Ric Holland's Blog

Design student reports on Intuos3

My experience of the Wacom Intuos tablet has been superb. It highly surpasses my first 6×8 graphics tablet, as I have noticed a great difference in feel and performance.

The most compelling feature of the Intuos3 is the soft and smooth feel of the tablet, I would liken it to painting ink with a firm brush tip. To me, this is important in making me feel as though I’m really creating the best lines or strokes that I can mechanically, without scanning in a pre-drawn outline. Filling or painting in is much nicer as well and I was able to take advantage of the softer edged brushes and delicate painting techniques (eg: subtle skin highlights). This experience is created by the type of surface on the response area and its ability to pick up resolution information of 5080 lpi with a reporting rate of 200 points per second. This incredible amount of detail is really felt with each stroke which is very satisfying.

I think the most innovative features of the Intuos3 are the express keys and touch pads. These are so ergonomic firstly in their placement on the tablet, that being left and right repeats to suit both left handed and right handed users, but also in their ability to be tailored to each individuals need. I was able to preset the express keys to typical and common keys or commands that I would usually have to reach across to my keyboard for. Whilst aesthetically there a four keys per side, there can be a number of combinations set up by the user and so I was able to do away with the keyboard all together!

This feature is fantastic because it really just simplified my workspace. I didn’t have to think about co-ordination, or look from keyboard to screen to mouse and back again. Using the tablet just becomes like a second nature – I almost had trouble switching back to a standard mouse!

My friend would borrow the tablet during class and was even able hold the tablet in her lap, twist it on an angle to the computer screen and continue to draw completely straight. It’s just that natural. The Intuos3 is bringing the digital artist back to basics, a tool in one hand and a pad in the other. It makes it possible to produce real drawings and pictures immediately, in digital real time, that would otherwise need to be done by hand on paper and then scanned into the computer and traced over.

That being said, if tracing is required the pen works up to about one centimetre above the tablet surface making it simple to directly and quickly transfer an image from paper to the screen. I found the pen most useful in Photoshop for painting in images and creating outlines. It really lifted my drawings and I was able to be so much more accurate and flow through my work at a greater speed. I also used the tablet to create a flash animation for my university course. It was beneficial to flash’s drawing interface especially seeing flash can respond to the pens pressure sensitivity and tilt. I was also able to program the express keys to keyframe for me, to undo(cmd/ctrl Z), and to just to grab/scroll around my stage.

Overall the Intuitive nature of the tablet just made production time so much quicker as well as generally better looking. After spending a couple of hours using the Inuos3, I was really happily attuned to the way it integrated with me and so even if I moved onto something other than design I still worked with the tablet instead of switching back to the mouse.

The Intuos3 is now an integral tool for me when designing digital pieces. To know the quality and ease it brings to my work means I’ll never be without it.