Monday, October 21, 2013

6D Art Pen: The Right Tool For Several Different Jobs.


Wacom 6D Art Pen

Part number: ZP600
In stock, ships within 24-48 hours

The original stylus pen that comes with the Intuos3 is a pretty awesome tool but there are times when I just want something different for different tasks. It seems unnatural to be holding the same tool for countless hours each day and the 6D Art Pen is what the doctor ordered.

The Cintiq 6D Art Pen has a unique feel; it’s lighter and fatter than the original pen and the tip is wider much the same way some of our favorite graphic pens had in a generation past. Some other reviewers have complained about the pen being lightweight as if that’s a drawback; once you get used to it you’ll be able to fly though a lot of tasks as if you were only using your finger. The lightweight might seem like a drawback for other users but at the end of a long day it’s almost soothing to use. For that reason alone I think the modest weight is intentional.

Functionality speaking; After a couple of hours of using the 6D Art Pen you’ll be wondering what you ever did without it especially when working with Photoshop/Illustrator brushes that rely on different angles and rotations to get the right look of a line that needs varying thicknesses.

The “Inkwell” holder that’s just like the original pen holder is a nice touch.

There are only two detractions to this tool.

First, the felt tip nibs: I love the fact that this pen feels almost exactly the way the felt tip graphic pens of long ago felt but the felt nib that replicates the felt-on-paper touch is a bit too far. I couldn’t swap the original one installed fast enough and replaced it with the plastic nib that’s similar to the plastic tip of the original pen. I have three felt-tip nibs but only one plastic one… not a big deal because I since I won’t ever swap the tip out again.

Second: While it’s worth the little extra cabbage, I wish the 6D Art Pen was originally included with my Intuos3 tablet. Since it’s so essential to my work now I can’t help but wonder why this tool isn’t standard. More importantly and as I wrote before, there are something that can be done with the 6D Art Pen that you can’t do with the original pen – most notably the aforementioned rotations.

You buy a tablet so you can do things that you can’t do with a mouse; you are able to do even more with this 6D pen that you couldn’t do without it on your Wacom. It seems so incredibly necessary for me that I wish I bought it sooner.

Just like good cowbell, you’re gonna want that 6D Art Pen!

Where’s The Line?

I Do Anything For Love (of Money)… But I won’t do that (for recognition as a graphic designer!

bat-out-of-hellHere’s a salute and a tip of the hat to one of my favorite performers; Meatloaf! Bat Out Of Hell is still one of the best music albums and if you don’t have it than you don’t know what you’re missing. Not only is the music first rate, but the album cover art is iconic. I remember when it caused quite a stir and it’s one of those things that made me say; “Yea, Damn it – THAT’S what I want to do!”

The artist’s name is Richard Corben and his name should be remembered with others like Roger Dean, Jean Giraud/ Mœbius, H. R. Giger, Andrew Probert and Ralph McQuarrie. These guys really did it and some of them are really doing it – going beyond what’s expected in conceptual art and raising the bar.

As Graphic Designers and Commercial artists we sometimes have to push the boundaries for our clients and dare to go a little too far. It’s easier to go too far and throttle it back than it is to not go far enough and try and squeeze a little “more” out.

What brings this thought up is a post from one of my favorite commentators on Graphic Design, Stephen Heller. He wrote a recent post about the one thing we should never do ever again; design cigarette boxes. You can read the whole article here… What Designers Won’t Do (Today) By: Steven Heller | October 21, 2013

Here’s the question that might say more about me as a person than a graphic designer: If I was asked to create a cigarette package would I really turn it down? Fact is, people are going to smoke one way or another while at the same time someone is going to make money designing this package – would I rather go with the cabbage or without?

Is really all about the money?

Is it really all about being citizens of the world and do we have some obligation to turn away work because of our conscience? What would happen if a politician from the other side of the political isle that I totally disagreed with knocked on my door with a briefcase full of cash and offered it to me to work on his (or her) campaign, would I take it? (And would I be able to keep the briefcase? Just wondering…)

Does everyone have the right to a graphic designer the way suspects have the right to an attorney?

