Ergotron Lx arm for Cintiq

image data/images/blog/2011/11/cintiq-ergotron-ergonomy_03.jpg

[ NOTE/UPDATE ONE YEAR AFTER :  I removed the Ergotron arms  ; it was finally unstable and the Cintiq was wooblying too much ... 10kilos get affected probably the solidity of this arm after some month... Also the switch of position between the two tablets and the USB switch were a pain , and makes me keep one setting constantly : tablet mode, and not Cintiq . Nowaday I use the normal footer of the Cintiq on a dual screen setup . Too bad, I like watching those photos  ]

My quest to make the Cintiq21Ux usable reach to the end.. ( I hope ) . finally. Since I purchased the Cintiq21UX in June 2011, I must admit I didn't used it a lot ; this device have really serious ergonomic problems in my opinion or for my usage. As you probably already read ; I started to hack on it a gamepad to make more buttons on it  to replace most of keyboard shortcut I use. But, it was really to difficult to adapt myself to this way to work, and the Cintiq just 'not works' for most of computer job I have to do in my daily freelance task.

So, my graphic tablet Intuos4 A5 get speedly connected back to my system and I could use Cintiq as a hight-quality screen. And most of my production since this summer was done like it. Too bad... because I must admit the Cintiq21UX is particulary pleasant with Mypaint ; mostly for detailing artworks with thin brush ; I also like it for sketching , draw thumbnails in production. But this 2 steps are or at start of a painting, or at the end, and changing the work positions is not easy... In fact , there is 2 major issue to do a switch between the two :

1) Cintiq screen embeded tablet makes magnetic noise on all tablet I could use on the desktop ( I tested Intuos3/Bamboo/Intuos4 ) , it makes jittering on the cursor. My only solution, was to unplug the USB of the Cintiq ; this turn off the embeded tablet on the Cintiq and makes the Cintiq behaves as a simple LCD screen.  

2) The original Cintiq21UX footer is like a easel on wheel. The Cintiq get very high compare to the table level , and to bring it in front of your eyes you have to remove all on your desktop. Also this footer and the 9 Kg of the Cintiq hurted the wood of my desktop a lot.

With this 2 issue, here is what you have to do to switch the 2 working positions :
- crouch under the desktop to unconnect the other tablet USB 
- clean desktop 
- organise the new position
- relaunch driver ( here a xsetwacom script ) 

 Of course, easy to do it the first week 2 or 3 time by day; but then usage and lasyness dictature choose the position witch fill the more task : the normal tablet position.

I started few weeks ago, back from Viewconference , to discover several Youtube videos about user who connected ergonomic arm to their Cintiq. 
So, I decided to give it a try, and it works pretty fine. Here are the photos :

Here is my normal working position, the one who fill 90% of my needs with Intuos4 A5 mapped only to the Cintiq21UX screen.
Too bad the Cintiq is 3:4 screen and my Intuos4 16:10 ; with my mapping I loose a little part of the active surface.

The Ergotron LX arms ( + an extension ) when folded

The Ergotron LX + Extension unfolded. Surprising to see the screen is stable and don't move. This Cintiq is almost 9Kg.

So now I can just grab the screen and put it in a comfortable position to work. It flies over what is on desktop.

To unactivate or desactivate the Cintiq/Intuos USB, I found this type of device ; a USB hub with on/off buttons. 
This make me solve the problems of conflicting jittering between the 2 tablets. 

The Ergotron arms is also able to rotate fully the tablet in portrait mode. 
I don't really use it, but I think I will play with Xrandr and build soon a script to have a Mypaint big portrait  workspace. 

Cintiq and Ergonomic : a future ?

Me demoing on the new Cintiq24HD in Viewconference 2011 ( Turin / Italy ) on Wacom booth 

After testing the Cintiq24HD ( external link to Wacom product page  ) , I observed many improvements ; the surface is not warm at all, the screen is bigger and offer a total immersion with an amazing rendering of colors, and the huge footer of the tablet allow to set the tablet to a comfortable angle. 
Also, with my experience, I know this device would not fit into my needings, because of lake of flexibility ; as you can see on the photo I have to take the keyboard on my leg for keyboard shortcuts ( or if I need to answer a Chat/email ). This Cintiq is a real drawing table, but I'm affraid you can do only one task with it : draw. A bit too restrictive compare to my computer usage, where I write, play game, watch movies , do 3D ...etc...

So, just my opinion , but a 21UX + a Ergotron arm is much more better. 

