Wacom Tablet — anyone got tips?

So I just pur­chased a new Wacom tablet. I heard they rock and make photo edit­ing so much eas­ier. So after wast­ing 1/2 hour installing the fUC@**&%$en!!!!!! dri­ver which did NOT eas­ily install onto my Vista machine…here I go. My first instinct (to be fair after 10 min­utes of use) is that it is NOT as easy to use as every­one raves.

There seems to be an unnat­ural dis­con­nect in my brain between the size of the fixed nib on the pen and the brush size that you choose in pho­to­shop. I guess i will need to play and even check out the tuto­r­ial on the disk. If any­one has any tips or pointers…I’m all ears. Thanks!

Added on Feb. 18, 2007‚ — This com­ment and pic­ture by David Red­ding was really infor­ma­tive so I added it to this main post. Thanks David!

Here is a side by side of one of my touch up jobs. Now all of this could
have been done with a mouse, but I find I can be quite a bit more pre­cise
with the styl­ist. for exam­ple, if you take a look at the fore­head in the
retouched image, even at this web size you can make out skin details (good
luck doing that with a blur mask…I could never fig­ure out how). I am
able to do the touch up and main­tain skin tex­ture by first doing a round
of Cloning and Heal­ing at about 100–200% mag­ni­fi­ca­tion. Once I have
removed all the rather large blem­ishes and skin imper­fec­tions I use the
Brush tool in CS3 with a soft edge, the Pro­tect Tex­ture option in the
brush tool kit selected and an opac­ity of around 20%. I then sam­ple the
skin for colour and just paint on the skin correction.

the biggest dif­fer­ence between the mouse and the styl­ist when doing
edit­ing jobs like this is with the mouse, when using the Brush tool, if
you set the Opac­ity to say 30% (or what ever set­ting) that is what you
get. But, with the styl­ist that same set­ting of 30% is just the max­i­mum,
you can achieve less with the pres­sure of the stylist.

Like I said in my response to you post­ing, the styl­ist does take some
get­ting use to.…How long have you been using a mouse for? But, once you
do get the set­tings to your lik­ing and actu­ally train your brain to use
the styl­ist instead of the mouse you will see how accu­rate you can be with
your editing.

Also, a graph­ics tablet can be a waste of money for some peo­ple. Really,
if all you really do in your edit­ing is crop­ping, curves, colour bal­anc­ing
(in RAW I hope) and sharp­en­ing, then a graph­ics tablet is really a waste
of money. But, on the other hand. If you do a fair amount of touch­ing up
skin, dodg­ing and burn­ing or even cus­tom graph­ics like paint­ing on
pat­terns in you images, then a Tablet could be your sav­ing grace.


  1. Rex Kersley says:

    Don’t get one that is too big. I had a 12 X 12 inch, it was too cum­ber­some to use. I now have a Wacom Graphire A5, it is much eas­ier. Also for pho­tog­ra­phy 512 sen­si­tiv­ity points are fine.

  2. anton says:

    Years ago I tried one out for an hour, never went back. I use it for every­thing, much less fatigu­ing than a mouse. I find using a mouse is like draw­ing with a potato.

  3. I’m not sure if this is too ele­men­tary but Killer Tips of 1/17/08 has a review of the Bam­boo Tablet. Need­less to say they are com­pletely enthu­si­as­tic about it but any­way there you have it. Thanks for your blog.


  4. admin says:

    If you are inter­ested — I’d LOVE to show 2 of your pics (a before and after shot) where you find the sty­lus par­tic­u­larly help­ful. Just email me if inter­ested. photography.ca ( A T) gmail (D o T) com Thanks again for the com­ment! best! marko

  5. David says:

    The Tablet was the best pur­chase I ever made and has improved my edit­ing 10 fold.….Is it for you? It depends on your edit­ing style.

    If do noth­ing but curves, dodg­ing and burn­ing, and so forth then a tablet won’t do much for you, but myself I do a lot of skin touch ups.….By skin touch ups I don’t mean that cheesy blur mask (pick your blur style), but I sam­ple colour and paint the make up on and do a lot of cloning and heal­ing at 200% by hand.….This is when the styl­ist comes in handy.

    It does take a bit to set up like to your lik­ing and then get use to using the styl­ist, but once you do you will more then likely won­der how you ever lived with­out you tablet in the first place

  6. Yves Janse says:

    Hmm yeah, I feel the same way. I have been think­ing about buy­ing one as well, but I used one of them at a pho­tog­ra­phy event and wasn’t con­vinced. I think it will take me a very long time to get used to it, and am not sure how it will help me. I think mov­ing slid­ers in Light­room will be eas­ier using the mouse (which I have been using daily for 15 years now) as opposed to the tablet’s pen. The only thing I do with pic­tures that a pen might be bet­ter for is use the heal/clone tool. But I am just not sure if it is worth it. I use Pho­to­shop hardly ever for retouching.

Speak Your Mind