“You have the right to remain uncool. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of public opinion. You have a right to a graphic designer. If you cannot afford a graphic designer, one will be appointed for you.”

Fact is, these are all ethical dilemmas we’re all going to ask each other from time to time. There are going to times when we are asked to do things that might be against our values and taste and it’s up to us to not only know when to draw the line, but how do draw the line respectfully.

Once again I have to remind folks that we don’t only ourselves; when we’re going graphic design work we represent our employers and our institutions where we learned our trade. I’m not just a graphic designer but I’m a graphic designer who respects and honors the teachers who taught me what I needed to know to get this far. I would do them a disservice to do any work to embarrass them.

This might sound in complete contradiction of what I wrote earlier about pushing the boundaries for our clients and dare to go a little too far; there’s a balance each of us have to find. Where do you draw the line? Let me know via Facebook or Twitter. (

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Quantum Computer Isn’t for Graphic Design?

D-Wave-System-with-Visible-512-Qubit-ChipDon’t know if you guys have been following the news about the Quantum Computer being developed by Google and NASA. What it does is computer big numbers in a way that might be contrary to literal computer logic – while most computers handle information as either “One’s” or “Zero’s” this machine is able to work on calculations by dealing with information that’s either “One’s” AND “Zero’s”

If you know anything about quantum physics and advanced computer calculations than you know this is a big deal. This machine can handle calculations that are beyond the imagination of any average computer user today. It’s the equivalent of someone living in the 1940’s or 1950’s knowing it would be impossible for people to ever own the various types of computers we have today. It could be the next step in our computing evolution.

One of the bits of news I’ve read over the long weekend is that a company called “D-Wave” is manufacturing and selling them on behalf of the Quantum Computer’s developers. They have an ad that reads “yes, you can have one” and I thought to myself… what if I actually did get one built in my basement or right here in my office?

If you’re just another computer guy like me, you’re thinking what could you do with a computer like that? What are the possibilities? How many of us digital artists have wondered about how much more we could accomplish with our own render-server farms or a computer that could calculate numbers fast enough or more efficiently so we wouldn’t have to wait so long to see what we were doing from one change to the next.

Looking at this computer, I wondered about its operating system. What if it could run Windows 7 and/or Apple OS so I could install the Adobe Creative Suite on it? What more could I do? How much better would it work than what any of us have now? I’m not just talking about working faster; I’m talking about doing things that are almost impossible now.

Everyone knows that computer art isn’t just “Black And White” – it could actually benefit from a unit that deals with “Ones” and “Zero’s” together in tandem rather than either-or.

(Continued Below The Ad…)


So, when I saw that you could actually buy these unite I sent the sales team at D-Wave a question.

Subject: D-Wave Computer for Digital Art and Graphic Design

I won't take too much of your time but I have to ask this because I'm a graphic designer and digital artist always trying to keep my eye open for the next big thing...

How much would one of your computers cost and install, and could this computer be used to create works of art? Could this be used to run something like Adobe Creative Suite like Photoshop, Illustrator and so on? 

Thanks in advance.

The reply;

Hello Eric,
No, our system is not designed for this nor can it support any of those products.


Susan Davis
D-Wave Systems


I’ll let it go at that, but I have to wonder; why not? Has anyone else in the D-Wave offices thought of this? Using this system to help generate images? I’m sure that in the not too distant future someone will be asking – how can we visualize what we’re computing here? If we’re calculating the formulas that represent the formations of planetary systems or even whole galaxies don’t we want to be able to show what that might look like?

What would it take to create an OS for this quantum computer to create visual art using the tools I mentioned, or a tool that could be developed right now?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Shocking News About Drug Use In My Home State

2vermont-jpg_154206One of the consistent themes of my written work is about the environment that some students are raised in that’s actually prohibitive towards intellectual growth. Perfect example is the disproportionate career opportunities throughout regions of country.

For graphic designers, there are some parts of the country where there are more opportunities for us than we could ever imagine where there are some other parts of the country that are underserved but there aren’t enough job opportunities nor are there the economic resources to pay a graphic designer enough to make it worth their efforts to live and work there. (It’s not just graphic design; it’s almost everything. But since this is a blog about graphic design and being a graphic designer… there you go.)

