Fancy a quick way to jazz up your Photoshop skills? Put your mouse back in its cage and try a graphics tablet – the benefits will surprise you! Using a graphics tablet has been a long-standing tradition for designers & illustrators, but photographers need get in on the action too. The fine control on offer will allow you make selections and apply effects with greater accuracy, with fewer mistakes along the way to producing professionally edited images.
What are the benefits of using a graphics tablet?
- Accurate selection using the lasso tool
- Vary the size, opacity or shape of brush strokes (including dodging, burning and cloning)
- Soften and partially-undo effects by flipping the pen and using the eraser
- Reduce the risk or symptoms of RSI (pen ergonomics are more natural than a mouse)
- Drawing, signatures, gesture commands (touch or Vista’s pen flicks for navigation, copy & paste)
Wacom’s YouTube channel has a useful video demonstrating how to setup the brush dynamics in Photoshop to respond to input from a graphics tablet:
How do I choose a graphics tablet?
The size of the active area is usually the key factor in picking a graphics tablet, but don’t forget to check the resolution (usually stated lines or dots per inch), number of pressure levels and ability to measure pen-tilt (another dimension – so you could control brush size with stroke pressure and opacity with the angle of the pen).
We stock Wacom graphics tablets at Wex Photographic – they’re the market leaders and offer a wide selection of models to suit different budgets & needs. The entire Wacom lineup features cordless and battery-free pens.
The entry-level Bamboo tablets start from around £50, but still offer excellent pressure sensitivity (up to 1024 levels) and a great feature set for enthusiast photographers. The advanced Intuos4 range adds further sensitivity (2048 levels), a touch ring and tilt sensitivity. Topping the line-up are the professional Cintiq models which are interactive pen displays (a touch sensitive screen you can draw on).
||A6||Pen||2540 DPI||512||-||No eraser|
||A6||Touch||101.6 DPI||-||4 Express Keys||-|
|Bamboo Pen & Touch
||A6||Pen & Touch||2540 DPI*||1024||4 Express Keys||-|
||A5 / A6||Pen & Touch||2540 DPI*||1024||4 Express Keys||+ Editing software|
||A3, A4, A5, A6||Pen||5080 LPI||2048||8 Express Keys** + Touch ring||-|
||A5||Pen||2000 DPI||512||2 Express Keys||Bluetooth Wireless|
||12.1" LCD screen||Pen||5080 LPI||1024||8 Express Keys, 2 Touch strips||-|
||21.3" LCD screen||Pen||5080 LPI||2048||8 Express Keys, 1 Touch Wheel||Updated to work with intuos4 accessories|
* 2540 DPI resolution whilst using the stylus, only 101.6 DPI in touch mode
** 6 Express Keys on the Intuos4 A6 model
The Bamboo Fun graphics tablets include Photoshop Elements and the A5 version also includes with Corel Painter Essentials (useful for painting, drawing and sketching).
For photographers who spend hours, if not days, using Photoshop every week we’d recommend taking a look at the Intuos4 A4 graphics tablet – it has just been rated 5/5 by AP magazine! If you’re a photo enthusiast who fancies trying a graphics tablet for the first time we’d recommend the Wacom Bamboo Pen & Touch A6 (great gift idea too!)