Category: Review

MacBook Pro Feature Image

The Apple Jump

First time MacBook Pro owner here.

I’ve been using my new MacBook for a couple of weeks now and I must say, as a long time Windows user, all the OS X hype about “it just works” is real — on some things.

I’ve used Macs occasionally in the office, but now that I’ve been using it 24/7, my experience  so far has been very positive. The basics included in OS X does make you more productive compared to it’s Windows counter parts.

The First 24 Hours

I love is how easy it was to share my MacBook Pro folders and gain access from my main Windows desktop workstation and network drives, but not so easy setting it up the other way around. There maybe some security issues about how easy it is, but I’m not worried about that for now.

Overall I’m loving OS X. But all of this may also be because it’s shiny and new.

Trackpad is also very smooth, force touch is cool and multi-touch is perfect! I never thought the Apple multi-touch compared to my previous laptops multi-touch would feel so different but it does. I usually do use a Wacom tablet for all my navigation, but now I’m using more of the trackpad instead and the tablet for the more detailed work.

Why Apple?

Specs-wise I got the 15-inch mid-2015 model with dedicated AMD graphics card. I know I could have gotten a cheaper laptop with same or better specs but I have three main reasons for the Apple jump.

First is build quality, the MacBook pro is undeniably well built and well thought off. I’ve had two laptops in the past 3 years, they did have decent internals, but with the plastic built body. The screen hinges were always the first ones to break. Which eventually led to breaking the connection to the lcd screen.

Second is support. At first I opted for repairs on my old laptops, but everywhere I inquired they were out of parts and everyone had no idea if they were gonna get new ones. With Apple products there’s the Apple Care Program. Expensive add-on for the extended warranty, but could save you more in the event of a problem. Though I wish I’ll never get to use it. It’s a good backup to have .

Third is durability, lets go back a decade, I’ve probably used 7 laptops in the last ten years. That’s almost like buying a new one every year, costing probably more compared to an Apple laptop! All of them broken, some did get repairs but still didn’t last long. While people I know using Macs updated once or twice in the past decade, though some Apple fanatics did get a new ones every major update. But point is they do last long at least 5 years or so and they also have a very good resale value years later.

Apple Readings

Another reason was, because of these books – Ed Catmull’s “Creativity, Inc. ” and Brent Schlender , “Becoming Steve Jobs” –Just some inspiring stories and insight on the Steve Jobs legacy and the books somehow made me want an Apple laptop.

Final Thoughts

This MacBook Pro setup paired with the Wacom Cintiq 13HD has been really great so far, but it’s not perfect. I still need my Windows machine as I have a few apps I use daily that are not OS X compatible. My solution now is controlling my workstation via TeamViewer.

I did notice a few quirks with the latest Adobe Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC updates on OS X, which I hope they will remedy soon.

Wacom Intuos Cintiq

Wacom Tablets : Bamboo to Cintiq

Before the Cintiq, I owned three other Wacom tablets. My first one was a small second generation Bamboo, worked well and perfect for three years till I accidentally dropped and broke my pen—replacement at that time would take weeks, so instead of waiting, I bought and upgraded to my second tablet a medium sized Intuos5. It had the pro features, more pressure, tilt, touch ring and lots of express keys. But I found it too big, heavy and expensive to be carrying it around in my laptop bag. So I then got my third tablet a smaller Intuos. I wasn’t doing heavy work while on the go, so missing the pro features wasn’t really a big deal.

I’ve been lusting over a Wacom Cintiq for years. Then half a year ago I finally got one. I was trying out a demo unit at the Wacom booth at Graphicon Davao 2015. It was the first time I got to try a Cintiq, although I only did a few scribbles and menu clicks to feel it’s accuracy. All the doubts of it being expensive went out the window. The decision was made, I need to get one.

Wacom’s Cintiq line are on screen pressure sensitive pen tablets. Mostly used by creative professionals. Wacom has five current generation models of the Cintiq. They have the 13HD, 22HD, and 24QHD all of which has two versions, a pen only and touch, then they have the Cintiq Companion 1 and 2 which are stand-alone Windows based pen tablets.

Cintiq 13 HD Specs

Display: 13.3 inch
Resolution: Full HD 1920×1080
Pro Pen: 2048 Levels of Pressure
Color Gamut: 75% Adobe RGB
Express Keys and Rocker Ring : 8 Customizable Buttons

Full Specs

There was a bit of learning curve when I started using the Cintiq, especially after using a pen tablet for years. Pen on-screen means your hand is blocking some of your screen view and with the Cintiq being the second monitor I still was looking up to my main monitor during the first days of use—the habit of using a normal pen tablet. So to solve this I disconnected my old monitor to remove the habit.

But there are two things I wish they added made different on the 13HD. One is more buttons, I’m a heavy shortcuts user and I have a full-sized keyboard and I can’t make it sit right beside the tablet, it’s always at an awkward angle causing some wrist strain after long periods of use. More buttons on the tablet would free up that problem—though the Wacom ExpressKey Remote maybe the solution.

Second is a sturdier connector, it’s using something similar to an older iPhone. The screen flickers a bit if the wire is moved. That is the only part of it that feels weak and could break easily.

Reality for the cool factor yes, it’s pretty badass and direct on-screen tablets are pretty awesome. Will it make your work better? In terms of workflow… yes because it feels more natural. But in terms of — will you get amazing results compared to using a normal pen tablet? No, it’s not a magic potion to make instant amazing work.

So is it necessary? No, it’s not. Whether you’re on a Cintiq, Intuos Pro ( 4, 5 ) or Intuos ( Bamboo), work output is still dependent on your skill level.

