The Cintiq display

One UI—or rather, tool—that stands out for me is that of the Cintiq monitor. It’s a combination of a monitor and a large touch-sensitive screen that graphic designers can use with a stylus. I came across it when I was working with motion graphic designers and animators, and they all wanted one. Our company had one, so the sketch artist got to use it. It’s large—I think the screen was about 20 or so inches diagonal—but it wasn’t so large that it couldn’t be nestled into the sketch artist’s lap when he was working carefully. Thus, the stylus was effectively a pen or a pencil, and the screen became the sketch artist’s paper. This tool created a process that aligned much more closely with historical hand-drawn art than anything that had come before. It allowed the sketch artist to draw without having to translate movements from his eyes to his hand. He could sketch directly on the surface and see results immediately, just as when sketching on paper.

This experience is entirely different than using a mouse. Although those of us here at the I School are intimately familiar with using a mouse or a trackpad, such that it is almost second nature, it still remains difficult to draw or create digitally to the degree that skilled artists can on paper. However, the Cintiq display offers many of the affordances of paper, and thus differentiates itself from other methods of using the computer for visual creation. In addition, because it’s a digital medium, there are other benefits: the sketch artist could zoom in on his work and correct minor errors, or easily erase mistakes, and also create vector output of his sketches. This allows for subtlety in one’s work, as McCullough calls for.

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