AuthorTopic: Graphics Tablets  (Read 5466 times)

Offline Puppet

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Graphics Tablets

on: May 04, 2011, 09:00:51 am
Hello all,

I'm interested in getting a graphics tablet but not sure what brand or type to get.
I've mainly wanted to get a graphics tablet because I've seen works from Indigo mainly and others also who use graphics tablets to create such beautiful pieces of works.

As I've never owned a graphics tablet I was hoping someone could tell me how one of them actually works, is there a colour palette in the corner? Pencil sizes? The works, the more I know the better as I hope to create decent pieces of art to use for my game that's in current production and to build up a portfolio.
Also any links to your graphics tablets you've bought and or currently using would be greatly appreshiated and obviously opinions and prices would help a lot as well, along with what's good about them and what's not so good about them if any.
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Offline Krice

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Re: Graphics Tablets

Reply #1 on: May 04, 2011, 12:30:30 pm
I think Wacom is still the only good option (which is strange..) I have Bamboo model, it's nice and simple. Not too expensive either. I don't use any extra options (those menu buttons) so I can't say anything about them.

Offline yrizoud

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Re: Graphics Tablets

Reply #2 on: May 04, 2011, 12:47:04 pm
A tablet is "only" an input device, it doesn't have display. You move a stylus over a hard surface, and on the computer your mouse cursor will reproduce the movement more  faithfully than a mouse : for example if you put a drawing on the tablet and trace it without looking at the screen, the trace will be perfect anyway. It requires some time to adapt.

Touching the tablet with the stylus counts as a click, but if your graphic program handles pressure sensitivity, it will be able to draw fatter lines or more opaque ones when you press the stylus harder. This pressure sensitiivy is the most important factor : It allows you to use the techniques of 'traditional drawing' on the computer: pencil, paint, watercolor, pastels, crayons...
If you have these art skills/techniques, a tablet will allow you to get the same good result on the computer as you do on paper.
If you are a newbie at this, a tablet will not magically teach you how to paint... On the other hand, it will help you discover, experiment and practice easier: Imagine you have unlimited paper and art supplies, paint of all colors you can imagine, plus you can undo a mistake and make backups, you have no risk of spilling an inkwell and don't need to clean the brushes when you're done :D

All Wacom tablets are excellent, reliable, well-known, etc. But if you have tighter budget or don't expect to use it often, you can consider cheap brand. Also, many people who buy a tablet realize that it's not a magic wand of drawing+1, and they sell it some moth laters, having barely used it. If you buy from anybody a Wacom that doesn't have any big scratch marks, you can't have any bad surprise.

Offline Mathias

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Re: Graphics Tablets

Reply #3 on: May 04, 2011, 04:06:59 pm
Puppet, I suggest a Wacom, too. Do not buy a crappy tablet. You can go with other cheaper brands like Genius, but don't. Stick to the real McCoy. If you know you're going to use it, don't skimp. You'll probably be sorry.

You might search ebay for used tablets. Wacom keeps coming out with new, so I assume there will used but still good ones available.

I got a 6 year old Wacom Intuos III, 6x9, still works like new. And even though I have large displays it feels like the perfect size. Go any bigger and it starts gettin' more expensive, fast.

Offline yrizoud

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Re: Graphics Tablets

Reply #4 on: May 04, 2011, 07:01:53 pm
I just checked Wacom's site, about their basic model(s) :
http://www.wacom.eu/index2.asp?pid=294&lang=en&spid=16

They made almost all tablets handle "touch" (for hand usage), which is useless for drawing of course, at a +50% price rise.
The only one that doesn't is the Bamboo Pen, it must be technology-wise very very similar to the models "Graphire" that they no longer make. But this one no longer ships with the standard "pen+eraser" stylus!   :'(
(The eraser stylus has 2 sensitive ends. A painting program that recognizes them can automatically switch tool or color when you use the "eraser" end. It's not heavily used (it's faster to use a keyboard shortcut to switch), but it can be nice)
And this cheaper pen has -50% pressure sensitivity  :'( Not cool, Wacom, not having a single entry-level model targeted at artists.

