View Full Version : Well, that's that..I now own a tablet

06-10-2012, 02:35 PM
Well, it seems that things conspire against me at times but at least this time it's forced my hand.

As many of you know I have been saving my pennies with the idea of getting a cintiq however life has a way of overruling things like this.

We recently had to replace the ice machine in our refrigerator - not a huge expense but this week our dishwasher died. It's been a great dishwasher and we were blown away to realize it is now 10 years old. Our friend in the business (after tearing it apart) said it's probably not a bad idea to just go buy a new one.

So, off the wife and I go to check out the world of dishwashers. Well, there is more to know now because everything is energy efficient and thus doesn't work as well as the old versions. Additionally, it's hard to find one that gives you full control over the delay timer and all that. Now, while we seldom buy the most expensive thing in the store and we do take a look at the cheaper ones, neither one of us can stomach a product that just feels cheap to our hands. So, we purchased an above the middle or on the low end of the professional line. There went an entire Saturday afternoon I will never get back....then again, at least I won't have to wash the dishes by hand :).

Needless to say, this set me back some dough and while we were at the Fry's I decided I have had it with waiting and so I purchased myself a Large Intuos 5.

I installed it last night and so far don't know what I'm doing but I can't wait to start working on a map with this thing.

I also, have access to some software bundles through Wacom including a 50% coupon towards PS CS5? (seems like it should be 6 but maybe the paper included is old). Anyway, I don't know jack squat about any of the software they offer me (http://www.wacom.com/en/Products/Intuos/FreeSoftware.aspx) so I'm not sure which ones to choose. Anyone caring to offer an opinion please do.

06-10-2012, 03:00 PM
I just got an Intuos too based on the recommendations on this forum to get a drawing tablet, and I tried doing photoshop stuff with it but its very clumsy so i went back to the mouse for the time being... i also don't have hand drawing skills though.

06-10-2012, 03:46 PM
You will not regret the purchase!

I see they added two new things to the bundle since the Intuos 4. I didn't even know they'd released the 5. I see they got rid of the SUPER DUST AND SMUDGE ATTRACTING black glossy plastic. =P

When I bought mine, I picked autodesk sketchbook. It is pretty good and I used it a lot until I discovered SAI. However it can be a bit restrictive in terms of layers. *edit*
Sketchbook handles tif, jpg, it's own format and a couple of others. It is intended for sketching so you get the basic brushes (pen, pencil, airbrush, bucket, paintbrush, etc) and can make custom ones and have a fair bit of control over it. It can do the typical basic transform stuff. Not really any filters or any of that. And layers are somewhat restrictive in the express version.

It is very lightweight however and nice and responsive. For sketching it is great (but SAI is honestly way better).

Elements is basically photoshop lite. It's photoshop with not as many of the features but still apparently pretty good according to a bamboo-owning friend of mine. She mostly does basic photo manipulation though. I have not really looked at elements much.

I could not tell you about any of the others as I have not used them.

If you haven't used a tablet before, it might be slightly frustrating to begin with but it should only take a couple of weeks or so to completely bridge the weird disconnect between hand to screen. I believe there are some sites out there with basic exercises you can do to help. I actually spent a month playing a drawing game instead. =P

Also, take a quick look at the settings. It's a widescreen tablet so if you're not using a widescreen monitor (like me), you'll need to map tablet drawing area to the screen ratio. It's important 'cause otherwise you'll end up with longer lines on one axis than on the other despite the same length physical stroke.

*more edit*
If however you are using two screens, the tablet drawing area will spill over to the second screen a bit so you won't have to mess with it. I discovered that when I got my new computer a few months ago.

06-10-2012, 05:23 PM

Don't go back to the mouse because the tablet is clumsy. Work through the frustration, for me the worst of it only lasted about an hour.

06-10-2012, 05:30 PM
Yes, what Gidde said. Stick with the tablet and work through the frustrating bit. Keep in mind you're asking your brain to bridge skills and memory that it usually isn't asking to work together in the way demanded, so it takes a brief practice period to get it to make that bridge and grow a few extra neurones.

06-10-2012, 06:47 PM
well, so far the worst thing I'm finding is that (while I have a wide screen & dual wide screens at that) because my tablet is large and the cursor works off "absolute" mode I have to move my arm way across my table to go from one corner of my monitor to the opposite. I can do this with my mouse by moving it about 3 inches....so not sure about that for navigation. I think something needs to change personally. I think I saw some settings though so I may go dig around in there.

I can't quite get the touch stuff down and the dial doesn't seem to work for anything in GIMP. For now I think I turned the touch off just because I don't need all these extra things going on while I'm attempting to use this.

Not sure about the pen tilt function in Gimp either....everything else seems to work though.

06-10-2012, 06:55 PM
I don't use the wheel at all. It's a nice thing as are all the buttons but the BIG problem is that I have my left hand on the keyboard and my right hand on the pen, so I am using keyboard shortcuts. So the tablet side buttons never get used. Instead I just use the OLEDs to spell out amusing reminders and stuff. =P

Also mine is the Intuos 4 medium. For me it is just right. I have not tried a larger tablet. And it is only pen. There's no touch stuff and I don't think I'd use it anyway. I did note that Wacom offer an Intuos 5 pen only. Probably for people like me.

06-10-2012, 09:16 PM
One more thing...my pc doesn't go into sleep mode now. That's not going to work. I guess I'll just have to unplug my tablet from the computer when I leave?

06-10-2012, 10:32 PM
well, so far the worst thing I'm finding is that (while I have a wide screen & dual wide screens at that) because my tablet is large and the cursor works off "absolute" mode I have to move my arm way across my table to go from one corner of my monitor to the opposite. I can do this with my mouse by moving it about 3 inches....so not sure about that for navigation..

