Ergonomics when drawing?

  • Hi!
    I didn't find any discussion about this with the search and would like to hear your comments on what might be the best way to set up a table etc. when drawing by hand. I rushed through the How to ink -course and am currently going through the How to ink 2.0, and when doing the exercises (the gazillions of lines... ) I have a problem with numbing hands and fingers.

    I now we're all different so the setup should be different for all too, but are there some general guidelines? I'd even buy a short tutorial video or such, where the "right" (meaning less crippling) drawing positions, perhaps chairs and tables, would be introduced. Or pretty please point me into the right direction if something like this already exists šŸ™‚

    Br. Laura

  • My day job requires a lot of sitting down. So when I draw I usually stand up and use an easel. When I do sit down, I usually use my table easel or a cheap A2 sized desktop drawing board that I can angle. I find bending over a flat desk to draw does my neck in pretty quick.

    Regarding numbing of the hands, play with different ways to hold the pencil, and brush. Proko has a good video here:

    When I'm drawing, I try and keep my hand loose. It helps with your drawing and can reduce hand strain.

    All in all it comes down to your own style of working. Take what you can from my suggestions, but ultimately you will find your own way of working. Try, and adjust.

  • Pro

    I'm very interested in this topic as well! I know you're talking primarily about traditional drawing, specifically inking exercises, but if anyone has tips about digital drawing (with a normal non-screen tablet) I'd be so interested. I know I have terrible ergonomics.. I sit cross-legged on my chair, sometimes hunch or squint when I'm very focused.. I know it's all going to catch up to me very soon. Already I'm getting more and more frequent headaches when working, and I have a fragilized shoulder blade from a few repetitive bouts of tendonitis - whenever I start overworking, it will always start to hurt again. If anyone has tips, would love to hear them!

  • I pretty much have to use the old school floor easel approach. Hold the tool in a loose grip further back than seems "right". Going to some atelier classes made it where I don't have to stop drawing from pain anymore because I learned to stand back and draw from the shoulder and elbow. No wrist abuse and hunching. I finally have a digital tablet I can use that works with my setup. It's 22in and I set it fairly high and sit on a stool at almost my standing height. I just had to adjust the pressure settings to accommodate.

  • I used to get gnarly back pain from hunching over my tablet. I went to Opus and bought a small easel. combined with a standing desk I can draw upright. No more problems.

  • SVS OG

    When I draw using my ipad, I just lie in bed and prop myself with many pillows. However, given that you have numbing hands and fingers perhaps you have some vitamin deficiency? Iā€™m not a doctor though but maybe you can have that checked.

  • @laura there's definitely ways to alleviate drawing fatigue. For drawing at my desk I have a gamers chair, which helps when drawing for a long time and good for a nap too! Also I have a giant mouse mat (1200mm x 600mm) that covers my 3/4 of my desk. So its all soft and spongy wherever my elbows, wrists and hands go - moving bones and hard surfaces are not good bedfellows. And I bought a curved monitor which is more natural for the eyes to look at. Plus every few hours, I either have a dance, meditate or go for a long walk. All good for a circulation pump.

  • Thanks everyone for the helpful tips! I should have an old easel somewhere... but it's floor model, maybe it would be better to have just some kind of tilted adjustable board on the table for drawing "old school"? šŸ™‚ And I'll check the link @Nathan, thanks!

    My problem is bad upper back: the muscles, spine and the works. When I was pregnant I had terrible numbing of hands mainly in the night, because your joints get both looser and swollen at the same time... (thanks a lot, kids). I did some research on this back then and read that if it's your thumb, index and middle finger which numb, then the problem is in the wrist. If it's the ring finger and pinky, the problem is most likely that a certain nerve is pinched between vertebras in the upper back. For me, yoga is the best way to keep the spine alive. There's nothing like a couple of forward folds to let the vertebras find their place!

  • @laura I get the numb pinky too. Super annoying. My traps are always tight and I have to figure out how long I can go and use a left handed mouse at work usually (I'm right handed). šŸ˜ž

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