mac modbook 01

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I've managed to get Photoshop installed, and have a good bit of experimenting ahead of me. At a quieter moment I'll spend some time building the more complex brushes that I'd like to use, but for now, I want to start building my eye-hand coordination. Calculus notes. Most people that hear about computers with tablets get psyched to find out about note taking and math notation. To them, I have to say yes; you can do that with the Modbook. But just like a paper tablet- this tablet has no idea what the notes mean or what the notation represents. This image is my first use of the tablet with Photoshop. It looks pretty much just like my high school calculus notes. Mostly doodling in the margins.

Even though the image is juvenile and was intended to be a goof, I have a few quick observations from the session. The modbook doesn't seem to have the horse power to keep the cursor right under a fast moving pen. There's just enough delay in the stroke that it feels like using a ball point pen that has the ball attached on a short rubberband. This note page was generated using the brush tool in Photoshop with a few random, complex brush settings applied that may make the cursor a bit slower to respond. The computer needs to do quite a bit of processing to determine what my complex stroke will look like as the pen moves and pressure changes. The pen and tablet respond to pressure; something a TabletPC is incapable of. Also, I really miss the keyboard. Undo, select all, deselect, swap colors- all are instinctive and exist as short muscle impulses in my left hand. As I mentioned before, the modbook is a solid one piece unit, with the "monitor" sitting where the keyboard once was.

This morning was so nice that I thought that it would be a good time to try sketching outside. I headed over to Stone Valley and made a short stop on the ridge top for a sketch. Calculus notes. Even though the tablet feels heavy when standing in the office, out in the field it didn't seem different than the box of pastels or board that I normally hold. My biggest shock came from something regular laptop users are probably used to: direct sunlight makes the drawing surface almost unreadable. Like drawing with two pairs of sunglasses on. I opened the power settings and made sure the battery was set for performance rather than longevity. It was great to see that after twenty minutes, I still had enough power to try something in the shade over in Stone Valley.

With the ridgetop sketch and then this quick one, I noticed that my strokes are fairly coarse. And I haven't yet really taken advantage of the fact that I'm on a computer and in Photoshop. This has so far been a matter of just replicating Calculus notes. a normal, charcoal sketching experience without the smearing. I have to add that it's as enjoyable being out sketching on the Modbook as it always has been sketching with a sketchpad and pencil.

The drawings that I'm posting would never go public as "drawings" but as investigative benchmarks they'll serve nicely. I'll continue with updates like this. At the end of June I'll try to piece together a usable report. Keep in mind that there's a lot going on- I'm not just trying a gadget. I'd like to become effective with the tool, and not only make use of its rendering capabilities but push some of the digital aspects, too; whatever that means. I've always been interested in what computer art looks like. We know what a pastel looks like and a water color- pastels are particularly effective at looking like pastels, but can also look like water colors. What are the characteristics of immediate tablet-artist interactions? What nature of illustration would lead me to grab the Modbook over silverpoint, or pastel, or collage? What scale is best? Should I attach a keyboard or let the no-keyboard status effect the way I work?

Possibly ten years using a Wacom tablet will give me a unique perspective on this thing's use. So far, the problems seem minor, and the potential unlimited.

Penn State
April 18, Symposium 2009; reimagine.
New content. Symposium 2008.Digital Commons at Penn State. Improve the workplace; hire for variety.

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