I was shocked (Shocked, I tell you!) to read a new article that proclaimed that my home state has the highest drug use in the country.

“Here's Why Vermont Has The Highest Rate Of Illicit Drug Use In America,” PAMELA ENGEL OCT. 13, 2013, 9:12 AM

“This trend is a consequence of factors including weather, politics, and proximity to big cities, according to Barbara Cimaglio, the Vermont Department of Health's deputy commissioner for alcohol and drug abuse programs.

"You have everything from the colder climate, which tends to be a reason some people give, to more liberal attitudes, to higher income levels, to people having more access, but I don't think anyone knows for sure," Barbara Cimaglio told Business Insider.

This is incredibly painful to read because people like Barbara Cimaglio know exactly why drug use is so rampant in Vermont and she doesn’t want to admit it. I’m actually embarrassed for Ms. Cimaglio.

The rampant drug use in Vermont is systematic to a much larger problem since there really aren’t a lot of career opportunities – too many young people the only work that’s available are in the tourism industry. Especially in Central Vermont like Rutland; if you can get a job working a chairlift at the Killington Ski Resort you’re “set for life” during the winter months. Northern Vermont has it even worse than southern Vermont since there isn’t a lot there.

Not only that, but the social folkways does more to push ambitious and intelligent kids out and causes what’s known as “brain drain.” From my experience – you’re not considered an “honest” person if you want to get an education and follow a career that doesn’t involve manual labor. An ‘honest’ job involves waking up before the crack of dawn, putting on your Carhartts, going to a job you hate with a boss you hate, doing work you can’t stand for money you can’t live on much less get ahead, to support a house or apartment you can’t stand with a spouse you can hardly tolerate any more and raise kids you don’t relate to anymore. That’s an “honest” Vermonter’s life.

israel-medical-marijuanaIf you love what you do and you’re good at your job that doesn’t involve you wearing your “Carhartt” outfit 6 days a week then you’re somehow dishonest. You’re not a “real man” in the social circle I was brought up in. ‘Working with computers’ or something that involves more brain power means you’re cheating. If you came from a lower economic or social class you were considered a “faggot” or “retarded” if you wanted to do something more than what was expected from you.

There was a genuine defeatist attitude. I started drinking heavily when I was 13 for a whole handful of reasons – mostly because my mother and her boyfriend where genuine assholes who left it around for me to abuse – but the other good reason was there was a sense of futility. What’s the point? What’s the point in doing well in school since the most we could hope for is a dishwashing job?

I was shocked at how un-shocked I was when I read that heroin is huge in Rutland. I lived there for two years and I can tell you that because the economy is so depressed with the “Keep Vermont Green” mentality there’s nothing to do and nothing to work towards beyond keeping the tourists fed and sheltered.

The question I’ve always asked is; who are we keeping Vermont “green” for? Not the generations who are growing up in that region. Are we keeping it “green” for the tourists? Keep in mind also that folks love the idea of renewable energy but will protest if anyone wants to put electric wind turbines on the side of any mountains where they could help to offset the demand for energy – I guess they would rather drink water laced with tritium from the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant because that’s something the tourists from New York and Connecticut can’t see from the road side…

I remember sitting at the bar of one of the restaurants where I used to work and discussing with the bartender/fellow employee why I was leaving for better education and work opportunities. “I can’t say as though I blame you, what’s here for ya besides more dirty dishes?”

Is there a solution? Is it mine to offer? There are times when I get nostalgic for that region and the periods of time that I spent there and how I would love to start a business there. Each time I look into doing something like that I find out the hard way that it’s not an effective use of my time. Starting a business is almost impossible because of the prohibitive laws, rules and taxes.

It’s up to Vermont to fix Vermont’s problems; sadly they’re driving out too many of the people who might want to help.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Coming Out Day

Remember when you had to come out to your parents and tell them you were a graphic designer? I had to sit my parents down and tell them about my Graphic Designess –

Me: Mom… Dad… I hope you still love me. I’m just going to say it… Mom, Dad… I’m a graphic designer.

