graphic tablets – share your experiences!

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by chaosbunny, Jun 25, 2008.

  1. chaosbunny macrumors 68000


    Mar 11, 2005
    down to earth, far away from any clouds
    Hi everybody!

    Since there is a new thread concerning wacom tablets every few days, I thought it would be nice for everybody to share experiences here. So nobody has to give the same advice 100 times and it is easy to find for new members/people wanting to buy a tablet. Forgive me if this has been done/tried before. :)

    So I'll start:

    Currently I use an A6 Bamboo with my 15" pb on the road and have recently traded my A5 Intuos3 at home for an A4 one because I got an offer I couldn't resist. The A4 one is used with my 24" iMac + 21" Eizo combo.


    There is no such thing as the perfect size, because the perfect size of your tablet depends on the size of your screen. The active area of the tablet is mapped to your screen, so the lower left corner of the tablet is the lower left corner of the screen and the upper right corner of the tablet is the upper right corner of the screen for example. This means that it is perfectly comfortable to use my A6 Bamboo with my laptop, to use it with a 24" monitor is a pain though in my opinion.

    Generally I'd say A6 is good for laptops and screens up to 17-19", A5 for 20-24" single screen setups, A4 for 20-24" dual screen setups or one 30", and A3 for dual 30". Something similar can be found on wacoms page. Feel free to disagree with me if you have different experiences!

    Bamboo vs. Intuos:

    Bamboo is cheaper, but has less pressure levels. Intuos comes with stylus & mouse and has more configurable buttons. The mouse isn't a deal breaker, it's obviously not as good as a "real" mouse, it only works on the active area of the tablet. Personally I prefer the stylus over a mouse for pretty much everything I do, so I use the wacom mouse on the rare occasions I require a mouse. It's not too bad, but it's also not too good.

    Regarding pressure levels, these only matter if you are really into digital painting/scetching/illustrating. Then you'll notice the difference quickly. For just trying it out, handwriting or the occasional photo retouching it's not really important.

    Please feel free to correct me if you have different/other experiences.

    I hope for other reviews from the A6 Bamboo to the 21" Cintiq as well as questions/discussion etc...


    Edit: I guess this would work better with pictures, so here is a picture of my WoW character I did recently just for fun using my A4 Intuos:

    Attached Files:

  2. mixel macrumors 65816


    Jan 12, 2006
    Leeds, UK
    Nice thread. :)

    I've found I work better with the Intuos, it has a more matt surface. The graphires (not sure about the bamboos) have an odd glossy surface which takes longer to get used to (sometimes I used to put a sheet of paper over my graphires to make them feel more natural).. The extra pressure levels do help a lot with the sort of art i do, but you can cope without easily too. (and I did for years, still use the graphire for portable uni tabletting)

    The shortcut buttons on the side of the Intuos are great if set up well too.

    Another big consideration when choosing the size.. How do you draw traditionally? I draw things quite small using ink, biro, sometimes pencil. I have a friend who paints with big brushstrokes - for me it makes no sense for me to have anything bigger than A5 (A6 was too small with my 24" monitor) but for him anything below A4 was pretty useless.

    In a dual screen setup - map the tablet to the display you use for photoshop/whatever art app you run. Otherwise the brush area is comically stretched and hard to work with.

    I use my mouse for normal pointing tasks and spriting and Intuos for drawing/painting. :)

    I almost bought a Cintiq, but decided against it.. It's a very seductive piece of hardware, but if you're already used to a wacom, you probably don't need it. I got an excellent 24" monitor for considerably less than the 12" Cintiq would've cost in the end. Even the small Cintiq isn't all that portable, and uses up one of your DVI sockets. Its also weird for posture stuff as you have to look down to use it. - If it's right for you it's worth it, but seeeerrriously think hard about how it'll fit into your workflow first. I know of a couple of artists whos cintiqs just collect dust. Not good.
  3. brandonzar macrumors regular

    Mar 18, 2008
    Dual Monitors

    I'm looking to get a tablet for my wife and I currently have a dual screen setup with a 24" iMac and a 22" widescreen samsung. How would you map the tablet to just use the samsung display and how does this affect the use of the rest of the computer (does the regular mouse just control one screen on the tablet the other)? Also what do you guys mean by A6 and A4, I looked at Wacoms website and they just list them as 6x11 or 4x6. I think I will get the 6x11 just because the 22" monitor is so large, but can you assign the tablet to work on just a portion of the screen? That way I think she could use just the 4x6 and I could save a hundred bucks. Sorry for the basic questions but I'm not a graphic design person at all.
  4. LeviG macrumors 65816

    Nov 6, 2006
    Norfolk, UK
    right to help the above poster. A6/a5/a4 etc are relative to paper sizes and are the european reference to sizes. off the top of my head (can't remember them all) the UK a5 wide is the 6x11 in the US and for ease of reference the US smaller sizes are the larger UK A sizes (the smallest us size is the same as the uk A6 if you get my meaning)

    Dual screen setups - you should be able to setup a side button to switch the active screen so that the mapping of the tablet isn't stretched (I only have one screen so can't say how off the top of my head).

    Aspect ratio - a widescreen display is best matched with one of the wider tablets (such as the a5 wide - 6x11) as this will give much closer mapping than the standard 4:3 shape a5 (6x8) model.

    NB: a 4:3 can be used with a 16:10 display but you will lose a section (bottom/top)of the tablet or have a stretched mapping (makes ovals when you draw a circle :)). You can also assign the tablet to an area of the display.

