Graphics Tablets

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Graphics tablets (which include a flat drawing tablet and a pen) truly are an indispensable addition to your digital darkroom (that's digital photo editing),  digital art, digital drawing and digital scrapbooking projects.

Wacom graphics tablets, such as the Intuos Creative and Intuos Pro, are the best known examples of these products.

Each of them includes a flat tablet which is connected to your computer by USB (on the Intuos Creative a wireless kit is available and the wireless kit is included with the Intuos Pro products), a pressure sensitive pen and the tablet drivers.  In the big picture a pen and tablet is an input device.

Other input devices connected to your computer include your mouse, your scanner and your keyboard. All of them input commands or information into your computer.  What separates the Wacom graphics tablets from other input devices is the amazing pressure sensitivity, the accuracy of the products and the ease of use (after a short learning curve).

The closest input device to a pen and tablet is a mouse but there really is no comparison. A Intuos Creative or Intuos Pro is superior to a mouse in every way - more on that later.

Quite frankly, there's nothing you can do with a mouse or track pad that isn't easier and more accurately done with a pen and tablet!

Wacom tablets are primarily used with Graphics software (Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, PaintShop Pro, Corel Painter, Autodesk Sketchbook), Vector software (Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw) plus a host of high end professional software - and - they can also be an incredible help for someone with RSI (repetitive stress injury) which can be caused by long term mouse use.

Wacom graphics tablets (also known as a pen tablets) are the must have, indispensable tool for photographers, designers, digital artists and other computer users. All things being equal, in fact, the natural feel and precision of a graphics tablets outperforms a mouse every time in every situation.

What Vid


What Does A Graphics Tablet Do?


How do the new versions, Intuos and Intuos Pro,
compare to the previous versions,
Bamboo and Intuos 5?


What makes a graphics tablets so unique, so special and so superior to a mouse?

Well -- the first thing you'll notice is the totally …

Natural Feel

We started our artistic endeavors (no matter what level we were) with crayons and moved to pencils and pens, markers and brushes. We have been using these tools with paper all our lives.

intuos pen and touchThe incredible software packages such as Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Illustrator, PaintShop Pro, Corel Painter, Corel Draw, Autodesk Sketchbook have introduced a new level of creativity and fun for those who love digital drawing and photo restoration. A mouse just doesn’t feel right in an artistic environment. 

There's probably someone, somewhere who can create fabulous art with a mouse but I've never met that person or seen their art.  I've seen artwork created with a graphics tablet in the hands of an accomplished artist and their results are wonderful to see.

Wacom graphics tablets have changed the digital art landscape because a digital pen is really no different from any other pen you have ever used simply because after using one for awhile ...
  • It feels like any pen you have ever used
  • it looks like any pen you have ever used, and
  • it works like any pen you have ever used

No matter what your skill level (from the artistically challenged to the artistic genius) a tablet takes you to a whole new level of creativity.

When you pick up your Wacom pen the first time it just feels - well, natural and when you draw your first squiggle on the tablet it feels right and you will be amazed at the level of …


Precision

intuos pen and touch penThis is a measure of how many points are recognized in an inch and is stated as dots per inch (DPI). A typical mouse will detect 300 to 600 dots per inch on your computer screen and the expensive laser mice the gamers love will detect slightly more.

Compare this to a Intuos Creative tablet, which detects 2540 dots per inch and an Intuos Pro which detects 5080 dots per inch!

This outstanding precision means that you have far more control of your digital art and photo retouching with your Wacom pen and tablet than you have with your mouse.

Your finished product done with a mouse is acceptable but the finished product done with a Bamboo is outstanding. The natural feel and precision of the pen produces smooth, flowing brush stokes that are a real treat for your creative senses.

You will no longer be frustrated as you struggle with a mouse in your digital art or photo retouching projects to produce acceptable results – your projects will flow smoothly and effortlessly, producing results you will be proud of. 

The typical response I hear when someone works with a Wacom Intuos Creative for the first time is "woooo - is that ever smooth! I gotta get me one of these!"

OK – so far we have a natural feeling, precise tablet that is a real treat to use. If that isn’t enough the Wacom tablet is also …


Pressure Sensitivity

What that means is this …

as you vary the pressure you apply to the pen on the tablet your brush stroke will change, becoming ...intuos pen and touch

  • Larger or smaller.
  • Darker or lighter.
  • More or less scattered on the canvas.
  • Plus other dynamics and they depend on the software.

depending on the brush settings in your software.

A mouse has 1 level of pressure (well, 2 if you count both on and off).

The Intuos Creative tablets recognizes 1024 levels of pressure and the Intuos Pro tablets recognizes 2048 levels of pressure.

No contest -- the pen wins!

Pressure sensitivity is extremely useful in your digital art or photo restoration projects. What you are doing is taking the brush size and/or the opacity setting from the top of the screen option bar and putting them in your hand so you can change it on the fly (dynamically) as you vary the pressure on the pen.


Examples of Pressure Sensitivity

If you want to see what Pressure Sensitivity really means without prowling through all of the tutorials on this site then ..

Changing Brush Size with pressure - Quick Mask

Changing Opacity with pressure -  Dodge and Burn - using both the Dodge and Burn Tools and a Soft Light layer and using Opacity with the Clone Tool to Remove Shine.

