Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Maintaining Good Computer Posture While Creating Digital Art

Drawing is for the most part a safe activity. I've had a few painful paper cuts, and I've never been stabbed with a pencil. 

But lately I've become more aware of how I need to be cautious when it comes to creating digital art, especially for hours at a time. Eyestrain, body aches, and discomfort can really hurt the concentration it takes to create things using a computer. 

So to keep myself safe, I've been doing the following things: 

Pay Attention to Body Posture

While working on my computer, every so often I take a moment to pay attention to my body. It's almost like a mental full body scan. I try to see if anything feels awkward or uncomfortable. (Often I get so into my artwork that I end up putting my legs in unusual positions) If anything feels weird or like my circulation is being cut off, I change the way that I'm sitting so that I feel more comfortable. I also adjust my chair to make sure that my feet are flat on the floor. Doing this has done a lot to cut down on the body aches.

Sit at Eye-level to the Computer Screen

This is a basic rule of correct body posture to have while working at a computer, and it prevents neck strain.

Use Zoom

Although it's so simple, this is definitely something that I had a hard time learning to use while creating digital art. In the past, I used to get closer and closer to the screen as I worked on little details in my art. Of course, this lead to eyestrain.  I don't know. It's like I had this untrue idea that zoom is like for old people. If I had to use zoom, that meant that I couldn't see well. But then leaning in so close to the screen was definitely not helping the health of my eyes. 

So I let go of the pride and started using the zoom in Photoshop and Manga Studio. And it does make a huge difference. Not only do I suffer from less eyestrain, but also zoom allows me to work on small details more accurately. And the next thing I do also is related to eyestrain.

Use Eyestrain Reducing Software

Currently I'm using software called f.lux to adjust the color hue of my monitor. I found this software when I recently switched from a retail job to office work. I wasn't used to staring at the computer screen for so long, and I was going home with these energy sapping headaches. 

One day, I had enough of the pain, so I did some research on software that could help reduce the strain of working on the computer for so long. I found f.lux, and although the main purpose of the software is to adjust the monitor to a slightly reddish hue to prevent sleep disruption, for me it also stopped the headaches. I no longer leave work with tired eyes.

I also don't stay up as late working on the computer because the light from the computer no longer suppresses my need for sleep.

I use this software when I'm creating manga in black in white. However, when I switch to color work, I turn it off for a few hours so that I can see colors more accurately. 

Take Breaks

Working on manga is very addictive, and it's hard sometimes to tear myself away from the computer. But I know that I always feel better when I take breaks. I try not to work more than two hours straight without taking a break. I also work to make my breaks as tempting as possible. (When I'm working on a comic, I'm typically THAT focused. Breaks feel like a waste of time) Sometimes I make some tea or read one chapter of a book so that I will feel refreshed when I get back to it. 

So far all of these things have been very successful at reducing fatigue and discomfort that comes from working at the computer for long periods of time.