Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Winona Nelson

Winona Nelson

Artist, illustrator

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Winona Nelson, and I'm an artist working in illustration and video game concept art. Clients I've worked with include Magic: The Gathering and Naughty Dog.

What hardware do you use?

I work in more than one medium - digital and oil paint. I'll start with the digital tools: I have both a desktop at home, and a laptop computer to paint with when I travel. The desktop machine is a Dell Precision Tower 5810 with one 27 inch Dell LCD monitor and one 23.6 inch Asus LCD monitor, and a Wacom Intuos4 Medium tablet. My mobile setup is an Asus Pro B9440UA laptop and a Wacom Intuos Pro Small. It's an odd laptop - I had to prioritize weight for my travel machine because being a smallish woman and with an old shoulder injury, I can't carry much on my back or in a shoulder bag, and I travel a lot. I needed something light and small, with a matte screen after my last laptop's glossy screen was impossible to work on in any but the dimmest environments. The reason I use a tablet rather than a Cintiq or similar tablet screen is that I grew up painting digitally and prefer not having my hand in front of what I'm doing. I wish I could make my hand invisible when I oil paint too!

As for my oil paint setup, I like both Blick and Ampersand gessoed masonite surfaces. I apply a layer of Gamblin Fastmatte Titanium White to the surface before painting to speed drying time. The brand of paint I use varies by color. Most are Gamblin, some Windsor and Newton, some Old Holland, some Williamsburg and some Michael Harding. For my medium I like Neo Megilp as well as a mixture of Damar varnish, stand oil, and turpenoid. My favorite brushes are Princeton Umbria flats. I use a standing easel and an anti-fatigue mat while I paint, and I've attached an iPad holder arm to my easel and use an iPad to display reference material.

And what software?

Photoshop, currently CC 2019. Every once in a while I use SketchUp to help with perspective in backgrounds.

What would be your dream setup?

I'm mostly happy with what I have right now. I'm planning to upgrade the RAM to and video card in my desktop system sometime soon. Maybe a new monitor too. For my laptop I've already got one of the smallest and lightest ones that can run the software I need, but the screen could be better. I'll probably upgrade again in a couple years and will see what's available then. It does seem like there have been some interesting developments in the ultralight category.

For my traditional media work, someday I'd like a studio with a high ceiling and a Hughes easel.