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-   -   Tablet FAQ (read before asking about tablets) (http://www.polykarbonbbs.com/showthread.php?t=9014)

Shou 11-11-2005 08:34 PM

Tablet FAQ (read before asking about tablets)


What is a tablet and how does it work?
Tablets are like a "pen & paper" input for your computer. The stylus is the pen like device in the picture, it works pretty much like a mouse on the tray but the tip is pressure sensitive. The tray has an active area that tracks the stylus, where the stylus is on the tray is also exactly where you would be on the screen. You can get them in different sizes as well.

Like said before it works just like a mouse. A tablet controls the mouse cursor on the screen, that means you can use it with any program that uses a mouse. You can have a regular mouse and a tablet hooked up at the same time, most people keep their regular mouse and only use their tablet for art since a regular mouse is still more intuitive for navigating around the Operating System.

Why do I need a tablet?
The main reason is pressure sensitivity, which is used in all major art programs. The harder you press on the stylus will determine things like the opacity of a brush stroke, the size, or whatever else you choose in the pressure settings. These things are impossible to do with a mouse. Without pressure sensitivity its like trying to paint a picture with the back of a paintbrush rather than with the bristles.

Another reason is that its obviously easier and faster to draw with. Even the best and most expensive mouse is no replacement for drawing with a tablet.

Will my art program work with a tablet?
If its a decent program then it most likely will.

Good programs to use are:
Photoshop (any version)
Open Canvas
Alias Sketchbook Pro

You can enable different pressure settings through the brush settings of those programs. Some of them even support features like the tilt of the pen (assuming you have an Intuos tablet)


Whats the best tablet brand?
Without a question, Wacom is the best and really the only option. Other brands have tried to sell tablets but they quickly faded away since they cant compete with Wacom. Most people get either a Graphire or Intuos from Wacom.

What's the difference between Graphire and Intuos?
The Wacom Intuos models are the best. Its their professional series. Intuos 3 tablets have 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity and 5,080 lpi for the resolution (accuracy). They come in a variety of sizes as well. Intuos tablets are rather expensive. The 6x8 Intuos 3 is pictured above.

Graphire tablets are their consumer line and are much cheaper than an Intuos. They feature 512levels of pressure sensitivity which is half of an Intuos, and not nearly as accurate. But even with the accuracy being much less than an Intuos 3 they are still a lot more accurate than a mouse, so theres no need to worry. Graphires are available in 2 sizes, 4x5" and 6x8"

Intuos: http://www.wacom.com/productinfo/intuos.cfm
Graphire: http://www.wacom.com/graphire/index.cfm

Can you only make good art with an Intuos?
No. Graphires are perfectly capable of doing art just as good as an Intuos. 512 levels of pressure is still quite a bit and you will barely notice the difference between it and the 1,024 levels that the Intuos provides. The biggest difference I think is that the Intuos has a much stronger signal between the pen and tablet, so theres little to no interference. The signal in the Graphire is weak so some people may experience their cursor jitter on the screen, it seems to depend on where you live since some people dont get a jittery cursor when using a Graphire. The jittering barely affects your art though, it mainly just makes selecting small areas a pain (such as grabbing window edges).

Its a common misbelief that the small tablets are useless and the gigantic tablets are the best. Even the smallest tablet is perfectly fine, especially if you just want to color/paint. You may run into some annoyances with the size if you plan to do a lot of drawing, but even that is perfectly possible. When looking at the size of a 4x5" area it seems impossibly small to do anything in that little area, but tablets work differently than drawing on paper, digital art allows you to zoom in and out and resize your drawing area, so it is not a 1:1 ratio. Dont compare the size of a tablet to the size of your computer screen or your sketchbook.

6x8 seems to be the most common size. Some people will say 6x8 is too small to do anything good, which is crazy. Many of the top professional digital artists use 6x8's, some are even bold enough to split the tablet among 2 monitors, which makes the drawing area for each monitor even smaller than a 4x5 tablet. I use a 6x8 and wouldnt want to go any larger, even if they costed the same price.

6x11 is pretty much the same as 6x8 except that its designed for people with a widescreen monitor. They dont serve any purpose for people with regular 4:3 monitors, infact it would only hinder you because the aspect ratio is different. If you have a 16:10 widescreen monitor then you should get this size.

9x12 is another popular size among professionals. These tablets are BIG and require a good amount of space to keep. The 9x12 only accounts for the active area on the tablet, there is still a lot more plastic on the edges which makes this a desktop hog. These tablets are mainly for for people who really like to swing their arm around when drawing, or people with 2 monitors. These tablets also cost a fortune.


Are tablets exactly like drawing on paper?
No. When using a tablet you are looking at the computer screen rather than where you have the stylus. The eye hand coordination is different and does indeed take awhile to get used to. Its a lot like trying to type without looking at the keyboard, its a skill that takes practice.

When people first use tablets they usually arent impressed. Some people say that they can use a mouse better and end up giving up on using a tablet. After awhile of regular use (maybe a couple weeks), you should adjust to using a tablet and feel comfortable enough to draw lineart. After continued use, drawing on a tablet should be just as easy as drawing on paper.

The texture of the tablet is also very slick. This adds to the difficulty of learning to use it since theres barely any resistance when drawing.

oringe 11-11-2005 08:58 PM


SpikeTheCat 11-11-2005 10:02 PM

Yay, now I donít have to make bad explanations anymore.