    Intuos Tools - I have the standard pen, the marker pen and the airbrush.
    I have yet to find a use for the marker pen (I bought it thinking it would work like a calligraphy pen, may just be my choice of software) and would say don't bother buying it if you were considering it as it doesn't really do any more than the standard pen.
    The airbrush on the other hand is very useful, the flow dial combined with pressue from the nib can give very fine control in photoshop and I would highly recommended it for photo retouching etc.

    I currently use an Intuos 3 a5 wide (6x11) with a 20" widescreen display. I also use a nulooq in conjunction with it and this allows me to move/zoom, undo/redo etc without moving to the keyboard greatly improving my 'flow' while working.

    The mouse generally works normally and will overide/compete with (if pen is on tablet area) the wacom in regards to the direction of the pointer.
  5. brandonzar macrumors regular

    Mar 18, 2008
    One other thing on Wacoms site they list the system requirements as "Windows Vista, XP, 2000 or Mac OS X 10.3.9 or greater. DVI or VGA video connector, available powered USB port, and CD-ROM drive." Does the tablet actually take up a DVI port? if so I guess the problems with my dual monitor setup won't be an issue. :confused:
  6. LeviG macrumors 65816

    Nov 6, 2006
    Norfolk, UK
    only with the cintiqs, the graphics tablets without a display (ie intuos/bamboo) are just a single usb cable. And to be honest you don't need a cd drive unless you want some of the free software, you generally need newer drivers than supplied :rolleyes:
  7. brandonzar macrumors regular

    Mar 18, 2008
    cool thanks for your help, they must use the same "system requirements" for all of their products.
  8. stainlessliquid macrumors 68000

    Sep 22, 2006
    You dont need a widescreen tablet for a widescreen monitor. All tablets can map the active area of the tablet to widescreen proportions in the settings, which is exactly the same as a widescreen tablet but a different size. A 6x8 tablet with widescreen mapping translates to a 5x8 or somewhere around there because it chops off about an inch from the bottom. The tablet does NOT need to be in the shape of a widescreen, nobody looks at the tablet when using it, so its shape isnt going to cause any confusion over where the active area is.
  9. chaosbunny thread starter macrumors 68000


    Mar 11, 2005
    down to earth, far away from any clouds
    I'd avoid the 4x6 (A6) size for a 24" iMac, get at least 6x8 or 6x11. The 4x6 is fine when mapped to a 15" laptop screen, but when mapped to a 24" screen it's not precise enough because of its small size. The hundred bucks will be well spent in my opinion. And no, as far as I know it's not possible to map the tablet to only a portion of the screen. This wouldn't be really effective actually, because you constantly would have to switch between pen and mouse to change colors/tools/etc...
  10. arjen92 macrumors 65816


    Sep 9, 2008
    Below sea level
    wacom A4

    I use the wacom A4 with my 24" iMac. It works great!
  11. Yr Blues macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    Me thinks tablet technology haven't improved much in recent years. Why can't it be almost paper thin and super basic.
  12. Artful Dodger macrumors 68020

    Artful Dodger

    May 28, 2004
    In a false sense of reality...My Mind!
    I'll add this link:
    this should help anyone trying to set a tablet up that aren't sure what to do. If any of the pro's out there have any great pen tips please feel free to add to the tutorial I made as I don't have any airbrush hours logged on a tablet.

    Very nice illustration by the way. I wish I could do that with a tablet and not just paint (traditional that is) :D

    This is one I'm still working on and since hockey season is almost here I'll be finishing it up very soon. The tablet for me works great for the detail areas simply because of the pressure control you can get from the pen. This was created using Flash 8.

    Attached Files:

  13. tri3limited macrumors 6502

    Jun 5, 2008
    Trust - Slimline Mac Tablet is an awesome beast for it's price. Looks clean on my desk next to my iMac with the matching colour scheme. It has many buttons you can setup and works with any program but I use it specifically for Motion 3.

    Has handwriting recognition as well as gesture based recognition, although for what I use it for, it doesn't get utilised alot. When I tested it out in a Pages document, I did find it to be incredibly accurate when writing single letters, words or even whole sentences at one time.

    The negatives - Well actually there is only one really... It comes with a stupid wireless mouse that probably only pushed up the cost of the whole product. Would be liked by only a small minority I feel.

    Conclusion - All in all a great product for a low to medium user as well as those looking to purchase their first tablet. I would strongly recommend it for this group although power-users and "proper" designers (i.e. those actually working in the profession) probably wouldn't find the pressure levels enough or the accuracy to be perfect enough for them.

    8/10 - A strong product.
  14. emdotdee macrumors regular


    Nov 6, 2003
    Widnes, Cheshire, England.
    I used an *a5 Wacom Graphire tablet with my 15" iMac, (I've stopped using it now i've got a 24" iMac)

    I used it all of the time replacing the mouse and it was great but the scroll/roll bar at the top wore down pretty quick and was unreliable and I had to buy a second pen after the eraser side stopped responding and the grip went nasty. The eraser side on the new pen also stoped responding after a while too.

    If I had money to burn I would still really like a nice new a4 wide tablet.

    edit: oops, I told a fib, I actually had an a6 and I'm looking into getting an a5 wide Intuos now.

    How come they dropped the "Graphire" name and went with "Wireless pen tablet" ??

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