Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Lee Petty and I am an Art Director, working at the video game company Double Fine Productions in San Francisco, CA. We make games for PC, Mac, Linux, PS3, Xbox 360, iOS and Android platforms.
What hardware do you use?
At work, I use a Dell computer with an Intel Xenon CPU (@3 GHz) with 4GB RAM, two HP 20" LCD monitors, and a 6"x8" Intuos 3 Wacom tablet.
At home, I use a similar setup, but instead of a tablet I have a Cintiq 21UX, which I have mounted on a six axis arm. The arm allows me to rotate it and easily move it from being a monitor to a drawing surface. It does shake a bit when you draw on it, so you have to steady it with your off hand, but it works really well. I also use the felt tips for the Wacom pen, which I not only like because of the "drag" it adds, but also because the tip won't scratch the surface of the Cintiq - which is good for me because I press down really hard while I draw.
In addition to my desktop setups, I also use both an iPad 2 and an old Lenovo x61 tablet PC laptop that is equipped with a Wacom "penabled" screen. The Lenovo screen is a really great drawing surface, better than anything else I've used other than the Cintiq. I use a Wacom Bamboo stylus with the iPad 2, but the lack of pressure sensitivity and the inability to rest your hand on the drawing surface make it hard to use, especially on the train which is where I mostly use the iPad and laptop.
I also still really like drawing with analog tools! I use a variety of pencils, pens and brushes, but my current favorites are the Prismacolor Col-Erase Blue Pencil, the Pilot V Razor Point felt pen (black), and a Japanese brush pen that has a flexible rubber/plastic nib that is capable of a wide range of line weights. And it may seem strange to fetishize a manual pencil sharpener, but the sharpeners that Moebius and Ruppert make are the absolute best. My favorite sketchbook is the Strathmore Visual Journal (5.5" x 8") with the Smooth Bristol surface. The pages are nice and thick and can take a lot of abuse.
And what software?
For 2D work, I primarily use Adobe Photoshop (currently CS5.1). I also use Autodesk SketchBook Pro 6 when I'm doing sketching on my tablet PC and need a good interface that doesn't require a keyboard to be fully functional. I use Procreate on the iPad, which has a great interface, tools and is insanely affordable.
For 3D work I use both Autodesk Maya 2012 and Pixologic's Zbrush 4. Maya is a bit long in the tooth and clunky nowadays, but it's what Double Fine's tools are built around so I use it a lot. Zbrush is a fantastically deep and powerful program with an incredibly obtuse interface that seems different for no good reason. But it's worth the effort - there really isn't anything close to it out there.
What would be your dream setup?
Both my desktop and laptop are about 5-6 years old, so of course I'd like the latest PC loaded up with 16 gigs of RAM, a beefy graphics card and some giant monitors to go along with a brand new HD Cintiq! I like the user experience of Apple computers, but I can't use their desktops because of incompatibility issues with our studio's custom tools.
I also would love to replace my tablet PC with something more modern - something lighter with an SSD drive and a better battery life, but I'm really not sure what to replace it with! I like the iPad, but at the end of the day it's too limited and closed of a system for professional work. And I like Mac laptops - but there is not a reasonable tablet solution. Most PC manufactures have ditched making true tablet PC's with nice Wacom screens and instead are pursuing the "casual tablet" market. Maybe the Windows Surface Pro will offer a good drawing surface? I haven't tried it yet!