Thursday, January 7, 2010


Can anyone we know provide an ergonomic evaluation of my home workspace?

I just returned from two weeks away from my computer, and my sore, tight arms loosened and relaxed. Within an hour of working at home, my arms began their familiar ache.

I've got an adjustable keyboard support. When I draw on the Wacom, I move the keyboard and position the tablet in front of me. But that's two different angles - and obviously neither one is right for me. I can't figure this stuff out from online diagrams.



  1. I have a screen that's very easy on the eyes, but aside from that, Brian, I don't do any of those things. Yes, when I pull a marathon of digital coloring or tweaking vectors, I feel the pain in my shoulder blades. For the most part, instead of planting my body in one perfect position, I move around in my chair and shift my weight a lot. I also try to take breaks and vary traditional drawing with computer work, so I'm not engaged in one activity for hours on end. (some of you digital folks may not have that luxury.)

    If you hurt most after a long hiatus, it seems natural that your body would have to re-acclimate to the rigors of prolonged work in one position. Maybe you just need to break yourself in more gradually. Or maybe a visit to a good masseuse would help.

    disclaimer: I am NOT an expert on ergonomics, and I pretty much illustrate part-time now. Anyone else?

  2. I also move around a lot. I'm at the computer all day and often even through my evening (ugh, too much computer! i wish i liked landscaping instead). Although my solution isn't very scientific. I realized I work better and feel better if I put on some good music, and let my feet tap and head go. I work better if I'm dancing. Sounds silly, but it works for me.

  3. Brian, I can't really address the specifics as it relates to angles, distance,etc., in your particular situation. Everyone is different. I know for me personally, I need a quality chair to work in as my lower back is my Achilles' heel.

    I would agree with Chuck that you should take periodic breaks and shift your weight while working.

    Are your arms sore because you have too tight a grip on your drawing tools? That may be a part of it... but maybe not.

    Also, I think having some sort of a workout program can help. We think as artists that we're involved in a sedentary profession, and I guess compared to moving furniture, that's true. But we do put in long hours hunched over a drawing board or computer screen, contorting our arms and hands and applying various degrees of pressure with every stroke.It has to add up.

    Is it a feeling of fatigue or pain? If it's fatigue try and take breaks. If it's pain, you might want to have a professional check you out.

    Just a few thoughts, my two cents. Hope it helps.

  4. I'm living proof that ergonomics is/are important. But the big question is, how much do you think the artist got paid to draw that picture-and can I have that job?

  5. But seriously, Brian, you're right to work on this-pain is no fun.

  6. Looking at that human factors diagram, I do not follow it at all. I recently changed chairs because the one I used bothered my neck but when I did that, the new set up bothered my hands. So, I am back in the old chair. I had to pick my long-term poison.

    When I paint in my paitning studio, my neck and hands never bother me. It is 100% computer...

    I know a lady who specializes in human factors in the work place but she may have retired. I will make inquiries.

  7. Thank you all for so much response.

    I do move around, take breaks, and I stretch and do yoga to compensate for bodily sloth. I get acupuncture and massage regularly to keep the bad pain away. At night, I wear wrist braces; at work, I just re-discovered tennis elbow arm bands and icing and heat.

    And Daryl, I do grip my pen/stylus too tight; I do the same with almost everything I do with my hands. And it is a big part of the problem. It's so hard to retrain lifetime habits.

    Looking into new chair.

    Since I've tried so many ways to fix this myself with only moderate success, I thought calling in professional advice might be wise.

  8. Brian, sounds like you're doing everything right, including finding out what the specific problem(s) might be...great advice from everyone; a good chair is probably the single best thing for the workstation. Like the others, I'm in & out of the chair a lot; I can easily lose track of time when working on complicated modeling or animation on the computer and pay for it later.

    over the years I've gotten to the point of mostly standing/walking around when I'm at the drawing board, or sort of "perching" on the edge of a jacked-up chair(occasionally having to share it with the cat who owns the studio) and don't have the same physical issues afterwards.