And more than all ; a classic tablet in front of a screen with a keyboard is still my choice n°1 !


  olivS - Reply

Interesting article. Especially the USB hub with individual switches to avoid jittering! I fully understand about the need of a keyboard while drawing among other tasks, but in the case where you would only paint, does the Cintiq offer enough physical buttons for the essential shortcuts?

  Ego - Reply

I still prefer a pencil with a white paper :)

  Marco - Reply

Actually I find it easier to draw with the normal tablet because I'm left handed and at school I've always had the problem to start drawing from right to left to see what I was doing, which to me was unnatural.

I think people that started drawing with traditional tools feel the need to have a similar experience with digital art. But people that started with a tablet don't gain any advantage by drawing with a Cintiq.
For example I remember that the guy from Idrawgirls (it's a youtube channel) says he prefer to draw with a tablet.

  Brett McCoy - Reply

I haven't used a Cintiq yet, but I used a tablet PC in the past and didn't like the feel, and the fat that the location of the cursor was slightly offset from the tip of the stylus kind of bothered me. The main problem I had was the tendencey to crouch over the drawing surface watching the tip of the stylus and that lead to back and shoulder pain... a problem also with traditional drawing on a slanted art desk.

What I like about using a tablet (Intuos 3 9x12, very big) is I can sit up straight and look forward at the monitor and I don't need to crouch over my stylus, it's so much more comfortable and makes my shoulders happy! I use a double monitor setup (Twinview), too, so it's nice to have drawing on my right monitor and reference material and such on my left monitor.

  Mufeed - Reply

I do have Wacom Cintiq 21UX (2nd Gen) and I just use it for drawings...I do the painting with Intuos3…
For me, I just like using the normal tablet (Intuos) over Cintiq.

  David REVOY OP , - Reply

@olivS : Hey ;) the Cintiq as I have offer 4 buttons + a touch strip ( the second edition of 21UX have 8 button + touchstrip ) , but the xsetwacom can't bind some keypress , as spacebar or mousewheel press down. With the gamepad, I grow to ... 14 buttons !
with 14 I start to have the best shortcut :) ( radius size - and + / Control / Shift / Alt / Dark + and - / zoom + and - / Rotate ...etc... ) all of this control takes too much room unfortunately. And for the USB HUB ; yep, that's a nice piece of hardware, and clean my USB needs with his 14 USB ability. ( and very cool to connect/unconnect harddisk or USBkey )

@Ego : And you're right to prefer a pencil with a white paper. There is no compare. Cintiq or digital things are way too far the right feeling of traditional...

@Marco : Here I have the traditionnal background, but I prefer the tablet instead the Cintiq for most of the task as I said. I think Cintiq is a seducing marketing idea, and a technology not really yet ready. But still a nice 'toy'. And yep, drawing with 3 or 4 mm of a cursor offset under the tip, drawing with plastic on glass feeling is kind off and really unnatural.

@Brett McCoy : That's exactly the same with the Cintiq. Problem with it when croutching on it, is the resolution on pixel is not really good, and eyes start speedly to notice pixels , so the lineart are not precise ( offset with cursor is even more noticable ) , the sketching of an eye or head of character turn into a grid filling experience... Only solution : draw big with zooming-in a lot ; wich is not good habit for drawer, makes large movement and so shoulder pain and bad experience ...

@Mufeed : Good to hear I'm not alone to have the same conclusion about those hardware ;)

  Andreas Resch - Reply

That's some cool installment.

Usability-wise I love my Cintiq 21UX, but the colors are really bad. The sad thing is that Wacom admitted the production fault and can't do anything about it. I will now try to get my money back in some way and upgrade to the new one, which seems to have a better LCD and hopefully one that meats the specifications.


  David REVOY OP , - Reply

@Andreas Resch : Thx, for the LCD I have the really first series of Cintiq21UX and the screen is ok even if color are a bit too warm and so hard to get really neutral gray. I calibrated the screen here with a Patone Huey colorimeter and got quite good results. But for sure, compare to the 200€ LCD screen of Samsung I use for references screen looks a bit cheap and old. The refresh time is really not adapted to FPS like Nexuiz , for exemple :)

  Steven Powers (SMP) - Reply


Nice piece. I have to say a like my Wacom Intuos3 (medium)for now thought in the near future I will go with a wireless Intuos4. But I am with you where I utilize keyboard shortcuts all the time and when I am working on a straight desktop like you have, I use a Microsoft Arc wireless keyboard as a secondary. It is great for small work areas and for travel.