What this means is that your pen and tablet work exactly like any pen, pencil or brush you have ever used.

This pressure sensitive, precise, natural feeling pen of the Wacom graphics tablest gives you …

Local Control

Another feature that differentiates a tablet from a mouse is the ability of Graphics tablets to make local changes easily - and local control gives you so much power.

Photoshop, for instance, is an amazing program for making global changes to a photograph – by global changes that means changes to the whole image.

index cintiq 24When you want to change just one small part of the image with a mouse (local control) it's a challenge because you have to mess with the brush size and the opacity by changing their settings in the option bar and then try to achieve the results you want with an imprecise tool – the mouse.

With the Wacom tablet you have total control because you instruct Photoshop (or Elements or PaintShop) to change the brush size, the opacity of your brush and other more creative brush dynamics through the Brushes Palette and then you vary your pressure between the pen and the tablet to achieve the results you desire.

What this does is take the opacity and/or the size adjustments off of the option bar and puts them in your hand.

Doesn’t that seem like a sensible place for the size and opacity adjustments to be?

Dodging and Burning is probably the very best example of Local Control -  The PaintShop Pro version is here,  and the Photoshop and Photoshop Elements version is here.  

Using a tablet to Dodge and Burn with a Soft Light Layer may be one of the most useful digital editing techniques you will every learn.

Flat Out fun

There is no doubt about it – Wacom graphics tablets are just flat out fun to use ...!

  • the control
  • the pressure sensitivity
  • the comfort using the pen 

is just so far beyond the clumsiness of a mouse and pretty much one use is all it takes to convince someone!

When you watch someone using a mouse with Photoshop they tend to be tense and tight. When you watch the same person with a Wacom tablet they are loose, smiling and enjoying the experience.

Want to see how much fun a tablet can be?  Creating a High Key image with a lot of dodging is really neat and it is fun to watch the image change ...

Click here for the Photoshop and Photoshop Elements version of High Key conversion.

And you will find the Paint Shop Pro version right here - High Key ...


Windows? MAC? Or both?

Right out of the box the Wacom tablets work with both Mac and Windows. 

It is a simple matter to install the tablet drivers and then you're good to go. Yindex intuos multi touchou can fine tune your tablet in the Control Panel (Windows) or System Preferences (MAC) to your individual needs but many people find the default settings are fine. Your new tablet will work with any software on your computer.

If you have wrist problems from excessive "mousing" you can replace your mouse with the pen and tablet for a more comfortable computer experience.

Graphics software like Photoshop and and Corel Painter are enhanced and even more powerful when the tablet is installed. Photoshop has over 19 pressure sensitive tools and the adjustments for each are found in the Brushes Palette.

Here's a great link for you Apple users ...

All About Apple

All About Apple gives you advice and tips for choosing and buying the best Apple products and accessories online, with fun tips and tricks and how to get the most out of your product.

Software


The first thing to know is that the major digital editing software companies have gone to great lengths and expense to insure that their products (Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, and PaintShop Pro) work seamlessly with the pen tablets from Wacom, taking full advantage of the built in pressure sensitivity and high resolution to create wonderful photo effects.

Normal every day digital editing tasks become much easier and far more accurate with a pen and tablet.  Tasks such as ...
  • Selecting
  • Painting
  • Working with menus
  • Using the tools
  • Drawing
  • Dragging
  • Adjustments in dialogue boxes
all become easier and quicker with a Wacom pen and tablet.



Tutorials


The tutorials cover how the Intuos, Intuos Pro, Cintiq and Cintiq Companion lines of pen tablets from Wacom work with the most widely used software packages ...
  • Photoshop
  • Photoshop Elements
  • PaintShop Pro
as well as some special applications such as ...
  • Scrapbooking
  • Photo Restoration
  • Black and White Conversion
  • Digital Art (tracing and coloring)
and, of course, how to set up and use your Wacom tablet..

Most of the tutorials include a video in addition to the written instructions.

Being a simple kind of guy I've tried to keep these tutorials easy to understand and easy to follow.  In addition, most of the tutorials make use of basic techniques which makes sense to me because advanced techniques are really just a bunch of basic stuff all put together.


index intuos and computer


So - check out the graphics tablets and then find the link to your digital editor of choice and have some fun which we should all do anyway!







Graphics Tablets
Page Links

What Do graphics tablets do (Video)?

Latest Tablet Version Evaluation

Natural Feel

Precision

Pressure Sensitivity

Local Control

Flat Out Fun

Windows or Mac?

Software

Tutorials

The Graphics Tablets Users Include

  • Pro Photographers
  • Graphics Designers
  • Industrial Designers
  • Scrapbookers
  • Crafters
  • Animators
  • Illustrators
  • Medical
  • Health Care Workers
  • Educators
  • Mapping
  • Office Workers
  • Control Systems
  • Scrapbookers
  • Presenters
  • Families
  • Amateur Photographers
  • Students
  • Video and Audio Pros
My point of view about the value of graphics tablets is this - no matter what you are doing in your digital editing, a pen and tablet will out perform a mouse every time.









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