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I bought my first Wacom pad over ten years ago and from the moment I started using it I fell in love. Coming from a traditional airbrush background I was blown away at how these pads could replicate that airbrush feel. From that moment on I was hooked and going digital was a no brainier for me. I still love traditional media but using a tablet offers so much that old school methods simply cant. Let’s go over some of the different products out there today. Im pretty much going to be sticking with Wacom because, while there are other brands out there, I have not used them much and I only want to review what I know to be top of the line quality from first hand experience.
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If you are looking for something small for home or office and you don’t want to spend much I would recommend the Bamboo series. They have a few cool features such as:
-Gestures:This feature allows the user to navigate and perform operations on your computer using touch and hand gestures. Things such as click, double click, select and drag and rotate are among the features you can use with this.
-Pen input: The cordless battery free pen allows you to draw and edit with ease using your bamboo tablet. This provides a natural feel and allows you to even write and erase notes.
These tablets are pretty basic so I’d only recommend them for the beginner and not for the professional artist.
Let’s take a step up both in price and function and look at the Intous line shall we? Now this is my all time favourite line of tablets for the cost and performance and its what I sue at home.
They range all the way from small to XL and sport a number of great features such as
-Wacom Tip Sensor: This new technology allows you to capture every tiny stroke and detail when using the pen. They are pressure sensitive so say if you were using the airbrush tool in Photoshop much like a real airbrush the more pressure you put on the pen the stronger and bigger the stroke comes out. I love this so much because it truly gives you a virtual airbrush experience. Allowing for the softest and most fine detailing Ive ever seen.
Other Features: These tablets are ambidextrous. They feature tilt range and express keys. The pen comes with several tips such as design marker which actually had that little scratchy grainy feel to it like real markers do!….I love this. There’s all sorts of ink and airbrush tips and each one provides a different feel and experience. Just typing this out makes me want to go draw with them as there is so much to experience its almost overwhelming.
The last series they offer is the Wacom Cintiq. For a review of that series please see my Wacom Cintiq page.
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The Intuos line is more geared towards professionals. This line comes with four tablets, varying in size: small, medium, large and extra large. This line also has light room bundle and wireless options.
The small size is geared towards those who have limited space and want to be able to tuck it in the bag with their laptop, and is highly portable. The medium size gives a 48.5 sq. inch workspace and is the most popular size amongst professional artists. Large tablet boasts 102.5 sq. inch workspace, and is good for artists who want a generous work space. The extra large tablet provides the most space at a whopping 218.4 sq. inches.
The wireless option of this line uses Blue-tooth technology for freedom of movement for up to 33 feet, and the light room bundle allows for work with the Intuos line and Adobe Light Room software. The Cintiq line uses Wacom’s signature pen combined with an LCD screen. There are 3 models in this line; 24HD, 21UX, and 12WX. These models allow for direct onscreen work with varying degrees of touch.
Last but not least is the Inkling. This technology bridges the gap between digital pen,paper, tablet and computer. This technology was just released in August of 2011 and may be used with the Intuos line of Wacom brand tablets.
These tablets may be purchased on Wacom’s website or other online retailers, and in stores like Best Buy and other stores that are geared towards carrying electronic and high tech items.
Ive tried out a number of tablets in the past and in my opinion you really cant beat Wacom for performence and function. Recently I picked up their Intous 4 and I couldn’t be happier. The shape and surface are great as it gives the user consistent and even strokes. My previous wacom lasted me almost 9 years until the cord got too frayed and I decided to pick up a newer model. The Intous 4 comes in small ,medium, large and x- large. I have personally found the medium to be the best for my needs but everyone is different. It allows for excellent work flow, software integration and great performance. The pen comes with a variety of tips which I though way too cool. There’s several tips to choose from like “Marker” and no joke it actually feels like you are using design markers. There is also an airbrush tip and smooth ink tip as well as numerous others including a number of duplicate tips just in case you lose one or for when they get worn down….if your never does then your not using it enough!..ha ha. The Intous 4 also features Wacoms new tip sensor technology! This awesome advancement allows the artist to capture every stroke dramatic persecion and sensitivity. The pen in comes with has a great look and feel to it with good weight and works very natural and intuitive with you and your artwork. This pen begins at almost zero start pressure which allows for the finest softest lines. It reminds me very much of traditional airbrush (I was strictly and airbrush artist until I went digital) but without messy paint or the headaches that come with airbrushes, ie messy splatters and clogging. You wont have to spend any time cleaning up after these tools. The tips on the pens also last quite a long time…they outlast previous versions big time and have gone way past market expectations. In fact Wacom now guarantees that the pen will perform at top rate for over 20 million strokes. That’s a lot of work. This surpasses previous models by double! This is really ground breaking stuff. Now besides durability these tablets use only 1/70th of the power of previous models like the intous 3. These next generation tools have improved pressure and sensitivity, reduced power consumption and dramatically improved feel to them. Id highly advise any artist to try one out.
Over the past decade we have seen some amazing growth in the way people use digital media to create original artwork and the progression of the digital drawing tablet has certainly helped. A wide variety of tablets is available to the consumer based on the needs and budget of the artist everyone can find something right for them. Wacom puts out some awesome products and is pretty much industry standard now. So I would definitely recommend going with them on your purchase. The more inexpensive models still offer a good range of features and you can create some really killer art with them. My favourite is the intous series. Now they are a little more expensive but in my mind they are well worth it. Mainly due to such awesome features like pressure sensitivity. These can mimic mediums such as airbrush and spray paint better then anything Ive ever tried in the past. If you need to stretch your dollar consider looking into the graphite series. While these don’t offer all the bells and whistles the intous does, they will still allow you to do some fantastic artwork. The tablets basically work in place of a mouse so you can draw and paint in real time no problem. I myself just picked up the Wacom intous 4 and I couldn’t be happier with it. It cost me about $350 and has tons of killer features including interchangeable pen tips which actually feel like the traditional art tools. Very cool stuff indeed! If you are looking for the best of the best get yourself a pen on screen model. These actually allow you to draw on the screen or it will show your computers screen right on the tablet allowing for complete real time interaction and seamless flow.