Welcome to the first of a regular series of interviews with artists and designers from some of the UK's leading VFX, animation, advertising and branding companies – who've been using the Wacom Cintiq 27QHD tablet display on a long-term trial. All the participants are using the Cintiq devices on their professional projects – and telling us about their experiences.
Wacom's newest creative hardware allows artists to work with hands-on fluidity as they create with a pressure-sensitive pen on an expansive edgeless glass display – and, with the Touch version, with multi-touch gestures too.
Our first creative pro is Marque Pierre Sondergaard, a texture artist who has contributed to the VFX on Ender's Game and Jupiter Ascending, and is currently painting textures on Olympus for London post-production and VFX studio, LipSync.
Read on to discover what Marque thought of the Wacom Cintiq 27QHD Touch.
The $30m 13-episode TV series, which is scheduled to appear on the SyFy channel in the US, will require LipSync to deliver over 50 CG environments, several mythological creatures and more than 5000 + VFX shots, as well as full post.
A busy studio indeed then, but what better environment for Marque to try out the Wacom Cintiq 27QHD Touch?
He's no stranger to Wacom, having worked with an Intous 2 since 2002 and now other Wacom tablets at work. "I've never had the chance to work with a Cintiq before," he explains however. "It's the Rolls Royce model."
The Cintiq 27QHD Touch certainly offers a bit more than the tablets Marque is used to, with the widescreen 16:9 display offering four times the pixel density of standard HDTV and the resolution (2,560 x 1,440) to handle the finest detail.
Compared with the Wacom workflow he is used to, he says it is like moving from a small bedsit to a big mansion. "In the beginning you're thinking what am I going to do with all this space?" he says. "After a while you can't understand how you managed to live before."
Marque makes great use of Wacom's new ExpressKey Remote, which allows a faster, more flexible workflow. It offers a Touch Ring that helps artists to rapidly scroll, zoom and rotate the work.
He uses the device to access the keyboard shortcuts he'd normally apply through muscle memory in software. "That's going to really speed up my texture painting workflow," he says.
Another feature Marque likes is the way you can touch the screen to pan, zoom, rotate and activate on-screen controls for a smoother and more instinctive workflow in many creative applications.
The primary tool Marque uses is The Foundry's Mari - which has replaced Photoshop as the industry standard tool for texture artists over the last few years.
“Using Mari on a Cintiq is lovely,” explains the artist. “Mari is full of responsive brushes that will respond to your pen pressure.”
The artist takes full advantage of the 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity of Pro Pen, which also offers tilt recognition, a selection of interchangeable nibs, and a comfortable ergonomic design.
Sondergaard already feels that Mari just about replicates the painting experience within software. However this hardware moves that experience that one bit further.
“With the Cintiq you just take that little extra step,” he explains. “You get that haptic interface that can work with the brush system in Mari."
"You have a screen of a high quality, which you're able to interact with in a much more natural fashion that you normally would with the combination of a mouse and a stylus on a tablet. It's been great."
Although Marque confesses he had trepidations about the size and weight of the Cintiq 27QHD Touch on first sight, he soon found that using the optional Cintiq Ergo stand offered not just ease of movement, but a whole new way of working.
Nearly every position and angle is possible, whether sitting or standing, with the Ergo stand designed to give users the natural feel of working on an easel or drafting table.
"You're able to move this sizeable, heavy screen about with the touch of a finger, placing it in all sorts of weird wonderful angles," he explains.
The artist also says the experience reminds him a lot about painting on canvas on an easel, requiring as it does a full body motion to work on it, as opposed to just simple wrist movement.
"You are using your whole shoulder joint and parts of your upper body for all of your brush strokes," he adds. "It's great."