Review: BenQ BL3201PT Monitor

As most of my work is created digitally, I’m always up for testing out new design tech – this month, I’ve been checking out the BenQ BL3201PT Monitor.

The specs boast a 32 inch 4K2K display built with BenQ’s advanced IPS technology, providing ultra-precise colour rendition (100% sRGB colour) and over 300% working space. Full specs here.

I was surprised by the heavy weight of the monitor when it first arrived, but this proved to be indicative of good build quality. The base is particularly robust and stays stable at every angle. There are a lot of adjustment options, including a 90 degree rotation to portrait mode which I’ve been finding useful for web design work.

The connectivity options are generous and even include 2 x USB 3.0 ports, a headphone jack and an SD card reader. There are 2 x built in 5W speakers too with fairly decent sound.

The on screen display controller is a nice touch, as it allows me to assign my favourite modes and quickly switch between them. The controller sits neatly in a recess under the monitor but it’s also attached via a 0.5m cable so you don’t necessarily need to reach across the desk to switch modes.

I was initially skeptical about the 32inch display and expected the size to be a little overkill for design work compared with the 24inch set up I’m more accustomed to. On a busy day I’ll have Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign running simultaneously alongside various admin and social media apps, so I found that gaining that extra screen space increased my productivity as it’s saved me from minimising and shifting app windows around so much.

The screen surface has a very light matte coating, which provides a good level of anti-glare without compromising the vibrancy. I often find screens with matte coatings appear a bit dull and grainy but this monitor is the exception. Images are displayed beautifully and the screen maintains clarity well at different viewing angles – any colour shift is barely noticeable. The back light is distributed evenly and I only noticed a very slight drop-off in the corners, which is minimal and nothing that would be distracting.

I found the default display settings worked well out of the box and only needed a little tinkering to set it up for design work. The monitor is missing a wide-gamut (Adobe RGB) colour space though, which some designers may find to be a let down.

The ‘low blue light’ feature has made working long hours easy on the eyes, particularly in the evening when I’d usually start getting a headache.

Overall, the BenQ BL3201PT Monitor offers excellent value for money.

Rating

Work in Progress: Critter Series

Sometimes I like to go back through my old sketchbooks and pick out odd doodles to develop into something more. I’m quite fond of the little robot squirrel which popped up a few times in my sketchbooks last year, so I’ve been playing around with the design and making plans to develop it into a new character series.

I could see room for improvement and ways to make it more expressive and versatile. I took a copy of the original doodle and sketched over the top, reworking the shape, features and expressions. Once I was happy with it (and after changing my mind on the most minor details more times than I care to count) I exported it to Adobe Illustrator and inked it up in vector format so it’d be nice and scalable across a range of media.

Sketches by Stina Jones

Vectoring Progress by Stina Jones

This is really just a starting point and I’ve got more plans in the works for this little critter – including a limited edition sticker pack launching in 2017. I’ll be posting developments to my Instagram as I go, so follow my feed for more updates.

#ArtDrop Manchester

Over the past few months I’ve been leaving Free Art packs in various locations in Central Manchester for people to find and keep. Each pack contains a limited edition (1/10) art print, stickers, and a handwritten note to the recipient.

It’s always a fun excursion finding spots for these little art packs. I sometimes leave clues on my Instagram and Twitter for anyone who wants to track one down – but more often than not I leave it up to chance. It’s nice to hear from the folks who randomly come across them!

I have a few more of these packs at the ready to leave out in the run up to the holidays, so keep an eye out if you’re in Manchester. I’ll be following up with a new series in 2017 too.

#ArtDrop Manchester Northern Quarter

#ArtDrop Manchester Oxford Road

Collab Nation: Experiment 5, Stage 2

I usually spend time deliberating options before adding my mark to a new Collab Nation piece – but when I got my Stage 2 through from Korp I immediately knew what I was going to add!

My addition was re-purposed from one of my masked robot characters, with added feathers to tie the theme in with Korp’s awesome worm character on the left.

The piece is now on its way to the next artist to add their mark for Stage 3 – I can’t wait to see what they add!

To see the rest of the submissions and watch the collabs unfold, head over to the Collab Nation Facebook page or follow the project on Twitter and Instagram.

Wellington House Art Jam 2016

I’ve grown a real taste for live art events, so when I was invited to participate in this year’s Wellington House Art Jam in my home city of Manchester, the answer was an immediate yes!

The Art Jam is an annual event, organised by Jay Sharples and Mantra Live, which this year invited a diverse group of over 50 artists from across the UK and beyond come together to transform the exterior walls of Wellington House. Add some music, drinks, food, and good vibes into the mix – and you’ve got yourself a paint party!

I was given an 8ft board to add my mark to which I used to create something more colourful than I’d usually attempt at an event. The painting was based on a digital illustration I created a few months ago, with a few tweaks to make it better fit the space. I used a combination of spray paints, POSCA pens, and good old acrylics and brushes for the rainbow.

It was a late finish and the venue had gotten pretty dark by the end of the night, so it was tricky getting a decent photo of my completed board. You can see the final piece for yourself outside the front of the venue where it will be on display until next year’s Art Jam, along with some of the other artist’s boards.

Big thanks to Wellington House, Jay Sharples and Mantra Live for inviting me along! I had a blast!