DRAWING TABLETS PROFESSIONALS Use (Disney, James Jean, Murakami)

If you’re like me, you’ve probably wondered what big professional artists are using to make art, & what their process is like. With a little research, I was able to find a lot of good info.

What Drawing Tablets Are Professionals Using to Create Artwork?

Professionals like Disney, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” staff, and Murakami are using large Wacom Screen tablets to create art. However, it’s important to note that artist James Jean has created movie poster art for huge movies like Blade Runner 2049 with just an iPad Pro.

I did my best to detail what they use & how they use it to give you a sneak peek into different professional processes. 

1. Why All The Pros Are Using Wacom

There are tons of drawing tablet companies but for some reason, the professionals universally prefer Wacom. Here’s why.

  • Wacom innovates more than any other drawing tablet company. For example, their Cintiq Pro is the only screen tablet on the market with an etched glass matte screen. This screen not only reduces glare but also creates a paper-like texture. You can read more about all of the innovative features the Cintiq Pro has here. 
  • Wacom drivers have exceptional customization options of any drawing tablet companies.
  • Unlike other companies, their tablets are made out of durable materials allowing them to last 10+ years. 
  • Their drivers are updated more frequently than any other company. If your driver is not up-to-date, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to use your drawing tablet. 
  • While other companies are obsessed with features, they’ve put a focus on User Experience & creating the closest drawing experience to drawing on paper.
  • Their customer service is far superior to companies like Gaomon, Huion, & XP.  When something goes wrong, you can resolve it quickly. When you have deadlines, you can’t afford to waste time waiting for answers.
  • They have the best stylus out right now with the Pro Pen 2. As well as the best 3D art stylus w/ the Pro Pen 3D.

2. How Wacom Was Used to Make
“Into The Spider-Verse”

Wacom screen tablets were used during the entire creation of the “Spiderverse” for animated backgrounds, characters,  & digital paintings injected between scenes to evoke a comic book-like feel. This is referred to as “Pop Frames” by the Spiderverse staff.    

The video below takes you through the “Spiderverse” process of making the film with Wacom Tablets. The tablets used on this project were the 32″ Wacom Cintiq Pro.

They used the Pro Pen 2- 3d stylus through most of the behind-the-scenes footage (timestamp:2:13), as well as the Wacom Express Key Remote (timestamp:2:13).

The video to the left (above if your reading on mobile) shows how a big focus for the Spider-Verse movie was creating that comic book feel. They did this predominantly by using half tones & color blobs.

They also injected digital paintings called pop frames made in photoshop. (see the video bellow this at the 5:24 mark)

These Pop frames created a cool visual effect during certain scenes. The video below breaks down all of the artistic techniques that were used in the creation of the Spiderverse movie.

3. How Disney Artists Use Wacom Tablets

The mega Disney studio used Wacom tablets to create films like “Frozen” and “Moana”.

“Frozen” 2013

During the production of the movie “Frozen”, Disney animators used a discontinued Wacom Pen Tablet.  See the video below at the 2:20 mark.

This is probably because Frozen was in production from 2010-2012. If it were a more recent movie, I’m sure they would’ve used the Wacom Intuos or Intuos Pro. 

“Moana” 2016

During the Production of “Moana”, the Cintiq Pro 22″ was the prominent pen display tablet at the time. You can see it being used in the video below at the 1:55-2:44 mark. 

In the video, the stylus that accompanied the Cintiq 22″ was the Pro Pen 1, which has been replaced by the superior Pro Pen 2 in the current market. 

If this movie was being worked on now, they would’ve most likely used the Cintiq Pro 24″ or 34″ model. 

4. How James Jean Uses Drawing Tablets For Traditional Painting & Movie Posters

Using A Drawing Tablet For Tradional Painting 

Sounds like a contradiction, right? How could a device meant for digital art create traditional paintings?

Well, James Jean is a unique guy. He starts off every work of art with a drawing. 

He then scans that drawing into his computer, then colors it digitally in Photoshop using a Wacom tablet.

I’m guessing here–but I think he finds this to be a more productive way to experiment w/ various color palettes.

I’m sure it’s not the only way he creates his palettes, but many of his recent paintings have been done through this process.

James is not known for excessive talking so this is the best I can interpret from observing the photos he posts of his process. 

Once the scanned drawing is fully colored in photoshop, he codes each color section with numbers, like a map or a guide.

He then prints out the digitally colored drawing & mixes paint to match all of the main color swatches and sections he created. Once the colors are matched, he uses the numbers created earlier to label each color. 

To my knowledge, James uses an old Wacom Pen Tablet to help his entire process. This is based on a photo of his old home where his tablet sat next to his computer.

[Unfortunately, I can no longer locate that photo.]

Creating Movie Posters With The iPad Pro

James used the Procreate app & what looks like the 2nd generation iPad Pro paired w/ the Apple Pencil 1st Gen to create an amazing piece of poster artwork for Blade Runner 2049.

The process starts w/ a rough sketch in his Moleskine that will later be refined & rendered on the iPad Pro. 

If you’d like to learn more about using the iPad Pro as a drawing tablet, I have a lot of information on that topic here.

5. Takashi Murakami’s Process Using Wacom Tablets

Like James, Takashi uses his drawing tablet to create both digital & traditional artwork. He uses larger Wacom Computer tablets to create his artwork. 

All of his work starts w/ a sketch, that he then gives to his team to refine digitally.

His team then prints out the digital work & Takashi adds notes to direct his assistants on changes that need to be made. 

After the sketch is perfected, it’s digitally colored & then printed as a guide for his screen-print artists. 

His work is so detailed that dozens of screens end up being used during this process. 

Although Takashi uses different mediums like plush toys, screen printed paintings, animation, sculptures, & vinyl figures his process is always the same. He starts w/ a sketch & then let his assistants refine it via drawing tablets. 

6. Related Questions

What’s the best professional tablet I can buy?

The Cintiq Pro 13″,16″,24″ & 32″ is the best professional tablet you can buy. 
I cover the pros & cons of this particular model here.
I also have a post on where to find the best price here. 

How Much Do Wacom Tablets Cost?

Wacom Tablet prices range from $60-$ 3,499. If you’re looking for a good deal on a drawing tablet, I have some good resources in a post here.

What are the best tablets for a beginner artist?

I cover the best beginner drawing tablets & where to buy them for a discounted price here. 

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