View Full Version : A question for the Digital Art people...

01-04-2007, 12:26 PM
Hi there, I'm practically new here!

Recently, Ive been thinking about buying a tablet, and as far as I can gather, Wacom is the brand to go, in order to make it a worthwhile investment.

My question to you, the fine artists of this forum is this:

Of these two options What would you rather buy and why?

1)Intuos 3 9X12"

2)Intuos 3 6X8" + Intuos3 Airbrush-ZP400E OR Intuos 6D Art Pen-ZP600

My budget only allows for one of those two options and I was wondering what would be the best to get started.

Frankly I'm both scared and excited to learn this new medium!

Thanks for reading! :wave:

01-04-2007, 12:51 PM
It depends on what you want to do on the computer. I'm ashamed to say that I have hardly touched my tablet since I bought it. Most of my illustrations are photo montages or montages of photos and images created in 3D or vector drawing programs. It turns out that I do very little freehand drawing or painting on the computer. When I do need to do it I prefer using traditional media then scanning it for further manipulation.

That being said, both products should work fine. I find that the actual size of the tablet makes little difference since you are looking at the computer screen anyway. Therefore I would go with the smaller tablet with the better pens. The airbrush is especially nice if you already have experience with airbrushing. It replicates the effects of changing the angle and distance of the airbrush to the media. I'm not too sure of the usefulness of the airbrush pen if you are not already an experienced (traditional) airbrush user. Try to sample each one before you buy, or check the stores return policy.

01-04-2007, 12:58 PM
Id buy the 9x12. Im sure the airbrush and 3d pen are nice, but they can always be added on later, and are really a more specialized tool. One would need to learn a bit in digital paionting to make good use of those brushes. Just my 2 cents.

01-04-2007, 02:32 PM
Buy the smaller tablet, and get the airbrush NOW.

I have two 9x12's and while they are nice because of the size, I can now pretty definitively state that you seldom to NEVER will use the entire 9x12 surface to draw on. Your motions will be limited to your monitor size, and the magnificaton of what you are working on. You seldom will be making such broad, sweeping strokes to justify the additional cost, and you will be making a MUCH better investment, money wise, to get a smaller tablet, and an additional too.

I only use my "regular" Wacom pen when I misplace my airbrush one.
You don't need to learn anything without the airbrush pen that you can't learn with it, and you will find it SO much more versatile, you will wonder how you ever got along without it.

I'm speaking from over 5 years of using these tablets on a DAILY basis.

I would suggest the airbrush over the chisel tip 6D, because you can select a brush tip in your drawing program to simulate angled, chiseled, strokes, but a regular tip is less costly to replace, and gives you a more "finite" precision, which you may find more difficult with a chisel tip.The airbrush will be valuable to make adjustments as you draw with the "airbrush wheel."

Anyone who seldom uses their tablet simply doesn't appreciate the power and control they give you. The only time I am not using my tablet, is when I am typing. You can surf the web as you work on images, drag and drop, and generally do everything on your PC with your Wacom, except type...

I suggest you also invest in a small bottle of bowling ball polish, and use it on your overlay. It keeps the surface glass smooth, and prevents scratches and wear spots (which will still occur, just a bit slower).

Also, invest in an extra 3-5 tips when you order. They do wear out, and you ALWAYS want at least 2-3 backups to give you "mailing time" when you re-order.

You will LOVE your Intuos. I love both of mine...


01-04-2007, 05:42 PM
I find the 4 x 6 fine for what I do and because it has a small footprint it's much easier to find a place for it :D the art pens are great also

01-04-2007, 08:31 PM
Thanks for your opinions... From browsing the net, the general opinion regarding tablets is that bigger is not necesarily better...

I guess is better to have more toys than a single, bigger tablet, which I may not fully use.

Too bad Cintiqs are so expensive!! Ah well, something to look forward to, in any event.

Thanks for answering, you're so kind!

01-04-2007, 09:33 PM
Reguarding tablet size, bigger definetly does not = better. But I do believe that if you tend to draw from the elbow VS the wrist, and ghost out your strokes, then the larger size tablet might make you happier.

I can now pretty definitively state that you seldom to NEVER will use the entire 9x12 surface to draw on.

At least in my case, this wouldnt be true. I find the size advantagous.

