Saturday, January 31, 2009

Blog Posting Secrets From the Experts

There's a reason why I don't write very much when I make a blog post. Two reasons, actually. The second reason is that I don't have anything productive or even interesting to say. Yes, I realize this doesn't stop the vast majority of the billions of bloggers. It probably wouldn't stop me, either, except for the First reason, which is that I mostly use a tablet PC.

My tablet is the slate type, which is exceedingly cool, except for when I need to write more than my name. There is no keyboard. Everything is written in long hand. I type over 80 words per minute, but can write not more than six or seven per minute. One reason this number is so low is because of the handwriting recognition software, or C.R.A.P., for short. It often even gets my name wrong. I can't tell you how many friends and colleagues have thought a stalker named "Fred Danson" was after them.

Luckily, this is a "sketch blog." The main reason for this is because Stacy, Wes and I draw pictures for a living; by posting stuff we have to draw anyway, it's like labor-exempt blog posting. Granted, that's not very different from other blogs out there, which are mostly compiled of content stolen from other blogs. We do that, too, but we mix it up enough where most folks won't notice.

Most folks! Most folks who read this blog arrive because they've googled "narcoleptic infirmary jokes" or "nudie playing cards" or "Fred Danson." About seven of these daily visitors are what we in the statistics game term "unique visitors," also known as "us" and "my kids." Sure, we passed our 100,000th visitor mark a while back, and that sounds impressive. But at least 90% of that was traffic generated from a faked drawing I did of that Texas UFO a couple years ago. Even the Pentagon visited our site for that one (I'm not lying).

I decided to type this post on my "work station" computer so that it would be faster going. Unfortunately, I'm running into the Second reason I don't post much, and also discovering a third. Can you guess what it is? Take this easy quiz:

A. ZZZZZ

If you guessed "A," you were absolutely correct. If you picked something other than "A," you probably arrived here accidentally while googling "cures for insomnia." Incidentally, I'm glad I could help.

4 comments:

  1. This is one of my favorite sites on the internet. You guys always post terrific and inspiring art, and when you do write its often informative, or funny.

    Thanks guys for great work!

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  2. Out of curiosity, is there a reason you chose a Tablet PC over say, a tablet like a Wacom or a Cintaq? I've seen a number of artists switching over to the big Cintaqs, but only recently heard that some are using the Tablet PC's for almost the exact same purpose.

    Since I may be in the market for a new PC soon, I figured I'd look at all the options :)

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  3. That's a good question, Jon. Let me see if I can remember why I bought that thing...

    First, I do have a Wacom tablet. It's been excellent for many things, but I have not been able to ink with it. I really don't think it's possible to do a good job inking digitally without a tablet PC or a Cintiq, at least for someone who works pretty quickly like myself.

    My tablet came in very handy when family business demanded we spend several days on the road and in another state. I had a big picture book project going on, and would not have been able to complete it without the tablet.

    Another issue for me has been ergonomics, whether it is hunching over a drawing board or getting sore shoulders and cramped fingers from using the Wacom. With the tablet PC, I can sit in my easy chair with the computer on my lap and draw away. I also colored 140 comic book pages on the tablet PC this past summer. That was back-breaking even with the tablet, but I think it would have taken twice as long and been twice as hard on my body if I'd used the Wacom. It's far less stressful on the shoulder because your hand and arm are in a more natural drawing position.

    After a bit of research, I settled on the Motion LE1600. It was the lightest of the bunch, due to having no keyboard and no CD or DVD drive, putting it around 3 lbs.

    Any work I can do digitally means less scanning, and of course that's desirable.

    I used to be completely against digital and tried to do as much work by traditional means as possible. But then I started wanting to simplify everything; I had the goal of using my tablet PC as my complete virtual studio.

    Now it's two years later, and I'm starting to look in the other direction again... mostly because I'm just getting sick of computers in general. I've had to replace and/or repair my desktop too many times to count in the past couple of years. The tablet PC has been amazingly trouble-free, though.

    About the only thing I truly don't like about the tablet PC is the screen size. It's fine for a lot of things, but if I'm drawing or painting something that's 14 inches wide, I want to be able to see what it looks like at 14 inches wide... not zoomed in or out. So in that case, a Cintiq would be better.

    Actually the handwriting recognition software works pretty darn well. I've gotten pretty used to it. If I have to do a lot of writing, then I just get on the desktop or plug in a keyboard. As much as I'm starting to hate Windows XP, it's really not bad when it comes to tablet PCs.

    With a tablet, you can sit outside and work. Or go sit in an easy chair, take it to the coffee shop, whatever. It can get a little warm, but I bought a Thermaltake iXoft pad that works great.

    The microphone and speakers are awesome and I can make phone calls through Skype without having to use an external mic or phones.

    One interesting thing about a tablet is that the screen pixel ratio is much higher than a regular LCD monitor. The picture is much more crisp. Maybe that's how they make HD monitors, I dunno.

    Maybe someday Stacy will do a review of his Cintiq. I can't compare the two. I'm certain the pressure sensitivity on the Cintiq is much better, although the 256 levels on the Motion is fine for most projects. Cintiqs come in larger sizes, and one of them swivels, I believe, but you can't set them on your lap.

    With a tablet PC there is a problem with upgrading, of course. Everything is packed in so tightly, I don't think I could replace the hard drive if I wanted to, and I've done a fair amount of work on regular laptops. Memory is easy to replace, though.

    I suppose the two are roughly priced about the same. With a tablet PC, you're buying the whole computer, as opposed to just a monitor. But with the Cintiq monitor, you can keep it when you upgrade or buy a new computer. I got my tablet PC on ebay, which cut the price about in half. I don't think you're gonna find any Cintiqs on ebay.

    Anyways, hope this helps some. I'm happy to answer any questions about the tablet.

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  4. Thanks for the response:)

    I'm going to bookmark this and come back to it when I start shopping for a new PC so I can consider the experts advice:)

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