Every digital artist knows the pain of muscle strain. Those long hours at the desk with your pen in hand can often leave your body feeling stiff and sore — and, needless to say, nobody has time for that.
Whether you’re a working artistic professional or you do it for the love, keeping your body healthy and happy is crucial to succeeding as a digital artist. Thankfully, there’s plenty you can do to help your long hours in the studio stay productive and pain-free.
Keep scrolling for some helpful stretches, tips and tricks you can try today to beat that tennis elbow, improve your posture and maintain your well-being while at work.
Set up a healthy workspace
Some of the most effective ways to protect yourself from strain begin well before you put pen to pad. Just about everything from the desk where you create, to the chair you sit on and even the room you plan to work in plays a role in how you work.
Here are some important factors to consider when arranging your workspace.
- Get your desk right – Every digital artist has their own way of doing things. But just about everyone uses a desk of some form when they’re creating. When you’re choosing the right desk for you, think about how your work setup fits in the space. If you like to use large monitors and a creative tablet like the Wacom Intuos Pro for example, you’ll probably benefit from a larger desk of the standard 75cm height. That way you can place the monitors at a comfortable distance and have your elbows fully supported on the table while you work.
On the other hand, if you like to work with a creative display like the Wacom Cintiq series, you could opt for a smaller desk with an inclining feature, so you can angle your work surface how you like.
- Suitable studio chair – There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to selecting your ideal studio chair. But as a general rule, you’ll want to start with comfort. A firm, supportive chair with back support can help you to sit upright and keep your circulation healthy.
Chairs with adjustable height can also help with posture by allowing you to find the perfect comfortable working height for you. There’s no need to slouch over your workspace for those tiny details when your chair can be adjusted to suit your needs.
- Good lighting – Surprisingly, the lighting in your studio can also have a significant impact on posture and general well-being. Natural lighting is a great option for any workspace, so try arranging your space so that the window is either in front of you or by your side. Having a window nearby is also perfect for when your eyes need a break from focusing on your work!
You’ll also want a lighting setup that avoids any shadows or excessive glare on your creative surface. Aside from the strain that shadows and glare cause to your eyes, they can also encourage you to adjust your posture or hand position in unhealthy ways to work around them.
Remember to stretch
Now that you’ve got your workspace set up for good posture and comfort, it’s time to look after your hard-working joints and muscles in your wrists and hands.
For digital artists of all stripes, repetitive movements are at the core of what you do. Whether you’re drawing, painting or stuck deep in some 3D design, working for hours on end can easily lead to strain and pain. And if repetitive strain isn’t carefully managed, pain can just as easily become serious injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome or tennis elbow.
Stretching before your session in the studio begins helps to get your hand muscles warmed up, limber and ready to work. Taking regular stretch breaks during your working period is equally as important, as it gives your muscles and joints a moment to recover and ease out any tension that may have built up.
Try this quick and easy stretching sequence to help get you warmed up for your artistic work and to keep your joints and hands in good shape throughout your day.
Take regular breaks
Your wrists and hands aren’t the only things under strain when you’re creating. Your whole body is along for the ride during your studio hours as well, and that means potential pressure and strain in places you might not expect.
Try taking 5 to 10-minute breaks every hour or so to rest your eyes, stretch your legs and get your blood flowing. As an added bonus, these breaks also give you the chance to step out of the studio and reset your creativity when you need it.
If you need some more inspiration for how to make the most of your breaks, check out this blog post from Wacom on keeping your creativity at its peak all day long.
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