Do you use a tablet, and if so how?

Jun 11, 2012

I am thinking about getting a Wacom tablet.  Wanted to check with all of you to see if you use them, how you use them and what brand you recommend.

Also - have any of you replaced your mouse with a tablet, or do you just plug it in when you need it?



11 Replies
Steve Flowers

I just bought one of the Wacom Bamboo Connect ($99) Tablets and I really like it. This year's model makes the entire pad a touch surface which is really handy in some situations (rotating objects, for example when it's supported in the software). The $79 version removes the touch surface option. There's also a wireless add-on gizmo that removes the need for a cable.

If you don't already own PhotoShop, the package ships with PhotoShop Elements. Not a bad deal since you'll usually find it on sale for $50 by itself.

Personally, I plug mine in when I need it. I keep it in my bag and pull it out when I want to use it. Once you get used to using a tablet surface, they are really indispensable. 

I draw representations a lot on paper and have been trying to transition that practice to live annotated visuals. Other than that I use it for photo operations. 

Kathie Sedwick

I started out years ago with a small $99 Wacom tablet, moved up to the smallest Intuos, and two years ago bought the large size Intuos 4. It was over $400 (got a student discount, which helped), but I use it for hours an a daily basis and it's replaced my regular mouse for my iMac. The more I do on Photoshop and Illustrator, the more I need it. I put the keyboard up on my desk and put the tablet on the slide out keyboard tray under the desk. Now they're both at an optimal height for me because it's more like drawing with a sketchbook in my lap, just a better angle and more control.  If you have a large screen (I have  24" and 27"), the larger tablet really makes a difference.  On a smaller tablet, a short stroke translates proportionally larger on the screen, so it's easier to use smaller strokes and create more detail when the dimensions of the the tablet are closer to the size of your screen, especially when your doing some really tight work in a small area of an image.  Also, with the smaller tablet, I would have to move my pen across the tablet several times to get to the outer corners of the screen.  The buttons and scrolls on the tablet are a big time saver and save me from having to move between the tablet and keyboard. It takes some getting used to looking at the screen while drawing, but it comes quickly the more you use it.  When I've tried to use a mouse on someone else's computer instead of the tablet and pen, it's like the difference between using sidewalk chalk and a 000 Rapiograph pen.  I don't think you'll ever regret getting one and getting at least the medium or large size (there's also an extra large, but it's kind of overkill for me).

Jill McNair

Thanks for all the great feedback.  I'm definitely learning towards the Bamboo Connect - I'll probably be using it more like the way Steve described - but I do have a larger screen and wonder if getting the medium-sized Bamboo Create might be better.  Is anyone using the Bamboo Connect on a large screen?  

Kathie Sedwick

I'd get the largest you can afford, I found it much faster and easier to use. But it probably depends on what you're using it for, how much room you have, and how often you'll use it.  I still take my small Intuos tablet with me when I travel with my laptop. But its 4"x6" active area is the same size as the Connect, and is fine for a laptop, but I found it really too small for my desktop screens.  The Bamboo Create is a better size.

Steve Flowers

This is the one I have:

I've found that I prefer the smaller sized tablets (I doodle small) so you'll definitely want to give one of each size a try. My wife also prefers the midsized tablets for a few reasons. She has a large Intuos, a midsized Intuos and she picked up one of the Creates for her portable kit. It's a bit easier to fit onto the desk between the edge and the keyboard. The large surface can be nice for some things, but it's more movement to get the same action. YMMV - different strokes for different folks.

Not sure who might carry one of these that would let you try them in store. If you lived in my area, I'd loan you mine to see if you liked it.

Kathie Sedwick

I think Steve hit on a good point about "different strokes." I was originally an art major and I'm used to using my whole arm, from the shoulder down, when I draw. I can't do that on a small tablet and I get this inflammation in the tendons of my thumb when I try to work just with my hand and wrist. "More movement for the same action" can also mean clamping down on the pen for more control and smaller movements...ouch.  If you'e not doing hours of work at a time, that may be no big deal, but repetitive motion injuries are not fun.

I've see the tablets in different sizes at Best Buy and Fry's. Not sure if they still carry them, but if they do, maybe they'll let you try them.

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