Should I Go Laptop or Desktop?

oONNOo

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Sep 17, 2014
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Hello, I made this thread because I'm in the middle of deciding whether I should go for a desktop or a laptop to meet my needs. I'll try to make this as detailed and easy to understand as possible.

I want to pursue a careeer in digital illustration so I want to teach myself with this.

I do play games mostly online games like Dragon Nest, Elsword, and would want it to also run games like PSO2, FFXIV, Aion, etc. I don't really play shooter games much.

I watch almost only anime and in 720p and or 1080p

I love big screens like a 17inch screen for a laptop at least. I could plug it into a larger screen anytime.

I love Procreate app in ipad. I currently have an ipad3 but I have a plan of replacing it with the Air because I may need the extra power and the design is beautiful - still this depends whether I would go for a laptop or a desktop. And then I would buy a stylus for it.

I switch places but I may need mobility to draw when bored. Although I probably would only play games when I'm not at home because at home is the only place I could concentrate a lot.

Given these, I made an outline to what my devices are gonna be if I choose one and if the other:

desktop + tablet(ipad air / probably cintiq13hd) or;
laptop + tablet(cintiq13hd / ipad air) or;
Surface Pro 3 - this is a great deal if it would run mmorpgs I mentioned above smoothly with the entry level or the i5 version

For now I would like to focus on whether to go laptop or desktop. Budget is 700$ - 900$ excluding the tablet

On my mind right now is
I want to play online games but I also want to make the most of my drawings. I was really thinking of a desktop and then an ipad air for drawing so I get to maximize gaming performance when it comes to budget and performance ratio but my dad would want a laptop so I could do paper works for him in the office but then again the paperworks can be done in ipad air so a lot of you would probably suggest a laptop by now and I can't decide.

So that's it guys. I would be really grateful to anyone who could help me. :)

Preferred brand is Asus xD



 

LostAlone

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Jan 3, 2011
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For illustration the machine that you are working on doesn't matter a whole lot. Outside of very very extreme cases (involving more layers than any sane man should use) any machine that can run photoshop will do just fine.

Radically more important is your graphics tablet. This is the device that is your tool much more so than the actual computer.

If you demand to draw on the go (where are you going that you can sit down, lay out a computer, plug in a tablet and draw? - Which isn't a criticism, I'm genuinely curious where you are spending a lot of time but have no choice but to be away from home, and not be doing anything more professional...) then the Surface Pro 3 is pretty much your only option - I know that Gabe from Penny Arcade has said good things about using it as a graphics tablet from conventions and things, but unless you live that very specific life style I wouldn't think too much about working from the road. I was going to get my girlfriend a Surface Pro to draw on last year - She got a fixed six months of work a very long way away, and couldn't take her PC with her so I strongly considered getting her a Surface. But I didn't. In the end she just took her tablet and drew on the same on laptop.

In closing - I guess try to think harder about what you want to do. Docking laptops are simply not as good as desktop machines for a multitude of reasons (heat being key among them) and so I can't in good conscience advise you to just get a powerful laptop and use that as your majority device. The best answer I can give you is to forget about moving around. Get cheap, reasonably powerful desktop, spend the extra cash on a big monitor and a nice quality graphics tablet. Make a proper home office, then sit in it and work. When you are out of the house you can still sketch onto your iPad, or (shockingly) use a pencil and paper. Working onto your tablet is a slightly different skill than working on anything else, but the part that really sells you as a pro is how well you draw and how well practiced your technique looks, so working on the tablet for all things all the time isn't a requirement.

Oh and a piece of friendly advice - Teach yourself skills other than just drawing. Learn how to create art files that go into sprite based games, learn to do some animation, some 3d modeling... Digital art alone isn't something that'll make you a lot of money. You need regular work to make a living and the only way to do that is to have the skills to work on bigger projects and work with other people in other computer graphics disciplines. You don't need to be a master, but unless you are incredibly lucky you won't find a job that pays you to just sit and draw in a vacuum.

