OT: Graphics tablets ..

Hi Guys,
Looking for some 'real world' thoughts re the practical use of graphics tablets please so I thought I'd ask here first.
Our (nearly 16yr old) Daughter is pretty good (top set at school, stuff on the wall etc) with real / photographic / PC 'art' and I was wondering if said kit is a real 'godsend' to the PC artist / photo re-toucher or just an expensive gadget / luxury?
From Googling / asking about I think Wacom have the field sewn up and the:
http://tinyurl.com/mzkwb
.. seems a good 'all rounder' (good rep, spec, big enough (A5) but not too big, not *too* expensive etc etc).
There is no real 'need' as yet but just me trying to give our daughter exposure to as much kit in this field (PC, Graphics apps, camera, tablet?) as possible / practical ready for a possible career in 'Graphics / design' of some sort? (Starting with a BTEC course in 3D Design next year). If it's something she could make use of for fun (just 'fun' sketching etc) then all the better?
She seems 'lucky' in that she is equally competent with hand and computer art, plus seems to be quite imaginative when it comes to design (any school design group she is in seems to 'win' with their idea etc) so something I am keen to promote / keep 'interesting' for her.
All the best and thanks for any time / input ..
T i m
p.s. Dr Dribble, she's already got some crayons thanks .. ;-)
p.p.s. She currently has a pretty std IR M/Soft Intelli wheel type mouse. Would a 'higher resolution' one also help re drawing etc?
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T i m wrote:

There is substitute for graphics tablet when it comes to drawing on a computer,the mouse is a hinderance for a wouldbe computer artist.
I've used the wacom tablet and its very good for digital art work,you can actually put a picture down on the tablet and draw round it and a duplicate on screen. Not only is it for artist but for architectural work is a must.
--
Sir Benjamin Middlethwaite




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Consider getting her a tablet PC. They are full functioning notebooks with a full screen Wacom tablet behind the screen.
They are not cheap but there are some offers about on Centrino ones while they stock up on dual core ones.
You can use a tablet pc anywhere.. its a real pain trying to use a Wacom tablet on a train.
Go and try one in PCworld and then decide.
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On Fri, 15 Sep 2006 09:19:27 GMT, dennis@home wrote:

Tablet PCs aren't pressure sensitive as a general rule, which isn't very beneficial. They're mainly for input and not necessarily click accuracy.
I recommend one of the penpartner or graphire series of wacom tablets. I've bought a graphire 4 and am quite happy with it - you can get separate mice off ebay as they'll work with previous versions of the graphire mice (a v3 tablet won't use a v4 mouse though, whereas a 4 will use 3, 2 or 1).
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wrote:

They are *Wacom* tablets and are pressure sensitive. I believe thay also support tilt but you need one of the Wacom pens that is tilt sensitive for that to work.
Only the newer mini tablet PCs (7 inch) like the Samsung one are not proper Wacom tablets (cost cutting suposedly.. but they cost more than a full sized one).

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On Fri, 15 Sep 2006 13:44:23 GMT, dennis@home wrote:

Oh, wasn't aware of that - that's interesting to know!
I'd automatically assumed they were the same stuff as PocketPCs.
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Thanks to all for your replies.
So it looks like we are ok with Wacom and the A5 size and good tablets are worth having.
The Tablet PC has some appeal but looking on the Net / eBay suggests that a 'decent' one (with WiFi etc) is still quite expensive.
I'm thinking here that I should get a better 'tablet' by buying (say) a *new* [1] Wacom Graphire than 3+ x the money on a Tablet PC?
[1] being *new* should offer the latest spec / speed / drivers etc?
I have since found a mate has one so as suggested we might give that a try before we buy ;-)
All the best and thanks again ..
T i m
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They are ~750 but you get a decent centrino notebook as well for that price.
The tablets them selves are quite poor value but are essential for graphic artists.

You get the same tablet if you buy it stand alone or in a tablet PC. The pen may vary as tablet PC designers like to be able to store them in the notebook.