Dr.demonhousen 11-11-2005 10:10 PM

enteresting. nice info. buut i think ill stick to the ol' pencil(my pencil is mechanic :D) and paper.

billiegene 11-11-2005 11:59 PM

Nice work. Thanks for that.
I hope to get a Graphire3 by christmas...

jt4470 11-12-2005 10:33 PM

You say that the 4x5 is perfectly fine for drawing. Um..I have one, but I don't know how people draw with it, even with the zoom in/out features of drawing/painting programs.
Um..do people draw a gesture/stick figure type sketch on the canvas and then zoom in?
Please help. Thanks.

Steasaurus 11-13-2005 10:13 AM

\o/ yay!! I'm gonna spend me some small amounts of money and get me a little one to try out.
I may even be able to sort out my silly fc rutt I'm stuck in.

meerkat 11-13-2005 10:34 AM

Hey I wondering something because Im planning to get a tablet in the future.

I have been seeing alot of these wirless bluetooth tablets, now would there be a difference between the ones with a wire (performance wise) ?
Such as late response?

Im a little confused about this.

traum4 11-13-2005 11:04 AM


Originally Posted by jt4470
You say that the 4x5 is perfectly fine for drawing.

He said that 4x5 is perfectly fine for coloring/painting, and that you may have troubles drawing with it, even though it is perfectly possible.

I've used tablets a lot for the last 4 years, and I still prefer drawing my initial sketches on paper. I'm sure I could do it on tablet all the same, it just doesn't feel the same no matter what.

Shou 11-13-2005 02:08 PM


Originally Posted by Phusion
Hey I wondering something because Im planning to get a tablet in the future.

I have been seeing alot of these wirless bluetooth tablets, now would there be a difference between the ones with a wire (performance wise) ?
Such as late response?

Im a little confused about this.

I doubt they would have made it if there was a delay. Wireless mice are just as responsive as wired mice so I dont see why a tablet would be different. I dont think they come with bluetooth recievers though (I didnt see one at newegg, which has pictures of box contents), so if you dont already have a bluetooth reciever then youll have to buy one

Steasaurus 11-14-2005 04:26 PM

I can't seem to get my head around using my tablet in photoshop... are there any tutorials on getting set up knocking about? I checked the tuts and ref thread but there doesn't seem to be anything regarding hardware. It's just playing as it would if I was using a mouse... I'm sure I'm missing something :P what is it?

DN 11-14-2005 05:29 PM

In the brush settings, you can change the size variation and color variations to use the pen pressure.

I'll post some pics in a bit since this would be a good thing to add.

Setting up Photoshop CS to use your tablet.

1. Open up your "Brushes" toolbar and select the Shape Dynamics checkbox.
2. Set the Control dropdown to "Pen Pressure" and play with the size jitter setting to taste.

There are control settings on most of the the brush tabs that you can play with like the ones for texture effects and color dynamics. You can use your pen pressure on a bunch of them. Experiment with them all to get the effects you want.

Steasaurus 11-15-2005 05:19 AM

:D thanks

Denzive 11-15-2005 09:54 PM

hmm i have 95$ i saved up im gonna by the 4x8 Graphire 4 that is 99$ right? i
not sure hmmm im planning to get it and a manakin and hmm wait! do some of you put a art peice over the graphire screen and trace? i dunno . will i be happy spending 99$ on the graphire, will i be dissapointed can i please have some help here?

OhHenry18 11-15-2005 10:11 PM


hmm i have 95$ i saved up im gonna by the 4x8 Graphire 4 that is 99$ right?
Thats $99 for the 4x5, there is no 4x8 tablet.

And I would definitely not recommend using the clear plastic thing to try and trace a drawing. You would be better off scanning the drawing in or just drawing it digitally without tracing it.

Like Shou said, a 4x5 is perfectly fine for coloring and painting but you may run into some issues if you try to draw. Who know's it varies from person to person. I personally cannot draw on my 4x5 but coloring is a breeze. I guess you will only be dissapointed by how high you set your standards.

Kwiix 11-15-2005 10:13 PM


Originally Posted by Denzive
do some of you put a art peice over the graphire screen and trace?

It would be easier and better to just scan the piece into the computer and then add a layer above it and trace it that way. Tracing it under the plastic thing just wont work very well. And who wants to trace anyway, right?

gmpilot 11-15-2005 10:29 PM

I'm just curious, have any of you ever had the problem with your tablet that photoshop doesn't recognize the pressure, and you have to restart photoshop? It keeps happening off and on to me...I have an intuos 3, 6x8 and ps7.

Kwiix 11-15-2005 10:40 PM

Yes. For me it happens once and a while with Painter 8. Restarting the program or rebooting the 'puter fixes the problem though.

Shou 11-15-2005 10:46 PM

sometimes minimizing the program works, or pulling the pen away from the tablet then back again. If its still doing it and you dont want to restart the program then you can just unplug the tablet so it reloads the drivers

aido179 12-02-2005 10:58 AM

very helpful, but what about us people here in europe?
wacom have a europe base thing, they have released a tablet called the volito, i was thinking of getting the volito 2. they seem to cost quite a bit less (even with exchange) than the dollar. its 6x8 i think, its big enough. im getting it for christmas, im not sure how good it is, it sounds alright.

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