Edit to touch on gaming and lifestyle -

Think about how you live now to determine how you are likely to use a new machine for gaming. I can't tell for sure exactly what you mean by only likely to play games while you are moving around - But that sounds to me like you play games on your iPad rather than on a PC. If you try to use a laptop or full windows tablet like that then you will certainly be disappointed. Battery life for gaming is bad, and few if any games react well to touchscreen use which will force you to find a table and a power socket to get much use at all gaming on the go.

When I started commuting to work I figured I'd be a good little employee and get a tablet with a keyboard dock so I could work on the trains, so when I got home I'd be able to just have my evening and not catch up on things. In reality it just didn't work out like that. I can generally find a seat with a power socket on one leg of my journey, but even then I never got a lot done. There's so much dicking around that goes with trying to get back to where I was when I left my office in terms of re-finding the exact page of the exact document I was working on that my hour long commute pretty quickly melted away to nothing, I still had to work at home and I didn't even get to chill out on the train.

So then I loaded a bunch of games on my tablet. And I don't play them either. Sure I do sometimes and they are nice to have around when I have to travel longer at a stretch but it certainly wasn't worth buying a new device to do. What I end up doing is watching the TV shows I miss by working late, I read ebooks and I type furiously into my phone. That last I start doing pretty much the moment I get up from my desk through both underground trains, the long middle train and the short last train to take me home. And even though my phone is way worse for work (in theory - no hardware keyboard, no big screen to look at charts and pdfs, less storage) but it is how I'm comfortable working and perhaps more importantly it lets me work for 3ish hours at stations, in queues, on trains and even while staring vacantly at pretty girls (what? what do you do on trains?).

Why am I telling you this? Because the way that you live your life now is, broadly speaking, going to be the way you live your life in the future whether you spend the money or not. Being comfortable with your devices is radically more conducive to working than acquiring the 'best' device for the job. For your down time stick to what feels comfortable. You can always spend the cash later if you feel something is really hugely lacking in how you are doing things. But there's always draw backs. Very often the 'best' device isn't that much better than the device you do have - For example even if you had a Surface Pro you wouldn't be able to just sit down anywhere and play WoW or any other online dependent game. Spending ten minutes messing around trying to get a good connection is typical when you turn on a cell radio, and even in places where there is Wifi, you can't take it for granted. Plenty of places block online games on principal, because they don't want you cluttering up their shop all day.

Be very careful before you invest some significant sums of money into a perhaps small, but still significant change in lifestyle that doesn't fit with you. You wouldn't be the first person to buy something flashy and expensive that promises to make all the difference, only to find a few months later that it just wasn't for you.
 

oONNOo

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Thanks for the response.

For the first part, ok that makes sense. I consider the ipad already productive for illustrating because I want to focus on 2d illustrations. I've seen amazing artworks done in ipad and I'll start with that. A comic artist or concept artist perhaps. The only reason I switch places is to help my parents with selling electronics. And there, it seems I can only play games at most and when I'm home, that's where I could draw things. All those can be done in ipad I believe. I still need a computer because I love playing those online games. It inspires me to make art too.
If I forget about moving around and invest in a powerful desktop, I would have to choose between the ipad air or a wacom tablet. Is there a way to let the ipad function like a wacom tablet so it's connected to a desktop so I wouldn't have to buy a wacom tablet anymore? If that's something I could do with my ipad, then I would go for the desktop already. One more thing, custom built desktops are definitely more worth it than ready-made desktops right?
I'm 19 and am pursuing my dream and passion which is art.

EDIT:
Wow, that's much longer. Thanks dude.
Uhm, I stay in our store. Travel time is 20mins but it's spent on something else like reflecting, texting, etc. Well I don't know about the others but I prefer privacy when drawing something. It's very possible but I would still end up playing games when not doing anything and desktop games particularly mmorpgs. It's only at home where I can draw seriously.

