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Educate me on computer drawing tablets

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Bardolph, Aug 23, 2005.

  1. Bardolph


    Jul 28, 2002
    Grand Rapids, MI
    I've been getting more into graphic design lately and have been looking toward getting a drawing tablet. Thing is, I don't know much about them and I don't know where to start. The way I understand they work is that each area of the tablet corresponds to a specific area on your screen, and hovering the pen over the tablet moves the cursor around and touching the pad with the pen is like clicking. I want something different- I want the tablet to function like a laptop touchpad, where touching the pen to the tablet moves the cursor around and a button on the pen is used to click. I don't know if there are tablets like that or not, but I figured somebody on here would know about that type of stuff.
  2. I think you can lightly draw on the tablet to move your cursor, and then you press down harder to "click" it or draw, etc. There could be different interfaces though so try to research them as much as possible before you buy.

    There used to be things called "pen mice" before they had (affordable) tablets and touchpads and such. They were like a lightweight mouse with a pen stabbed in the top of it, so that you could manipulate it like a pencil/pen and the buttons were at the nib. I haven't seen one in years, though, but I'm sure if they are still around they have gotten much nicer (wireless + optical technology?).
  3. whoapower


    Jul 14, 2005
    Austin, TX
    I have an Intuos 2 4x5. I'd suggest in the 6x8's to start out with. The 4x5 is fine, but doesn't give you much to play with. Various other Wacom products can be found here: http://www.wacom.com/productinfo/index.cfm I'd suggest in just getting a Graphire to start out with, but if you want the other dynamics with each pen, go with the Intuos.

    You get a small mouse and a pen with each pad. There are additional pens you can buy for about 70 bucks a pop, which can have different flavors to them. You can also get a collection of pens and assign different brushes to each of them. Me? I'm pretty basic, and modify brushes as needed, using only one pen and my normal desktop mouse (MX1000) separately with my right hand and using the pen with my left hand when I need to draw. I'm left handed, so it works out well that way.

    The pen typically has two buttons, a forward and a backwards. You can customize this to do as you wish, but it typically works as a select and a brush change or undo. You can use the desktop just fine with a pen. You are just hovering over the pad with your pen and you press on the pad (not really pressing, but placing the pen) to get a top of a window to move in a direction.

    Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. I'm not a pro by any means, but I've worked with them for a handful of years.
  4. When Autocad first came out some 20 years ago, tablets were the hot item. This was before pull-down menus and pop-up menus. The tablets I used (Summagraphics, and others) had either a pen or a multi-button mouse. The tablet had assignable areas, with maybe 50 to 100 commands that you would directly click on (on the menu). There would be a hardprinted menu on the tablet surface. Move the pen or mouse to the command, (you have to look down at the pen or mouse to see where it is), then click the mouse, or push the pen down to activate the built-in clicker.

    Now, since this was before pull-downs and pop-ups, this worked OK. But the big drawback was this: a fast drafter (not meaning to boast, but I could do pretty good back then) would be constantly looking at the screen, then looking down at the tablet, then looking back at the screen, then down at the tablet, once a second or maybe even faster. Try doing this for 8 hours a day, five days a week... :(

    Free-hand drafting or tracing was theoretically possible too, but didn't work really well. (This was before scanners were readily available)

    When Autocad finally came out with pull downs and pop-up dialog boxes (version 9? around 1987?) I went to a standard mouse, and threw the tablet away forever. For fast drafting, IMHO it's much more ergonomic to keep you eyes directed towards the screen all the time.

    edited: My response is geared towards drafting and engineering use. For graphic arts, tablets or pens may be more useful and less cumbersome.
  5. retitled


    Feb 13, 2004
    forest hills
    i used to be waaaaaayyy into this stuff too... lol

    im more into my bass now :p

    i actually have a wacom sitting around that i dont use.. i could let it go for $50 plus shipping

    its for a mac thoug.. but i hear there are converters...

    pm me if interested...