have to fiddle around with tripods or anything like that.

The camera takes good quality High Definition (HD) images and is capable of up to 10x zoom.

It can double up as a webcam and be used for online chat on programs like Skype, or as a document camera or visualiser which can be projected onto a whiteboard in a classroom environment.

It also has a built-in microphone so you can record your own sound or dialogue and add it later to your animation if you want.

My only gripe with the camera is that I feel the base could be either a little heavier or a little larger or both. Since the neck is quite long you may find the camera topples over if you lean the neck too far away from the base. But that’s just a minor gripe and is not a big deal.

Installation and Start-Up

To me the biggest benefit of the Hue Animation Studio package is how easy it is to set up and use. The camera plugs straight in to the USB port of your computer and should work pretty much straight away, the same as any other USB device. Likewise the software on the CD is super easy to install and very intuitive.

The interface is well laid out and the important tools and buttons are easily visible and large enough so even the youngest of children will be able to use it.

From this point you can basically animate anything you like, be it a favourite toy, some lego characters, a plasticine model or even yourself. You can also use it to do traditional animation where you draw individual pictures on separate pieces of paper and then capture them all by using the HD camera.

I really like that it has an “onion-skinning” feature which lets you see the frames before the current one, making it a lot easier to maintain the flow of your animation, particularly if you get pulled away from your work for any reason.

You can also add titles and text to your projects which is a nice addition and saves you having to do it in a third-party software.

Verdict

I personally think Hue Animation Studio is a fantastic piece of kit for any child or youngster who is looking to try animation and have a heck of a lot of fun doing it.

The ease-of-use is the real plus-point and means that the kids can just get started on it right away and let their imaginations flow. It’s ideal for a home or school environment and gives youngsters a visual understanding of film making and the animation process.

What with all the talk these days of kids spending too much time in front of the TV or on video games, I think the Hue Animation Studio program fills a much needed gap in the market for a fun, educational technology that helps kids develop their imaginations and possibly even start them on the path to a future career in animation or film making.

Get it. You won’t be disappointed.

I just wish this kind of thing was around when I was a kid!

>>  Click Here To Buy Hue Animation Studio  <<

 

hue-animation-studio-review-box-contents

 

 

CrazyTalk Animator 2 Review – Join The Wacky World of Animation In This 2D Software

 
crazytalk-animator-2-boxProviding an exciting new addition to the world of 2D animation, Reallusion has released its CrazyTalk Animator 2 animation software. Building on the success of previous versions, CrazyTalk Animator 2 provides the tools you need to apply 3D motions to 2D characters, along with a host of tools that let you customize your animations and control every detail to produce a professional quality product.

With three different editions, Standard, Pro and Pipeline, anyone can take advantage of CrazyTalk Animator 2’s exciting features. No matter what your level of experience, you’ll be able to put this amazing program to use and create a wide range of characters, scenes and finished animations that express your creativity.
 

System Requirements

 

Windows: Windows 8/7/Vista/XP (with Service Pack 2 or later) compatible; support for 32 and 64-bit OS.
 

Minimum requirements: Dual core CPU or higher; 2 GB RAM or higher recommended; 5 GB free hard disk space or higher recommended; Display Resolution: 1024 x 768 or higher; Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce 8 Series or higher /ATI HD 3000 Series or higher; Video Memory: 512MB RAM or higher recommended.

Recommended requirements (CrazyTalk Animator 2 will have better performance in this environment): Dual core CPU or higher; 4 GB RAM or higher recommended; 10 GB free hard disk space or higher recommended; Display Resolution: 1440 x 900 or higher; Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce 9 Series or higher /ATI HD 3000 Series or higher; Video Memory: 1 GB RAM or higher recommended.

Additional requirements: 3-button mouse; DirectX 9 and WMEncoder 9 are required for WMV exporting; Internet connection required for online activation; Stereo devices and player are required for viewing contents with stereo vision.

