Five Headed Monster Concept Art


Behold My Five Headed Monster Concept Art

In the summer of 2013 I took it upon myself to learn how to 3d model in Autodesk Maya. Years ago I became pretty proficient at 3d modeling in Autodesk Viz (Viz is essentially 3ds Max but stripped down a little bit). I try to learn new skills to open doors to new possibilities and because it is fun to better yourself.

I initially modeled the five headed monster in Maya using very crude shapes. I didn’t want it to be too time consuming and it’s not necessary to make a super detailed model for a reference photo. I set up lighting in Maya and I rendered the scene. I used those images as reference for a relatively quick digital drawing/painting. I mainly wanted the reference images to see the cast shadow shapes, and to accurately space the heads, arms, and legs.

In the corner of the drawing/painting there’s an alternate version of the heads.

Looking Back On 2013

2013 Collage

2013 Highlights

2014 is here and I’m anxious to accomplish many things this year. It’s hard to believe that my blog has now been around for a year (Although technically the first post was on January 10, 2013). I somehow found something to talk about each month! When I first started my blog I had no idea how long it took to create a good post. Some posts take several hours to write, revise (and revise again many times), add photos, and much more. I certainly appreciate the work that blog writers put into their posts, now that I know how much effort is required to post meaningful content.

In this post we are looking back on 2013 at some highlighted posts.

The Monoprice tablet unboxing and review:

Some notable painting process posts:

Some art:

Art book reviews:


I hope you have a happy new year and stick to your new year resolutions (unless your resolution is something awful like drowning 100 kittens; then I don’t hope you stick to your new year resolutions).

Monoprice Tablet Review

Monoprice Tablet Stock Photo

It’s time for my long-awaited Monoprice tablet review.

In January of 2013, I unboxed the Monoprice tablet and showed you the photos. I also included some size comparisons. I encourage you to check out the unboxing post so you can see the size comparisons and what comes with the drawing tablet. Anyways, I said that I would review it and I try to stick to my word, so here’s my Monoprice tablet review.


For the money ($56.61 as of the time of writing this review) you will be hard pressed to find a better drawing tablet. The tablet is similar to Wacom’s Intuos3 line of tablets (Not necessarily in that it looks similar to the Intuos3 tablets, but that it functions similarly). The Intuos3 tablets cost HUNDREDS of dollars. The price of the Monoprice tablet isn’t even a triple digit number.

Wacom has been running a monopoly in the digital drawing tablet market and it’s time for that to change.

Slowly, manufacturers (Monoprice, Huion, Hanvon, Yiynova etc.) are starting to break into the tablet scene and give Wacom some competition. Wacom is similar to Apple in the way that they both overcharge for what they are selling. People still buy their products regardless of the monumental prices because of the status and design.

If you were to gut a Cintiq (Wacom’s pen display) you would probably find parts that when totaled together, do not cost the outrageous prices that Wacom charges. There are people who use Wacom’s existing tablets and they make their own pen displays like the Cintiq but for a fraction of the price–further proof that Wacom overcharges you for sleek design. I know that this is capitalism and Wacom needs to profit so that they can pay their employees, create new products, and much more, but making a profit is one thing–ripping off your customers is another.

Wacom, like Apple, also release “new” products that are simply just slight revisions on past versions. For example, Wacom’s Intuos5 is essentially the same product as the Intuos4 but with touch capabilities (only some models have the touch capabilities). To me, that doesn’t seem like enough of a difference to warrant a number change from 4 to 5.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like Apple (I have several Apple products), and Wacom makes nice hardware (I someday hope to own a pen display like the Cintiq, if they lose their premium price) but I think that competition would be good for Wacom and that is why I chose to buy my drawing tablet from Monoprice. Competition between businesses is a good thing.

Another reason I decided to use a Monoprice tablet instead of a Wacom tablet is because I heard about a horrid thing called the “shoelace effect” affecting the newer Wacom Intuos tablets. You can learn more about that in this thread.


Here’s how I test my equipment:

Testing The Monoprice Tablet

Rigorously testing the Monoprice Graphics Tablet.

