December 5, 2011

Using Wacom Intuos4 tablet for more efficient post production

Wacom Tablet
Last year when I was at Photoshop World in Las Vegas it seemed the number one tool every photoshop guru couldn’t live without was one of these Wacom Intuos4 tablets. I had known about them for some time but I had never considered one, and I have never even seen anyone using them much before back home. I didn’t even recall ever seeing them for sale anywhere but that could have been ignorance on my part.  They are very popular among graphic designers, artists, and now photographers due to the huge adoption of Adobe Photoshop into the post production workflow.

Some people that I spoke to couldn’t even comprehend the fact that I didn’t use one, it was weird. If you were a photoshop user, you used a Wacom and it was as simple as that.  I paid a visit to the Wacom booth after meeting the Wacom team the previous night over a few drinks and they gave me a full demo and I was pretty impressed. I love new gadgets and after a little bit more persuasion from Calvin Hollywood throughout the week I decided to get one.  I had to listen to the guru right?  So I now own a Wacom Intuos4 Medium sized tablet and I’ve been using it for just over a year now.  It fits nicely into my laptop bag, I just slide it in underneath my Laptop, keeping it in its soft cover just to help prevent scratches etc.

I have to say, it was a worthwhile purchase. I love my tablet and I always use it.

Wacom pen settingsI really like the two buttons available to you on the actual pen itself, which can be programmed to perform any function you like, in any application you like. For Photoshop I have set one of them up as the undo function so I can quickly step back any changes I don’t like since I’m always making mistakes.  I do a lot of retouching, and I use the clone stamp, healing brush and brushes in general a lot so I have changed the other button to be a custom modifier. I programmed it to perform a CTRL + OPTION + CLICK. This is a fairly new feature of photoshop, and by moving the pen left or right, I can now change my brush size. By moving the mouse up or down, I can change the hardness of the brush. This is one of the most common actions I need to perform so it speeds up my retouching enormously!   Check this out, you can even invert the pen and use the other end as an eraser! How cool is that!

You can use the tablet in right hand or left hand mode. The buttons on the tablet itself have an LED display which tells you what they each do. You can quickly and easily configure the tablet to display in left hand mode and the LED display flips itself. This was handy for me since I am left handed! I tried to use my right hand since I’m pretty good on the mouse with my right hand, but holding the pen is a whole different story. I had to switch to my left hand. All of these buttons by the way, can be customised to be whatever you want.

Dual Screen user? Me to. Don’t panic, the tablet caters for multiple screens. You can choose to map your tablet to both screens, or just a single screen. It’s really good that way.

There is a new dial on the tablet which is reminiscient of an ipod dial. It works well for zooming in and out and changing your brush sizes but it can be configurable to anything you want. That’s the best part about the tablet, you can make any button do anything you want.

I bought the USB version, but there is also a wireless version available for some extra dollars.

So a year on, I have to say I really love this tablet. I have always used it for my post production work.  I never really understood how much I loved it until I went back to using the mouse. I will use the mouse for all of about 30 seconds and then I will grab my Wacom tablet back out and use that. It really is much more efficient. I often catch myself using it for everything after I have just done some post production work, but I do eventually switch back to the mouse for general tasks as I want my Wacom to last.

How do you have your Wacom tablet setup?

I’m always looking for creative new ways to use my Wacom, so I’d love to hear how you have set your’s up and what custom functions you used! Drop a comment!

So I’m a big tablet fan, you can go out and get yours from Camera Electronic. Give them a ring on +61 8 9328-4405