Macintosh: Macintosh OS X 10.7 or later;
 

Minimum requirements: Dual core CPU or higher; 2 GB RAM or higher recommended; 5 GB free hard disk space or higher recommended; Display Resolution: 1024 x 768 or higher; Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce 8 Series or higher /ATI HD 3000 Series or higher; Video Memory: 512MB RAM or higher recommended.

Recommended requirements (CrazyTalk Animator 2 will have better performance in this environment): Dual core CPU or higher; 4 GB RAM or higher recommended; 10 GB free hard disk space or higher recommended; Display Resolution: 1440 x 900 or higher; Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce 9 Series or higher /ATI HD 3000 Series or higher; Video Memory: 1 GB RAM or higher recommended.

Additional requirements: 3-button mouse or touch panel; Internet connection required for online activation; Stereo devices and player are required for viewing contents with stereo vision.
 

Features

 

Production environment – Dockable user interfaces, a 3D camera system, motion path and simple animation and the ability to manage your project’s export range all combine for the most flexible, user-friendly software on the market today. You can set up your screen any way you choose to make using CrazyTalk Animator 2 that much easier. Powerful tools help you control all of the action and the export process for complete management from start to finish.

Character creation – With a mix-and-match character system, instant style rendering, single V.S. multi-dimensional character and custom character creation via composer, you have the ability to bring your characters to life in almost any way you choose.

Motion & Animation – Adapt dual-angle characters to 3D motions, use real-time face & body puppeteering, put the layer key editor and advanced 2D cartoon effects to use to enhance your animations.

Stage & SFXs – Set the perfect scene for your animated characters with prop & scene group management, prop composer with parent-child hierarchy, instant render style for any scenes and mask layers for smart focus.

Input & Output – These features include Drag-n-Drop photo, video and flash media, a customizable composer system, expandable content library and image sequence for video compositing. All of these let you add the finishing touches to take your animation to the next level.

Advanced Features – Available only in the Pipeline edition, these include the ability to create custom, multi-dimension characters from scratch, design characters and props compatible with 12 render styles, import and 3D motion via iMotion format and connect with any 3D motion source.
 

Pros

 

This new version of the popular CrazyTalk Animator software gives users of any level, from beginner to mid level to pros in established animation studios, the ability to apply 3D motions to 2D characters, freely edit 2D motions and view animations from any angle with a single click. No matter what your level of expertise, you’ll be able to use Animator 2 to create top quality animations.

The Standard edition is designed specifically for beginner animators, who will be able to jump right in and use the content library without making any detailed customization. The Pro edition is for those users who want to flex their creative muscles by modifying content. It allows users to practice timeline editing and custom media importing. For more advanced users, Pipeline allows you to import custom characters and motion files from iClone and other external tools via 3DXchange.
 

Cons

 

While CrazyTalk Animator 2 provides the best tools available for animators today, it can be a little difficult for users to get acclimated to the software. While there is a series of tutorial videos available, these really only offer minimal information and may leave less advanced users feeling frustrated. Also, there seems to be a distinct lean toward encouraging the use of their own content library rather than allowing for the creation of unique content that some advanced users may not appreciate.
 

Summary

 

The ability to create, edit and manipulate 2D characters like never before as well as a wide range of tools that let you customize settings and import and export fluidly all make the animation process that much easier with this exciting new software. CrazyTalk Animator 2 can help you take animation to the next level in ways that you’ve never imagined.

>> Click here to check out the CrazyTalk website <<

 
 

Anime Studio Pro 11 Review – Is Smith Micro’s Top Animation Software Any Good?

anime-studio-pro-11-boxThe latest addition to Smith Micro’s line of animation software, Anime Studio Pro 11, has been earning rave reviews since its release in May 2015. Anime Studio Pro 11 is the next step up from Anime Studio Debut and includes a whole range of additional features that make it even easier to produce professional quality animations (for a complete comparison chart between the Debut and Pro versions of Anime Studio, you can take a look at the Smith Micro site here).

