Ipad Pro vs Surface or neither?

I’ve used a Wacom tablet for years, and I’ve had a Cintiq  for a couple years, but I just couldn’t get used to you. I’ve tried drawing with various pens before on the older Ipads, but none of them felt same as a drawing in my sketchbook or the sensitivity of a wacom stylus. Now, I’m considering either an Ipad Pro or Surface tablet. The advances in the Ipad Pro and pen or the Surface seem to finally hit the mark.  For years Steve Jobs was quoted as never wanting a stylus with it’s devices, but I’m sure glad they changed their minds. The Pencil from Apple is amazing.

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Ipad Pro
My supe at work, Adil, let me use his Ipad pro one day at work and I was VERY impressed. The responsiveness of the pen, the degrees of pressure sensitivity were astounding. This was on the current model not the newer one available for pre-order now.  What I also liked is this is a portable digital tablet for drawing and still  a fully functioning Ipad. The price point for it is not bad, around $750 with pen.

Here’s a sketch I made on it. Simple 20 min sketch from a photo.

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I used the app, Procreate. It felt very intuitive to sketch with it. The great thing is it’s fully compatible with Photoshop. The size of the larger Ipad was great, just the same size I’m used to with my sketch book. I can only imagine how nice it would be to watch shows on it as well. Adil and I wen to a figure drawing session at work during lunch. He sketched with his Ipad and another artist there was sketching with theirs as well. It’s definitely converting people. Even the instructor, Karl tried drawing with it.

I meant to try the Surface out this weekend, but I didn’t get a chance so my comparision of it to the Ipad will have to wait. For now, I’d say you can’t go wrong with the Ipad Pro if you are looking to update your current tablet.

It’s an additional expense, and I do like sketching traditionally. What I’ve missed with my Intuos is the fluidity of line you get from a Cintiq and now the Ipad Pencil. I’m not doing a ton of figurative work and my matte painting work an Intuos is just fine. So do I buy it….hmmm

Intro to Nuke

I’ve done a projection setup in Nuke video, but I hadn’t made a simple Intro to Nuke. Here’s a quick little intro, it’s a little rushed, but still the basics are there.

 

Hometown heroes

When we’d release a new movie, the PR dept would ask the cast for their local newspapers in order to see if anyone wanted to do a write-up for anyone on the team. This got me to thinking of my hometown and one of my local heroes, Paul Pelletier.

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Paul is a Comic Book Penciller and has worked on basically all the top characters in Marvel and DC Universes and beyond.

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I was lucky enough to know Paul through his brothers, Jeff and Andy, when I was in middle school. At the time I was drawing comics and taking local art lessons. Paul was about five years or so older than me. I was always amazed every time I’d visit their house and see his latest work. Paul was all self taught. He would pour over current comic book artists work and learn from them, most notably John Byrne’s work.  Paul also turned me onto similar artists and classic comic books.

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He paved the way for a kid from Maine to realize that maybe making a career from art was possible. Paul would work a regular job then come home to work on his art job. He did local work on regional comics then cracked into doing work for Marvel and DC comics.  He’s been going non-stop ever since.

Alpha Flight by Paul Pelletier

 

Paul was one of the first professional artists I knew before going to college, and he did it all on his own, through hard work and dedication. It sure helped knowing that someone had made it before I started my journey.

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I’ve been lucky enough to meet and be mentored by a few professionals before I would become a working artist.  Paul was the first.  When I pop into a local comic shop, I still look to see what is latest his work on the stands. Thanks Paul for the inspiration!

Retire…how? When?

Everyone tells us we should save. Invest in your 401k. Don’t count on Social Security.

First things first.

Retirement savings is a huge important goal to have, but you also have to look at where you are currently at. Do you have a lot of debt right now? If so, how much are you paying in interest for credit cards? an 17% interest rate on a credit card versus starting to save for your retirement where you money will on average grow 8%, doesn’t make much sense. You are putting the carriage ahead of the horse. Pay down high interest debt first.

Things happen.

Do you have a safety net? Surprises happen, better to be ready for them. Typically you should save up an emergency fund of 3 to 6 months of expenses. Most Americans don’t have enough liquid cash to pay off an unexpected emergency of $500. Save a little and you’ll feel much calmer.

How much is enough?

Current Financial analysts say that by 30, you should have a year’s worth of your salary saved. By 35, you should have twice your annual salary. And by 40, three times. Then ultimately have 10x your annual salary by 67. There are various studies suggesting different amounts.

Spend less than you earn.

This all sounds great, but if you are having trouble paying all your bills or knowing you have enough money left at the end of the month. So before you run you need to know how to walk. Analysis your spending for the last 3 months. Track how much you made and how much you spent. You should start to see problem areas pop up. If you don’t adequately follow where your money is going you’ll never be able to steer it to be better spent and grown for you. Easy things to look at; do you need to buy a latte every day, bring a brown bag lunch, lower your cell phone plan, or cut out cable. If you cut out any or all of these things you could return $100 per month back to your pocket, that’s $1,200 at the end of the year.

Invest a portion of the remainder.

If you company offers a company match to your 401k, enroll to at least cover that, otherwise you are throwing away free money. Plus, by enrolling in your 401k the money taken out is pre-tax, which then lowers your taxable income. Your 401k plan will have multiple investments to choose from. When in doubt pick “index funds”. They typically charge the least fees, which allows more of your money to grow. Pick a fund plan that matches your personality. If you feel too much stocks is worrisome pick a percentage of bonds. Some people like age target funds because it auto-shifts the allocation your are invested in based on age milestones. You keep contributing and the distributions are shifted with your having to worry.

