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Where can I get good ergonomic advice for working with Cintiqs?

Cintiq and Cintiq Pro
plnelson
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon 6. Aug 2018, 02:32

Where can I get good ergonomic advice for working with Cintiqs?

Postby plnelson » Fri 25. Jan 2019, 20:45

I recently bought a Cintiq Pro 16 and I'm trying to redesign my studio and workflow around it. I see many people on artist's forums complaining about neck and shoulder pain from working with devices like this and I want to avoid those problems.

I'm looking for good ergonomic advice for display tablets. I see lots of products on the market - stands and articulatable arms, etc, some by Wacom, but they seldom show them with an actual person using them so I can't assess whether they make ergonomic sense or how they fit into a workflow that also includes access to mouse and keyboard. In many of the pictures they show the tablet flat on the desk (bad line of sight) or vertical (wrist strain when drawing) or suspended in the air so you'd have to extend your arm to draw (invokes large muscles in the arm causing "gorilla arm syndrome") , which are all ergonomic no-no's but it's hard to say because these pictures seldom show an actual person using the tablet.

So where can I get some advice showing people actually drawing on these devices to show good ergonomic practise for display tablets such as my Cintiq?

Thanks in advance!
Last edited by plnelson on Sat 26. Jan 2019, 05:53, edited 1 time in total.

morelightning
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun 20. Jan 2019, 20:11

Re: Where can I get good ergonomic advice for working with Cintiqs?

Postby morelightning » Sat 26. Jan 2019, 03:23

I bought the $99 stand for the Pro 16, and I thought it looked like it was decently designed, but I have to say it's a bit lacking as my cintiq is constantly subtly sliding back in such a way that it is rotating to the left, and I constantly have to pick it up and reposition. I'm thinking I will have to find a paperweight to sit behind it.

Having said that, I've been drawing flat on the desk on my iPad for one year, and the high angle is way better for me. With the iPad I would often wear a wrist brace because of the immense pain. I've only had the cintiq for a few days, so not sure how much pain it will cause yet in the wrist position itself, however I will say that the newer Cintiqs feel like they have a stronger magnetic field, and if you are drawing all day every day that can take a significant toll. A cotton glove would shield a good amount of that, but the lycra glove I just bought has been making the pain worse.

A big portion of managing the hand health is the pre and post treatment you do to your hand before and after drawing. Things like soaking in a Magnesium Chloride hand bath, and an ultrasonic transducer in the 1-3 MHz range will be effective.

plnelson
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon 6. Aug 2018, 02:32

Re: Where can I get good ergonomic advice for working with Cintiqs?

Postby plnelson » Sat 26. Jan 2019, 06:12

morelightning wrote:I bought the $99 stand for the Pro 16, and I thought it looked like it was decently designed, but I have to say it's a bit lacking as my cintiq is constantly subtly sliding back in such a way that it is rotating to the left, and I constantly have to pick it up and reposition. I'm thinking I will have to find a paperweight to sit behind it.

Having said that, I've been drawing flat on the desk on my iPad for one year, and the high angle is way better for me. With the iPad I would often wear a wrist brace because of the immense pain.


OK, so that tells us a couple of things NOT to do - don't have it flat on the desk and don't use a wimpy stand.

But there are 10's of thousands of professional artists, illustrators and graphic designers doing digital art full time these days and all the new students graduating from art schools are also using display tablets like the Cintiq, so there MUST be professional advice, videos, books, etc, on proper ergonomics for digital artists, where I can see pictures and examples of proper, safe, working position for using devices like this and how to fit them into the workflow. The question is, where can I find this information?

If you have to do pre and post treatment of your hand just from drawing then I think you need you need this information more than I do - it sounds like you must be doing something really wrong, ergonomically to have that much pain. But your pain also illustrates what I'm trying to avoid by getting this right BEFORE I end up like you. I want a good source of professional ergonomic advice for digital artists.

morelightning
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun 20. Jan 2019, 20:11

Re: Where can I get good ergonomic advice for working with Cintiqs?

Postby morelightning » Sat 26. Jan 2019, 21:16

I actually only started drawing sincerely within the last year (I actually spent most of my life as a developer), so that should paint a picture of how fast you can develop physical problems when drawing all day every day, and how important it is to constantly assess and adapt your workflow habits even early on.

