Adapt, survive, prevail

Francis Tsai ImagineFX

Francis Tsai, talented artist and friend of ImagineFX, teaches us all a lesson in true grit

Francis Tsai was diagnosed with ALS  (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in 2010, a degenerative condition leading to total paralysis.

Having lost the ability to paint with his hands, arms and feet, Francis is now able to paint with his eyes.

As well as providing a great example of true grit, he has also become a symbol for the innate need to create.

An incredible form of eye-tracking technology translates Francis’ eye movements into painting instructions, which enables him to keep on creating art.

“Drawing is such a big part of who I am,” says Francis. “There are so many digital tools available today that I knew there had to be a way to create artwork, even in my situation.”

Francis Tsai painting ImagineFX
To help fund the costs of medical care and research, Francis’s sister Marice Pärchen set up an online store

The mobile setup was designed by Teddy Lindsey, and comprises a Tobii eye-tracking camera and processor, and a enhanced tablet PC fitted to a modified mounting frame.

“It took a little getting used to, but within a couple of weeks, I was beginning to draw. It’s an exercise of patience as each shape and line has to be formed bit by bit.”

Each piece is started in SketchUp, which responds well to the eye-gaze mouse emulation software.

Shapes and outlines are created before moving to Photoshop for effects and tweaks, with layer styles and texture overlays added for painterly effects.

Francis Tsai SketchUp
All the paintings on this page was created by Francis using the incredible eye-gaze technology

To help fund the costs of medical care and research, Francis’s sister Marice Pärchen set up an online store offering merchandise and prints featuring the eye-gaze artwork, which has also helped increase awareness of their cause.

“As word spread about the art, we saw people from all over the world visiting the store, sending support and expressing their appreciation,” says Marice.

“There’s so much mutual respect out there, and artists have rallied to drive traffic to the store to help us out.”

Find out more about Francis and check out the store.

Get a copy of this featue in its full form in issue 98 of ImagineFX, either in print or digital.

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