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So, I’ve been trying to get my Huion graphics tablet to work properly on my main PC for a couple of days now. It works fine on the laptop, and presumably, would work properly on any other computer I hooked it up to. The pen tracks without glitches or stutters, but there is no pressure sensitivity. What is more baffling is that I had been using it only a few days ago, and it was working normally.

While I have been able to determine that this is not a hardware problem, I still haven’t been able to resolve the issue. What probably happened is that a windows update of microsofts own tablet drivers have done something to severely bork the drivers for this particular tablet. Sleuthing out what files to delete and what components to uninstall and reinstall to correct the issue has proved difficult.

I know I’ve said it here before, but I’m the type of person who has an abnormally high tolerance for this sort of digital nonsense. I won’t hesitate to enter the command line or dig around in the windows registry to fix a problem. Reinstalling windows is a bit of a pain, but not out of the question. I made this PC, and if need be, I’ll break it to get it working the way I want. I realize this isn’t the attitude of most computer users, and even fewer artists.

As a function of the work, artist tend to know their tools better than a lot of professions. When the core of your job is the subtle manipulation of a brush, knife, or guitar, you become very familiar with the edges of those tools. The things that they are capable of, and how you can manipulate them to be more than they appear.

A computer is a magnificent tool, a tool that can change and shift from one task to the next. It’s the anything machine. It’s also a black box, where much of what it does is not understood by the person manipulating it. There is not one person alive who understands every feature and part of the Windows operating system. The same is true of the Mac OS and Linux. Maybe, at one time, there were a handful of engineers and designers that could tear down, clean out, and reassemble a computer at it’s base level. Now it takes legions, and still problems slip through the cracks.

Countless artist use computers to speed up traditional methods of working, and create things that would be impossible without the use of a computer. They do so knowing that they have to give up a small amount of control. Mastery of the tool will never be absolute. I can build my own brushes from birch sticks and hair. I can’t use a computer without leaning on millions of hours of other peoples work. I can fix broken tools, but I can only fix a computer by venturing past the realm of my training.

To be clear, I don’t think that this is inherently good or bad. Just different. Different to what centuries of artists had been use to. But I do think that the effort to make tools “that just work” is a dangerous one. Because they won’t. They won’t just work. They will break, like tools do, like tools always have. An effort should be made instead, to teach us how to fix them, or failing that, who to ask for help in the repairs.

This post is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 by the author.
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