I haven't really seen any professional ergonomic advice sources, and even if some company did provide such advice, it's hard to respect the quality of the information they are sharing. For example, how do they know? What is the basis of their conclusions? Do they have decades of first hand experience to back up what they are saying? I would recommend reaching out to artists who have been in the industry for a long time, and asking them directly what their experience has been. I certainly wouldn't trust a company like wacom to communicate accurate information, as they have a pattern of spreading false facts, and making poor product design choices especially in this regard.

The wrist brace with the splint is for sure very important to prevent your hand from making the angles that will cause problems down the road, and I would highly recommend having a wooden splint made instead of the aluminum splint.

Some of the artists I know who have been drawing on Cintiqs every day for over a decade had originally set a high angle for their cintiq, and now they set a low angle, and then have a second monitor, which means that they are using the cintiq like an intous tablet, and only looking at the screen directly when drawing precise details.

wacom5
Posts: 629
Joined: Tue 8. Aug 2017, 14:35

Re: Where can I get good ergonomic advice for working with Cintiqs?

Postby wacom5 » Mon 28. Jan 2019, 10:12

The best advice I can offer is to check with your own family doctor or general practice doctor. He will most likely be able to help you get in touch with specialists.

plnelson
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon 6. Aug 2018, 02:32

Re: Where can I get good ergonomic advice for working with Cintiqs?

Postby plnelson » Mon 28. Jan 2019, 14:00

wacom5 wrote:The best advice I can offer is to check with your own family doctor or general practice doctor. He will most likely be able to help you get in touch with specialists.


I don't know what you imagine a "specialist" to be. I already hired an ergonomist associated with a major national ergonomics association but he had insufficient experience working with artists and graphic designers to be useful. Display tablets such as the Cintiq have been around for at least 10 years and the are now in use by thousands of artists and graphic designers worldwide. Furthermore it's clear from reading all the art forums that wrist, neck, and back problems are very common among visual artists (and not just digital ones but also paper and canvas artists, too!). So it's reasonable to assume that someone has developed some ergonomic guidelines by now and I just have to find them.

I can't imagine why you think a doctor would know anyone - at least here in the United States where our health-care delivery system is very primitive, most doctors don't have access to any resources that would be helpful. Even if I have to find another medical specialty with special qualifications I'm on my own and need to go out on the web. I know other countries have better health care resources but not my country.

I'd be very surprised if I'm the only person using a Cintiq who has questions and concerns about the ergonomics of using one safely. So a forum like this seemed like a good place to go.

plnelson
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon 6. Aug 2018, 02:32

Re: Where can I get good ergonomic advice for working with Cintiqs?

Postby plnelson » Mon 28. Jan 2019, 14:28

morelightning wrote:I haven't really seen any professional ergonomic advice sources, and even if some company did provide such advice, it's hard to respect the quality of the information they are sharing. For example, how do they know? What is the basis of their conclusions? Do they have decades of first hand experience to back up what they are saying?

They would know by basic biomechanics. I used to work with a Dutch company that made medical equipment - diagnostic imaging systems - and our industry had a very high rate of RSI, so we hired some ergonomists to help us design new displays and probes. They studied the angles that your head and spine are turned at performing different exams, and which muscles and tendons and ligaments were stressed in different operating positions; we we used that to come out with a whole new family of products that were much better.

morelightning wrote: The wrist brace with the splint is for sure very important to prevent your hand from making the angles that will cause problems down the road, and I would highly recommend having a wooden splint made instead of the aluminum splint.

But without the wrist brace why are you making your hand into bad angles in the first place? That suggests your working position - seat, angle or position of your Cintiq, etc - is wrong to begin with. A good ergonomic design should result in your spine, arm and wrist to all naturally be in a neutral position without needing a brace to force it into a neutral position.

morelightning wrote: I would recommend reaching out to artists who have been in the industry for a long time, and asking them directly what their experience has been.

No kidding - that's why I'm here. I've already posted versions of this question to the Wet Canvas Digital forum, Deviant Art, Opentooz forum, and several others. So far I've received no useful information. Yet on those same forums I see artists complaining all the time about wrist. arm, or neck pain! How do you recommend reaching out to other artists other than posting to these forums?

morelightning
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun 20. Jan 2019, 20:11

Re: Where can I get good ergonomic advice for working with Cintiqs?