Now it’s time for the good, the bad, (the neutral) and the verdict:


  • Inexpensive. The Monoprice tablet cost me about $56. Wacom wants hundreds of dollars for their products, although their newly revised (and re-named to Intuos) Bamboo tablet line is pretty impressive for the price.
  • Bang for the buck. The tablet performs very well and for the price, you are getting a great tablet.
  • Competition for Wacom. Wacom needs to be taken down a notch and some competition is healthy and good for the market. If Wacom suddenly feels threatened by the emergence of competitor’s tablets and pen displays, then they will improve their products (better hardware for less money) and value. The competition will then improve their products–rinse and repeat. This is good GREAT for the consumer. Maybe Wacom would stop releasing minor revisions as new tablets (see the intuos4 product line to the intuos5), and their products would be affordable.
  • Pen weight. The pen isn’t overly heavy or too light. It’s just personal preference to me. I don’t have experience with other tablet pens so I can’t comment on how it compares in weight/size.
  • Sturdy and affordable enough that you can throw it in your bag and not worry about it breaking. If it breaks you can just buy another one because it’s so affordable. Disclaimer: I wouldn’t encourage literally throwing it into your bag (or anywhere).
  • Slick surface. The nib on your pen doesn’t wear down as quickly as on a paper-like surface (see Intuos4 surface)
  • It’s not Wacom! 


  • AAA battery pen. Although the pen requires 1 AAA battery, I haven’t had to change the battery yet since I bought the tablet. You will quickly forget it even requires a battery.
  • Hotkeys. I can’t say much about the hotkeys because I don’t use them.
  • Transparent flap thing. You can place drawings or photos underneath the transparent drawing surface (for tracing?). I have never used that feature. 


  • Slick surface. Yes I know this was also a “pro”. Some people like drawing on slick surfaces (like the Intuos3) and some people don’t. I don’t really have an opinion on it, as I haven’t used the paper like surface of the Intuos4 and 5. I have a feeling that I would like a surface that’s not so slick. I know that a lot of people don’t like the paper-like surface of the Intuos4 and 5 because it wears the nibs/tips down quickly. Of course you can buy replacement tips for Wacom’s products but they charge you MUCH more than what the tips should cost. (By the way, if you have a Wacom tablet and you need to replace your nibs, just make your own)
  • Pen requires a AAA battery. This isn’t really a big deal but a “con” nonetheless. Remember, I still haven’t had to replace the battery yet. Also, AAA batteries aren’t expensive.
  • No eraser. There is no eraser on the rear of the pen. It doesn’t bother me. I just switch between the brush and eraser in Photoshop by clicking ‘b’ and ‘e’. Many of my Wacom-using-friends tell me that they don’t even use the eraser feature on the Wacom pens (Maybe I could count this as a “neutral” instead of a “con”).
  • Cheap rubber grip on pen. The rubber grip around the pen slides if you have a tight grip. I might be too stressed and it’s hard for me to relax so maybe that’s just a problem with me (if you want to help me relax, I accept technology, art supply and monetary donations).
  • Nib wear. The nib can sharpen into a chisel. I don’t have enough experience with Wacom tablets to know if they do that too.
  • Not wireless. I don’t really mind that it’s wired (the cord is long enough for me) but it would be a definite plus if the tablet was wireless.
  • Some slow almost 45 degree strokes will jitter. This may be the software I’m using, the operating system I have, the way I draw, the digitizer in the tablet, or many other things. I’m not sure if it’s the tablets fault. There are too many variables to narrow down what causes it. Most people don’t seem to notice.

Let’s take a look at the specs:

  • Overall dimensions: 14.5” x 12” (I think it’s closer to 14” x 11”).
  • Active drawing area: 10” x 6.25”.
  • Pen is about 6.25” long and at it’s thickest spot it’s almost ½” thick.
  • The cord is about 56” long
  • Resolution (LPI): 4000
  • Report Rate Speed (RPS): 200
  • Pressure Sensitivity: 1024 levels
  • It also comes with some software that’s probably horrible, and you probably wouldn’t ever use it anyways. I don’t even know if it’s mac compatible software.

Let’s take a look at the settings you can change in the driver for the tablet.

Monoprice Pen Tablet Settings Info

They could have probably used a better picture for the “info” screen in the tablet settings.

Monoprice Pen Tablet Settings Buttons

You can assign different things to the buttons the pen. I don’t even use the two buttons on the pen.

Monoprice Pen Tablet Settings Scope

Here you can change the active drawing area of the tablet. You can make the active area smaller so that your brush strokes will be longer and smoother. I think I’ll probably change my settings soon. It’s kind of annoying having to move my whole hand when I need to reach the far corner of the screen.

Monoprice Pen Tablet Settings Hot Keys

You can assign different programs or commands to the hotkeys or “hot cells” as they call them. I unassigned all of the hotkeys so I wouldn’t accidentally open the web browser or paste something. Even if you left all of the hotkeys as they were, you would probably have no trouble keeping your pen away from them. I did it JUST IN CASE.

