Search Query

The Future Looks Bright Indeed

When thinking about the future of computer graphics, I have to start with the past. When I first got into the business of using computers to make art and design (back in the paleolithic 1980’s), personal computers were slow and expensive things. One of the first systems that I had access to ran off IBM PC-compatibles under DOS. The case was so crammed full of necessary add-on cards that the covers were left off to reduce heat. To lay the graphics out to videotape, the PC had to be shut down and cards had to be swapped. It is amazing to think that I can not only go out and buy a thousand dollar computer to create digital video, but companies like Sony and Apple are actively marketing systems for this purpose.
Times have changed radically since my art was created on a 16 megahertz computer and printed to a 300 dpi laser printer. Today, we think nothing of digitizing our photos on flatbed scanners or digital cameras. We share these with friends and family via email and the web at the speed of agitated electrons. The inexpensive systems designed for graphics and the ease and equality of web publishing makes this a world like we have never seen.
I like to draw. I have two digitizing tablets with pressure sensitive pens and these are great tools, but I still draw with a pencil or ink on paper more often. The immediacy and portability of a pencil and paper have yet to be matched by digital tools. Once my analog drawing is roughly finished, I scan the artwork and then clean it up and color it in Adobe Photoshop. I am salivating for a new generation of monitors. With flat panel monitors becoming less expensive, digitizing tablets that incorporate LCD displays (like Wacom’s PL series) are now available, although still quite pricey. New technologies coming soon, like light-emitting polymers, will allow flexible monitors at a low price-point. I envision the day when I can sit out under a tree with a digital sketch pad and draw as easily as I could on paper. Pictures would be saved in an embedded system or a flash card for download to my computer at home later.
When I think of the future and how computers should be, I always come to the Star Trek example. In Star Trek, the average person doesn’t need to know how the computer works, he just knows the task that he wants to complete. Many of us are diving into the highly technical world of image processing now made ubiquitous by low prices. Most people don’t want to think about the resolution of an image or how to get the perfect color balance, but they do know that they want a great-looking image. Intelligent software that anticipates the most common user requests is sorely needed. We need more that a cartoon character on the desktop telling us things we already know. Voice interfaces are still in their infancy, but that is the future for sure. I don’t want to tell my computer to paint a picture for me (although that may be pretty cool), but I do want to be able to say, "Computer, remove the redeye on my photo."
The egalitarian publishing system introduced with the World Wide Web is not only a boon for the independent artist or writer, but for the population at large. The free and wide-spread dissemination of art and ideas will remake our society in ways none of us can easily anticipate. The most requested improvement, increased bandwidth, is already on the way. The other innovation that I eagerly await is a way to make an individual’s art or ideas generate an income. Most people don’t want to pay for web content, I’m certainly one of them. I don’t want to pay twenty dollars to see an online gallery, or to see a Flash movie. I have seen a lot of great content on the web, much of it paid for by advertising. I would be willing to pay the creator directly a couple of cents to see great content, and with a possible audience of millions, this could really rack up (how many of us have seen Mahir’s site). With the advent of microtransactions on the web, our collective art and literature will really blossom.
I am really digging the present, enjoying the technology that we already have. The future looks bright and I am eager to see what’s in store.
Paul Vaughn is the Director of Digital Services at River City Silver, the premiere photographic and digital imaging laboratory in San Antonio and South Texas. Mr. Vaughn is interested in making it to the future, he is on the web at, he can be contacted at

|| Home || Graphics Guy || Mac Guy || Gallery || Payment || ||

This site and all images and text contained in it are ©2006 Paul Vaughn.
(Unless otherwise noted)
Questions? Problems?