Postby morelightning » Mon 28. Jan 2019, 19:51

I was more hinting at reaching out to those that have known names in the industry via email. I used to work at studio that did concept art for feature films, and that's how I learned who is who in the industry. When it comes to the people who have been around a long time and are at that higher level of sincere discipline and work ethic, there are not that many of them, and a good percentage of those have a public persona on the internet. For example for someone who has drawn thousands of circles at a high angle for decades, and has animated main characters on films at Disney, you might reach out to Tom Bancroft. I met a good number of these people in person, and they are all normal people and easy to talk to, they just have higher standards of work ethic than most.

Keep in mind that a lot of these guys, even after drawing for decades don't have good ergonomic solutions, and they additionally have strongly warped perception filters, and skewed sense of judgement, as can be seen by example in Aaron Blaise's recent reviews of the Cintiqs where he exclaims clearly false statements like there is no cursor lag at all, and that the screen quality is phenomenal, when in fact the lag is several centimeters and the etched glass completely ruins the visual quality of the screen.

Even so, those are the type of people I would probe, not the new amateurs who don't really draw that much and are attempting to use free buggy software and frequenting places like deviant art.

The internet communities you mentioned are just not where the more seasoned industry artists who have been around for decades hang out. Best to look them up directly by name and email them.

...as for why I angle my wrist: It's because I can get better line control. I have high standards, and expect every aspect of every stroke to follow my command of start position, stop position, as well as precise angles of curve, acceleration, and reverse curve smoothing. Even so I'm not actually making weird angles with my wrist, and I barely move it, but it's simply that I try to actually draw at a high level all day every day. The wrist brace helps to train the hand to not rotate as much, even after it is removed, but there is a good reason to move the wrist and not just the other parts of the arm and shoulder, especially when you are after really high standards, and not scratching rough short strokes that lack conviction and are imprecise like Aaron.

wacom5
Posts: 629
Joined: Tue 8. Aug 2017, 14:35

Re: Where can I get good ergonomic advice for working with Cintiqs?

Postby wacom5 » Tue 29. Jan 2019, 10:09

plnelson wrote:
wacom5 wrote:The best advice I can offer is to check with your own family doctor or general practice doctor. He will most likely be able to help you get in touch with specialists.


I don't know what you imagine a "specialist" to be. I already hired an ergonomist associated with a major national ergonomics association but he had insufficient experience working with artists and graphic designers to be useful. Display tablets such as the Cintiq have been around for at least 10 years and the are now in use by thousands of artists and graphic designers worldwide. Furthermore it's clear from reading all the art forums that wrist, neck, and back problems are very common among visual artists (and not just digital ones but also paper and canvas artists, too!). So it's reasonable to assume that someone has developed some ergonomic guidelines by now and I just have to find them.

I can't imagine why you think a doctor would know anyone - at least here in the United States where our health-care delivery system is very primitive, most doctors don't have access to any resources that would be helpful. Even if I have to find another medical specialty with special qualifications I'm on my own and need to go out on the web. I know other countries have better health care resources but not my country.

I'd be very surprised if I'm the only person using a Cintiq who has questions and concerns about the ergonomics of using one safely. So a forum like this seemed like a good place to go.

I don't know your current situation or the health care situation in your country. When I mean "specialist" I'm talking about an orthopedist, a physiotherapist, etc. Someone that can take a look at your health history, current health condition, make an assessment and offer proper recommendation. A good professional should be able to tell where you are more vulnerable and which areas of you back, neck and arms you need to be more weary of.
While you might hear different recommendations that worked for different forum users, it might not work for you and you can actually do yourself more harm than good. Even if you find documentation and studies, take into account not everything might be applicable to your particular use scenario.
Health questions should be handled by professionals only.

keiichi7
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed 4. Jan 2017, 21:16

Re: Where can I get good ergonomic advice for working with Cintiqs?

Postby keiichi7 » Wed 30. Jan 2019, 21:22

Cintiq pro 16 is not so big, I would suggest you to obtain a good ergotron, or other monitor arm.
So that way you can change position if you get tired in one. But check the way how to attach the arm to the cintiq.

My experience with the wacom cintiq 13 is that it is very uncomfortable to lean above it and draw for long time in this position.
It is very bad to the spine. I usually rack it up on a big van Gogh album, so I don't have to lean above it.


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