First launched in 1999 as Moho, the Anime Studio Pro software has always been popular with both casual and professional animators, and this latest update adds frame-by-frame capabilities as well as a range of other features that were introduced to gain the attention of professional animation studios and win some more market share. The gamble paid off when Anime Studio Pro was used to animate around 3 minutes worth of the recent production of the Oscar-nominated “Song of the Sea”, produced by Cartoon Saloon in Ireland.

Let’s take a look at some of the software’s features…

 

Features

As a professional level animation software, Anime Studio Pro is obviously packed full of features. However, if you’re currently using another 2d animation program such as Flash (now Adobe Animate CC) or Toon Boom Harmony and wondering whether you should make the switch to Anime Studio, then here are some of the notable additions in version 11:

Frame-by-frame animation – This gives artists more flexibility, allowing for the ability to switch from bone-rigging to frame-by-frame for more precise drawing and life-like results. I’m really glad that Smith Micro have added this feature in v11 of Anime Studio Pro, as it is something that I felt was really lacking from previous versions and really makes it a serious competitor against Toon Boom Harmony. In my opinion it is hard to take a $300 piece of animation software seriously if it doesn’t give you frame-by-frame capabilities, so thumbs up here.

Layer referencing – You can now duplicate layers more easily while still maintaining a connection to the original drawing. This is a major plus for team and studio productions, allowing an animation to change hands between various groups of animators without losing its overall integrity.

Animated shape ordering – There is no longer a need to adjust each frame individually, as with previous versions. You can now rearrange shapes anywhere within an animation for quick, easy tailoring of your image.

Animated bone targets – Users can switch from one target bone to another quickly and easily, making multiple handoffs from one part of a creative team to another that much smoother.

Enhanced tools and brushes – New additions to the Tool and Brush menu including Merge Strokes, Smoothing (for round, smooth shapes), and Blob Brush that lets you create simple shapes and widen your repertoire, making realistic, freehand drawing more attainable. Also, tools such as Colour Points, Merged Alpha and Drift Angle brushes allow for easier blending of shades and lines to enhance your drawing capabilities.

Improved Photoshop file support – Now when an Anime Studio photo is updated in Photoshop, PSD layers will be applied while still maintaining the original Anime Studio layer ordering. This makes it easier to control changes and work with original images.

JSON file format – It is now easier than ever to exchange and manage files across multiple workgroups with Java Script Object Notation (JSON). This also allows you to maintain compatibility with older versions of Anime Studio as well as with MotionArtist file formats.

 

Pros

This software offers animators an intuitive interface, a visual content library and a range of powerful features that make it easy to get started. There’s also a substantial, growing and devoted base of users online that provide tips, tutorials and even content. This puts Anime Studio Pro 11 in the same league as other comparable animation software packages like Toon Boom Harmony, TVPaint, and Flash, and beats them all on price. Many customers have said that it is far more in-depth, intuitive and flexible than any other software they’ve used.

Aside from upgrading the features, with this version Smith Micro has also focused both on affordability and ease of use, two qualities that make it attractive to everyday users, students and professionals alike. Its $300.00 retail price puts it well within the reach of most consumers and it is fairly easy to learn, which greatly reduces the time between purchase and output, meaning you’ll be producing professional quality animation in no time.

 

Cons

As a professional grade product, it may take hobby animators and casual users a little longer to get the hang of Anime Studio Pro 11, particularly if it is their first foray into using an animation software, but it is well worth the effort. Also it is a bit pricier than Anime Studio Debut which is kind of the “kids” or “beginner” version, but it still beats most other comparable professional 2d animation programs.

 

Summary

With many unique features, Anime Studio Pro 11 allows you to create animated shorts, films and videos for professional release or simply to stream on the web and share with your friends.

