Monday, November 1, 2010

Tip of the day: Buy a Wacom tablet

18 month Wacom Intuous 4 tablet. Note the darker spot on the tablet's surface where I perform most of my brushstrokes.

There are a few things that I can't do without. On the capture side, I don't mind too much between the H3 vs. the D3 vs even the iPhone. I think I could have a great shoot with only the iPhone but it'd only be natural light until I figured out how to sync the strobes. On the processing side, I can't do without the MacBook Pro but even that would be useless if I didn't have my Wacom tablet.

A previous post of mine claims I've had the Wacom Intuous 4 since June 2009. I can't find any evidence of that here on my blog via a quick search. My guess is that it's not far off from the actual purchase date. Since my original purchase (I bought the smallest Intuous 4), I've "broken" a stylus. Aside from that random incident (the stylus' cursor would twitch randomly) the tablet works flawlessly. Hell, it works better than when I first got it because the nibs are well-worn and the surface of the tablet is not smooth from having suffered millions of brushstrokes.

I really could live without a lot of my equipment. More and more I find that I can do what I do in post or just with less. When the stylus broke, I was in Taiwan and could not get a replacement. That was infuriating. I had to wait until returning stateside to get it replaced. I would have gladly purchased a new tablet but they were out of stock in Taipei. I guess what I'm saying is that with all the expendables, the Wacom tablet is a staple in my arsenal. I can not live without it. I don't know how I ever did.

For normal everyday occurrences, I prefer the mouse. Fortunately the tablet comes with a mouse, so I will often swap between the stylus and the mouse depending on what I'm doing. When I'm retouching 95% of the time I'm holding the stylus. Sometimes I prefer the mouse for the clicking action on certain things such as curves points but the rest of the time, I overwhelmingly prefer the stylus. Obviously for surfing and email, I prefer the mouse.

The Wacom tablet delivers a level of precision that has no substitute. I first started retouching with my MacBook and I did several pictures with the trackpad. In retrospect however, the trackpad is terribly inaccurate not to mention unnatural compared to the stylus/tablet. I think it took me a day to get used to the tablet. Since then, I've never looked back.

There are many features and functions that I don't take advantage of. I use the buttons on the stylus but I don't use the buttons on the tablet itself. I find that its position relative to my body makes for a less ergonomic orientation. Instead I use the keyboard and learn the necessary keyboard shortcuts for most of the basic commands. For example, my hand is usually on the O, P, [ and ] keys. "O" lets me dodge/burn while "[" and "]" let me change brush sizes. With my pinky on O, the J and the B buttons aren't far away, allowing me to use my healing brush and regular brush on whim. I use CMD+J (duplicate layer), CMD+I (inverse), CMD+D (deselect), and other shortcuts (off the top of my head) quite often. If my left hand were on the tablet, I'd have to reach over to the keyboard much more often. I think I've tried that and didn't much like it.

The other function I don't really take advantage of is the pressure sensitivity. I find the lower levels of the pressure too sensitive and it's easier for me to control via "exposure". I might have the pressure sensitivity on, but it's set so it's still dependent on the exposure so I can have more control... admittedly it's been a while since I've changed my settings.

But it's one of those things where if you haven't used it, you don't know what you're missing. All I can say is that my retouching improved in leaps and bounds upon acquiring a tablet. I would have been seriously nerfed if I were limited to only using the trackpad.

Just try it!

No comments:

Post a Comment