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This review unit was sponsored by XP-Pen

XP-Pen is a company from Japan that sells lots of drawing tablets and pen displays, many of which I have reviewed on my blog in the past.


The latest drawing tablet from them is the XP-Pen Deco Pro, a professional looking tablet with some pretty cool features. This tablet supports 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, 60 degrees of tilt, has 8 Expresskeys, a physical and virtual wheel, and it is supported by Android (version 6 or newer).

Things included
  • Tablet
  • USB data cable
  • Pen case
  • 8 replacement nibs
  • Artist glove
  • 2 USB adapters
  • Manual


The USB data cable has the USB C side that goes to the tablet. The USB A that goes to the computer.


This tablet is actually supported on Android version 6 or newer. XP-Pen has included two USB adapters, one with USB C and the other with microUSB in case you want to draw with your smartphone.


No disc is included with the driver so the driver has to be downloaded from XP-Pen's website.


The cylindrical pen case included is extremely solid. Be careful not to let it roll off the table though.


The pen case can be opened on one end to reveal the nib remover and 8 replacement nibs.


The other end houses the pen. This pen supports up to 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity and has tilt sensitivity up to 60 degrees. This pen is not powered by battery so it doesn't need charging.


The pen looks good and the build quality is solid. The weight is just right. The two side buttons on the pen are customisable.


You can actually use the cap of the pen case as a pen stand if you want to.


Deco Pro comes in two sizes, the medium 11 by 6 inches and 9 by 5 inches. The unit I have is Medium (US $129) and it's quite big. If you want to save money, you can actually just go for the Small model which is US $89. The Small size should still be a rather comfortable size to work with.

The design of the tablet looks sleek with rounded off edges. Build quality is good. The silver parts are metal and the drawing area has a nice matte texture for drawing.


On the full metal back, there are two long strips of rubber to prevent the tablet from moving on the table.


The tablet is quite thin and transitions to slightly thicker to where the buttons are.


The 8 Expresskeys or physical shortcut buttons have firm clicks and feedback.


Right in the middle is a silver coloured wheel which is really smooth to turn. The black part in the middle is the so called virtual wheel which can be customised to make it function like a trackpad that controls the mouse, or as a wheel where you can turn clockwise or anti-clockwise to change settings. Tapping on the virtual wheel registers as a mouse click.

Not sure if you can see clearly but the wheel lights up in blue. The other lights on the tablet are the four markers that mark the drawing boundary. The brightness of the lights can be adjusted.


The USB-C is reversible so you can have the cable go up or down. If you're left handed, you can turn the tablet 180 degrees and have the cable go in whatever direction you want.

Driver

This tablet is supported by Windows and Mac OS.


If you're using Mac OS 10.14 Mojave, there are special installation instructions provided on XP-Pen's website. If you can't find the instructions, there's also a button on the driver which will show you the instructions. Basically, you need to give permission to the driver in Mac OS System Preferences->Security & Privacy->Privacy.

Windows installation is straightforward.

The driver functionality on Mac and Windows is quite similar. On Windows, there's the additional Windows Ink functionality which you may have to use or turn off when pressure sensitivity does not work as expected.


The pressure sensitivity curve can be adjusted with a slider. The two side buttons can be customised with various mouse clicks, pre-defined functions and keyboard shortcuts.


This is where you can customise the physical shortcut buttons and the wheels. If you use certain software often, you can create specific sets of keyboard shortcuts for those software.


These are the pre-defined functions you can choose from.


Nothing much can be done here under the monitor tab.


This is where you can choose mapping area, change the orientation if you're left handed, and adjust the brightness of the lights.


These are the pre-defined functions you can choose for the wheels.


The Windows driver looks like this, with all the options on one page.

Drawing performance

The driver I've used are the Windows and Mac drivers from 25 June 2019. The overall drawing performance is quite good with most of the drawing software I've tested, namely Photoshop, Clip Studio Paint, Affinity Photo. Illustrator, Medibang Paint Pro and Krita. The only issue was with Krita (Win) where there wasn't any pressure sensitivity but the problem was fixed by using the driver from 12 June 2019 instead.


Photoshop (Mac) works really well with the tablet. Line quality is excellent and this is the same line quality you can expect with all other drawing apps. Thin and thick transition is smooth, lines taper gradually, curves can turn smoothly without looking angular.

Initial activation force is low but you do need to put in a bit of pressure to get a faint line.