I really agree on the last two paragraphs. I might even just invest on a powerful desktop and continue using this ipad 3. Because the only reason I want to buy the ipad air is the power and my selfish reason for the design. Even with this, maybe if I reformat or free some space, it would be fast again because my ipad is kinda laggy. 8gb space left, 64gb version.

And yes, I really have to spend money wisely xD
 

LostAlone

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That's the way of the world these days sadly. If you spend a lot of time on enthusiast sites it's easy to feel like everyone whose into a certain thing MUST buy these specific things to really count. It's not something that enough people talk about.

If you're comfortable working on a iPad then by all means - Work on an iPad. Don't upgrade until you are genuinely feeling that you can't do the projects you want to on it. And even in that case you can do very well with a budget machine and a cheap graphics tablet because it's software that really makes the difference.

If you shop around for good value in a desktop, it's a machine that'll can really serve you well. Just a good solid 'everything' box that'll play games and netflix and whatever else you fancy doing. Things that can do doubly duty for work and play are certainly good, because you the more time you spend using the machine means you are getting more bang from what you spend.

Off the top of my head I don't know if you can use an iPad like a tablet. I know you can do that with Android but I'm not an iOS guy so I've never looked into it - Google around. But you can do well with a fairly cheap tablet to work from. My girlfriend uses one that cost less $50 and (so she assured me) had really good reviews - http://www.amazon.com/Turcom-TS-6580B-Graphic-Drawing-Capture/dp/B008Y40DQU - Obviously you should shop around for what works for you, but go find some forums and see what other non-professional people use.

Professionals (ie people who make serious, serious money and get work based on their name alone) seem to spend a bajillion dollars on their set ups, but that's a combination of different factors. I work in video production and I know first hand how snooty pros can be about the kit they use, but as Bertran Russel (IIRC) said - Every profession is a conspiracy against the laity. That is to say; pros don't like amateurs muscling into their territory, and they do everything they can to preserve the mystique around their abilities to ensure people will pay them many hundreds of dollars for a days work. And part of that is an insistence that you simply MUST have this or that piece of equipment, and if you don't you might as well not bother trying. But the truth is that DaVinci painted with whatever paints and brushes came to hand, and Michelangelo's chisels (and the other Michelangelo's nunchucks) were just the same as every other one. It's the hand that makes something special.

When you are making your money from something then eventually yes you will want to buy the nice stuff; the stuff that makes it a little easier, that can save you time, or gives you more flexibility, that adds another tool to your bag. But they are absolutely not needed. You'll always do the vast majority of your work with the basic set of tools and skills, and when you are learning you need to be doing everything by hand anyway because that's part of the process. When you learn math you don't just punch the sums into a calculator, because you need to understand why as well as what.

And good luck to you :)
 

oONNOo

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Sep 17, 2014
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Thanks! :D
So much things to learn from you dude. Lol, if ever I'm already in the professional level, my studio will always be open for curious people. Tablets and stylus is just another form of pens and paper. Everything else is done by you. I may understand if it's a chef but even if you have the exact recipe, if you can't properly execute it, you lose the premiumness. Yup, it's really amazing how DaVinci and Michelangelo painted during their times. The rise of technology kinda forced us to go digital. It's like if you wanna be an artist, you have to have a tablet.

Sometimes IMO, spending more for the sake of future-proofing is not bad at all. Technology advances so fast. And that's it.

If you don't mind, is your girlfriend a professional artist? Or is it for her hobbies? I've thought of becoming a director but it seems I could be myself more with drawing. Directing is an art but it seems this art is really for me.

It seems desktop is the way to go.
Thanks again for the lengthy and meaningful response! I'm forever grateful~

One last thing, do you know a laptop or a desktop build that would meet my budget? I will indeed google those but it's not bad to hear your opinion. (just in case my parents insist to buy a laptop)
 
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