Gerry Haggerty interview
Ric Welcome Gerry to The Art of Making Marks and just to kick things off I’d like you to introduce yourself and tell us a little about yourself.
Gerry Well my name is Gerry Haggerty, I’ve been working with computer graphics since 1987, which is the year that I met the man who gave me my first Wacom tablet. And that man happens to be you Ric Holland. When did we get that first Wacom tablet Ric? I think it was about 88 or 89 was it?
Ric You are probably right there Gerry although you may not remember but I had a few other brands of tablets before that. The Summergraphics tablet was given to me in I think 1986 which I used in very early Adobe Illustrator and versions and then I bought a Kurta Tablet to use on my very first Mac II with I think Studio8 and later Pixel Paint. When you had moved back to Australia from Europe I had moved on to the Mac IIfx and bought a Wacom tablet because I had used one on a Quantel system and wanted to recreate the experience on the Desktop. I pulled that first tablet out of storage under my house the other day to do a presentation for Autodesk. I thought it might have been fun to carry it along. When I got up on stage with this rather large heavy object and held it up guess who was in the crowd, but Carl Weston another past employee of mine at Extreme Digital. I asked Carl the same question and he confirmed that he thought it was around 88/89.
Gerry They did look good with our computers back then I must admit, but they work a lot better now. [laughs]
Ric Just for our readers benefit, Gerry and I worked together for many years as colleagues at my various design studios through those early digital pioneering days of uncertainty. There was hardly anyone else doing the level of digital work that we were achieving and there was never any guarantees that anything was going to work. I have included a section on my own personal history in this book under the title ‘so who is this Ric Holland anyway.’
Ric So Gerry through those pioneering days I often would say to myself when things weren’t always going right ‘so what are we doing all this for anyway?’
Gerry Well apart from the obvious, which is keeping the wolf from the door. It’s a good way to keep the wolf from the door being an artist I’d say.
Ric [laughs] I think pens and pencils were actually a lot cheaper.
Gerry Yeah but we got dirty!
Ric Yep, Gumbo rubber adhesive then came wax machines and spray adhesive, anyway our readers don’t want to know about all of that ancient technology. So how long do you think you’ve been using a table then, you do maths?
Gerry Oh that must be about 16, 17 years, something like that. I use it for everything basically now, apart from Illustrator.
Ric You still don’t use it for Adobe Illustrator?
Gerry No I can’t stand it for Illustrator, because I get clicks when I don’t want them, so I just flip over to the mouse when I’m using Illustrator. But for every other piece of software that I use the Wacom is definitely the way to go, especially with just getting around the desktop, never mind painting, etc.
Ric I’d agree with you except for one point in Illustrator and I guess leading into Flash, pressure sensitivity in things like vector brush strokes is cool. So Gerry tell us about some of the work that you are doing these days. Apart form all the 2D Photoshop imaging and After Effects compositing you’ve done for years and years the architectural work you’ve been doing sounds very interesting.
Gerry Yes the work I’ve been doing for Pro Pacific Architects is visualising a property that they were developing in the headland at Cairns in Queensland Australia. I got the architecture model file from ArchiCAD and I’ve got a very accurate terrain mesh as well, but I had to populate it with thousands of trees and bushes and make it look photo realistic. In Autodesk’s 3D Studio Max I used this little program called Forest, where with the Wacom tablet I can interactively using the pressure sensitivity of the tablet paint on the trees, which was great, it saved me a lot of hard work, trying to make all these thousands of trees. I ended up painting 270,000 gum trees onto the terrain model. With pressure sensitivity the more you painted it the denser the bush line becomes and it was just beautiful. It was almost like playing god.
Ric So Gerry tell us a little bit more about the way you use tablets in your work flow.
Gerry The tablets the most useful tool for all the software I use, because going from 2D in print, into all the different types of media we use now to be an effective designer/media artist these days you’ve got to know how to do Vector, so that means Adobe Illustrator and able to use Photoshop and then bring it all into Adobe After Effects or Apple’s Shake. Then there’s 3D program as well as compositing programs and in all of that I use the Wacom tablet quite extensively for everything from dragging assets into compositions and imparting special effects and particle effects and modelling with meshes, pushing and pulling, so that you are sculpting in 3D with your Wacom tablet. Adding hair and other particle objects to 3D objects, etc, etc, as well as straight back to all the imagery retouching that I do on a daily basis. Because when you do 3D and composite in 2D you have to be able to use Photoshop. It’s just the tool of choice for image manipulation.
Ric How do you use the Wacom tablet with 3D Studio Max?
Gerry I have been using the hair plug in with the Wacom tablet. It’s just beautiful, you can paint hair on people and then comb the hair and stylise it interactively. When you’re using the tablet you can save a lot of time, because then you don’t have to go clicking back and forth with your mouse to increase the amount of hair coverage, etc, etc. As well as you know that lovely idea of painting on trees and flowers and bushes onto landscapes and manipulating the landscapes in real time as well, which is a great thing. Saves you basically having to go back into Photoshop and create new displacement maps and bump maps and all that.
Ric Fantastic, so what would you like for the future, what innovations or what things have you wished for that Wacom could provide to you as far as a better human interface?
Gerry My wish list for Wacom would be for a very cheap Cintiq that I could afford.
Ric Well how about half the price of the Cintiq 21?
Gerry Well now we’re talking! has that come out has it?
Ric We now have the Cintq 12
Gerry Oh brilliant. Is it wireless as well?
Ric No it does have a cable, but it’s got a neat cable system, which is two and a half metres and all of the fiddly bits go into a need little breakout type box, so you’ve got this nice thin tablet, with a little fold out stand at the back so you can tilt it up, you can have it on your lap.
Gerry That just sounds wonderful.
Ric And it’s a beautiful screen, nice resolution and you can also run it with multiple monitors and it clicks back and forth between using an extra button on the express keys .
Gerry It exists now?
Ric It exists now, so your future dream is waiting for you already.
Gerry [laughs] I feel as though I’ve found a new religion. Let there be Wacom.
Ric It’s great to talk with you as always Gerry thank you so much for participating in The Art of Making Marks.
Gerry I’m very honoured that you thought of me Ric.