The Tablet Nightmare
Have you ever been afraid of something? Of course, everyone’s afraid of something, it’s ingrained in humanity. Whether it’s spiders, killer clowns, or even heights, we all have something that scares us. Do you want to know what scares me? My Wacom Tablet.
In 2009 I was fed up with my laptop. I was using a school issued Gateway Tablet PC. This was an early laptop with a flip-down tablet screen. It needed frequent stylus calibration and had many response issues. Regardless, I had struggled with the machine to create the pages of Masquerade that exist today. After leaving that laptop with the college I had left behind, I thought about upgrading. After a few weeks of mulling it over, I got my hands on a 4×6 WacomIntuos 3 Tablet. It was an exciting purchase that lead me down a road I will never forget.
The tablet was different. It was wired and meant to lay on a surface, not my lap. I am left handed and the right handed interface was difficult to overcome. I was frustrated. My lines were interesting, but not what I wanted. Perhaps I was delusional with grandeur that I would suddenly become a fantastic artist, but I couldn’t make it work to my will.
I tucked it into its case and scowled at it. I spent hours here and there taking it out and doing my best to forgive it. No matter what I did, I just couldn’t make the tablet work for me, it would always work against me. For a time, I lent it to friends on a frequent basis, always with the concept of selling it, but I could never bring my to go through with it. Perhaps I knew that I wasn’t through with it.
By now, you’re probably thinking that I am off topic. It’s Wednesday, I should be discussing art lessons. Well this is where the lesson starts. I’ve decided to hold onto that tablet and I have been struggling slowly to learn how to use it. With a tablet it is expected that you ignore some, if not many lessons you may learn with traditional art. That is my true battle.
Sure, the first part is easy, create your loose sketch, using gesture, I’m great at that. But then comes the concept of refining. When inking on a tablet, as opposed to on paper, you are expected to work fast. It makes me feel careless. Many tablet fanboys will praise this fact. They love layers and the feature of undo. Where I come from, the land of paper, there is no undo. Mistakes exist and you have to live with them, that’s just a fact of it. Wrong with the digital world. Here you are expected to ink sharply and quickly, and undo anything that looks incorrect. You are no longer supposed to work with tedious care around the edges.
It’s not my style, and it is infuriating. However, I am trying to get over it and learn to use the thing. One nice thought I have accepted is that like paper, you can rotate your work to make sure whichever direction you draw best can be used. Instead of turning the tablet, you rotate the image. It’s been helpful, but as you can see by today’s drawing, I am still trapped in the gestural stage. It will take time, but maybe someday I’ll draw pages on something like that. I hear there are bigger and fancier ones out there that could scare me even more….
In conclusion I want to ask this: What do you prefer? The digital platform, or the traditional platform. We all know where I stand.