The pen for my wacom tablet suffered a fatal accident while moving home, and I'm looking to replace it. Given that all Wacom accessories cost a bomb, I'm considering upgrading to an Art Pen or Airbrush, which are more expensive than the standard pen but come with the ability to detect the angle you're holding them at.

I like doing freehand drawing in Illustrator, and I really like the idea that art brush artwork would rotate as my pen rotates. But is that actually how it works?

Looking at the settings, I see that you can set a Caligraphic brush to rotate with your pen:

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...and Scatter brushes:

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...and Adobe's docs confirm that it works with the Bristle brush, no settings needed:

Use the Wacom Intuos 3 or higher tablet with Art (6D) pen to explore the full capabilities of the Bristle brush. Illustrator can interpret all 6-degrees of freedom that this device combination provides.

...but I can't see anything equivalent in the art brush settings. Does this mean it automatically rotates/tilts, or never rotates and strictly follows the angle of the path? If version matters, this is CS6.

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1 Answer 1


Art brushes..... no. Art brushes (like pattern brushes) use the base path as a spine to just lie the art along.

Art brushes don't have any rotation dynamics at all, so there's nothing for the tablet to interact with. The brush must have rotation possibilities for any of the tablet features to alter them.

As far as I'm aware, only Scatter, Bristle, and Calligraphic brushes have rotation options. And the Blob Brush Tool (which is really just a calligraphic brush).

FYI.. I use the Wacom Art Pen Stylus, just because I like how it feels in the hand a bit more than the standard Grip Pen Stylus. Having the added dynamics for rotation, angle, etc. can help a great deal in Photoshop, but in Illustrator there's not a great deal of places to use all the possible dynamics the Art Pen Stylus will read. I got the Art Pen Stylus because, like you, I had to replace the stylus.. so $70 for the Grip pen or $90 for the Art Pen... I figured the $20 extra was worth a try and ended up preferring it.

  • Perfect, thanks. Just curious - have you ever tried the airbrush? From what I can tell it seems to be basically just an airbrush-shaped art pen with a mouse wheel as well as the buttons? Sep 7, 2015 at 18:56
  • @user568458 Never tried the airbrush. It essentially gives you dynamic control over the "flow" setting in Photoshop - no use for AI as far as I'm aware.... Just not something I've ever really thought I needed.
    – Scott
    Sep 7, 2015 at 21:41

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