Tablet/pen advice...?


Today I bought a massive Photoshop CS3 book. I don’t know why today, but I’ve always wanted to explore Photoshop a bit more. I’ve always been into drawing and ever since dabbling with Photoshop I’ve wanted to find ways of turning my sketches into more interesting pictures. I may never get around to reading the damn book, but hey, I like the idea.

Anyway, what I really want is a way of sketching directly onto my Mac. I do have an old Wacom tablet - A5, I think - that I bought a few years ago, on a similar whim, but I’ve always found it really awkward. You’re supposed to slide some paper beneath this transparent plastic layer so you can draw over it. But the paper always slips, and if you move the pen too far from the surface, the mouse position doesn’t know where to go and suddenly you are sketching somewhere else on the screen entirely.

Hmm, if only my MacBook Pro could fold over backwards and I could draw right onto the screen…

So, what is the best way of going about this? Does anyone have any good recommendations for drawing tools - as in a pen/tablet/whatever - for the Mac that will allow me to sketch away “directly on screen” as it were. Even if I’m scanning my initial sketches in, it would be nice to use the Photoshop brushes and tools with a pen somehow rather than having to mouse around… Neither trackpad or mouse quite cuts it for me in this regard.

Thanks and all the best,

Wacom makes a tablet with an LCD screen built in. I think it’s called the Cintiq. Obviously this is superior to any screenless tablet, and just as obviously it’s going to cost a bundle. At least a thousand bucks, looks like.

I’ve played with the Cintiq, and I highly recommend trying one out before purchasing. There is was a significant amount of display lag when using the device. Some people do not have a problem with it (as many use such things in conjunction with a program like Painter that has brush lag anyway), others cannot abide it. Which is why I recommend trying one out.

Or… acclimate to the tablet through practice. Pretty much any graphic designer I know went through a period of awkwardness with them—and now they would fight to the very bloody end if you tried to take it away!

I’ve heard Wacom is the ONLY way to go. Whilst the Cintiq is cool, it’s probably overkill and gadgety and it won’t actually make much of a difference really. The Intuos series is seen as one of the best, most reliable, best value tablets out there - Bamboo, is very much a “consumer” tablet, not taken very seriously by most people I know, but then most people I know who use tablets are “proper” artists, so you might want to consider this afterall.

If you go to the DeviantArt forums and search “tablet advice” then there’ll lots of threads there about this.

Hope this is vaguely helpful.

There are several different levels of Wacom tablets. I have the Intuos one (6x8) and it’s very nice. There’s a new, entry level one called the Bamboo, but I would definitely go with the Intuos if you could.

If you’re talking Tablet PC, I have an old Fujitsu that while it works fine for what it is, doesn’t really allow for fine movements, more mouse-like gestures. The one I have is also heavy and though I bought it to use with PDFs for research, I find it’s just too heavy to hold for very long so I rarely use it. I do have a stand for it, but it’s a bit awkward.