Monoprice Pen Tablet Settings Pressure

Here you can adjust how hard or soft you need to press the pen.

If the Huion H610 existed before I purchased the Monoprice tablet I may have purchased the H610 instead. I’m happy with my purchase and I don’t regret choosing the Monoprice tablet. I’ll probably buy the H610 some day and see if I like it more than the Monoprice tablet. The Monoprice tablet is a bit too large for my tastes. With digital painting it’s easiest to draw from the wrist. Smooth curving lines and stiff straight lines are difficult to paint/draw on a tablet. Having a smaller active area to draw on makes it easier to achieve smooth curving lines and stiff straight lines. After you install the drivers for the Monoprice tablet you can adjust the active area on the tablet. I never tried to change it. A smaller tablet would also take up less space and that’s always a bonus.


VERDICT: BUY THIS TABLET (on Amazon because after shipping from Monoprice it’s more expensive).

For less than $60 the Monoprice tablet is a great value and good competition for Wacom. If you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a tablet, or you want to buy a tablet that isn’t made by Wacom, then this tablet is a solid choice.

Speed Paintings Circa Early 2013: Part Two

Here’s part two of my two part post of early 2013 digital speed paintings. If you missed part one, you can view it here. In part one I mention that I had just gotten a drawing tablet at the beginning of 2013 so digitally painting has been a big learning experience. These are five other digital speed paintings that I made in early 2013 while learning the ropes of the digital world (still struggling).

Enough of my talking, here are the “paintings”:

Abstract Gloomy Landscape Speed Painting

Abstract Red City Speed Painting

Jungle Speed Painting

Yellow Orange Landscape Speed Painting

Red Alien Landscape Speed Painting


Have a great day!

Drawing and Painting Fantasy Figures Review


Drawing and Painting Fantasy Figures: From the Imagination to the Page

Here’s my quick review of Drawing and Painting Fantasy Figures by Finlay Cowan. I wrote this review a couple of months ago and forgot to post it. Don’t buy this book unless you have no idea that wizards are in the fantasy genre, or if you want to learn how to draw badly. I don’t have any personal grudges against Finlay Cowan (he has good ideas and his design work is nice but he definitely isn’t known for his draughtsmanship) but wow, this book is bad (Although it’s not so bad that it should be burned–it’s just a bad art book in my opinion). Most of the drawings seem amateurish (or maybe all of the twelve-year-olds that I see draw are trying to copy his style), and unless somebody can draw well, I don’t think they should teach anyone else how to draw. The 3d modeled images in this book are terrible. However, I have to remind myself that this book was published in 2003 (so the 3d modeling obviously won’t hold up to the 2013 3d standards).

I have to give Finlay Cowan kudos for including so many topics in one book (perspective, anatomy, painting, storyboarding etc.), but the reader would be better off if they learned perspective, anatomy, painting, and storyboarding from other books dedicated to those subjects.

One of the only things I found interesting in this book were the designs that Finlay Cowan drew for Pink Floyd album art (seen below).


Image from

If you really want this book, you can buy the book here. I don’t understand how, but at the time of writing this review, Drawing and Painting Fantasy Figures has an average 3.8 rating (out of 5 stars) on Amazon. Maybe the reviewers are much younger than me. Maybe they can’t draw very well or haven’t read very many art books. Whatever the case, some people enjoyed this book so you might too (though I hope you have higher standards for art books than those reviewers on Amazon).

Speed Paintings Circa Early 2013: Part One

Today you get the pleasure of seeing 5 digital speed paintings I made in early 2013 (and an animated GIF of one of the speed paintings, showing the different layers!). I had just gotten a drawing tablet so it was a big learning experience. I’m still not completely comfortable digitally painting but I’m much better now than I was then (of course). All of the digital speed paintings were made in Adobe Photoshop CS5.

Keep your eyes peeled for part two, featuring 5 more digital speed paintings from early 2013! This also marks the first time I split up a blog post into 2 parts! Everybody celebrate! Also on the topic of digital painting, I will have my long awaited review of the Monoprice Tablet ready in the very near future (meaning that I actually started writing it and I just need to revise it).

Desert Oasis Speed Painting

Grassy Hills Speed Painting


Animated GIF showing the different layers of this speed painting

Marsh Speed Painting

Space Speed Painting

And my favorite of the batch (perfect for Halloween because it’s spooky):

Spooky Forest Speed PaintingAs always, I love to hear your questions or comments (if you’re not too busy preparing your Halloween costume).