The capability to utilize 3D modeling, motion tracking, smart bones and 64 bit architecture, along with other unique features, lets your imagination take flight. There are almost no limits to what you can create with Anime Studio Pro 11.

 

Specifications and System Requirements

Windows: Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10 compatible; 64-bit OS required for 64-bit installation; 1,3 GHz Pentium 4 or newer, Athlon 64 or newer; 2 GB RAM recommended; 1,6 GB (Universal) or 800 MB (32-bit) free hard disk space minimum; OpenGL enabled GPU recommended; 1024×768 display (1280×800 recommended; DVD-ROM drive (physical version only); Internet connection required for periodic product activation service; Windows Internet Explorer 9 or newer.

Macintosh: Macintosh OS X 10.8, 10.9, 10.10, 10.11; 64-bit OS required; 1.3 GHz Intel Processor or newer; 2 GB RAM recommended; 800 MB free hard drive space minimum; 1024×768 display (1280×800 recommended); DVD-ROM drive (physical version only); Internet connection required for periodic product activation service.

 

5 Best Graphics Tablets Under $100 – Reviews and Specifications

As the saying goes, “the pen is mightier than the mouse”, or at least it’s something like that, anyway!

Yes, graphics tablets are an absolutely essential piece of kit these days for anyone looking to do animation or design work (when was the last time you tried to draw something with a mouse? Did it look like this?)

drawing-with-a-mouse

Artistic excellence from using a mouse

 

Not only are tablets more intuitive and natural to use, but they are extremely effective in reducing the risk of repetitive strain injuries and wrist problems that are fairly common in folks who use a mouse for prolonged periods of time. Add to this the fact that they also come with some amazing features and allow for pressure sensitivity, and you can see why they are taking over.

The problem is, how do you choose from all of the ones that are on the market? Sure, we’d all love a Wacom Cintiq, but at a couple of thousand dollars a pop they are out of most people’s price range.

Therefore, I’d like to go through what I consider to be the 5 best graphics tablets that you can pick up for less than $100…and most of them are quite a bit under that.

 

1. Wacom Intuos Draw CTL490DW

wacom-intuos-draw-ctl490For artists of all levels who want to take their skills into the digital realm without spending a fortune, the Intuos Draw CTL490DW digital drawing and graphics tablet by Wacom just may be your answer. This little device is lightweight, easy to use and compatible with both Mac and PCs. Simply plug the USB cord into your computer, download the software and you’re ready to start creating. The Intuos Draw works with many popular graphics  and animation programs and the tablet can be set up for either left or right-handed use. No extra attachments are needed.

Let’s take a look at the specs…

Specifications

TypePressure sensitive, cordless, battery-free
Model NumberCTL-490DW (white); CTL-490DB (blue)
Screen Size7 inches
Express Keys4, with application specific settings
Multi-TouchNo
Limited Warranty1 year in USA, Canada and Latin America
Pressure Levels1024
Wireless SupportYes (sold separately)
Weight12.8 ounces
Resolution2540 LPI
Reading Speed133 pps
Cables IncludedYes
System RequirementsUSB port
Internet connection
CD/DVD-ROM drive
Windows, 7,8 or 10
Mac OS X 10.8.5 or later
What's IncludedIntuos tablet
Pen
USB cable
Replacement pen nibs
Software download instructions and code
Quick start guide
Installation CD
Additional AccessoriesWireless Accessory Kit
Wireless Accessory Kit Battery
Standard Black Pen Nibs (5 pack)
Pen Set
Retail Price$69.94

Pros

The CTL490DW is lightweight and easy to use, with a battery-free, pressure sensitive pen that allows you to draw thicker or thinner lines depending on how hard you press. It works with any existing software including Microsoft Paint and Photoshop and also comes with its own software program, ArtRage Lite, a drawing and sketching program that includes online tutorials to get you up and running with the tablet in no time. The ExpressKeys function allows you to have your favorite shortcuts, like copy/paste, at your fingertips. It can be set up for both right handed and left handed users, and the $69.95 price tag makes it a perfect choice for everyone from working artists to college students on a tight budget.