Pressure sensitivity works great with Clip Studio Paint (Mac).


Pressure works with Affinity Photo (Mac) too.


Pressure sensitivity works by default on Illustrator (Mac).


Medibang Paint Pro (Mac) performs well with the tablet.


Pressure and tilt sensitivity work fine with Krita (Mac).


Photoshop (Win) performs well.


Pressure works by default with Illustrator (Win).


Medibang Paint Pro (Win) works well.


Clip Studio Paint (Win) works great. If pressure sensitivity doesn't work by default. You may need to go into CSP preferences to toggle the Wintab or Tablet PC option.


Affinity Photo (Win) works fine.


The only software I found an issue with is Krita (Win). Pressure sensitivity just doesn't work with driver version 25 June 2019. When I tried the 12 June 2019 driver, pressure sensitivity works fine.

Conclusion

The XP-Pen Deco Pro is a nice looking tablet with solid build quality that also performs really well at drawing. Performance is consistent, predictable and lines always come out the way I expect them to. The only issue I had was with Krita (Win) but that was easily resolved with a different driver version.

The shortcut buttons and two wheels provide much convenience after customisation.

This tablet is more expensive compared to other budget tablets. However, if you want a more professional tablet, the XP-Pen Deco Pro is a good one to consider.

Availability

You can find XP-Pen Deco Pro via these direct affiliate links:

XP-PEN online store | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.it | Amazon.es | Amazon.co.jp

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Ocean by Hélène Druvert, Emmanuelle Grundmann is a huge and beautiful 40-page hardcover book that talks about our oceans. The text is written in simple, accessible and engaging manner so the readers are probably meant to be kids.

There are lots of interesting information included. Such as where water in the ocean comes from. Why is sea water salty? What are the creatures that live at different depths? How does water from the ocean affect weather? How do tides and waves work? How do ocean creatures protect themselves? It's filled with general knowledge.

Highlight of the book are the laser cut pages and flaps that you can turn over to discover more art and whatever that's hidden beneath. The artworks by Hélène Druvert are lovely. The book opens up to a laser cut page where lines for the waves are individually cut, and beneath the waves are the cut out corals, plants and creatures that lurk. The folded flaps make this book not just one you can read, but also an activity book.

I like books like this. Books that are different from others. The artworks, laser cut and folding pages are a nice touch that turns this book from good to great.

Ocean is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | AU | JP | CN) and Book Depository

Visit Amazon to check out more reviews.

If you buy the links, I get a little commission that helps me get more books to feature.

Here are direct links to the book:
Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.it | Amazon.es | Amazon.com.au | Amazon.co.jp | Amazon.cn | Bookdepository.com

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This review unit was provided by Huion for review purposes

I've been featured so many graphics drawing tablets on this blog and my Youtube channel that it's becoming difficult to differentiate them.

The Huion HS610 is a bit different from other drawing tablets I've reviewed so far. This tablet actually works with Android. You can connect this to your Android phone or tablet and draw straightaway. No driver installation needed. This is something new. More on that later.


These are the things included in the box

  • Tablet
  • Manual
  • Battery-less pen and stand
  • 8 replacement tip
  • USB data cable
  • Micro-USB to USB type A adapter
  • Micro-USB to USB type C adapter

No driver disc is included so you have to download that yourself.


The inclusion of USB adapter allows you to use it with any phone or tablet that has a Micro-USB or USB C port, which is basically everything out there.


The design looks good and the build quality is solid. It feels like a well made tablet.

The active drawing area is 254 x 158.8mm (10 x 6.25in) when using this with a computer. With a phone, the active area is just a smaller portion of 158.8 x 99.2mm. This portion is a vertical rectangle on the left side closer to the physical buttons.


12 physical shortcut keys are included. You can customise these to specific keyboard shortcuts, mouse action, launch programs or switch display to let the cursor jump to another screen when you're using two monitors.

The physical buttons cannot be held down like the keyboard button to change brush size continuously. To increase a brush size by 10 points for example would require you to press the shortcut button 10 times, unlike just holding down the keyboard button.

There's a touch wheel that has been pre-configured to three functions, zoom, scroll and changing brush sizes. You can toggle between the functions using the button in the centre of the wheel. Unfortunately with the current Windows driver version 14.7.139.536 and Mac driver version 14.3.11, there's little to no customisation to change those function.


If you need even more shortcuts, there are 16 soft keys that you can access with the pen.


