Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Technology and Magic

Arthur C. Clarke once said “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Certainly technology can do things that would once have been considered magic.

One of the things I’ve waited a long time for is technology that lets me create drawings, cartoons and illustrations as expressively and intuitively as pencil, paper and other traditional media. Keep in mind that I’ve been studying and creating art technology for ... well, quite a few years. I’ve observed the technologies at Walt Disney Feature Animation and the New York Institute of Technology Computer Graphics Lab, most of whose talent later became Pixar. I’ve collaborated with researchers at the MIT Media Lab and the artists at Paws, Inc. (makers of Garfield) on tools for animation and cartooning. I’ve seen early uses of frame buffers and digitizing tablets back when these were highly specialized and expensive equipment.

And in all that time, I had not seen anything to replace paper and pencil.

Until now.

I just got a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2, a device that combines high end digitizing technology with a Windows tablet, so it can run Photoshop, Painter and other real graphics software, and lets you draw and paint right on the display screen. In just a few minutes, I did this rough blue pencil sketch.

And then inked it with a pen tool.

All while watching Jeopardy.

I was going to write something fiendishly clever about technology and the magic of Penn and Teller, but that can wait. I’m having too much fun with these tools.

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