 

Cons

While the lightweight, battery free pen fits comfortably in your hand, it does not actually have to come in contact with the pad in order to make the cursor move, which can be a little disconcerting, especially for those who are brand new to digital drawing. Also, it may not exactly match your computer screen in scale, which can also make it difficult for beginners to get the hang of drawing. For computers using Windows 10 or Outlook 365, it is important to note that there have been some compatibility issues with these programs.

 

Summary

While there are some minor issues that can make using it an issue for beginners, overall the Wacom Intuos Draw CTL 490DW is a great option for individuals interested in exploring the world of digital graphics without breaking their budgets. You can draw, paint, edit or anything in between, all with one easy to use, lightweight tablet, and you don’t need a lot of extra software or hardware for it to work with most systems.

The design of the pen can be difficult to get used to, but the accompanying software is easy to understand and install and doesn’t require any advanced computer knowledge. The Wacom Intuos Draw comes with a free creative package that includes drawing software and onscreen tutorials, which makes it the drawing tool of choice among graphic artists/designers of all skill levels.

 

2. Huion H610 Pro

huion-h610-proWith a large (10 by 6.25 inch) drawing surface and an affordable price tag ($59.99), the Huion H610 Pro is an affordable alternative for artists of every experience level.  It is relatively easy to install via the accompanying CD and on-screen instructions, and is compatible with most graphics software including Paint, Photoshop and others.  The pen is rechargeable and allows for precise control of the cursor so that you can get a sharp line for detailed drawing.  The programmable keys allow you to have all of the common controls at the touch of a finger and the pad can be set up for use by both left- and right-handed individuals.

 

Specifications

Active Area10” x 6.5”
Resolution4000 LPI (Lines per inch)
Report Rate200 RPS
Pen Pressure2048 levels
Reading Height0.4"
Supply VoltageDC 5V
Power Consumption0.35W
Interface SupportUSB 1.1
OS SupportWin 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/XP/2000,
Mac OS X 10.8.0 and above
Net Weight2.8 pounds
Express Keys8
Function Keys16
Model NumberH610 Pro
Retail Price$59.99

Pros

Improved papery texture gives you the feeling of drawing on actual paper for a more comfortable, natural drawing experience.  The slight texture also gives the pen a good grip on the surface so that it isn’t slipping around when you’re trying to draw.  There are 8 customizable buttons and 16 hot keys that let you scroll up/down, zoom in or out and perform other common functions quickly and easily.  The tablet comes with a black glove that can be worn on the drawing hand to improve your grip on the pen.  The pen is rechargeable, with each charge lasting approximately 800 hours, which is good.  The H610 Pro is compatible with Windows 7 and later versions as well as Mac OS X 10.8.0 and above.   A downloadable driver allows you to customize the tablet for left-handed users.

 

Cons

While the H610 Pro is easy to install and use, there can be some issues with lag or delay when using various graphics programs, which can be frustrating. In particular, the express keys can show some lag while using Photoshop. Also, while the rechargeable pen offers hours of use between charges and multiple levels of pressure, it can be difficult to get used to the sensitivity, as it will sometimes draw while the pen is only hovering above the tablet and not actually touching it or potentially catch on the texturized surface. This will require some period of adjustment until the user is able to adapt.

 

Summary

Lightweight, easy to install and easy to use, the Huion H610 Pro is a very useful drawing tool for artists of every level.  The $59.99 retail price makes it affordable for everyone from students to the pros.  The large drawing surface, drawing glove and rechargeable pen give you as close as you can get to a natural pen on paper drawing experience with an electronic device.  The texturized drawing surface even makes it feel like you’re drawing on paper, which is pretty cool.