The L shape USB cable comes out from the left, slightly towards the top. If you're a left handed user, the cable will be at the bottom right, pointing downwards. In left handed mode, the row of soft keys will be at the bottom.


The pen included does not run on battery and hence does not require charging. This pen supports up to 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity and it supports tilt as well.


The pen is lightweight but solid. There's a huge rubber grip that's nice to hold. The whole pen feels pretty balanced in hand. The two side buttons are also customisable with the driver.


The pen stand included allows the pen to lay down horizontally or held vertically.


Eight replacement tips are hidden inside the pen stand. To access them, just twist and the pen stand would open up.

Drawing on Android


Being able to connect to an Android system (needs version 6 or newer) is an interesting feature.

I'm not sure of the exact use case of such a scenario, but if you do want to draw on an Android device with a tablet, now you can. No driver installation is required. It's plug and play. When the pen hovers over the active area, a cursor will appear on the screen.

Because there is no driver for Android, there's also no customisation for any of the shortcut buttons and pressure sensitivity. By default, thankfully the pressure sensitivity works well so the lack of customisation is not too bad.

Drawing tests

The line quality from the drawing apps on Windows and Mac are the same, so I've only included screenshots for Mac.


This is Photoshop. Pressure sensitivity works well. Lines can transition from thin to thick and back smoothly. Curves don't appear angular when turning and lines taper nicely. Tilt brushes work too.

Photoshop CC (Mac) is responsive but Photoshop CS5 (Mac) has slight lag, as in the line would come out bit by bit as if there's some input lag or the refresh rate lag. Photoshop CC (Windows) has lag


Pressure works fine with Clip Studio Paint.


Medibang Paint Pro also has no issues with the lines.

Conclusion

As a drawing tablet, it performs really well. I did not experience any glitches so this review was really easy to write.

Availability

You can find the Huion HS610 tablet via these affiliate links:

Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.it | Amazon.es | Amazon.co.jp | Gearbest

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A big thanks again to Sebastian Koch for sending me yet another sketchbook. This is the Urban Sketchbook Band II, sequel to Urban Sketchbook Band I which I reviewed in 2018.

Just like the first book, this one's also filled with beautiful sketches of various places in Germany. The artists who contributed their sketches are from all over the world. I love the variety of style showcased. It so interesting to see the interpretation from each artist. There are sketches drawn with pen, ink, watercolour and other media. The layout of the book allows the sketches to fill the page and that looks really nice and immersive.

While these are sketches we're talking about, the quality of work is still very high. All the artists are properly credited on every page so if you want to check out more of their art, you can search for them easily online.

One thing all these sketches have in common is they are all drawn on location as this book is about urban sketching. There is text that accompanies all the artworks but written in German, with the English translation located at the back of the book. The stories behind the sketches can be found there.

The artists featured are:

  1. Jenny Adam
  2. Javier Alberich
  3. Jonatan Alcina Segura
  4. Jörg Asselborn
  5. Monika Baum
  6. Thomas Bickelhaupt
  7. Sandra Brandstätter
  8. Vincent Desplanche
  9. Vincent Flückiger
  10. Sagar Fornies
  11. Marina Grechanik
  12. Tobias Greiner
  13. Barbara Grünenfelder
  14. Ursula Hartl
  15. Arno Hartmann
  16. Darren Hoskins
  17. Jens Hübner
  18. Tine Klein
  19. Sebastian Koch
  20. Werner Krämer
  21. Johanna Krimmel
  22. Lapin
  23. Chris Lee
  24. Silke Molitor
  25. Daniel Nies
  26. Martin Rathscheck
  27. Uli Oesterle
  28. Uta Ostertag
  29. Dave Robb
  30. Katja Rosenberg
  31. Birgit Ruiz-Velasco
  32. Clara Schuster
  33. Inma Serrano
  34. Rolf Schröter
  35. Catalina Somolinos
  36. Detlef Surrey
  37. Tobi Trebeljahr
  38. Barbara Yelin
  39. Boris Zatko
  40. Res Zinniker
  41. Angela Zwahlen

This book uses the same cream coloured newsprint-like paper as the previous volume, but is slightly thicker with 208 pages. It's still a hardcover.

All in all, it's a delightful book I can recommend easily to anyone who loves sketchbooks.

This book can be purchased from Amazon Germany and from Juli Verlag. I recommend getting both volumes if you're buying.