Don’t touch the money.

Long term investments need to percolate, before you can enjoy them. Compound interest is your friend. Compound Interest is addition of interest to the principal sum of a loan or deposit or can be simply thought of interest on interest. Your investing the interest instead of paying it out, which then allows your money to grow quicker.

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Don’t over think it.

Sometimes simple is better. If you feel comfortable with what you are doing, then don’t change it. Constantly check on your investments, whether once a year or once a month. Don’t assume that everything is okay because you set something up 10 years ago. Needs change as live changes. First and foremost start saving something today even if it small. Where you can automate it. If you don’t see the money you won’t be tempted to spend it. Make yearly goals and break them down by monthly check-ins. Setup calendar reminders to check accounts.

Recap.

In short don’t delay today because it will definitely become a bigger problem tomorrow, and tomorrow’s tomorrow.

-Pay off high interest debt

-Save for an emergency (3-6 months)

-Lower expenses

-Invest for Retirement

Now, this is what I consider the basics. We’ll talk another time about  maximizing your potential savings and earnings.

 

 

Zbrush Basics

Zbrush is a wonderful program but also a little daunting with it’s UI. I’ve recorded a very short introduction to getting used to Zbrush most basic features. It’s just enough for you to move around and sculpt simple objects.

When the unexpected hits

Sorry for no post last week. As some of you know, my wife and I have had our hands full. Two Mondays ago, there was a fire at our house. Luckily we weren’t living in it yet, but it was still traumatic. Good news, no one was hurt and the fire did not spread to any of our neighbors’ houses. Bad news, pretty much half of the house is gone.

When it cam time to write this week’s blog, it reminded me of an illustration I had seen by Norman Rockwell when his Artist Studio burned down.

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From the writings and illustrations he made of the event it’s clear that as tragic as it was, it could have been much worse. That’s the reaction my wife and I had to  it. Things can be replaced, but people can’t.

I pondered what I could focus on this week, and thought,well, how about what’s going on in my life right now. Part of the reason this wasn’t as big as a catastrophe is we have insurance on our property. The Insurance agency has been great. We carry a low deductible on this as well. I started thinking about how so many people don’t.

When it comes to Insurance, you have to look at what are your covering (house, car, accident/liability, etc). Next who will you use for your insurance. When we were dealing with the fire and the inspections afterwards, we felt good about our Insurance agency as everyone was telling us they were great, compared to other companies. We’ve felt that having a little bit more insurance coverage is worthwhile. What are you willing to pay for coverage of your assets or personal property? If say some calamity happens what should your deductible be?

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Coincidentally, while this happened we were finishing up drafting our personal estate and our personal life insurance.  I mean, the big what if. This could have happened when were living there and heaven forbid something could have happened to us and our belongings.

Life Insurance. Well, I just signed my policy this week. So if anything befalls to me, my wife is covered. This is a huge stress relieve. Now, I know she won’t have to worry about money if I am no longer with us. That means the house is taken care of, as is my burial, etc. I know this stuff sounds a little macabre. But you don’t want to leave your loved one dealing with these issues when they are dealing with their grief. Now for life insurance, you can choose term or whole life. They both have their ups and downs. You should research them and see which one works best for you and your situation. One thing to consider is you can mix and match these. It doesn’t have to be an “either or” situation.

Estate Planning. This is a little larger of scenario. Basically, you are wrapping up all of your assets and outlining what happens to them when you die. The upside to this is to avoid probate. If you haven’t made a trust, a will or legal document your house and items could get trapped in the legal system for awhile and end up costing your loved ones money and delaying their access to it, again during a time of grief.

In short, you are looking to encapsulate your assets and personal property from damage/harm with insurance, then when something befalls you, your life insurance and estate trust then protects your loved ones. And makes sure your estate is handled exactly how you would have wanted it to be. It really pays to be prepared. I know all of us feel that this day is far, far in the future, but you really never know when it could befall us. We feel much better to have finally dealt with these loose threads.

 

Ergonomics – Desk

Something that is easy to take for granted is ergonomics at home. At work most of the conditions are already predetermined for you. You can spend similar hours at home working leisurely on personal projects that can completely undo having a good ergonomic setup at work. The same ailments you are trying to prevent at work end up happening do to your home pursuits.

Two of the biggest instruments that can contribute to bad posture are your desk and your chair.

Recently, there have been some great improvements to home desks that allow a person to have an adjustable desk so you can go from sitting or standing. Before the prices for these desks were out of most people’s price range.

A good compromise is the Vari Desk

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For a low price the Vari Desk sits atop your regular desk allowing you to pop it up so you may stand to work. They have a few variations of style and price.

I considered this until I recently saw Autonomous SmartDesk. Smart Desk is a fully adjustable motorized desk to allow you to set any height on the fly. This way you can easily work standing or sitting. It’s price point is amazing.

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The Smart Desk also allows you to save in memory various heights, so you can always go back to the exact height for standing or sitting with a touch of the button.

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Both companies also offer chairs, Autonomous Ergochair , Ergostool and VariChair. Both are interesting. These offer variations to keep your back, legs, and stomach active or with correct alignment.

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Then there is also active floor mats, which keep your legs and feet engaged as well. These are used to aid circulation and stretching.

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Pretty cool items to aid in keeping your body healthier while working from home.