If you make a lot of art on your computer, you’re either extremely good with your mouse or you’ve got a Wacom Pen and Tablet.
Wacom Tablets are a different way of interacting with your computer. Like a mouse, you can use the Pen to select, drag, or click on objects. Unlike a mouse, Wacom Pens are pressure sensitive for different sized strokes in your drawing programs, and feel like a natural drawing tool in your hand.
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Used for quick digital sketching, all-out digital paintings, comic strips, or even photo editing, Wacom Tablets cut down on time and irritation when you’re creatively working on your computer.
Drawing tablets don’t come cheap, however. Here’s a rundown of the models and pricing.
Wacom’s basic tablet is the Graphire. It costs $99 for a 4×5 inch tablet and comes with a pen, cordless mouse, and some software (Photoshop Elements, Corel Painter, and Color Efex Pro). At 4×5 inches it’s pretty small, but the Graphire also comes in a larger 6×8 format for $199. And if you’re into Bluetooth, you can throw in another fifty bucks for that as well.
They suggest using the Graphire for basic photo-retouching, digital note-taking, and other simple projects. For the artist or designer, you might want to look at the Intuos3.
The Intuos3 is a step up from the Graphire in both functionality and options. Prices on the Intuos3 start at $229 and go up to $749 depending on the size you choose. It comes in several formats, including a square 12×12 inch tablet, and ranges from 4×6 inches to 12×19 inches.
Additionally, the Intuos3 comes with Wacom’s patented ExpressKeys just off to the side of the drawing area, which are fully programmable for any shortcuts or functions you choose. Right next to the ExpressKeys are “Touch Strips” which allow the user to zoom in or scroll quickly around the screen using their free hand, while continuing to draw.
The Intuos Pen has a higher level of sensitivity than the Graphire Pen, and also has a special “tilt awareness” which increases your control while digitally drawing. In addition, the Intuos3 comes with three different pen “nibs” that give alternate drawing sensations, a five-button cordless mouse, and the same standard software bundle as the Graphire.
If you’re looking for the best, however, you need to check out Wacom’s high-end drawing screen. The Cintiq isn’t a tablet; it’s a full-size LCD display that responds directly to Wacom Pens, letting you look right where you’re drawing on the screen.
The Cintiq will cost you $2499, which might be a little expensive if you’re just going to be messing around with it, but if you’re a full-time graphic designer or digital artist, the Cintiq could save you a lot of time and effort.
Measured like normal monitors, the Cintiq has a 21.3 inch screen, all of which is pen sensitive. The Cintiq works with the Intuos Pen, so you can upgrade easily, but has twice the number of ExpressKeys and Touch Strips as the Intuos3 does.
The Cintiq’s LCD screen is covered with a transparent coating that gives it a “paper-like experience” and diminishes glare for reduced eye strain. There’s no distortion from the pressure of the pen either, like traditional LCD’s would have.
A flexible rotating stand and the normal software bundle come with the Cintiq, making it a fully featured workstation right out of the box.
Overall the Cintiq looks like an amazing tool, although a little out of my price range. For most artists I’d recommend the Intuos3 at whichever size fits most comfortably on your desk.
All Wacom products connect via USB or Bluetooth and come with free technical support for registered users.
If you’d like to find out more about Wacom products, go to their website at www.wacom.com.