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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

STAND UP!

I'm having a mini-epiphany tonight: STAND UP AND DRAW COMICS!!!

I have a bad back from 6 years as a scenic carpenter (I'm tall and lanky, which is a bad build for working on your knees all day and slinging around sheets of plywood). And sitting all the time drawing Comics doesn't help that. I do stretches in the morning (sit ups! strengthen those stomach muscles which support your back!) and sometimes I wear a back-brace to help me sit up straight, but I'm still often in a lot of pain. Tonight was one of those nights....

SO. I own an Alvin Fold-A-Matic drafting board, which is just about my favorite thing in the world. It can acheive 0 degrees flat horizontal and 90 degrees straight vertical (plus everything in between) at a range of heights. And I found long ago, that keeping my drafting table "steep" helps me NOT hunch over the board, so my back doesn't hurt as much.

But then tonight I realized I could even adjust the table so I am STANDING UP while I was drawing! It was super comfortable and I drew for 3 hours straight without any back pain. I'm sure after a while it would hurt to be on your feet, but I now know I can switch back and forth. If other people have bad backs, they should give this a try! You can probably rig something up with your boards or with a sheet of plywood or something.

12 Comments:

At 8:05 PM, Blogger Liz (Baillie) said...

Where do you keep your ink and pens/brushes and such? The main reason my table is more horizontal is so my stuff doesn't slide off of it. Do you keep that stuff on a seperate table next to the drafting table? I don't know why, but I really hate keeping stuff on a seperate table. But I also hate being a hunchback at my little table...

 
At 5:03 AM, Blogger Alec said...

Liz-
Yeah, I actually have surfaces on BOTH sides of my table (which may not be a luxury you can afford in New York!) In my old, smaller apartment, I used to have it next to the window, so I kept my ink and stuff on the window sill and then I have a little table for brushes, white out, nibs, etc. etc. etc. I have one of those "art bins" to keep everything organized. Try it out!

Having a tilted table can also prevent "skewing" from looking at your page in perspective while you are drawing, since you are looking at the page straight-on when your table is properly tilted.

 
At 12:35 PM, Blogger Colin Tedford said...

I'm so with you on the standing up. I don't have a drawing table so I still work flat, but I recently piled some boxes on my desk so I could stand & work. I can switch back & forth pretty easily. When I realized how much of my day I spend on my butt between my desk job, computerizing, and drawing, it just seemed like a good idea.

 
At 11:22 AM, Blogger CamChes said...

That's interesting because I prefer to stand-up when I am painting. I tape canvas or paper directly onto the wall instead of using an easel. I am so used to the idea of sitting while I am drawing, that I haven't given the idea of standing while drawing comics much consideration. My back has really started to bother me within recent years (I guess that's the artists complaint). Thanks for the tip Alec. Great job on Indie Spinner Rack by the way...

 
At 10:49 AM, Anonymous The Masked Retriever said...

My big issue has been wrist pain, not back pain, so for me sitting at a flat table so my arms aren't angled up is the best arrangement.

However, standing and doing comics, (pretty much a necessity when doing 'em on my whiteboard) IS pretty comfortable until my wrist tendons dry out XD

 
At 12:12 PM, Blogger Liz (Baillie) said...

This was an awesome idea. I actually adjusted my drawing table so it's as vertical as it can get - I still sit while I'm drawing, though - and my back pain has been virtually eliminated since I now sit up straight whilst drawing. It's annoying having all my drawing supplies, scripts, and thumbnails on the floor (I keep them all in a notebook, so I can't just tack them up to my desk) but it's definitely a much better drawing situation overall.

 
At 6:31 PM, Blogger Alec said...

Good to hear Liz! I also keep a big cork board in front of my board (high up! since the table is tilted) so that I can tack up idea sheets, roughs, outlines, character sketches, etc. etc. Might help!

 
At 11:13 PM, Blogger Alec said...

P.S. I also just elevated my COMPUTER, since I spend a lot of time hunched over the keyboard as well. Or, I USED to anyways! HA HA!! You can read about it in this blog entry.

 
At 4:23 PM, Blogger matt said...

This sounds like a great idea, but like the, er, masked retriever said, my issue tends to be wrist pein, and anything tilted too much up makes my wrist scream "NO NO NO!!!"

Dave Cooper has a custom built rig so her can lie face down and draw. It makes him hover over the page, and there's a portal that his face looks down through.

I guess Artists will do damned near anything to keep drawing.

 
At 7:35 PM, Anonymous Tim said...

I sit at a drawing board that my dad got for me a few years back, which sits pretty high for a board of that kind.Couple that with a tall stool,which I plan on replacing with a tall directors' chair..but given those heights in 'furnishings', I find it a lot better on my back. The idea, I think is to limit the extent of the 'bend' for prolonged periods of time. Also, the position of my board plays alot into how much fatigue I suffer during those marathon sessions. I used to draw at a angle or tilt which forced me to hold my arms at an angle..this made my shoulders hurt. Now, with the board flat, my arms rest and it just seems to help me. Others with varying postures and drawing posistions may feel otherwise, but this seems to work well with me.

 
At 12:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a suggestion for y'all from someone who has suffered both a broken back and fusion of most of the levels of my spine: keep a small footstool handy and put one (or the other) foot up on the stool while placing most of your weight on the other. This helps alleviate the tiredness and strain in the small of your back.

 
At 7:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back Pain is a pain in my… well… back!
I was hit by a car a few years ago and since then I have suffered a lot of lower back pain and back ache! I was on strong painkillers for awhile but then I was getting addicted to them so had to drop them before it got too bad. That was about a year ago now and since then I have been looking for alternate ways of relieving the pain and aching until a month ago I was struggling to find anything that helped but I managed to get hold of some Cheap Slumberland Beds and I finally got a good nights sleep! It was great!
However!
Upon waking from my beautiful bed the relief only lasted until I got to work then the suffering began once more.
Can anyone give me any advice to ease my pain?

 

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