Urban Sketch Book Band II - YouTube
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This book is sponsored by Superani, the same publisher that brought us the sketchbooks of Kim Jung Gi. I received a few books from the publisher that I will feature over the next few weeks.

This book starts with a foreword from Kim Jung Gi that really captures the essence of Nicolas Nemiri's work.

At first I thought this artist was a female but he was not. And at first I though he was an Asian artist but he was not. He understands the sensibility of eastern art the best among European artists. There is a beautiful restraint within the beauty of negative space and effortless brush stroke. The image lingers on for a long time after you're done looking at his work - Kim Jung Gi

Kim Jung Gi couldn't have been said it any better.

After I've gone through the book and saw the name of the artist, I had to do a double take. The art in this book looks very much Asian influenced but the artist's name is English. Wow. At first, I didn't even notice the title of the book on the cover as it was handwritten and not obvious. I thought the little box with the name Nicolas Nemiri was actually the name of the publisher. It's not. This guy is good. This is one of the more refreshing artbooks I've seen lately, and it was actually published in 2017. It's amazing I only got to know of it now.

Nemiri Book is a thick 240-page hardcover artbook that features mostly sketches. The paper used is matte and the binding is excellent.

Nicolas Nemiri has a lovely sketchy style. The lines are loose, expressive with the thin and thick strokes. He likes to draw with brushes which is a versatile medium because of the type of lines and textures they can create. His sketches has this casual quick looseness to them. The brush strokes are really expressive. The use of black, white and negative space is marvellous. The character designs look great and storytelling wonderfully subtle.

To say that I'm thrilled by what I see in this book is an understatement. The feel of this book kinda reminds me of this Asian artbook called 松風 by 早稻 (SONG OF SYLVAN by ZAODAO) but Nicolas Nemiri definitely has his own style and it's a very strong visual style.

This is a terrific and inspiring artbook that you probably shouldn't miss out.

Highly recommended!

The book is available for sale at https://superanius.com/collections/sketchbooks

You can find more art from Nicolas Nemiri at
https://www.instagram.com/nicolas.nemiri
http://nemirishop.blogspot.com/

PS: I actually accidentally tagged this book as Asian Art Books on my blog. Go figure.

Nicolas Nemiri Book - YouTube
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Ocean by Hélène Druvert, Emmanuelle Grundmann is a huge and beautiful 40-page hardcover book that talks about our oceans. The text is written in simple, accessible and engaging manner so the readers are probably meant to be kids.

There are lots of interesting information included. Such as where water in the ocean comes from. Why is sea water salty? What are the creatures that live at different depths? How does water from the ocean affect weather? How do tides and waves work? How do ocean creatures protect themselves? It's filled with general knowledge.

Highlight of the book are the laser cut pages and flaps that you can turn over to discover more art and whatever that's hidden beneath. The artworks by Hélène Druvert are lovely. The book opens up to a laser cut page where lines for the waves are individually cut, and beneath the waves are the cut out corals, plants and creatures that lurk. The folded flaps make this book not just one you can read, but also an activity book.

I like books like this. Books that are different from others. The artworks, laser cut and folding pages are a nice touch that turns this book from good to great.

Ocean is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | AU | JP | CN) and Book Depository

Visit Amazon to check out more reviews.

If you buy the links, I get a little commission that helps me get more books to feature.

Here are direct links to the book:
Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.it | Amazon.es | Amazon.com.au | Amazon.co.jp | Amazon.cn | Bookdepository.com

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I felt compelled to share Stephen Silver's message. The artists should have more power.

We're Getting Screwed - Wake Up Call to the Animation Industry artists. - YouTube
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That's July 15, 2019!

If you're getting stuff on Amazon, you can buy through these affiliate links below.

Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.it | Amazon.es | Amazon.com.au | Amazon.co.jp

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This review unit was provided by Huion for review purposes

I've been featured so many graphics drawing tablets on this blog and my Youtube channel that it's becoming difficult to differentiate them.

The Huion HS610 is a bit different from other drawing tablets I've reviewed so far. This tablet actually works with Android. You can connect this to your Android phone or tablet and draw straightaway. No driver installation needed. This is something new. More on that later.


These are the things included in the box

  • Tablet
  • Manual
  • Battery-less pen and stand
  • 8 replacement tip
  • USB data cable
  • Micro-USB to USB type A adapter
  • Micro-USB to USB type C adapter

No driver disc is included so you have to download that yourself.