Always best to try it first. You probably only need one of the tiny 5x4 pads anyway.
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On Sat, 16 Sep 2006 10:34:03 GMT, "dennis@home"

Ouch. Don't get me wrong, I love gadgets but that's more than I've paid for any PC! (apart from the new Compaq 486 Laptop that I've used maybe 10 times .. and that was 900 ..) ;-(

Well, 'essential' sounds quite positive .. ;-)

Ah, ok.

Neat ..

Especially if spending > 25 ;-)

Do you not run out of 'area' .. like trying to sign-in-the-box ?
All the best ..
T i m
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You adjust to the size quite quickly. 5x4 is a big box for a signature. 8-)
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On Sat, 16 Sep 2006 18:20:56 GMT, "dennis@home"

;-)
So, thinking eBay here, what would constitute a 'useable' Tablet PC (Make. Model, CPU, RAM, etc)? I ask because I dare say there are some 'lemons' out there .. 'who sold you that then' sorta thing ..?
I'm aware that going for 'branded' (Compaq, Tosh etc) means there would be more chance of getting spares / add-ons etc but I guess at a premium over 'lesser' brands?
And do they run 'std' Windows apps or do you have to get 'Tablet Photoshop' etc?
All the best ..
T i m
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I bought a HP Compaq tc4200 from PC world three weeks ago. It was 750 ( a lot cheaper than ebay) and I got them to throw in 60 of free stuff by signing up to their warantee (free for the first month and now cancled as the tablet PC had a three year warrantee anyway).
They had a nice 14.1" Toshiba at the same price but I wanted a smaller 12" one for my daughters uni work.

Photoshop understands tablets. You can download ink tools for office free from M$. One note works with ink IIRC but my daughter uses the included Windows Journal for most things.
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On Fri, 15 Sep 2006 08:52:30 GMT, T i m wrote:

I've got an old Wacom Intuos and it is nice for drawing with. However there are some things you should bear in mind:
- although the tablet is pressure sensitive, there aren't many[1] graphics packages that can exploit this. You're getting into the world of "professional" graphics and the software comes with a matching price tag. - it's big (well, mine is anyway :-) The tablet I use has an area of 300mm square, plus a margin around the outside. So make sure there's enough desk space to accommodate the tablet. - some software allows you to associate different styluses with different functions/colours. The comments about pressure-sensitivity apply here, too.
I have mine set up in parallel with a normal mouse. That way I can leave the tablet to one side when I'm not being graphic and just work normally. As has been said, if you want to get into graphics properly, a tablet is a must. Mice just don't cut it.
Pete
[1] I haven't found a freeware package that is pressure sensitive. "The GIMP" claims to, but I haven't managed to use the feature yet. I expect this is 'cos I haven't set it up right.
--
..........................................................................
. never trust a man who, when left alone ...... Pete Lynch .
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T i m wrote:

Yup, for artwork you can get away with less tablet space than you expect. I usually find that I need to scale my oversized A4 one down to a sub region to make it useable for artwork. In fact for a comfortable working arrangement I usually place the base of the tablet on my lap and lean it against the desk like a large pan. Then flip the feet down on the keyboard and hang it on the top of the tablet (with the drawing area scaled to not use the bit obscured by the tablet). The bigger tablets are more useful for CAD and digitising paper copy, especially if you get a cross-hair puck to go with them.

As a general input device they take a little getting used to, however for many graphics related tasks they feel far more natural.
The Wacom ones are good because they support pressure and tilt sensitivity. However you may find that you need top end packages like Photoshop to get full benefit from this. They also benefit from not having a cable teathering the pen to the tablet like some of the budget brands.

Not really, it is hard to ever make a mouse feel natural for stroking lines in every direction - something that is easy with a pen.
--
Cheers,

John.