Mom: What? What did he just say?

Dad: Oh, Lord… He didn’t just say he was a graphic designer!

Me: Mom, I mean it… I’m a graphic designer.

Mom: Oh, Lord, Jesus Christ! No! Oh lord, anything but a graphic designer! Give him cancer lord! Anything but graphic design, Lord!

Me: Yea, Mom… I’m a graphic designer… This is just how it is.

Dad: No! You know what it is… you’ve been hanging around graphic designers too much. And they’ve been making you think you’re a graphic designer, too! They twisted your mind!

Me: No, Mom and Dad… that’s just how it is.

Mom: What did I do? What did I do? I knew I shouldn’t have let you go to the museum. I knew I shouldn’t have let you have those art supplies!

Me: No, Mom… it wasn’t the museums or art supplies. This is just who I am, I’m a graphic designer.

Dad: You weren’t born a Graphic Designer; I don’t want to hear that! Uh-uh, you weren’t born a graphic designer… bible says render onto God that’s God’s, not render under Milton Glazer!


Special thanks to Wanda Sykes for her inspiration. Remember to embrace and love yourself, no matter who you are and who or what you love.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Vintage Computer Parts Whereabouts

How do people with older computers and servers get the right parts they need quickly and easily?

First, I have this image of other small business owners who have a bunch of computers, data storage devices, and countless media disks or cartridges kept somewhere “out there.” In one of those computers or storage mediums there is vital information that’s desperately needed, they’re either documents needed for a client or the IRS due to a pending audit.

Once they fire up the old beast needed to access the information needed they discover (or rediscover) what’s wrong with the system; there’s a hardware error or the disk won’t deliver data correctly. This person knows how to fix the problem but doesn’t know where to get the right parts.

Second, I’m sure there is someone running an older piece of equipment simply because they have to. By any means necessary this machine has to keep running because it’s attached to a periphery or plug-in device that’s irreplaceable. Once in a while something like this needs replacement RAM, Video Card, cooling fan but as time progresses it’s harder and harder to find those parts.

Third, I picture that there’s a warehouse somewhere else out there with tons of never-been-opened boxes of surplus computer parts. The company who owns this equipment would love to unload this stuff since that stuff is taking up space.. If there was only a way for them to get the word out there that they have these parts to people who need or want them.

Thus is the dilemma of many people have – how can we connect these groups together and do business? How can someone like myself get in touch with those who have what I need in a short amount of time? How can I search for the hardware I need, find it and know for sure that it’s the right thing before I install it?

Is there an on-line tool where someone like myself can enter in the information about my specific computer and the device I need for it and get an answer? Is there a way I can get this answer without harassing my fellow tech-heads?

Suggestions are welcome.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

CGD 242 Interactive Website Design: Isn’t Flash Dead?

I’m in a class now called “CGD 242 Interactive Website Design” and it’s a Graphic Designer’s dream. It’s taught by a thoughtful teacher who is bending over backwards to make sure we get the information we need to be successful in this class.
In one of our first lectures we had a discussion about Flash and how the rest of the world is moving away from it and towards performing the same tasks with HTML5, CSS3, J-Scripts and other tools. I couldn’t be happier.

I love creating digital art but I actually found the Adobe Flash tools too limiting. You’re talking to a guy who used CADKey and LightWave once upon a time. I felt as if Adobe Flash wasn’t enough to do what I wanted to do and I felt myself using tools like Adobe Illustrator to create what I wanted to animate and then had a hard time creating my AI files into objects to manipulate.

I’m not saying that Adobe Flash is a bad tool, I’m saying I’m not as good with it as I would like to be.

What’s next for the Web? What’s replacing Flash and is it a tool I can easily buy or is it something that comes with Adobe Creative Suite 6 that I haven’t used yet? Or do I have to switch to “The Cloud?”

Stay Tuned.

On a further note – I have to keep a notebook for CGD 242 Interactive Website Design; this is going to be it since this electric journal won’t ever get lost, stolen or have the pages ripped out by my sons for their own experiments and projects. – Enjoy.