Its flexibility allowing it to be used by left or right-handed users and its compatibility with many different OS and graphics programs make this the perfect option for just about any computer set-up.  With the H610 Pro, Huion offers a real alternative for anyone looking for a mid-level graphic tablet that won’t cost a fortune.

 

3. Wacom ONE CTL471

wacom-one-ctl471The Wacom ONE CTL471 is the drawing alternative for those artists who have limited space. At a mere 8.3 x 5.8 inches, this tablet offers all the quality and control you want in a digital pen within a tiny surface. Despite the small screen size, a wide-format active area still allows for longer pen strokes and a comfortable drawing experience. The ONE is compatible with a variety of operating systems, from Windows 7SP1 and later to Mac OS X 10.6.8 and later. It installs easily with the USB that is included and comes with a pen and replacement nibs. The driver disk and quick start card make it a snap to install and it is compatible with most popular drawing programs.

Specifications

Model NumberCTL471
Weight8.5 ounces
Product Dimensions8.3x0.3x5.8 inches
ColourBlack or Lime
Limited Warranty1 year
System RequirementsWindows 8, Windows 7 SP1, Windows Vista or Windows XP SP3
Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later (Intel processor)
What's Included`One pen tablet and pen
Replacement nibs
USB cable
Driver disk
Quick start guide
Warranty card
Retail Price$70.77

Pros

Sleek and lightweight, the Wacom ONE CTL471 offers all of the features of larger models in a much more space-friendly size. The ergonomic pen gives you a natural, pen on paper feel that results in a smooth, steady creative experience. The compact size makes it easy to transport and use just about anywhere as it takes up very little room. And the included driver and quick start guide make it easy to install so that you are up and running in almost any of the popular graphics programs, including Photoshop and Paint, in no time at all. And the price won’t break your budget if expense is an issue.

Cons

While the small size makes it convenient for use in areas with limited space, the smaller work surface can take some getting used to. Though the wide-format active area allows for freedom of movement, there will be some disparity between the work space on the tablet surface and the display on your computer screen, which can be off-putting for less experienced artists. The pen controls can also be an issue, as it can be difficult to grab curves or use brushes, particularly in programs like Lightroom and Photoshop, where some double clicking may be necessary in order to complete grabbing of controls. For professional artists who need more refined control this may not be the best choice of tablet.

Summary

For artists who want the digital drawing experience but don’t have a lot of room to spare, the Wacom ONE CTL471 offers the perfect solution. With an 8.3 x 5.8 inch surface and a pressure sensitive pen, users can get the feel of drawing on paper with all of the features of their favorite graphics program.

The tablet has a contemporary look, in either black or lime, and is easy to take wherever you go. It can be easily adapted for use by either left- or right-handed individuals and is fully compatible with both PC’s using Windows 7 SP1 or later or on Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later. It comes with everything you need to get up and running, including a driver disk and quick start guide with easy to follow instructions. At just $70.77, the Wacom ONE CTL471 is the affordable alternative when it comes to small drawing tablets.

 

4. Ugee M708 Graphics Tablet

ugee-m708-graphics-tabletFrom Ugee comes the M708 Graphic Drawing Tablet. This tablet, at just $55.98 retail, is quite affordable and offers all of the features you’d expect. There is a pen included that uses an AAA battery and comes with a set of replacement nibs and a nib changer. It also has a set of buttons on the left hand side that can be programmed with all of the quick commands you need in most programs, including copy, delete, zoom in and out and undo. The tablet can also be configured for both left- and right-handed use. What makes this particular model stand out from most is the large writing surface. With a generous 10 x 6 inch drawing surface, the Ugee M708 allows for maximum creativity, giving the user freedom of motion and the ability to closely mimic the size of most laptop screens, for ease of use.