And this is one reason why bigger is NOT always better.

06-11-2012, 12:04 AM
ime the trick is to use the tablet in mouse mode.. sooo much more ergonomic than a mouse. i do use a 4x5 tablet.

i spent years creating large ensembles in a modular audio environment where one connects 'cables' between two points, which kills with a mouse.. absolutely the only way to do it.

iirc the first few weeks i had an issue with navigating folders.. the cursor would move when lowering the tip and i'd drag folders into adjacent folders (often without noticing). been 4-5 years and much better than the physical strain of mouse clicking.

i currently use photoshop elements 3 having previously used ps6. elements has, among other things.. no pen tool.. and no layer folders.. other things are easier to deal with (eg. no undo fade) but those two things made it significantly inferior.

i was recently sent a copy of elements 8 or 9.. what a piece of crap. crashed opening jpgs. all the developer names are indian (nothing against india but it's not the same as it used to be). stupid crap like changing the keys for functions that have been the same for years.

it has a few new features that basic users might like, eg. for fixing red eye photographs. i use the pse 3... and, when i'm wealthy, will buy an old copy of ps 6 or 7.

premiere elements is okay (from someone who hasn't used alternatives apart from ms movie maker). stable, works, but basic. not designed for arranging video clips to an audio track.. that will make you bitter because it keeps moving up all the video clips after one you remove.

06-11-2012, 01:07 AM
Thanks, I will try using the Pen in mouse mode for a bit and see how that goes. It does feel more natural but I'll have to see how that goe for drawing.

edit: Sweet, I can set it up so it's in "absolute mode" while in Gimp and "mouse mode" in anything else. So that looks like it will work nicely.

06-11-2012, 05:54 PM
(i've never had much luck 'drawing' with a tablet.. otoh it is teh 'doddle' for adjusting spline points)

06-11-2012, 10:37 PM
You can set it up so that you're only using a portion of the tablet's surface, but that will reduce the effective resolution of the device—you may not get quite as much precision as you would using the entire surface.

I always disable most of the buttons on mine because I find myself leaning on them occasionally. I do set one of them to "toggle displays," though. I can't stand for my pointer to move twice as fast in the horizontal as it does in the vertical. Very disorienting.

As for getting used to it, I spent about three hours playing Neverwinter Nights with mine, and after that it felt almost as natural as the mouse. Now that I've had it a few years, I often prefer my tablet over the mouse for everything. And that's handy for keeping people off my workstation at the office!

06-12-2012, 01:18 PM
Appliances have an evil sense of humor. Had to replace all of mine within a year. Watch out. ;)

I got an Intuos 4, plus:

Corel's sketchbook program, (maybe this one came directly from the Corel site, I don't see it in your options list). A bit buggy, large files are slower, but the dry tools have a natural look and feel. Only reason I wanted it, so good enough.
Corel Painter trial. I liked this one a lot, but the full version will have to wait until I upgrade my computer. Maybe not as useful for cartography, unless you want to do it all by hand (which I usually do), but Photoshop is still easier for that (esp. with its layers). Definitely more at the artistic end of things. But I'm an artist, so...
Autodesk Sketchbook Express. The tools seemed much more digital in appearance to me, so I gave up on it. Personal preference.

But the best download I chose was Photoshop Elements 10. It runs smoothly on my old laptop. I switched over from Gimp after getting this, although I may try Gimp's brush creator again; get some opaque forests, etc, when I want to use symbols.

I use CS4, too, on another computer. There are actually a few things that Elements 10 does better, but I haven't turned my laptop on in a while, so I can't recall exactly what. Sorry.

Using the tablet: Getting used to the hand-eye coordination, I found tracing images to be helpful along with just regular sketching. I changed the lower side buttons on the tablet to handle my favorite keyboard shortcuts so that I wouldn't have to reach as far. The stylus buttons got disabled immediately. And I keep the wheel set to adjust brush size.

I got my tablet in October last year, and recently did a little hand drawn map with pencil and paper to see how much difference there would be from tablet/computer in the feel and end result. Not very noticeable, but it's actually easier to make jagged coastlines with the tablet. haha!

06-12-2012, 02:19 PM
Now that I've had it a few years, I often prefer my tablet over the mouse for everything. And that's handy for keeping people off my workstation at the office!

I use a tablet and a dvorak keyboard layout. Not even the IT folks will touch my computer :)

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06-13-2012, 12:23 AM
dvorak is some twisted stuff. I totally get that the Qwerty isn't great but trying to re-learn the entire thing is more than I am willing to do. I don't see why anyone would bother. I do type fast and my home keys are shiny as well, haha.

06-13-2012, 08:33 AM
You'd get it if typing was painful ;) That's why I switched. Now I can code all day pain-free.

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06-13-2012, 01:12 PM
subject close to my heart..

having been relatively transient for a few years, it's been ages since i've sat at a desk, and generally code leaning against a wall with the laptop on my lap. that's _not_ better than a desk fyi..

having been an all day/all night keyboardist since ~95, ergonomics and physical deterioration are familiar.

the best solution is to make sure you do something else with your shoulders, neck, back, whole body REGULARLY. everyone knows it, a smaller number of people, even people in dire need, act upon it.

my recommendation - use a sword :) practice circular cutting strokes.. even a few minutes a day will stretch your arms out in the most appreciable manner.

i'll be back to harp on this next time there is the slightest proximity to the subject as well :D the tablet saved my forearms.. the sword is preventing paralysis.

06-13-2012, 09:37 PM
WRT the ring - you need to go into the Wacom manager and add custom application specific settings, as it doesn't know about GIMP - basically, have it send the keypresses you want for the actions. I set them up much like the default shipping ones.

-Rob A>