Offline Mathias

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Re: Graphics Tablets

Reply #5 on: May 04, 2011, 08:29:59 pm
(The eraser stylus has 2 sensitive ends. A painting program that recognizes them can automatically switch tool or color when you use the "eraser" end. It's not heavily used (it's faster to use a keyboard shortcut to switch), but it can be nice)

Yeah I hate the eraser end thing, it's stupid. I switch to numerous different tools on the fly, all via keyboard. Actually using the eraser end would slow me down considerably.

Offline Puppet

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Re: Graphics Tablets

Reply #6 on: May 04, 2011, 10:25:00 pm
Thanks to all for replying to my thread it's useful information.

@Krice That's a few times people told me go with a Wacom so I believe I shall, I have no idea about the menu buttons and what not they're not very informative on there website they're just trying to sound so good to sell quickly.

@yrizoud I'm guessing your europian as well, well I'm in the UK but I looked over the website and they don't really go into detail of what a graphiccs tablet can do, especially on the Wacom Bamboo Pen, although I seem to pointing more towards the Wacom Bamboo Pen, not the pen and touch because I like leaning my hand upon the page to sketch properly for me anyway.
-50% pressure sensitivity... Hmm I know that's half of how sensitive it is now with the Pen and Touch but the pen and touch are useless for artists due to the touch sensibility so that knocks that type out of the water.

@Mathias I'm definately going to be using it, Indigo made me really want to get one because of his lovely forest work and of course others of which I can't remember names haha so don't be offended to the others. By "don't Skimp it" I can only find the Bamboo Pen of which being one without the touch for around 50. I'm not sure if that's just far to cheap but either way it doesn't really inform much about the product.

One thing that does make me wonder is obviously there's different stroke pressures like hard and soft, when you select a colour dependant upon how hard or light you stroke does the colour change to a birghter and or darker version? Or am I honestly just hoping for a mircale haha.
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Offline yrizoud

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Re: Graphics Tablets

Reply #7 on: May 04, 2011, 11:51:17 pm
About the eraser, I find it a bit of comfort during a sketching session : I can lay back in my chair with only the tablet and stylus for a few minutes with a single tool and color (window position etc), and if I make the slightest mistake I can erase without breaking the relaxed position.

Wacom tablets' pen work with an electromagnetic 'thing'. The pen is passive (no cord, no battery), the tablet detects its point position and how much the point is being pressed into the pen, at a distance of up to 16mm over the tablet, no matter what is in-between: protective solid plastic cover, paper, air, or your hand (I just tried). In practice, you press the point against the tablet, but it's not the tablet's surface that's sensitive to pressure (This is why the sensitivity statistic is for the pen)
In the Bamboo range, all models with the word "pen" have this ability, it's the traditional sense of "graphic tablet".

Bamboo models with "touch" have a very independant ability : multi-point touch. In this case it's the tablet's surface that detects pressure caused by anything (like fingers)
Models with "pen" and "touch" have both; I imagine that the "touch" automatically disables while you hold the pen close by, otherwise you would cause unwanted moves when resting your hand.

"Express keys" are simply generic programmable keys... you bind them to any keyboard key or mouse button (Alt, Control+S, Middle mousebutton) it works with every drawing program where keyboard shortcuts have an effect. My older Graphire model has two buttons and a ruler (like a mouse), for me it's like the eraser: I use them only when the keyboard is too far.

About pens: "Switches: 2" means they have 2 have extra buttons on the side. You can also bind them like the express key (ex: right mouse button) but I barely use them: while the pen is in the air, I find it impossible to press such button without making the pen move, which displaces the cursor slightly. Unusable for drawing; so bind them to a key that switches colors or tool. Note that they are only detected while the pen is close to the tablet (16mm again)

(The Intuos series and their pens have more features, but they start at 300. I wouldn't recommend them as a first investment - unless you are certain you will use it for hundreds of hours.)

Offline blumunkee

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Re: Graphics Tablets

Reply #8 on: May 05, 2011, 01:27:16 am
Bamboo models with "touch" have a very independant ability : multi-point touch. In this case it's the tablet's surface that detects pressure caused by anything (like fingers)

I can't confirm, but the Wacom pen & touch flyers say it uses capacitive technology plus their traditional "EMR" technology. That means only fingers/penises/cat paws - things which generate "organic" electromechanical signals - can be used as input. (I think the Bamboo Stylus would work on a Bamboo Touch, but don't quote me on that.) The surface doesn't actually detect pressure, but electricity. That means if you try to draw with a fork or Intuos 4 stylus, it won't register anything. Wacom also provides drivers with finger detection, which mercifully disables touch while the pen is in use.

