There’s nothing like a good tool.
I love a well-balanced hammer, a heavy-duty 18/10 roasting pan that doesn’t scorch the bird, or a German-engineered sports coupe that corners just right (and brakes when it should).
When the FedEx guy delivered a brand-new Wacom Intuos4 to our door recently, I felt like Harry Potter ripping the paper off his new Nimbus 2000.
Before I even got to the good stuff, I was impressed with the sexy packaging. Think Apple or Mont Blanc or Victoria’s Secret.
I couldn’t bring myself to take the wrapping to the recycle bin for several days, not because I wanted to reserve the option to return the goods, but because it seemed a shame to throw it away. Kathy eventually took mercy on me and chucked it while I was out.
The set-up really was this easy.
The product itself was equally slick: sleek black on black — partly high gloss but mostly matte.
The Intuos4 is a “pen tablet” that uses a pressure-sensitive stylus instead of a mouse that lets you literally draw on the computer as easily as using a pen to draw on paper.
I started using the smallest (and least expensive) version last year. It was a huge process improvement over the draw-on-paper-then-scan-into-the-computer procedure I was using before, plus there were creative advantages I hadn’t even anticipated. But almost as soon as I got accustomed to the tablet-based interface, I felt like I was trying to draw on too small a napkin.
Then a really cool thing happened at work.
Karen Bartleson asked me if I’d be interested in illustrating the book she was writing (more on that in a future post). Several years ago I had created a series of cartoons for Karen that she used in presentations, and this was an opportunity to create more — this time for a book.
The scope of the project called for over 25 cartoons, which led to an assessment about tools and process, which led to research, purchase approval and ultimately to the very cool FedEx delivery.
What a difference! Drawing from the shoulder not only produces a looser and more pleasing artistic result, it also makes a huge ergonomic difference over the course of many hours of work.
I finished the cartoon project yesterday and sent the files off to the book publisher. I wish I could preview examples of the work right here, right now, but I don’t want to steal the thunder of what’s going to be a proud moment as the book rolls off press in a couple months.
In the meantime, I’m anticipating many more fun and creative uses for the Nimbus 2000 of pen tablets. In addition to new projects at work and more Toons here, stay tuned for the book Kathy has just started writing — “The Accidental Speaker.”
I definitely think she’s going to be needing some cartoons.