Specifications

Active Area10 x 6 inches
Resolution5080 LPI (Lines per inch)
Report Rate230 RPS (Revolutions per second)
Express Buttons8
Pressure Sensitivity2048 levels
Reading Height10mm
Total Weight3 lbs
Supply VoltageDC 5V
Power Consumption0.2 W
Interface supportUSB
System RequirementsWindows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1, 10, Mac OS
What's Included1 x M708 Graphics Drawing Tablet
1 x P51 Pen (AAA Battery Needed)
1 x USB Cable
1 x Driver CD (software also available in our official website)
1 x Pen Holder
8 x Pen Nibs (Located in Pen Holder)
1 x Remover Pen-Clipper (Located in Pen Holder)
1 x User Manual
Retail Price$55.98

Pros

There’s a lot to like about the Ugee M708, starting with how easy it is to install and use. It is compatible with any Windows XP, Vista, 7 or higher or Mac OS and can be used with most popular graphics programs including Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter, Illustrator, Zbrush and others. The roomy 10 x 6 inch drawing surface allows for comfort of movement, enabling the user to incorporate broad brush strokes as well as detailed, fine lines. The pen has a full range of pressure sensitivity, which makes it easy to adjust to for all users, from beginners to experts. The pad also automatically adjusts itself to the size of your monitor, allowing for a more comfortable connection between what you draw and what you see on the screen. The express keys are a convenient feature that put the most often-used commands at your fingertips and the entire pad can be adjusted to work for left- or right-handed users.

Cons

While this has been, for the most part, a very successful entry in the spectrum of graphic drawing tablets, it is not without its issues. The most notable problem has been adjusting to use with Windows 10. Though the tablet claims to be compatible with Windows 10 systems, some users have noticed that the commands will spontaneously stop working shortly after installation and will require a reboot of the tablet. Aside from this issue, there have been few reasons not to recommend the Ugee M708.

Summary

The Ugee M708 is a good, entry-level tablet for users of all skill levels, from beginner to professional. It features a nice, large working surface at 10 x 6 inches that puts it slightly ahead of the competition when it comes to ease of drawing. Its programmable express keys make navigating your favorite graphic program even easier and it is compatible with any machine using Windows XP, Vista, 7 or higher or Mac OS. While there may be some issues using it with Windows 10, it is otherwise easy to install and learn and provides a comfortable, enjoyable drawing experience at a relatively affordable price. A very good choice for individuals who want the flexibility of a larger drawing space without paying extra for more high-end models.

 

5. Turcom TS6610

turcom-ts6610The Turcom TS6610 offers a user-friendly option for individuals who want the look and feel of a high-end graphics tablet without spending a fortune. The roomy 10” x 6.25” writing surface allows for plenty of flexibility and the 2,048 levels of pen pressure sensitivity let you mimic the experience of everything from illustrating to signing your name. The tablet comes with 8 express keys and 16 customizable function keys that put the common commands of most graphics programs at your fingertips and allow you to switch from one program to another quickly and easily. The pen is cordless and uses one AAA battery, which only adds to the natural feel of the drawing experience. And best of all, the $51.99 price tag makes it extremely affordable.

Let’s have a look at the specs for the TS6610…

Specifications

Active Area10” x 6.25”
ResolutionResolution
4000 LPI (lines per inch)
Report Rate220 RPS (revolutions per second)
Express Buttons8
Function Cells16 function keys
Pressure Sensitivity2048 levels
Pen Reading Height0.4"
Supply VoltageDC 5V
Power Consumption0.35 W
Interface Support USB1.1
USB Cable Length5 feet
ColourBlack
Batteries1 AAA
Product Dimensions16”x2”x12.5”
Weight2.1 lbs
System RequirementsWindows and Mac, Macbook Pro computers. Windows 7/Windows 8/Windows 8.1/Windows 10/ Mac OS 10.8.0/10.10.0 or higher.
What's IncludedTS-6610H Drawing Tablet
Wireless Pen (with 2 programmable buttons, 1 AAA battery needed)
Pen Stand (4 Nibs + 1 Remover included)
User Manual
Retail Price$51.99

