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zyrolasting

Wacom tablet families?

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I'm biting the bullet and buying a Wacom graphics tablet soon. Naturally I'm attracted to the intous family, but before I go tossing $200 minimum at these things I want to know what I'm really buying when it comes to the specifications. I compared the tablets, but I don't know how much better I'd have it if I got a model any cheaper than the Intous models. I really do not know much about these devices at all, and from past experience I can research a product but still end up with a somewhat foolish purchase. Can I get some opinions from any of you who have a good knowledge of the tablets on what is best to factor in? I normally focus on character design and use Photoshop CS3, if that helps.

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I'm currently only a dabbler in digital art, but am looking to improve. I've got an Intuos3 6x8 and a Graphire3 4x5 that I moved up from and now use as a laptop tablet. And I recently bought my sister a Bamboo Fun for her birthday, so I guess I know a little bit about all three.

The Bamboo series excels as a consumer product. It's got some nice auxiliary buttons for scrolling around and just looks more approachable. I don't know much about the technical specs but I'm assuming it's roughly the same as the Graphire, i.e. not as full featured as the Intuos, but still pretty darned good. The small one is cheap (US$79) and if you just want a trial tablet and you draw small then it doesn't hurt.

The Graphire is being phased out as far as I know. I thnk the wireless one is the only one left. Wireless is good for a portable tablet, although the small wired ones aren't bad either. I can't remember what the latest Graphire4 model is like, but I don't think it has buttons like the Bamboo and the Intuos.

The Intuos is a professional grade tablet and comes in the largest variety of sizes. If you want a big tablet because you like to draw with big sweeps of your arms, go Intous (and be prepared to pay a fair amount). The Intuos is more sensitive and has tilt detection as well as more buttons built into the tablet. I haven't compared them enough to know if end results are much better over the Graphire; my skills as an artist aren't enough to make it an issue. But the buttons alone are extremely useful to bind to common key shortcuts. You can get 6x8 tablets with an educational discount which is worth looking into.

Then there's the Cintiq, which I have never used. That's the one with the screen built into the tablet and costs serious bucks. I'm sure it's awesome to use, but it's out of my price range and I'd always be a teensy bit afraid of breaking it.

Hopefully some of the more experienced artists can advice you on the right tablet to get for character design. They'll all work well with Photoshop. You'll also need to consider the size you want, which depends a lot on your drawing style and the amount of space on your desk - note that even if money was no object, bigger isn't necessarily better if you don't have space or you prefer to draw in small spaces.

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That was really informative, thanks!

Ugh, my rating dropped again. Sometimes it just seems people rate others down for no reason sometimes. =P

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If you just want to dabble in art, then get a Bamboo. If you're serious about digital art and intend to make a career out of it, then get an Intuos3. 4x6 or 6x8 will be just fine.

Why? Because eventually you'll want to take advantage of the features of the Intuos, such as tilt sensitivity. Bamboo - and the earlier, phased out Graphire series - don't have this; I first used a Graphire after almost two years of working on an Intuos, and I could tell the difference immediately. It was horrible.

Your equipment and tools are an investment, and you're going to hold on to them for a while. Yes, they're expensive, but you don't have to upgrade every product cycle. If you have Photoshop CS3, you can skip CS4 and upgrade with CS5. Hell, some people - professionals, creating illustrations that grace the covers of the New Yorker magazine, etc - still use Photoshop 7.0! Similarly, My Intuos3 6x11 didn't become useless because Wacom released the Intuos3 Special Edition (though that slate gray is sexy...), or the Cintiq 20WSX (though I hope to buy one of those this year), or the Cintiq 12WX. I've had my tablet since '06, which means that the $300-odd dollars I paid for it will have served me for at least 36 months before I upgrade - that's less than $10 per month, and I'll be able to sell my tablet for a couple bucks if/when I spring for the Cintiq.

Get a good tablet if you're serious about this.


Quote:
Original post by zyrolasting
Ugh, my rating dropped again. Sometimes it just seems people rate others down for no reason sometimes. =P

Don't worry about it. Stay positive and, over time, your overall rating will trend upward.

