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Catching up…

Thought I’d share my first trials with my Intuos board.

In case you’re wondering what I’m talking about, the Wacom Intuos board is one of the best of the “pressure sensitive input devices” available for computer art. It’s a board with a special pen  that through the magic of electronics allows you to draw just like you were drawing in a tablet. It gives you smooth curves and you can adjust the darkness and thickness of the line by how hard you press on the tablet.firsttry

The problem with the modern programs is that they’ve tried to program in all kinds of controls, which means all sort of settings. I’m going to have to figure those out. I spent most of the first night trying to figure out how to make good old Paint Shop Pro give me those basic variations. Couldn’t find anything online or in the help file until I found the magic words “pressure sensitive.” Still not much to explain how all the various settings affect the input, but I at least got it to where I could play a bit.

This was my first try. Mind you, I haven’t really drawn  for years, so bear with me awhile, OK? I have no idea who she is, BTW.

Then, I turned the pad over to Carolyn for a try and this was her first:cjcfirsttry


The next step was determining the free programs that came with the board. They’re all trial versions designed to do nothing but tempt you into paying lots of money for the full version, so, knowing I’d get “crippled” versions, I took a stab at the Autodesk Sketchbook, and I’m very glad I did. It’s literally just a straightforward sketching program. It’ll do more, and the full version has some cool abilities like synchronized or mirror sketching (i.e., you can draw one side and have the program simultaneously make an exact duplicate other side.) But bottom line, it’s designed to work with the pressure sensitive boards, so even the menu options are optimized for the board input.

Anyway, here are my first trials with it. Again, I’ve no idea who they are:










Okay…back to the Mariners game…

12 comments to Catching up…

  • kokipy

    Well, I guess for you drawing is like riding a bike! those are lovely. I can’t draw and don’t know anything about computer drawing or graphics, but these look to me like fine charcoal sketches.

    • Jane

      Thanks! That’s what’s so neat about the PS boards. They let you draw pretty much as you would in a sketchbook. I thought it would be hard, drawing in one place and having the image appear above, but I find it actually helps avoid some of the perspective problems that drawing flat can create and yet lets the blood stay in your arms, unlike drawing/painting on an easel. It was surprisingly intuitive.

  • Katoji

    You are going to have so much fun. I just love it when people jump in full speed ahead into new things. It promises great results later on!

  • Katoji

    And while I’m here…. to make a quick color comp out of these–slip a layer underneath for color, another one on top of that for highlights, leaving the pencil on top. If there is a blending mode avaiable, set the pencils layer to multiply. 😉

    • Jane

      Kewl! I’ll pop it over into PSP and try it. I’m supposed to stay inside today (witchdoctor’s orders) so after I get caught up on some housework, it’s time to play!!!!

  • witchdoctor. That would be me. :ninja:

  • Sandor

    Jane (and other artists lurking here),

    This thread has made me interested in these tablets for my 8yo aspiring artist about to turn 9 on Thursday… While the Intuos4 looks reasonably priced for a professional/commerical grade device, I see some reviews on Amazon that talk about the Bamboo from Wacom (< $70). Do you think this might be a more appropriate starting place. Not that he tires of drawing in his notebook(s) yet…

    Off to check reviews of other products. I’ll have to talk to our friend Byron Glaser from Zolo, who practically lives in front of his computer, but whose budget is probably much higher than either of ours 🙂

    – Sandor

    • Jane

      I haven’t used a Bamboo, but I imagine at the very least it’s comparable to the original wacom board which I had many many moons (read pre-WinXP) ago. (And from reading the specs, it’s far more. I have no idea the sensitivity rating, for instance, of my old board.) I didn’t use it a lot, (we were moving so much, there wasn’t time for art) but it was wonderful when I did. It would certainly let a pre-teen get a really good start on the interface.

      Anything is better than trying to do meaningful art with a mouse, trackball, or touchpad. For one thing, it allows you to stay loose and develop your sketching hand.

      Lynn Abbey had an attack of Wacom envy and got a bamboo. At least she ordered one. Haven’t heard from her yet on whether she got it or how it’s doing if she has. You might ask her.

      The one thing I’m really not sure about right now are all the variables the higher-end programs are putting into the touch sensitivity. I think they’re trying to do too much mechanically, but I might change my mind on that. I think what I’m trying to suggest is that you get him maybe a “lower end” program like Paint Shop Pro 7 or 8 rather than the current version. It has the pressure sensitivity without quite so many variables.

      And I increasingly like this autodesk sketchbook http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/index?siteID=123112&id=6848450. I’m still pretty impressed with the lite version that came with the Intuos, and the pro version isn’t too bad, price wise. ($100, I think) I think Vista might also have a built in art program that can take advantage of the board, from what I’ve read, but I haven’t ever used Vista, so I can’t say for certain.

      I wish him well! Keep us posted how he does. okay?

  • Sandor


    Thanks for the response. I’ll have to compare notes with Lynn once we all get going.

    Well, the Bamboo package deal comes with Photoshop Elements which probably came with all our digital cameras, Corel Painter Essentials, and Nik Color Efex Pro. I may just buy the regular non-package and pick up the appropriate software separately. The autodesk software looks good. I notice the light version comes with the Intuos bundle.

    Well, we’ll just let the little bugger get going on some drawings with what software we have at hand, as long as it isn’t actually more frustrating. That brings up my guitar philosophy for aspiring guitarists – it is actually better to buy them an electric guitar first – they can press the strings down easier and get to the point of playing a whole song more quickly than on acoustic. Plus, entry level electric guitars are much closer in quality to pro level than entry level acoustics 🙂

    Thanks again!

    – S

    • Jane

      You betcha!

      I don’t know what Nik Color Efex is, but it sounds like it’s designed for photos rather than sketching.

      You make a very good argument for starting with an electric guitar, but I wouldn’t really know. The only time I tried one, it felt very strange, but then, I started on an acoustic and have only ever played an acoustic. OTOH, my peeling and blistered fingertips would probably have appreciated otherwise! 😀

      Ooo…you make me want to get back to playing…Maybe if I don’t sleep…

  • Sandor

    Well, purchased the Bamboo sans software. Mother-in-law is insisting she get to give it to him at his family party on Saturday, so he hasn’t had a chance to play with it yet. (Today is his real birthday. Cajeiri would be jealous to be fully nine!)

    Thanks for the help, and I’ll post any progress.

    – S

    PS. One of these days I’m going to visit gravatar and get a really cool non-alien avatar. But for now, I kind of like my little alien 🙂

    • Jane

      Does he know it’s coming? Poor baby…so close yet so far…

      I can’t wait for Cajeiri’s fortunate ninth. It s/b coming up soon. (I love that kid)

      I hope we can get the wavatars back soon. The author of the plugin is supposed to be working on the problem. Don’t worry, they haven’t been lost. They’re generated by your email.

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