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Archive for September 23rd, 2011

A Learning Curve

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

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?