Pros

The pressure sensitivity allows for a very natural drawing experience, making it easy to get a true pen on paper feel. With 8 express keys and 16 customizable function keys, you can put all of the commonly used commands such as back, zoom in and out, +/- pen size and others right at your fingertips, which makes it simple to use the TS6610 with almost any program. While you would usually have to spend a lot to get a work space this large, the price tag of the TS6610 keeps it affordable even for those on a budget. The larger work surface is particularly attractive for users with wide screen monitors as it makes it much easier to mimic the size of the screen itself. And the included software drivers make it compatible with most operating systems.

Cons

There have been a few minor issues noted with this model, including the lack of a textured surface, which can take away from the natural feel of the drawing experience and make it a little harder to get used to using the TS6610. Also, while this model can be used easily with Adobe Photoshop, there have been some slight hiccups when using it with Illustrator. By far the most notable issue, however, is the fact that the drivers that come on the included CD can be outdated and there have been particular problems using it with Windows 8. Fortunately, most of this can be avoided by downloading drivers directly from the manufacturer’s website.

Summary

Offering a large, comfortable work surface and a variety of express keys and customizable function keys, the Turcom TS6610 gives users all of the flexibility and durability they want in a graphics tablet. You can easily sketch, draw, edit photos, color digitally or add a signature to your document just as if you were using a traditional pen on paper.

This model truly takes artwork into the digital age, with easy to use instructions and a CD of drivers that are compatible with Windows and Mac/Macbook Pro computers. Aside from a few minor issues with driver installation that can easily be remedied by visiting the manufacturer’s website, the TS6610 gives you everything you want in a tablet at a very affordable price.

 

 

So there you have it! 5 top choices for graphics tablets under $100. If you enjoyed these reviews, or if you already own any of the tablets above, why not let us know what you think in the comments below.

 

Toonz Goes Open-Source – Digital Video, Dwango and Studio Ghibli Deal

Toonz animation software, used on Princess Mononoke and Futurama will be released as a free open-source version with a souped-up feature set.

 

Open Toonz and Studio Ghibli

The Toonz software was used on Princess Mononoke, image copyright of Studio Ghibli


 
Leading Japanese media company Dwango, has signed a deal to acquire Toonz, the 2d animation software from the Italian-based company Digital Video. As a result of this merger, Dwango will be releasing a free open-source version of Toonz, to be called OpenToonz.

In addition, famed Japanese animation company Studio Ghibli (Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away) will have direct involvement in the on-going development and use of Toonz, including unique features that have been in use at the company over the years.

According to AWN, the new OpenToonz software will include features from the Toonz Ghibli Edition and “will also include effects developed by Dwango that utilize its artificial intelligence technology, and a plug-in feature that enables anybody to add original effects to OpenToonz”.

Digital Video will continue to develop and sell a premium version of Toonz called, predictably, Toonz Premium.

This seems like a great deal all round. Digital Video secure and maintain a significant foothold in the 2d animation industry with one of the world’s leading studios; they increase their user base with a free version of the software; and likewise Studio Ghibli are able to pick up new animators from a larger talent pool that come with knowledge of the software they already use.

It also seems like part of a general trend in the changing face of software and licensing structures that many companies are moving towards, i.e. free or very low-cost versions to increase their user base, and then cheaper subscription based models for consistent on-going revenue. This has many benefits as it helps to dissuade piracy, makes use of crowd-sourcing, and also makes it more economical for smaller studios or freelancers to use software on very short-term projects without large upfront investment costs.

The free OpenToonz version will be available from Saturday 26th March 2016, with an official presentation at the Anime Japan festival in Tokyo.

 

References for more information:

Digital Video’s Press Release
Animation World Network
The Verge
Wired.co.uk
Cartoon Brew

 

 


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