Note that touch under Linux or Windows is not anything close to touch on Mac OS X. Apple has a well defined interface for gestures, whereas on Windows (and especially Linux) it's much more add-hoc. Developers have to program in the functionality for each application, so there's much less uniformity in the experience.

One thing that does make me wonder is obviously there's different stroke pressures like hard and soft, when you select a colour dependant upon how hard or light you stroke does the colour change to a birghter and or darker version? Or am I honestly just hoping for a mircale haha.

As long as the program supports tablet input, yes, you can do all the things you are talking about. Photoshop and Corel Painter have supported pen pressure since the mid '90s, and any self respecting modern art program will have tablet support. Even crappy programs like GIMP have pen pressure (under Linux, at least).

Wacom has really screwed the pooch offering such a bewildering range of Bamboos, here's what I can make of their current tablet line:

  • The Bamboo Pen & Touch, Bamboo Craft, and Bamboo Fun have been upgraded to the same resolution as the previous generation Intuos 3. That's 1024 levels. Previously they were half that.
  • The Bamboo Pen still seems to be using the previous generation Bamboo specs, which makes it comparable to the old Graphire 3. That's 512 levels.
  • Newer versions of the Bamboo tablets all have multitouch. Bamboo Fun seems to be the only tablet left that doesn't.
  • The new Intuos 4s have 2048 levels, which is double the Intuos 3. They are way too expensive for casual users, but great for die hard professionals.
  • The Cintique is a luxury tablet with a screen. Getting out of date due to the LCD display. They need to start shipping with LED displays.

Wacom has a summary of the Bamboo line here:

http://wacom.com/en/Products/BambooTablets/Compare.aspx

I bought a Graphire 3 Small way back when, and years later I got an Intuos 3 Large. My Intuos 3 Large has turned out to actually be too large. I think I'm gonna sell it. Turns out the Graphire is more than enough for my needs.

I do most of my drawing here in the analog world, drawing on a tablet just doesn't have the same feel and comfort of good old pencil and paper. Resolution wise, it's a wash. The Intuos is more accurate, but that doesn't mean the Graphire is a dog. It's more than enough for professional grade illustration.

What mainly I use the Graphire for is painting and pixel work. It's infinitely more productive than a mouse. But I know many artists who have tablets but the still prefer to use the mouse for pixel stuff. I think I've turned into a bit of a tablet snob, I can't stand doing anything remotely artsy on a computer without a tablet.

If I were to buy a new tablet today, I would probably pick up either Bamboo Fun or a used Intuos 3 Medium. The small tablets really are small. It's like drawing on a napkin. The Fun is basically an Intuos 3 Medium for 2/3 the price of an Intous 4 Medium. If I really wanted to spoil myself, I'd get an Intuos 4 Medium.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2011, 09:28:00 am by blumunkee »

Offline yrizoud

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Re: Graphics Tablets

Reply #9 on: May 05, 2011, 10:21:58 am
One thing that does make me wonder is obviously there's different stroke pressures like hard and soft, when you select a colour dependant upon how hard or light you stroke does the colour change to a birghter and or darker version? Or am I honestly just hoping for a mircale haha.
Even with a mouse, many programs allow you to draw with a single "pressure" setting, in at least 2 modes :
- Normal, also known as Transparency : At 100% the color from brush totally replaces the image color. at 50%, the resulting color is exactly the average of the two.
- Multiply, also known as darken : To simpliify, target pixels are darkened (tend to black) by an amount that is dependant on pressure and the brush's "blackness". Low pressure makes the effect very subtle, while a higher pressure or blacker brush 'burn' the image very fast.
So for example with Normal/25% and a large opaque blue brush, you can draw with a mouse and it will look like watercolors.

A tablet (and program that recognizes it) can make this  "pressure" setting dynamically variable depending on how hard you press. This way you can simluate for example crayon/pencil, with strokes that are naturally 'lighter' when you start and finish a line, and more intense in the middle.

I liked the program "Project Dogwaffle" a lot, because it has a large number of tool presets based on real-life painting tools, and at the same time it easily allows to experiment and mix the settings, to produce for example a mix of watercolor and pencils. Very very fun to use, it's very motivating.