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I'm a CS graduate and I've been programming small personal utility tools for my self. I recently did some photo retouching in Photoshop and thought "well, this isn't all that bad, maybe I should take it one step further". So I pulled a sheet of paper out and then realized... I'm really, really bad at drawing.

I'm wanting to do some graphics design effects for my program's logo or something like that. I almost bought a Wacom Intuos Pro Medium, just for photo editing, but now I'm really on the fence about it.

  • Should I buy a Wacom tablet or would it be a waste of money?
  • Would a tablet improve both my handwriting and/or drawing?
  • Hello Recizz and welcome to GraphicDesign! I made some big edits to your question in an attempt to make it more understandable. If you have a problem with any of the changes I made feel free to edit it again yourself :) – Zach Saucier Mar 7 '15 at 17:03
  • Zach, thank you. I couldn't decide how to make it more readable :) – Reclzz Mar 7 '15 at 17:49
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A tablet can make your workflow more efficient, even if you are not an illustrator with a hand drawn style. Particularly, it can make photo retouching in PS more efficient.

  • If you buy a tablet that comes (or can be used) with a pressure sensitive pen, then you can program the pressure of the pen to do different things for you. You can program it to change the opacity of the brush, for example, so the harder you press the tip of the pen against the tablet the more opaque the strokes are. You can also (or instead) program it to change the width of the brush so the harder you press, the thicker the brush becomes.

  • More advanced pens also have tilt sensitivity, so you can program the pen to change settings for you depending on the angle in which you are holding it. For example, suppose you have a brush that is not round but a very narrow ellipse. You can program the pen to rotate the orientation of the "footprint" of your brush when you tilt it more or less, which can be very handy to "attack" the area you are retouching from different angles.

  • The tablet might also come with extra programmable buttons, which you can wire to do tasks you perform very often, for example, "Toggle background/foreground colour" which is done constantly when you are working with masks.

All these things can be done in PS without a tablet, of course, but it takes a lot of key pressing and finger yoga. It is way more efficient and ergonomic when you can change these settings by only pressing harder or softer on the tablet or tilting the pen.

By the way, by programming I mean "selecting an option in PS", not "writing a device handler in C++". And by brush I don't mean only the brush tool but any similar tool such as the eraser, the smudging tools, the retouching tools, etc.

As Naty mentioned, it does take time to adapt to a different mindset. You will also find that when you are using the tablet, even when you could do everything that can be done with the mouse, certain simple tasks (such as re-sizing) become cumbersome because their interface was designed with a mouse in mind. Eventually you will learn which tasks are better done with which device and learn when to switch to keep yourself efficient, sane and carpal tunnel free.

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Before you buy a tablet, try using pen tool and see if you like it. Most logos are made by manipulating shapes so a tablet is not needed in such scenario. If you're planning to draw comics or something close to that then a tablet might come in handy.

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I would recommend a Wacom to any graphic designer, no matter if he illustrates or not. Here's why:

  1. A Wacom is the most ergonomic way to go, it makes your hand be in the most comfortable position and it forces you to sit up straight, if you work 9-10 hours a day it means a lot!
  2. It is very specific, even you are drawing solely from geometric program shapes, it will make you very specific and make tracing be much easier and faster!

Some warnings

  1. Drawing and handwriting - if it's not what you do good it will not magically become easy.
  2. It's a different state of mind, the wacoom maps the entire screen when the mouse just keeps it's position no matter where you move the physical thing - and it might take a long while to get used to!
  3. For the back issues I just wrote you might as well use en ergonomic mouse, though I used one and I still preferred the waccom.

I would buy a cheaper Wacom, see how it works out and take it from there. I have the simple and old Wacom bamboo at home and at work I use the sophisticated Wacom Intuos Pro Large, and I love them both.

  • For reference, posts on the SE network use Markdown formatting, so you don't need to write any HTML like <br>s if you do it correctly :) – Zach Saucier Mar 7 '15 at 18:15
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An interesting question I thought I'd weigh in on as an illustrator. A wacom is probably a good thing to have if you're making art digitally, if only for the ergonomic reason. There's a lot of personal preference regarding whether a mouse or wacom is best for certain programs, so if you have the chance to just play with one for a while, that would be good. For example, some people (myself included) can't get the control they in Illustrator with a wacom, but others do it very well.

Without making a statement based on my opinion, I think you'll find two schools of thought regarding whether a wacom will improve your handwriting or drawing. Because of that, you might avoid looking at that as a factor in deciding to purchase one.

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Well. This is opinion based, but here I go.

I have an Intuos 5 Touch. That is my second tablet. Cool talblet. But I almost never use it.

I only use it from time to time for photo retouching, like removing imperfections on a portrait skin. That is it.

My workflow can be non standard, becouse I do some, what can be considered photo retouching and compositing, inside a vector program. (Like this: Creating an implied floor with light

The reason I do not really use it:

Well the point is that on a drawing tablet you need to keep the pen floating above the tablet. Any shake is recorded and a click is made either by lowering the tip to the pad or using a secondary button on the pen. When I move my muscles it can vary a little the intended position.

I use a very good and sensitive mouse, on a really clean surface. When I have it on the right position, the click does not move at all the pointer position.

For cuting a photo, inside photoshop for example, you can need that kind of precision, so it is relative if you need it for photo retouching.

I like that precision. Thoose are my needs.

Do I like it?

On thoose rare ocations I use it, yes. For my everyday workflow, no. But I like the idea that some day I will be more digital painter.

A Tablet is not necesarly for drawing

In my case I feel it that it is not for drawing, but for "painting".

Retouching a photo more freely, like hunting imperfections can be painting.

So it really depends on your workflow.

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There is a really short answer to this: generally speaking, Photoshop and Illustrator are not designed to be used with the mouse. If you use a mouse with them, you are going to do work with 1/10th of the quality while taking 10x the time.

Also note that you don’t really draw with a Wacom tablet. In Photoshop, it is more of an airbrush. In Illustrator, it is more like a super-accurate mouse.

Basic Wacom tablet is about $69, which is a fraction of the cost of Photoshop and Illustrator. The adjustment and learning time is offset immediately by faster and better work for the rest of your life. So the only reason to work Photoshop and Illustrator with a mouse is you just don’t know any better. It is not a situation of some prefer the pen, some prefer the mouse. I can’t hire a Photoshop artist who doesn’t use a pen because they cannot keep up with the quality and quantity of work that I would assign them unless they use a pen.

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It's worth it if you are willing to practice it, nobody has ever mastered anything without practicing. I started out with pencils. I was bad, real bad. But I looked at a few tutorials and just started drawing. Then a few years past and I wanted to draw again so I bought a drawing tablet and I was still really bad. real bad. Tried and it's the same.. I was kinda bad at the start but you get slowly better.

PROS

  1. Increase in production
  2. More room for error
  3. No hassle with having to scan it

CONS

  1. IF you are lazy you won't get anywhere and you will have wasted money

-artfixed

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    What's that link doing there? Please be aware that links like these will most probably be seen as spam and get you downvotes. – Vincent Mar 16 '16 at 16:05
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It depends on you I think. My friend, who is a graphic designer, swears by the Wacom Intuos. He likes the fact that it is able to connect to Mac and PCs, plus it's compact for travel. It's for beginners but that could be beneficial until you get used to using a drawing tablet. Check out the reviews before purchasing. Here's what I came across that have been the most helpful: Here’s The Best Drawing Tablet That We Guarantee You’ll Love and Neat Designs.

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