But if you can afford a Cintiq, then get one. It’s a great investment for the serious creative. But if you’re on a budget, go for the medium sized Intuos Pro and for the hobbyist and Wacom virgins go for the small Intuos line to start or if you’re going for a medium sized Intuos I suggest get the small Intuos Pro. It’s at almost same price point, so I’d go for the small pro for the 2048 pressure and tilt functions vs buying just for tablet size.

All of my older Wacom tablets are still working great and I still use them all the time on my other machines. Even the older Bamboo which I gave away is serving it’s new master well, he ordered a replacement pen and everything is running as it should even after all these years.

GM2016 Feature Image

Graphika Manila 2016 Conference

Last January I attended the Graphika Manila 2016 Conference on Creativity.  They had a mix of twelve international and local speakers lined up for the two day event.


Graphika Manila 2016


The decision to attend this years Graphika Manila was a no brainer. When I saw that someone from Pixar was coming, I just knew that I really needed to go.

Benjamin Su

Benjamin Su - Graphika Manila 2016
Benjamin Su – Graphika Manila 2016

All of the speakers during the Graphika Manila 2016 were very inspiring, but my favorite was from Pixar animator Benjamin Su. He is a seasoned animator who has worked on animated films like Sony’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Pixar’s Toy Story 3, Brave and Inside Out.

Su took us on a quick tour around the Pixar campus, showing photos of the Steve Jobs Building — the main atrium that houses all of the Pixar employees, in which Steve Jobs designed with the thought of having everyone meet and interact in a central place.

Pixar employees also have the freedom to customize their workspaces, not your average bring some toys and photos to decorate your desk, but a full tear down the walls to construct a new building. There were photos of an office that looked like jungle full of vines, another a castle, but my favorite was one that looked like a crashed airplane.

Right outside the atrium is a giant statue of the iconic Luxo Jr. , from Pixar’s ground breaking short film of same name. The 22-acre campus also has a park with an amphitheater, a tennis court and a pool.

Su also shared about the importance of feedback. Where in, Pixar has created a culture of openness where everyone is free to share ideas and opinion. Candor is encouraged, being honest to push forward the story to become better. It’s one of the key elements to what makes Pixar stories great. This also is mentioned constantly in Ed Catmull’s book, Creativity, Inc. — go read this!

The most inspiring part of Su’s talk was when footage of his daughter running around came up, side by side with footage from Inside Out. Su’s daughter’s footage was the reference for the animation for toddler Riley scenes. Bonnie from Toy Story 3 was also referenced from Su’s daughter. I was really amazed how his daughter inspired the work, then in the end the work will inspire his daughter. A circle of inspiration.

Tosh Kodama


Tosh Kodama - Graphika Manila 2016
Tosh Kodama – Graphika Manila 2016

Imaginary Forces director Tosh Kodama — coolest name ever, who shared their process from rejected ideas, storyboard concepts and final renders. IF is responsible some of my favorite opening titles, namely the titles for Person of Interest — which elements were also designer by Ash Thorp ( Graphika Manila 2014 speaker ) and the titles for Marvel’s Jessica Jones.

Imaginary Forces – Person of Interest from Imaginary Forces on Vimeo.

Marvel’s Jessica Jones – Main Title from Imaginary Forces on Vimeo.

Timothy Goodman

Timothy Goodman-Graphika Manila 2016
Timothy Goodman

Goodman shared some of his very funny instagram posts.


He also did the 40 Days of Dating Project which was a collaboration with his friend Jessica Walsh. It was an experiment where the two of them dated for forty days.They also have another project called 12 Acts of Kindness where they performed random acts of kindness in the streets of New York.

40 Days of Dating: The Book from 40 Days of Dating on Vimeo.

Harvey Tolibao

Harvey presentation was also unforgettable. Harvey was the last speaker on the second day. Before Harvey’s talk, I felt the audience was already tired from all the creative inspiration thrown at them. Then suddenly the lights were dimmed down, fight music was slowly building up — the emcee spoke. “Here is Harvey Tolibao!” Spotlight on Harvey as he was walking up on to the stage, the music now all at full blast and the crowd cheering wildly. The halls of SMX felt like a sports event.

Harvey is a comic book artist who has worked with top publishers as Marvel, DC and IDW. He has worked on the Star Wars comics, What If – Civil War, Psylocke and Green Arrow.

Harvey’s presentation started with a video of his daily routine, starting from his home then walking and commuting going to his studio office — which was on the fourth floor of a building that doesn’t have an elevator. Everything in Harvey’s talk was inspiring — from his humble beginnings to how practice, persistence and passion leads the road to success. Harvey drew everyday, he drew on everything, he drew everyone.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Harvey speak before at the Graphicon Davao 2015 event — I also met his wife Juli and son Zod. His talks are very inspiring and funny. I’m thinking if he wasn’t a successful comic book artist he could become a stand-up comedian.

Harvey Tolibao
Graphicon 2015 – Me, Zod, Harvey Tolibao and Julius Genosas
Harvey Tolibao
Graphicon 2015 – Joker and Batman by Harvey Tolibao

Final Thoughts

Graphika Manila 2016
Graphika Manila 2016

The Graphika Manila  2016 Conference on Creativity was held last January 30-31, 2016 at the SM Mall of Asia Convention Center. Graphika Manila 2016 was fantastic and inspiring but I wish there was more — workshops during event day, booth rentals offered to local talents to sell their shit , stuff from Wacom, Adobe and any other art/design related supplier, software and tools companies — maybe they tried all this on past events and it didn’t work?

This is actually my second time to attend Graphika Manila — I also attended the 2014 event, where I got to meet the great Ash Thorp, Sara Blake, Eugene Gauran and Jessica Hische. Graphika Manila 2014