01-04-2007, 11:48 PM
I got the 6" X 11" to go with my dual monitor set up and find it wonderful, if I was only using one monitor and didn't intend to either go to a single wide format LCD or a dual monitor in the future I'd buy the 6"X 8", it strikes a happy medium before I got my new tablet I used 2 different 4" X 5" models and as far as painting they were just fine. My new one is just a bit better in that I don't have to work with aspect ratios in the images I'm working on.

01-05-2007, 12:06 AM
I agree with Smokin, so I have to say I prefer bigger tablets. I've been using wacoms since they came out. I started with a small one and found myself getting out of the 'active area' because of the way I paint (as Smoking explained). So I ended up upgrading to the 9x12 which, to me, feels more natural for the way I work. It is true that IF you map the entire screen to the entire active area of the tablet (which it's the default) you might "seldom will be making such broad, sweeping strokes" as Madster mentioned but you have the option to set a certain area of the screen to the active area of the tablet (in other words, you don't have to map the entire screen to the active area).

My honest recommendation is for you to sit down, get a piece of paper with the two tablets' active area dimension and practice your drawing and see if "you tend to draw from the elbow VS the wrist". If the conclussion is from the elbow, get the 9x12; if from the wrist, then get the smaller one.

01-05-2007, 12:53 AM
Janet, at that point, you have to stop and determine your final output. If it is intended to be printed (meaning 150-200ppi), and you try making those "broad strokes," you will find, that when you magnify your work, the lines are jagged, and not as smooth and even. For the most precise linework, you need to work at a very high resolution, with your brush spacing set to '0'.

For monitor resolution (72ppi), you are absolutely right, being able to draw across the tablet IS an exhilarating feeling...It just has a high trade off for visual details.

Every time I've worked "full tablet," when I zoom in, the lines are not as "clean" as when you draw the line at a higher magnification...At least that's been my experiences...


01-05-2007, 10:19 AM
You all raise good points regarding the tablet size...

I used to do a lot of watercolors in the past; sometimes my initial strokes would be expansive and long and then I would work on the smaller details, sometimes I would start doing detailed work right from the start and sometimes I painted very, very loose, the size of the substrate was not as relevant, sometimes I'd use 1/8 of a sheet, sometimes half a sheet.

Do you think the painting habits and experience you already have with other mediums (oil, pastels, etc) translate somehow to the way you use your digital tablet?

Because I suppose there must be some relevance in the difference of starting out with the tablet as the first medium you learn versus already knowing other mediums and then switching to a tablet...??

Madster: Your first comment was pretty interesting and insightful... now it's clear to me that independently of which tablet size I end up choosing, I definitely must get the airbrush!! thanks!!

Jhercilia: Thanks for the paper pieces suggestion, I will do that.

And thank YOU ALL for your comments!

01-05-2007, 12:17 PM
Madster, I always work at my final output resolution. I have never experience what you are describing. Never had that problem. My prints comes out exactly as I indended to.

Mirai - I started traditionally and then with the evolution of computers (1986 when I started, thats when PCs came out) I started exploring options. I've been using Painter since it came out and Painting Digitally hasn't changed the way I paint but it complements it. The most important thing is that you must practice with the available brushes and change their defaults setting so that they perform as you expect them to. It took me some time in the beginning but I managed. Now I get the look I want. The great thing also is that if you are mainly a traditional artist, you can take great advantage of digital painting to explore many aspects of your future paintings. You can try composition, color schemes, texture, etc. And then use it as a guide for your final traditional work. There are so many posibilities.

01-08-2007, 10:40 AM
Recently, Ive been thinking about buying a tablet, and as far as I can gather, Wacom is the brand to go, in order to make it a worthwhile investment.

I use the Wacom Graphire ll and can't speak directly about your choices, but the only differnce between the Graphire and Intuo's is the sensitivity with the Graphire having only half the sensitivity of the Inuo. I don't know how much it matters though. Do we really need over a thousand levels of sensitivity?
Other than that there's a very big difference in price. Often the Graphire can be had for less than $75.00 online and it's often found packaged along with software for a very low price.

That said, the Intuo's are both evidently excellent choices and the only question for you would be the size you prefer to work within. The larger sizes means greater movement of the hand and arm than the small sizes. For years I used the smallest size and have moved up to the 8" X 10" which is more than large enough for me at least and I have very large hands. I've heard that there's a problem with arm fatigue using the larger sizes, but can't speak personally about that. On screen (monitor) it doesn't matter I think as you can increase/decrease the scale you work at easily enough. Much more convenient is having two monitors (extended rather than mirrored) If you want to take a moment to see what can be done with a small Graphire ll Wacom check out my website: <tedpainter.com>.

