VOGONS


First post, by ShovelKnight

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Recently I installed DeluxePaint II on my DOS/Windows 98 machine, and I must say it's one impressive piece of software for something released in the late 1980s. I've read that many companies, including LucasArts, used this graphics editor to create graphics for their games.

Hence my question: how did people draw on their PCs in the late 80s and early 90s? I can't imagine anyone drawing with a mouse, really. Did they use light pens? Were other drawing devices, such as drawing tablets, already available 30-40 years ago? I tried to search for old DOS-compatible drawing tablets but couldn't find anything.

Reply 2 of 16, by derSammler

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Light pens and graphics tablets existed well before the IBM PC, but people did indeed drew with the mouse mostly. However, since you mention LucasArts: many game companies did draw by hand on paper, scanned that in, and used DeluxePaint and the like to finalize the graphics. The other extreme was to set each pixel with the mouse, not really what I would call "drawing", but the reason why DeluxePaint has those fancy zoom modes. DeluxePaint was more of an Amiga thing, however. While it existed for PC as well, it wasn't used much there.

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Reply 3 of 16, by rmay635703

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I used a lot of ascii graphics for banners and whatnot, don’t remember what software

My folks had an Innovion PGS-III (CASI Futura 100) with a tablet and targa graphics/video toaster, could take photos, draw, overlay, etc on the spot and all in the late 80’s.

Reply 4 of 16, by xjas

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Graphics tablets & light pens for home PCs have been around since, well, the earliest home PCs. Even the original IBM CGA cards had a light pen port. DPaint supports a range of serial-port tablets on DOS & Amiga; I had a Wacom ArtPad II for a while that did the job. (I ended up selling it to a friend for his A500.) I even have a KoalaPad tablet for C64 - it's not high res, with a 256x256 drawing surface, but good enough for any paint program on the 64.

That said, a lot of stunning demoscene works really were just drawn in pixel by pixel with a mouse, sometimes over a scanned template but also just done freehand. (And often blatantly copied from works by Vallejo, Frazetta, etc. even though the pixeller claimed 'nocopy' 😜 )

I do my drawing with a USB tablet on relatively modern machines, but even with that I still work on low-res art pixel-by-pixel at high zoom.

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Reply 7 of 16, by xjas

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Calvero wrote on 2020-03-29, 19:42:

=:O

Also in that video: Romero playing Wolfenstein using "modern" FPS controls. Well, he's using the mouse with his left hand and the arrow keys instead of WASD, but close enough. That should put an end to those stupid "Doom(/ROTT/Duke3D/etc.) was never meant to be played with the mouse!" arguments forever.

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Reply 8 of 16, by imi

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I don't 100% remember but I used a DOS paint software in EGA on our 386... I believe it was PC PAINT?
later used MS Paint until I started using Photoshop with Version 3.0 I believe.
was stuck for a long time on Photoshop 4.0...

Reply 9 of 16, by Grzyb

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See eg. the list of supported input devices in PC Paintbrush 3.10 (1985)...

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Reply 10 of 16, by pshipkov

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I had com, or was it lpt tablet back then. It was super cheap, but did the job.
In fact i remember buying 10 of them and selling them to friends at no profit.

Was there ever an argument about wolf and doom with or without mouse ? That question does not make sense.
Also there was (is) a better combination than wasd and arrow keys. It is A Z LSHIFT LALT (or SPACE).
If you place your fingers at them you will notice that they map more naturally to the length of the fingers, also you play with 4 fingers instead of 3 (with wasd and arrows you need to switch middle fingie between for and back). Some Q3 pro guys educated me on this stuff. In high paced games like Q3 it makes a difference.
Good times.

Last edited by pshipkov on 2020-03-30, 07:16. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 11 of 16, by Zup

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I remember some architects using graphic tablet from early 90's, those tablets were A3 or A2 sized. They usually had overlays with an area reserved for most usual commands on the top of the tablet, so they could select it without changing from tablet to keyboard/mouse. Also they came with pens and a "mouse" with crosshairs.

Also, I remember my wife having a "mouse-pen" hybrid. It was really a serial mouse, but it had the shape of a pen with the ball and buttons at the point (like this thing on ebay).

BTW, some mouse drivers came with drawing applications. I remember having Dr. Genius (Halo) on a floppy with my mouse drivers. Obviously, it's no match to Deluxe Paint but I guess most home users made his first drawings using that "cheap" applications.

(On an unrelated thought... did anyone had/used this trackball from Microsoft? I think it was useless, even for kids.

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Reply 12 of 16, by Jo22

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Zup wrote on 2020-03-30, 05:33:

I remember some architects using graphic tablet from early 90's, those tablets were A3 or A2 sized.
They usually had overlays with an area reserved for most usual commands on the top of the tablet, so they could select it without changing from tablet to keyboard/mouse.
Also they came with pens and a "mouse" with crosshairs.

AutoCAD (DOS) and AutoSketch (DOS) from the 1980s also supported drawing boards, I remember.
Out-of-box they do support KoalaPad or SummaSketch models, I think, but I'm not sure. Have to check.

Anyway, the Amiga 2000 video advertisment has some footage of an 90s-era drawing pad/graphic tablet (SummaSketch drawing tablet).
https://youtu.be/k5CYsgVCzYY?t=155

Edit: Seems the KoalaPad was popular on the C64/128 and Apple2 platform.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JXi1WSSfHw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XK1_sp9pRlM

Edit: I've also found some Dr.Halo video about making art.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBvbRLGHPAQ

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Reply 13 of 16, by brostenen

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My mother drew/designed power lines and transformer stations on Dos based machines, from around the late 80's to the use of WinNT systems around 1994'ish and finally on Win2000, WinXP and then Win7. She used autocad as her tool. She retired from work, around 2008/10.

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Reply 14 of 16, by spiroyster

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Zup wrote on 2020-03-30, 05:33:

I remember some architects using graphic tablet from early 90's, those tablets were A3 or A2 sized. They usually had overlays with an area reserved for most usual commands on the top of the tablet, so they could select it without changing from tablet to keyboard/mouse. Also they came with pens and a "mouse" with crosshairs.

Yes these were called digitizers (CalComp) and used in a different way to drawing tablets (Wacom). The pucks (mouse-like devices) had emphasis on positional accuracy and sometimes orientation and the surfaces were more like large drafting boards so you could place various items on them to trace/digitize.

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Drawing tablets (Wacom) had more emphasis on stylus pressure accuracy which is more beneficial to artists to recreate strokes for drawing and painting.

I think it was certainly a different skill to use non LCD/LED tablets without a screen (such as Intuos as opposed to Cintiqs). It's a bit like patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time... you need one eye on the screen, and your hand with the stylus had to have great spatial awareness in its own.