Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wednesday Tip:Using a Pen and Tablet for Scrapbooking

The tablet is an input device that looks just like it sounds... a drawing tablet laying on your desktop. The new models are usually connected to the computer via USB, but some older models like the Intuos2 that I prefer, connect through the serial port. And Wacom™  has a new model that connects via Bluetooth (wireless technology). Most come with a mouse (that uses the tablet as a mousepad) and a pen or stylus. The tablets generally come in different sizes - the most common being 4" x 5", 6" x 8", and 9" x 12". This refers to the drawing area. The area it may take on your desktop is usually several inches larger, so keep that in mind when thinking of it on your desktop.
Why would you want to use a tablet and pen? Ease of use, convenience, extra features, health - all are good reasons. It's often been said that trying to draw with the mouse is like trying to draw with soap on a rope. The pen and tablet is much more natural, much more responsive, and is much more comfortable. One of the benefits of using the pen is the reported reduction of repetitive stress injuries. Some who might not be able to draw at all are able to use a pen and tablet to continue being productive .
Using a pen and tablet in many of the paint and photo programs allows you greater control over your creation. The pens are pressure sensitive which means you can vary the boldness of a line by how hard you press on the tablet - or use the pressure sensitivity to control transparency or brush size. The more sensitivity levels the pen has, the better. The Intuos3™  has 1,024 levels pressure sensitivity for smooth control. Turn it over and it becomes a pressure sensitive eraser! In addition, some tablets have programmable buttons that can help you work faster and more efficiently.
You may have noticed that Wacom™  is mentioned in this article often. There is good reason they are the number one graphics tablet company in the world. There are other makers - Aiptek™ , for example, makes tablets that are quite a bit less expensive than the Wacom™.   There are toys and there are tools - the Intuos™  is a tool.  The Wacom™  pens are not tethered to the tablet - a big plus, in my opinion. The pens are not burdened by needing batteries like some models. The Intuos™  has 1024 levels of sensitivity, while others may only have 512 or 256 levels. When it comes to tablet size, it's a Goldilocks situation, in my opinion. The 4" x 5" tablet is too small, the 9" x 12" tablet is too large, but the 6" x 8" tablet is just right! You can use this TabletWizard to find out which Wacom™  tablet might be right for you.

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