  David REVOY OP , - Reply

@Steven Powers (SMP) : Intuos 3 Medium are my favorite :) but when I wanted to purchase one years ago, it was nearly impossible to find on the market. I especially like the last Intuos3 version ( the black edition ). During the end time of Intuos 3 Wacom did a bundle with Intuos3 black + Stylus + Airbrush.
Intuos 3 are far more robust than 4 , and I advice you if you switch , to buy also a new Intuos 3 plastic cover of the big one to cut in it a piece to cover your Intuos4. Intuos4 default surface is horrible imo. That's why on my screenshot you can probably see a grey surface on my Intuos 4.
Only good thing for the Intuos4 :
- OLED button ( but still hard to install on Linux, in future it will be easy )
- Weight for transport
- cable (mini USB to USB ) can be changed easily and unconnected
- design ( Intuos4 are cute in black )

I will take a look to the Microsoft Arc wireless keyboard ;)

  JA12 - Reply

All that black equipment, your custom keypad and wires, and now that extension arm got me thinking... with heavy styling steps you could have some serious H.R. Giger inspired Alien stuff going on there :D
That work chair needs to change to something like Giger's Harkonnen Capo Chair x)

That would be one dark lair. I mean dark as in "draw your bright ideas quickly or this black dungeon absorbs them and they are lost forever" :D

  nurul - Reply

hiya david, loving your set up. my question is more about asking for your advice, especially to do with ergonomics of sitting and using a tablet whilst having to use a keyboard etc. in your experiance what is the most ideal set up ie. monitor,keyboard and tablet placement as well as seated position. i have read your old post about ergonomics and it has helped, but my problem is what is what hight should i place my tablet, should it be level with my elbow or slightly higher etc. i have pretty much a very simmilar layout like yours minus a cintiqe, just one monitor, keyboard to the left tablet in middle and mouse to the right. i would be very greatfull for your advice.

kindest regards, Nurul

  David REVOY OP , - Reply

@JA12 : ha ha ;) Giger style would be really cool :)

@nurul : I have a chair with many controls and very confortable. I think I invested a lot in it ( almost same price than the Intuos 4 ) but I don't regret : no pain on the back with all weeks sat on it. Here I like the height were my elbow can be on the desktop without effort and my hand freely draw.
The top screen of my monitor are almost the same height as my eyes, as adviced in many monitor guide. For the moment I keep like this. :)

  nurul - Reply

well thank you for your own experiance,. im just starting off now so maybe one day ill set up my own expensive chair ;).other than that ive prety much got this set up right, reason being i plan on sitting around for a week brushing up and making the most of my tablet. also get some practice in using colours, last question, have you got any reccomendation on resources that would help me with sellecting effective colour pallettes and etc.

once againg thank you david..

regards nurul

  David REVOY OP , - Reply

@nurul : Cool. Sure for the setup , I took 10 years to the one I got now, good chair is since 2 years only and before that I was using a simple wooden chair :) . For your question about colors and color palette ; maybe one book to invest is Color and Light by James Gurney. Mostly about traditional approach , but also apply for digital painting.

  nurul - Reply

cheers.thanks david,ill be sure to check that out.

reagrds nurul

  Jonathan - Reply

Thank you for this post! I have been working with a 21UX for last few months and didn't realize this option was available. I had actually lowered my desk to make it more comfortable, but this is something I will definitely get in the near future.

Regarding your color calibration, is Pantone's Huey accurate enough and able to use with the cintiq 21ux as well?

  David REVOY OP , - Reply

@Jonathan : :) cool. For your question about color calibration, I get a almost perfect result here with the Huey and DispCalGUI ; compare to other newer LCD, this screen is still a bit warm, and the color calibration option of the OSD menu of the Cintiq is not fantastic ; but with various customisation and a good profile on the top it's perfect to work. Here I use Luminosity 60 / Contrast 55 / backlight 100 , for color menu , I have a 'user' setup, with RGB set like this : R 207 G 223 B 255 ; this is how I obtain the best delta before doing the profile. I must recalibrate soon btw :) (and do an article about )

  mo - Reply

Nice setep, what's that button harness gizmo you have attached the the left side of your cintiq called? (I can't seem to find it.)

  David REVOY OP , - Reply

@mo : thx ; it's a gamepad modified :

  Ragnar - Reply

Nice setup, I've been looking at that arm for my CintiQ21UX, but imagine that it may be unstable or wobble a little when you're drawing on it.

