Amiga Art Contest 2020: A tiger and a mouse on a tablet

Having invested some time on getting a graphics tablet running, and equipped with a now 68040@40MHz driven Amiga, the deadline of the Amiga Art Contest 2020 by Douglas from 10 Minute Amiga Retro Cast (10MARC) and Pixel Vixen popped up somewhere, and pretty much from out of nowhere I started painting...

The graphics tablet is a "Lifetec" branded Tevion/Aldi LT 9310, powered by a homegrown floppy-port-PSU, and connected to the Amiga 1200's internal serial port at 19200 baud and 200lpi, using FormAldiHyd driver from AmiNet.

FormAldiHyd requires MUI, which makes it look a bit nicer than if GadToolsBox had been used, and probably saves the author some typing, but ultimately it's an unneccessary dependency. Anyway, FormAldiHyd hooks into AmigsOS's input handler system, thus is more or less application independent.

PersonalPaint 7 was chosen as the paint program - it's quite fast, straightforward, and system friendly. Basically what I wanted is just some software that's able to properly set pixels on screen according to my hand's movements. 640x512 hires interlaced is my preferred screenmode, and you cannot be more Amiga than a 32 color picture - this will be the artwork's geometry.

Work-in-progress, using graphics tablet and mouse

The tablet works! But over hours of painting it turns out you need some strong nerves to keep going despite all the hiccups. Practice makes a huge difference, once you get an intuitive idea about the graphics tablet's dimensions and haptics - both it's overall physical features, and it's drawing area - and the speed the system is able to handle, you can make really good progress, but the tablet becomes unresponsive from time to time, or stutters badly - resulting in interruptions in workflow, and sometimes random dots and lines in the drawing area. (PersonalPaint's multi-undo is very helpful here.) I wasn't able to identify the bottleneck, experimented with FormAldiHyd's settings, New8n1.device as a replacement for AmigaOS's serial port driver, etc. Most times just touching (moving) the mouse would re-enable graphics tablet input, but at some point I kind of gave up and would keep using the mouse for a couple of minutes for painting, then give the tablet another try.

The tablet is still amazing fun to use, and moving a pen is incredibly much faster and smoother than moving a computer mouse with your entire arm. This may affect the results: I ended up using a drawing tool other than pen/airbrush only for the peace symbol, everything else you see in the final result is hand and finger movement. (Ok, maybe the tiger's eye was flooded.)

After three days of occasional painting sessions, I thought from here on it might get worse, so I stopped. When doodling around the first concept that came to my mind was something with a dog - as you can see it turned into a tiger-dog. I had some horror themed ideas, like a Hound of the Baskervilles or so, but then some positive vibe won't do any harm, and the little mouse was created.

'Nuff said - here's the picture:

The final result, as submitted to the Amiga Art Contest 2020

A lot of amazing pictures (and MODs), have been submitted to the Amiga Art Contest 2020, showing there's no shortage of creativity in the community. Tiger and mouse are very proud to be among the contestants. Thanks, 10MARC, Pixel Vixen, and all artists and judges! 

Head over to... see the rest of images!

Watch 10MARC's Amiga Art Contest 2020 presentation and results video (live-streamed on 2020-10-17, 15:00h):

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