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A Learning Curve

Years ago, I bought myself a treat. It was a small drawing pad which plugged into my computer. It was translucent turquoise (the color of the original iMac, so I’ll bet this was somewhere around 1998).

For graphic computer geeks, it’s a Graphire by Wacom, I think it’s 4×5″ in drawing surface size. Definitely for leisure users, maybe for photo retouching.

“Real” graphic designers, those who make billboards, posters, brochures and book designs every day, use large versions of this type of pad. I do a lot of web photos (PhotoShop) and I dabble in InDesign to make patterns and my cookbooks. However I’ve never mastered this type of input device.

I do all of my “mouse” work with the glidepad / touchpad which is built into my laptop. Everything. It is most comfortable for me, and I don’t twist/hurt my wrist with that sort of mouse.

As far as drawing on a computer pad, I am not yet comfortable drawing even on paper. I’m a 3D artist for the most part. My initial experience with this gizmo more than 10 years ago, was that I could not get comfy with it. Even using the mouse which comes with it (rather than the pen device) felt clumsy. I gave it up.

I’ve had a Windows 98, XP, Vista and now Windows7 laptop since I got the gizmo. The other day I decided to pull it back out.

Luck was on my side. It plugged in to my Windows 7 laptop, and it worked immediately. My hands were wobbly and unsure. But don’t we need to learn, to push ourselves past comfort zones? Don’t we need to try things longer than a few minutes before we make decisions?

When using the unfamiliar tool was too difficult to use for my work task at hand, I finished that task and tried again without expectations. And what you see pictured above is the result.

As I was typing this note to you, it seemed maybe a good idea to try it again. One can only get good at something by trying over and over again, right? So I decided to draw something familiar to me.

The little cartoon guy I “invented” in about 1970, when I was in middle school. I did comic strips for the middle school newspaper at the time. This is the one character who has stayed with me this long. When my first Godchildren were toddlers, I put this motif on clothing I sewed for them.

It’s getting less like patting my head and rubbing my tummy at the same time. It’s still slow, methodical and clumsy. Yet, I’m proud I’m trying something that was not easy at the first try. Adults don’t tolerate such feelings very often.

And who knows? Maybe getting more comfy with a pen-like device will help me feel more comfy with a real pen drawing on real paper? If I am lucky, it will.

If you use a gizmo like this, do you have any hints for me?

What’s hard for you… something you might really want to do, in time?

3 Responses to “A Learning Curve”

  1. Rachel Says:

    I would love to make some/most of my own clothing and have it fit.  (last time I remember trying something was as a teen in the late 80/early 90s )  I need to learn how to do a large bust adjustment.  Plus I would like someone to help me make a body double as fitting while sewing seems impossible (tried to alter some clothes but couldn’t pin the right places while wearing)

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Hi, Rachel! I found that my adjustments were not only to shorten the waist, but to change the curve of the hip slope. My hips increase almost directly below my waist. Some people have the widest spot four inches below the waist, and for me it’s maybe an inch and a half.

    No wonder that skirts with pleats and puckers under the waistline fit me way better than those with cleaner lines. Love clean lines but my body’s not shaped the way the industry thinks women are shaped.

    I found that Liz Claiborne was more like me than other makers. She knew I could have small shoulders but a bust. She knew I might be short waisted but not stick-thin. Petite means small frame, not without curves!

    No surprise that even my wedding dress was a turquoise silk Liz Claiborne evening gown. No alterations required!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Rachel, here’s a video on how to make your own dressform with brown paper packing tape and a friend’s assistance:

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