01-08-2007, 10:47 AM
I suggest you also invest in a small bottle of bowling ball polish, and use it on your overlay. It keeps the surface glass smooth, and prevents scratches and wear spots (which will still occur, just a bit slower).

Evidently you prefer a very smooth surface to draw on and I find that to be very difficult to control. Sort of like ice skating. I tape a piece of copy paper across the top of my Wacom which gives me a more natural textural surface and is less slick. I've tried all sorts of materials including cardboard. The computer still senses the pen, but with thicker materials such as cardboard the pen has to get almost to the surface before it registers. There is a downside though as the pen nib wears down faster. On a previous pen (which still works fine) it got so worn that I trimmed away some of the plastic next to the nib. Works just fine. I don't know how deep that nib goes into the pen, but I think it will allow trimming until it runs out.

01-08-2007, 08:52 PM
I wouldn't trim the pen it is cheaper to get new nibs, if you have lost the spares that came with the pad. if you keep cutting th pen you will ruin it. the nib is about 2 inches long you can pull it out with tweezers or your teeth LOL

01-08-2007, 10:59 PM
Ok, all is done: The airbrush pen is/was out of stock with my distributor... the expected arrival date is around one month from now... plenty of time to save money towards it.

They were very kind to let me test both the 8X6" and 9X12" tablets in store... I was expecting the bigger one to be really massive, but it was not... the smaller one felt just fine, but the 9X12" was closer to the paper size I normally use when making traditional illustrations, so I bought it...

The included pen and mouse puzzled me for a couple of hours, specifically as to how they work without an apparent power supply... I found the explanation on a UK site and that saved my sanity.

I have an educational license for Painter IX which I have not installed (Is the Painter Essentials that was included with my Wacom a less complete/limited version?) and photoshop MX installed on my PC.

Now I want to have the best possible start with this lovely piece of equipment... so what do you all suggest I do with it on this first week?

Thanks for reading!!

01-09-2007, 12:05 PM
Congrates on you new toy!!!! You are sure to have a ton of fun!

OK, to start off with you are going to have to learn the basics of how to use your program Painter.I sugest using these vid to start off with.

You may have to register to download, but its worth it IMO.
All this info is covered in your manual of course, but I find it easier to learn by seeing someone else do it.

Once you got a feel for basics, you can just keep drawing, or explore these tutorials to learn more techniques, how-to's, and whatnot.

As far as painter essentials goes, it is a more stripped down version to Painter 9, and it has less options and some limitations. That being said, I would still say its still in the top 5 best 2d programs available. If not top 3 right behind painter 9 and photoshop who both fight for first. Sorry, i cant help you with the specifics on the differences between the two programs.

01-09-2007, 08:45 PM
I have the cheapest one- the Graphire 3- and it is the smallest. I have found that I have no use for the larger sizes yet. The drawing space on the tablet configures to your screen. I don't know what is up with the airbrush. There are airbrush settings in Photoshop and other Graphic programs, so the pen is just fine. Anyway, I have been perfectly happy with my $79 Wacom. If you have good software, then save your money and just get the bigger tablet instead of the bells and whistles.

01-09-2007, 11:16 PM
Congratulations on your new acquisition! Enjoy and practice, practice, practice.

01-09-2007, 11:58 PM
So far it's been wonderful... I did manage to talk a friend into getting his own wacom so we could learn together (and since two tablets were bought, they even gave us a small discount!).

Too bad everyting I've been able to do with it resembles a child's doodle... I guess I'll first take the plunge with Painter before having a go at Photoshop.

Thanks for all your opinions and suggestions, each and every one was important!

01-10-2007, 02:10 AM
Use your full version of Painter. Painter Classic is like Painter "Lite," it's okay, but if you have the full app, enjoy it!

Baby steps. Go to the Wacom site (www.wacom.com) and use the tutorials they have to get familiar with using your tablet.
Practice drawing 100 circles freehand, striving to make them perfectly round.
Practice drawing 100 squares, again, striving for 4 equal length sides.

Yes, I do prefer a glass surface for my wacom. It is the closest thing to drawing in the air, and seeing the movement on your monitor. That is part of the skill level of using one.

Putting paper down wears your nibs much faster for no good reason beyond dependence upon the drag of paper against the nib. You need to learn to trust where your hand and the pen are going as you are looking at your monitor. The only way to develop that is to do it. You'll never reach that level using a paper crutch.
You will also end up replacing your overlay, as well as go through nibs much faster...