Uses This

1281 interviews since 2009

A picture of Tony Ruth

Tony Ruth


in artist, designer, mac

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm a Creative Director at Vessel in Chicago. I do freelance illustration, information design and half-assed cartoons in my free time under the name Lunchbreath, and I supply half of the cartoon blog content at Core77.

What hardware do you use?

The indispensable part is a Wacom Cintiq 21UX, at home it's hooked up to a 24" iMac G5 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 2GB RAM. I run a Griffin Powermate and an Apple Magic Trackpad on the left side to manipulate brushes and pallettes with my non-drawing hand. At the studio it's the same tablet and peripherals running off of a PowerMac G5 Quadcore 2.5GHZ with 8GB of RAM and a 30" Cinema Display, which is the greatest thing ever for sorting through piles of image data. I use a Logitech LX7 Cordless mouse and a nasty old Mac Pro keyboard that has nice big clunky buttons because I must have a keypad for inputting number values or I'm kind of useless.

I use a MacBook Pro 2.26 GHz Intel Core Duo with 2Gb of RAM as my mobile station, with a Wacom Cintiq 12WX. This is manageable for mobile work but definitely a lesser experience than using the large Cintiq, which I will travel with if I can justify lugging the flight case. When you carry a flight case people think you're a musician and after they discover that you're not they don't want to talk to you anymore.

An iPad 3G; which was a gift from I'm reluctant to claim this is a work tool as the screen sensitivity is a letdown for anyone who's used to Wacom products. But it's a fantastic mobile information access point and the best possible way to show a portfolio during a casual chat; it's already paid for itself in that regard.

The small stuff: An iPhone 3G. Should have upgraded by now but I'm too attached to my custom Uncommon Case. So Uncommon is preventing me from moving on with my life. A Canon G10, which I don't really do justice to but has made me enormously happy because I don't scan sketches anymore, I just photograph them and the clarity is more than adequate to work with.

And what software?

I'm totally dependent on Photoshop CS3 for all of my image processing and illustration. Some final art will get polished in Illustrator, but that's rare. Because I do a lot of information sifting, I use Bridge for file automation, using actions and scripts written in Photoshop. I'll use Sketchup for quick mockups and underlays if I'm doing something that needs accurate proportions.

Beyond that I use Pages for writing, Safari for browsing, Firefox for FTP access, Mail for mail, Keynote and Acrobat for running presentations, and Google Calendar for occasionally being on time. I'm hugely reliant on Google Image search and while grateful I feel like the latest version was designed exclusively for people who have fiber optic connections. But I'm sure future me will enjoy it more.

What would be your dream setup?

Doesn't exist yet, but I imagine soon enough: call it a 24" MacPad Pro. Basically I just want to snap the screen off of a 24" Cinema display, give it Cintiq-level drawing sensitivity and a brain to run OS X faster than I could possibly require, a 4G connection so I could carry it in a messenger bag and sketch on my lap while I'm sitting in the airport and then come home, plop it back on its stand in iMac mode, and use it like a traditional desktop workstation.

Basically I want what I have now but much simpler, in one thin screen, totally portable, so that there's no longer any distinction between desktop/laptop/tablet and I don't have to read the same emails four times on four devices. Yeah I know there's ways to fix that but I'm lazy.