The inclusion of USB adapter allows you to use it with any phone or tablet that has a Micro-USB or USB C port, which is basically everything out there.


The design looks good and the build quality is solid. It feels like a well made tablet.

The active drawing area is 254 x 158.8mm (10 x 6.25in) when using this with a computer. With a phone, the active area is just a smaller portion of 158.8 x 99.2mm. This portion is a vertical rectangle on the left side closer to the physical buttons.


12 physical shortcut keys are included. You can customise these to specific keyboard shortcuts, mouse action, launch programs or switch display to let the cursor jump to another screen when you're using two monitors.

The physical buttons cannot be held down like the keyboard button to change brush size continuously. To increase a brush size by 10 points for example would require you to press the shortcut button 10 times, unlike just holding down the keyboard button.

There's a touch wheel that has been pre-configured to three functions, zoom, scroll and changing brush sizes. You can toggle between the functions using the button in the centre of the wheel. Unfortunately with the current Windows driver version 14.7.139.536 and Mac driver version 14.3.11, there's little to no customisation to change those function.


If you need even more shortcuts, there are 16 soft keys that you can access with the pen.


The L shape USB cable comes out from the left, slightly towards the top. If you're a left handed user, the cable will be at the bottom right, pointing downwards. In left handed mode, the row of soft keys will be at the bottom.


The pen included does not run on battery and hence does not require charging. This pen supports up to 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity and it supports tilt as well.


The pen is lightweight but solid. There's a huge rubber grip that's nice to hold. The whole pen feels pretty balanced in hand. The two side buttons are also customisable with the driver.


The pen stand included allows the pen to lay down horizontally or held vertically.


Eight replacement tips are hidden inside the pen stand. To access them, just twist and the pen stand would open up.

Drawing on Android


Being able to connect to an Android system (needs version 6 or newer) is an interesting feature.

I'm not sure of the exact use case of such a scenario, but if you do want to draw on an Android device with a tablet, now you can. No driver installation is required. It's plug and play. When the pen hovers over the active area, a cursor will appear on the screen.

Because there is no driver for Android, there's also no customisation for any of the shortcut buttons and pressure sensitivity. By default, thankfully the pressure sensitivity works well so the lack of customisation is not too bad.

Drawing tests

The line quality from the drawing apps on Windows and Mac are the same, so I've only included screenshots for Mac.


This is Photoshop. Pressure sensitivity works well. Lines can transition from thin to thick and back smoothly. Curves don't appear angular when turning and lines taper nicely. Tilt brushes work too.

Photoshop CC (Mac) is responsive but Photoshop CS5 (Mac) has slight lag, as in the line would come out bit by bit as if there's some input lag or the refresh rate lag. Photoshop CC (Windows) has lag


Pressure works fine with Clip Studio Paint.


Medibang Paint Pro also has no issues with the lines.

Conclusion

As a drawing tablet, it performs really well. I did not experience any glitches so this review was really easy to write.

Availability

You can find the Huion HS610 tablet via these affiliate links:

Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.it | Amazon.es | Amazon.co.jp | Gearbest

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Geoff Kersey's Pocket Book for Watercolour Artists is a 96-page paperback filled with tips and techniques on watercolour painting by Geoff Kersey. Note that this book was previously published under the title Geoff's Top Tips for Watercolour Artists.

This book may be small but it packs a lot of useful practical techniques, such as the basics of wet on wet, wet on dry, colour mixing, creating textures and more. The several step by step demonstrations are easy to follow along. The instructions also explains the rationale behind each technique, and the thought process.

The subject matter in this book is mostly landscapes. There are tips on painting certain subjects, such as trees, houses, water, clouds and more. There are also plenty of beautiful watercolour paintings included.

Overall, this is a good guide for watercolour beginners.

Geoff Kersey's Pocket Book for Watercolour Artists: Over 100 Essential Tips to Improve Your Painting (WATERCOLOUR ARTISTS' POCKET BOOKS) is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | AU | JP | CN) and Book Depository

(book flip) Geoff Kersey's Pocket Book for Watercolour Artists - YouTube

Visit Amazon to check out more reviews.

If you buy the links, I get a little commission that helps me get more books to feature.

Here are direct links to the book:
Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.it | Amazon.es | Amazon.com.au | Amazon.co.jp | Amazon.cn | Bookdepository.com

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