High tech tablets spark 3D creations


The classic computer mouse has no room in the future, thanks to new interactive design equipment located in A-223.

A brand new Cintiq lab opened last fall, and it’s rapidly gaining momentum with artists collegewide.

The lab features 22 Wacom tablets. The 21-inch tablet-screen hybrids are equipped with the latest, industry-standard software.

Instead of a mouse to digitally paint and sculpt, now artists utilize a pressure sensitive, cordless digital pen.

The pen replicates the use of a brush, marker, pen or pencil. Students can adjust the monitor to lay flat or tilt to a comfortable painting position, allowing them to draw directly onto the screens surface.

“Using a mouse to draw on a computer is like trying to draw with a brick,” said Patricia Waterman, professor of 3D animation.

The pens are especially essential with Mudbox, software that allows users to manipulate shapes in 3D. Students can then select from an array of tools to add, remove, scrape and add texture.

Using the pen onscreen, students can create projects ranging from architectural designs, 3D medical device demonstrations to special effects as seen in motion pictures created on Hollywood sets.

Waterman stressed the importance of using art as a form of communication. “We’re pushing pixels instead of paint,” she said.

Waterman is currently the only faculty member who oversees the 3D modeling and animation lab.

The 3D Modeling and Animation program currently awards three different certificates.

The college offers 3D Modeling and Animation with emphases in art, video game and interactive media art and visualization.

“This classroom has to do with the real world, there’s a practical use for 3D animation,” said Waterman about the projects on which students are working.

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The Career Technical Education program funded the upgraded lab through a federal grant.

“I don’t call it visiting the lab, I call it work” says current 3D animation student Paul Simonson. “Finally some art work.”

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