That said, I have a couple of tips for you. Firstly, I've been using a Kinesis Freestyle split keyboard (get the one with the longer cable. The cable is almost long enough, so that you can have each half of the keyboard on either side of the Cintiq. I work a lot in portrait mode, and then it works perfectly. Of course, it does require you to know touch typing, an anyone else who tries to use your computer will hate you for it.

Secondly, and more importantly, try out EasyStroke. It's a gesture recognition program that has pretty much replaced my need for keyboard shortcuts when drawing. You simply assign one of the side switches on your pen to gesture mode, and then draw a shape holding it down, which in turn activates a keyboard combination. It's about as fast as pressing a key, and works great. You define the shapes by drawing them, and you can define different command for different software if you want. You can even assign a gesture to run commands, such as bring up an on-screen keyboard.

It's in the Ubuntu repo, so is just an apt-get away. :D

  David REVOY OP , - Reply

@Ragnar : Hey Ragnar,
Sorry for the late reply. yes the arm was finally unstable and the Cintiq was wooblying. I'm back to the normal 'footer' delivered with the Cintiq as it offers more stability. I'll update the article.

Thanks for the Kinesis tips and easystroke. I'll get a look at it !

  jean morel - Reply

If your going to write on the internet,please learn to spell...

  jean morel - Reply

Beautiful work by the way...

  David REVOY OP , - Reply

@jean morel :
a) ?
b) thanks !

  albert Gomm - Reply

Hello David,
Perhaps you're already responded about that I will submit to you, but is not very comfortable in my speech in English, I had perhaps missed the comment that answered my question.
First, I marvel at your work as an artist and believe me the words are weak to express my admiration.
1- I have always loved drawing, but I can not improve. Would you have any advice for me at this level? (books or special hardware to buy).
2- You councils as the best choice, a classic shelf in front of a screen with a keyboard, can you be more precise. (photographs, specific hardware brand)
3- My 12 year old daughter is passionate about drawing, but I do not know how to orient his artistic development, would you advise me of the tracks on this?
Ente thanking in advance, Albert

  David REVOY OP , - Reply

@albert Gomm : Hey Albert, Thanks for the comment !

1- I guess you already saw the books here … -and-paint , I think the most important his to take a 'challenge' ; mine is still with the '25 expressions challenges' , a meme challenge. Drawing a head cartoony on it is easy, but drawing a more complex character is difficult and reveal how weak I am with representing my character and their acting. I'm working on it since 2012 ; last month I'm working on my own proportions. I decided to take more and more care while drawing of guidelines, and creating custom markers to improves the proportion and look-alike between characters. If you take a big challenge, and invent on the way your own solution adapted to your skill you might gain skill. That's how I train.

2- Yes, it's a good choice. My current setup is a Intuos 3 A4 , a quiet big tablet ; in front of me, with keyboard in front of it. I glued pieces of thick tissue under the keyboard to put the keyboard on the tablet while I'm doing emails or scripting things. When I paint, I just push the keyboard.

3- 12 years old is a really specific period for artist, and probably the most fragile. All kids are practising art more or less before 11/12 then with teenager period they start to get the sens of judgement and desire to 'create themself ' ( adding an ego to ease social life and body transform ). It's of course an explanation really innacurate and full of heavy shortcuts.
For the moment, just keep an eyes. Drawing at 12 years old is natural ; drawing at 14 y/old is already a deeper adult/personnality choice.
It's important to encourage the fun/creation/moment over the technic. Art is really about self-expression and communication. Technics, skill are tool coming on the way. If she keeps drawing at 14y/o or 15 , try to propose her art course on school-hollidays ; ( ones serious, for adult about oil, watercolor, even nude studies , etc... ) even far from home. It can really increase her involvement with her art to be with a supportive dad. Just trust her after 18y/o, if she is an artist for the 2020 era, she 'll know instinctively what's best for this period ; she'll need someone to boost her self-confidence, her choices.
I imagine no artist from the 1990 when I was 12 could advice me something like the open-source model I'm using now and Pepper&Carrot, or the path I took. It is at light-years of this time and probably would sound stupid advice. That's why I advice you to just trust her and help her in the adventure around 2020, 2025 ... In 2030 what she'll do will be probably light-year of what we imagine as 'living like an artist' now. And me, I'll probably be a has-been dinauzore :-D Good luck !

  Álvaro - Reply

Thanks for update comment David. Very useful.
I'm thinking the same problem before buy it. I mean. I saw some videos and I thought, man that is moving! It makes me very nervous, It's unstable!
Finally, don't buy ;D

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