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RICK CHAMPAGNE interview

Sr. Product Marketing Manager, 3ds Max & Mudbox

Industry Marketing Manager, Design Visualization

Autodesk Media & Entertainment

Prior to Autodesk: Product Manager, Corel Painter Product Line

1.How long have you been using Wacom Pen/Tablets?

When I first entered the workforce after college, I became heavily entrenched in the world of Prepress. This was in the early 1990’s, and coincidentally timed when Wacom was also breaking ground with innovative new products in the Prepress arena. At that time, Wacom had already introduced the first cordless (and battery-less) pen and was quickly becoming the pen tablet of choice in the desktop publishing world. The Prepress shop I was working in had recently adopted Wacom’s technology for advanced retouching, giving me my first brush with what would later become an integral part of my professional, and even personal life.

2.What type of Tablets do you use now?

Today, I use a Wacom Intuos3 4×6 tablet at work, and both my wife and I use a Wacom Intuos2 9×12 tablet at home. In fact, in my wife Alice’s high school art class, she teaches a unit on digital art using Corel Painter with Wacom tablets. In my own visits to schools, I found it amazing how quickly the students adapted. Every teacher I met who was using Painter and Wacom tablets would tell me that their students where much expressive and open to trying new things because they didn’t have to worry about making mistakes.

3.Tell us about your work?

During my time with Corel Painter, the world’s premier digital art studio, our team worked extremely closely with Wacom in the development of new versions of Painter, as well as new versions of Wacom’s technology. This allowed the Painter team to always be at the forefront of advanced interoperability with Wacom technology, including the work done to always support the latest drivers, and new innovations such as the ExpressKeys and Touchstrips. One particularly exciting project I recall working with Wacom on, was the development of the 6D Art Pen. From the initial prototypes to the final products, it gave us real insight into Wacom’s process for innovation – a process that was nothing short of inspiring. At the time, the Painter team worked not only on supporting the barrel rotation that the new pen provided, but were also ready with a brand new set of Painter Brushes that took advantage of the 6D Art Pen’s features.

 

Currently at Autodesk, I am working with the Mudbox team, and continue to work with Wacom. Mudbox is a brush-based 3D sculpting tool. Working with a Wacom tablet, artists can work additively or subtractively with “digital clay”, to create ultra-detailed 3D models.

Some highlights worth talking about during my time with Painter: 

·      Saw artists who could no longer work with traditional mediums due to health concerns switch to Painter/Wacom, allowing them to continue being passionate artists

·      Met someone with Parkinson’s who could no longer paint traditionally due to the lack of control he had on the easel. With the Wacom tablet, he was able to regain the control he needed simply by being able to rest his hand on the tablet

·      Saw many trends in art as the history of the digital medium secured itself. Early digital artists focused largely on collage or “images”, but when the Wacom tablet came along, people were able to be much more expressive.

·      Went to The Drawing Club (live painting/drawing workshops) in LA and saw artists using everything from traditional paints, charcoal, pencils, etc., to Painter and Sketchbook Pro on a Wacom Cintiq and Tablet PCs.

·      Similarly, saw life drawing classes at ConceptArt.org Workshops with artists using Cintiq’s and Tablet PCs.

·      During my time with Painter, I saw some brilliant artists faithfully emulate traditional mediums, from the beautiful landscapes painted by Cher Pendarvis, to the masterful oils and watercolours by Fay Sirkis. Bruce Dorn and Maura Dutra’s photo-impressionism absolutely stunning, and Jeremy Sutton developed a style that can only be characterized as his own. Not unlike Albrecht Dürer or Turner and the English School, the modern masters have been experimenting and advancing the medium in ways we couldn’t have imagined. Beyond the emulation of traditional mediums, children of the digital era such as Andrew Jones embraced the digital medium and have been producing richly textured mixed medium pieces that would not be possible in the traditional world.

·      Interestingly Andrew Jones also has a 12X19 Intuos3 tablet on a guitar strap that he paints live onstage with a techno band. His art forms the live backdrop for the band.

 

Now with Mudbox and Wacom technology, a whole new dimension has opened up and people are using their Wacom tablets for digital sculpting. So far, this has gained a significant amount of momentum in the Film and Games industries, where the demand for highly detailed characters is ever increasing. Once the domain of the traditional sculptor creating clay maquettes (that were scanned by 3D scanners and then reworked in a 3D package such as 3ds Max. With Mudbox, traditional sculptors can make an easy transition into the world of digital sculpting through the use of Wacom technology and Mudbox, and eliminate numerous steps during the production process.

Looking towards the future, more and more schools are teaching digital mediums such as Painter and Mudbox, as the cost of materials is considerably lower over time, and students can experiment with the wide variety of mediums and techniques available to them – from working with photographs, to digital paint and clay. Students are also freed from worrying about making mistakes and find it much easier to express themselves through this highly flexible medium.

I’m not sure how far this book is going into the future but a preview of what Mudbox could become, can be found here:

4.What innovations in your work are due to the use of Wacom Pen/Tablets?

Wacom technology enabled classically trained artists to pick up Corel Painter and instantly become familiar with its natural media drawing and painting tools. The years of work by Wacom and the Painter team is immediately evident through the seamless marriage of the two technologies. From pressure sensitivity to tilt and bearing, Painter and the Wacom pen tablet become a fluid extension of the artist’s hand. When Wacom sent the first 6D Art Pen, Corel began work on supporting barrel rotation, allowing artists to take yet another step closer to a traditional art-making experience. The Touchstrips and ExpressKeys also allowed Corel to give its customers an optimal way to set aside their keyboards while working. These innovations also significantly increased productivity through customizable options such as binding a single key to multi-key commands, or by using the Touchstrips for functions such as zoom, scrolling through layers or changing brush size on the fly.

Conclusion – If you could ask for any new features or future innovation with Wacom Pen/tablets what would that be.

I’m still waiting for my bristle brush! Apart from that, I am really looking forward to multitouch becoming a part of everyday life.