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Amazon has a mail in rebate on the smallest Intuos3 at the moment - something like $40. (putting it at $160 for the 4x6 Intuos3)

http://www.amazon.com/Wacom-Intuos3-6-Inch-Format-PTZ431W/dp/B000I62PEU/ref=pd_bbs_sr_3?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1233258663&sr=8-3

I'm never going to be primarily an artist, but I am trying to learn in order to support my solo projects (actually more intending to use it for mesh sculpting and painting within modo). To that end, I ended up going with the Intuos3, and got it in the mail yesterday. At $160, even though I'm not a graphics pro, it seemed like too good of a deal to pass up. (It's actually cheaper than the medium sized Bamboo fun)

I can't really comment in depth on it yet, but what I can say is that by the end of the first night of use I was starting to get comfortable using the tablet generally.

Even in the short usage time, it's pretty clear to me why so many artists seem to swear by the thing - the control I have over pointer movement while using the Intuos far surpasses using a mouse. The feel is good, and the drawings I can make using it are basically equivalent to those I could do on paper (that is, they're still awful - but they're less spastic than if I was using a mouse). The pressure sensitivity is also a huge plus for trying to do detailed mesh sculpting in modo. I feel like, with practice, I may eventually be able to sculpt something that doesn't suck!

The tablet definitely feels worth it - the Bamboo is probably just as sufficient for a non artist, I just got suckered in by the mail in rebate.

Note: Wacom also has an offer that lets you get a copy of Photoshop CS4 for $299 as an upgrade to the bundled Photoshop Elements. This seems like a very good deal for those of us who don't currently own a full version of Photoshop. (You get it on their website after registering the hardware - may only be available if you get an Intuos)

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Quote:
Original post by dopplex
Note: Wacom also has an offer that lets you get a copy of Photoshop CS4 for $299 as an upgrade to the bundled Photoshop Elements. This seems like a very good deal for those of us who don't currently own a full version of Photoshop. (You get it on their website after registering the hardware - may only be available if you get an Intuos)
To be honest, for the non-artist, the full photoshop may be overkill as well - I used elements for a long time before getting a decent discount on the full version, and I can't say that I use the added features on a day-to-day basis.

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Quote:
Original post by swiftcoder
Quote:
Original post by dopplex
Note: Wacom also has an offer that lets you get a copy of Photoshop CS4 for $299 as an upgrade to the bundled Photoshop Elements. This seems like a very good deal for those of us who don't currently own a full version of Photoshop. (You get it on their website after registering the hardware - may only be available if you get an Intuos)
To be honest, for the non-artist, the full photoshop may be overkill as well - I used elements for a long time before getting a decent discount on the full version, and I can't say that I use the added features on a day-to-day basis.


Fair enough point. I mostly just wanted to mention it because for someone who does think they'll need it, it seemed like a pretty good price.

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You guys are awesome for supplying the info you have. I really appreciate it.

Unfortunately, a little late on the rebate. I had already ordered a 4x6 off the site a couple days ago. >.< It's fine though. It'll be here on the 3rd.
I already have a full copy of PS CS3, so I'm fine there. I've actually tried CS4, and it was really unfriendly to my both CS3 experience and my PC (Whaddya mean 'Error communicating with GPU'?! Whatever, make a new layer... <Crash>) so I'm sticking with CS3. Thanks for the heads-up on potential deals, dopplex!

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Quote:
Original post by zyrolasting
I've actually tried CS4, and it was really unfriendly to my both CS3 experience and my PC (Whaddya mean 'Error communicating with GPU'?! Whatever, make a new layer... <Crash>) so I'm sticking with CS3. Thanks for the heads-up on potential deals, dopplex!
Haven't seen any problems with the Mac version - might be your video drivers?

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That was my first guess, but this is a brand new card (Geforce 9800 GTX+) and everything else runs fine. Really my issue with CS4 was volatile use of the card or something else... One session it's fine, two it's not. (Crashes)

CS3 still works flawlessly though, so I guess SOMETHING on my PC was not in agreement with CS4...

I'm blabbing. Everything is fine now, really. [smile]

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