Wacom Tablets – The Pro Move

I have been using Wacom tablets for many years, and the latest models are a great move forward.

Thinner, sleek design, lighter weight, better button design. Bluetooth has been available, just have to mention.

When you want to get more precise editing on your photographs, a mouse/track pad just won’t get you there.

OK, I know there are those that aren’t quite sure what the advantages are of a Wacom Tablet, or what the heck they even are.

Let’s get down to it before we get into some of the available options.

On a very basic level, a Wacom tablet is a separate work surface that connects via Bluetooth to your computer, and gives you an area to make precise corrections to an image. They come with a pen/stylus that lets you control things on your screen with a pen stroke, or push.
Primarily best in Photoshop, once you get familiar with the advantages, you will use it instead of a mouse/track pad, for pretty much every way you navigate on your computer. No matter what program you are using. This is also invaluable for illustrations. Drawing on a Wacom Tablet is the way to go!
The customizing of your available actions is all in your control.
I’ll get into some ways to customize in a sec.

When I tried to pass on one of my older Wacom Tablets to a fellow photographer, they had a visceral response, saying they were too hard, and complicated.

Doesn’t have to be!

Like all good tech, these have such a robust feature set, that you can set your levels of need, based on your skill level
Once you connect your Wacom tablet to your computer, you can go in and select from a menu of how you want to use it. Here you can see that it appears in your system preferences:

Personally, for the set-up, I keep it super simple:

Adjust the area on the tablet that is “active”: In other words, a 3in square can replicate the entire screen so you don’t need to drag your pen across the whole area. And if you use 2 monitors. you can select the area(s) that the tablet/pen is active.

Customize the buttons on the pen: Pressure is an easy select, and  Undo or Erase are the 2 most popular and used options, you can choose how they work

Set how the buttons on the tablet itself, will give you repeated actions that match your workflow.
Each button can also be selected to open a series of customized actions.

My advice is keep it simple, especially if you are new to this.
Now, some folks may say, ” I can just use my iPad ”
Want to know why that is not a great idea? The latency from the pen action to the tablet is so far superior on the Wacom, that it will cut down your possible frustration from things not happening in real time.

The Wacom stylus does not use a battery, so need to charge!
The Wacom tablet battery lasts for 15hrs so you will always be connected, unless you need those extra hours and can just plug in.

Yes, some of the current AI enabled masking options currently in Adobe software are great, no question, and you may think that these can help you retouch.                                    Sure thing, for global corrections, or major areas (Subject, Sky, Background)
But when you need to go in and really get specific on your post processing, you need the precision of the pen.
And if you are a portrait photographer, a delicate retouch on facial cleanup requires this set-up.
Try adjusting facial lines with a mouse.
Not happening.
What I use, is a simple, adjusted, smaller work area on the tablet (see above), zoom options, undo and erase, and various pressure sensitivities, left and right click, and double click.
On the Pro, where I prefer the medium size, you can add touch commands as well, so you can still get the track pad experience incorporated into your workflow. And more room on your desk!

The bluetooth gives you some freedom and no wires, although the pad is pretty close to my monitor mostly.
I haven’t gotten into the workflow of using your big screen for a couch centric work station.
Honestly, with a calibrated monitor, the Wacom, and a keyboard, my situation is pretty well set.

Now there are a few options to go with:

The Intuos Pro, Medium, my personal choice. This one sells for about $310. USD

It does come with a pen stand that also house a multitude of stylus tip styles for the heavy user.

Or, as a starter set-up, you’ll be happy with the  Intuos, Small, which is available with and without bluetooth. about a $20 USD difference.

Both come with training and software

So either $60 0r $80

Main differences are 4 customizable keys, not 8. The big deal for me was the touch pad. And the pen stand with extra stylus nibs is a great addition as well.

Whether you know the Wacom brand , or were wondering if you should jump in, now would be a good time!

There is one other part of the Wacom line that I love, but have yet to put in much time on.

It’s the Cintiq line, where you are actually working on a monitor as tablet so you can see all of your work right on the image as you are affecting it.

This one starts at about $650, which is waaaaay less than when I first started seeing these.

If you made it this far, I’ll bet you want more info.

 This video, from BH, gives a good overview

This can be a time saver and a new workflow for you, and once you have set it up, you will be sailing!

I work in ad agencies, and every art director I know, uses, loves, and couldn’t live without their Wacom.

Just saying.

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