Out of Sorts
Studio & Printery

Keep Calm & Press On

Hi There Wacom Intuos

On and off for years I have wondered what the addition of a graphics tablet would do to my artistic repertoire. I see all these beautiful “hand drawn” designs and long to be able to create my own, yet I’ve always shied away from purchasing one for a few of the following reasons:

  • The money - although some entry level models aren’t horrendous in cost, when you don’t earn a lot (or anything), it is always a debate as to whether you should be purchasing non-essential technology, when the funds could buy you a weeks worth of groceries.

  • Expectations vs. Reality - will it really do what I want it to do? I often wonder if it will really allow me to replicate the effects of a hand drawing, or whether or not I would just be better off sticking with scanning my own drawings.

  • Software - I have older versions of various Adobe programs from my art student days, but I’m not proficient enough in any of them and using a graphics tablet would require me to learn to use the software, as much as the tablet.

  • Compatibility - my Macbook Pro is older and almost at the point where it will need replacing before too long as it does struggle to run iTunes, let alone any of the Adobe programs.

After a little more research and lots of back and fourth between wondering if it’s a waste of money or not, we opted to just jump on in and today purchased an entry level Wacom Intuos.

I opted to get the model which is USB only and doesn’t have bluetooth; for me, it was partially because I was concerned that my Macbook wouldn’t like operating it via bluetooth and thus it made sense that if I was never going to use that feature that I’d rather save the $25. I would have preferred a bigger work area, however even with the tablets on sale, the price jump went from $74 to $299 for less than double the working area size. Whilst I can justify $74, there’s no way my sensible brain would let me spend much more than that.

Aside from having to download the drivers, it was pretty much plug and play. The purchase also came with access to three bonus softwares. However, I am yet to be able to get on the website to download any of these as each time i’ve tried, it loads to a Host Error. I’ll try again tomorrow.

Once the drivers installed, I opted to try the tablet with Photoshop and honestly it sent me right back to being a child, probably about age six or seven, getting to use Paint for the first time on my Dad’s Windows 95 work laptop. The results I came up with were not much better and I wish I’d saved them so that I could show you!

After two hours of playing around, here is my feedback so far in response to my original concerns:

  • The money - for the $74 + tax, it has been a good and fairly cost effective investment. I would still describe it as non-essential technology, as the reason I love what I do is because the focus is on traditional letterpress techniques and it takes me away from screens.

  • Expectations vs. Reality - this will be a learning curve and even after just a couple of hours messing around, I went from doodling boobs to creating simplistic silhouettes and designs. The reality of the potential for this tablet will be entirely down to my ability to learn a new set of skills and not give up because I don’t master it first time around.

  • Software - thus far, I have used it with Photoshop in perhaps the most basic sense possible. Some vague memories of Photoshop techniques I was taught, thirteen years ago, came back to me and that was helpful. I am still waiting for InDesign to load and it has been ten minutes.

  • Compatibility - The physical tablet is compatible with the OS I have on my Macbook, but only just. As a follow up to the software concerns, while my Macbook only gave me spinning wheel of death three times while using the tablet with Photoshop, as I said above, I am still waiting for InDesign to load. I haven’t even attempted to open Illustrator.

Watch this space is all I can say.