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On Fri, 15 Sep 2006 20:53:23 +0100, John Rumm

Hi John,
So, a friend has a Trust tablet and a mates young son has just picked up similar (A6?) from Tescos for 23? (Trust TB-2100).
It has a wireless mouse and pen and he says it's 'ok' .. but maybe he hasn't tried it against a Wacom (@ ~ 75 though) ?
Its this really one of those areas where 'you get's what you pays for' ?
All the best ..
T i m
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T i m wrote:

Basically yes.
I have supplied a few Trust models to customers, and to be fair most were more than pleased with them. None of them however had used a "real" tablet to compare them with. Having used them however, the differences are really very obvious. Using the wacom "feels" like you are using a pen - it handles the same way and responds in an appropriate way as you push harder or softer, and takes into account the position / angle of the pen. The trust model by comparison is more like using a slim mouse - all it can do is position the pointer and click a button. There is no "feel" to it. The wire to the pen is irritating (and so is having to change batteries in the (rather too thick pens of the wireless ones)). The wacom ones do not requre a power to the pen and hence it is the same size as a normal pen. You can also flip it over to use the "rubber" on the top!
--
Cheers,

John.

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On Sun, 17 Sep 2006 14:25:58 +0100, John Rumm

Brilliant, thanks for that John.
So, the big (75 difference) question is A6 or A5 ?
All the best ..
T i m
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T i m wrote:

I guess I tend to scale my pad to about A5 size in use, so that seems about right to me. However FIL has an A6 one, which he also finds OK for most things - it depends a bit on how much space you feel you need to draw.
Not much of an answer I know! Sorry.
--
Cheers,

John.

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On Sun, 17 Sep 2006 19:37:01 +0100, John Rumm

;-)
It's all good info thanks John.
Another Q if I may .. I was looking on Wacom's site and I'm not sure what the differences are between Intuos, Graphire, Volito etc ?
PCW have the Graphire4 XL in stock for 149?
All the best ..
T i m
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T i m wrote:

Not sure if there is an exact answer to that either. The Intuos range was originally aimed at more professional applications. They tended to be larger and often have extra touch pads round the periphery of the pad for assigning extra functions to. Hence very useful for cad etc if you can be bothered to setup the pads.
The graphire ones were more aimed at the arty types, less complexity and usually smaller pads. Not sure if these will run with alternate devices like crosshair pucks etc either.
As for the volito, no idea!
Oh, in fact just found a FAQ section:
"What are the differences between Graphire4 and Intuos3?     
- Graphire4 is the affordable solution for hobby photographers, while Intuos3 tablets were designed for professional applications in picture editing, illustration and design. - While Graphire4 tablets work with 512 pressure levels at 2000 dpi, Intuos3 tablets support 1024 pressure levels and work at a resolution of 5080 dpi. - Additional Intuos3 features, such as Tilt and Tool-ID allow an advanced control over Graphire4 in professional software applications. - While Graphire4 includes two ExpressKeys and a scroll wheel, Intuos3 comes with eight (Intuos3 A6: four) ExpressKeys for frequently used commands and two (Intuos3 A6: one) Touch Strips for comfortable zooming and scrolling allow a higher level of workflow integration and customization in connection with professional applications. - The Intuos3 control panel allows application-specific settings and advanced mapping options compared with Graphire4."
AND
"What are the differences between Graphire4 and Volito2?     
- Volito2 is the ideal tablet for private users working with a Windows PC, while Graphire4 is the cross-platform solution for hobby photographers. - Volito2 works with a resolution of 1000 dpi, while Graphire4 offers a resolution of 2000 dpi. - While Volito2 is an A6 tablet, Graphire4 is available as A6 and A5 version. - Graphire4 incorporates the new ExpressKeys, two programmable keys placed above the active tablet area. - The Graphire4 tablet includes a scroll wheel for scrolling through documents or zooming in and out in combination with one of the ExpressKeys. - Graphire4 comes with a transparent photo frame for keeping templates and photos for tracing. - The Volito2 pen has two pen buttons, the Graphire4 additionally provides an eraser. - Volito2 comes with a comprehensive tutorial familiarising with the possibilities of Volito2 step-by-step."
AND
"What are the differences between the Volito and Graphire2?     
The Volito pen has no eraser and only one side-button. The Volito mouse has only 2 buttons and no scroll wheel. Volito is furthermore a Window only product."
Obvious huh? ;-)
--
Cheers,

John.

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