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Ergonomics Tips for Artists: Desk Setup [Part 2]

by | Oct 3, 2013

Ergonomics in the workplace are critical. As an artist, you may find yourself in some unusual postures and positions throughout your creative process. Slouching. Reaching. Staring. Hours at your workspace can result in serious physical pain and long-term problems if you are not careful.

Lucky for you, we brought in a certified ergonomist, Shelby Cass, to continue cover proper ergonomics in a multiple part blog series. Shelby has worked with animators, CG artists, and creatives in offices like Pixar Animation Studios, DreamWorks Animation, WETA, Blue Sky, and many more. She knows all too well the problems that arise as a result of long hours at a computer.

Each week, we’ll cover different areas of ergonomics in the workplace and tips you can apply to your own setup. Today, Shelby shows you how to setup your seated desk properly.

-The Animation Mentor Crew

PART 2: How To Setup Your Desk.

Today, we continue our series with proper desk setup. If you missed last week’s episode, be sure to check it out first: How To Setup Your Chair.

1.) ARM POSITION: The first step is to ensure your elbow is resting directly beneath your relaxed shoulder. This supports the neutral position of your shoulders, upper back and arms. Next, make sure your elbows, forearms and wrists are in line when you are working. Don’t let your elbow bend more than 90 degrees.

2.) REACHING: If your work makes you reach outside of your neutral position, it will most likely cause you to start slouching and curving in your shoulders. This is an ERGO NO NO!

3.) MOUSE or POINTING DEVICE: You want to set your mouse or tablet within your neutral zone, you do not want to reach beyond neutral for it. (If you elbow moves from under your shoulder, or your forearm/hand has to move outside of your shoulder width to access your mouse, you are no longer in neutral). If you are right-handed and don’t use the number pad section of your keyboard, get a keyboard without one. That number pad region is a much better and safer place for your pointing device. (If you are super adventurous, use the mouse on the other side of the keyboard for non-art tasks such as web-surfing and emailing.)

4.) MONITOR DISTANCE: Bring your monitor close enough that it forces you to sit up back in your chair.

5.) MONITOR HEIGHT: Your straight-ahead eye line should fall within the top inch of the screen, leaving your resting gaze about 1/3 of the way down.

Tune into the Animation Mentor blog next week for “How To Setup Your Standing Desk.”

NOTE: The most important thing Shelby covers is that ergonomic solutions vary person to person, it is not a one-size-fits-all answer. Contact a qualified experienced ergonomist like Shelby to work on your personal ergo, workspace and situation.

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