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DavidCarlson
11-21-2007, 07:46 PM
I have searched, and found some good info. However, I have not found a great comparison...

My wife is starting her MFA in SCAD for illustration design. I will be starting my Bachelors in interactive/game design... We are looking for a semi-user friendly (or better) tablet that will last us through college. She's trying to convince me to go for some new tablet that seems huge, but costs just a little. It's the one that's having problems integrating with Photoshop. (Big problem with me) I'm going for the Wacom Intuos3 6 x 8. I am not concerned with cost (until you get into the Cintiq category), but quality and good learning curve. I would also like to keep with an "industry standard" if there is one. I figured I would turn to actual artists instead of a manufacturer's website to get this input. What would you recommend?

Kirt
11-21-2007, 08:12 PM
10 out of 10 artists who've used a Wacom will recommend them. :D

wncRanger
11-21-2007, 08:23 PM
+1 Wacom: Best.Tablet.Ever

RockinAkin
11-21-2007, 09:00 PM
...I'm going for the Wacom Intuos3 6 x 8...
Great tablet - you wont be disappointed.

colesslaw
11-21-2007, 09:04 PM
There's another thread about choosing the right tablet:
http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?f=2&t=543770

As I've mentioned there, I had used "Genius" and "Xppen" brands and recently came to own a Wacom Bamboo Fun. From my experience, the quality of a tablet is all in the driver, if the driver is slightly off notch you will experience a lot of frustration --- including but not exclusive to problems like twitching cursor, constantly having to switch between mouse and pen while u're drawing (because the pen is just not convenient for changing tools and navigating your workspace), dual-screen incompatibility, mac OS incompatibility, etc.

Wacom is the only one with a decent driver that frees you from all those problems. What's more is its already preconfigured to certain shortcut keys depending on mac or windows you're using, and everything works like a dream right from the point you finish the auto-install. Also wacom pens have an "eraser tip" at the other end, so you just flip your pen around and can start erasing - no need to manually click the eraser tool in photoshop.

The reason I chose the Bamboo Fun over the intuos3 is because it offers their new patented "pen-and-paper" texture, which is not (yet?) on the intuos3. The advantages of Intuos3 over Bamboo Fun is:
- 1024 pressures on pen & eraser (512 for BF)
- more bigger sizes to choose from (there is a catch - the bigger your tablet, the thicker it is - BF is only 0.3" thick - if you go for the largest Intuos3 it is 1.4" THICKNESS!!! Smaller size tablet doesn't mean you can't draw bigger images, you can always zoom-in in photoshop to draw)
- optional add-on pen/ only applicable for intuos3 or Cintiq - those include artbrush / art pen / classic pen / ink pen (i believe you can program different photoshop tools to each different pen, but I can be wrong)
- supports TILT sensitivity that is only supported in intuos3 or Cintiq (you may not even need this feature, i believe its only supported in photoshop)

I decided I don't need the tilt and don't need additional tools and I don't have enough desk space for such a big tablet - so I chose the Bamboo Fun, which is only half the price of same-size intuos3 with pen-and-paper texture :thumbsup: What you choose really depends on your specific needs

colesslaw
11-21-2007, 09:13 PM
oops double post

ubermensch76
11-22-2007, 05:40 AM
The reason I chose the Bamboo Fun over the intuos3 is because it offers their new patented "pen-and-paper" texture, which is not (yet?) on the intuos3.

The texture on the pad fades over time. ( two months of heavy usage here and its smooth as smooth can be :sad: )

And yes go for the intuos 3

amannin
11-22-2007, 06:42 AM
this (and many more) subject(s) keep poping up -- i say a sticky thread quickly laying out some of these things, specifically wacom for this thread, would better help the forums...

smackcakes
11-22-2007, 08:21 AM
I think 6 x 8 is the right size. Mine is 9 x 12 and I don't find the extra space that useful. It just means I have to move my arm more to get at the file menu. It can also be difficult to find space for the 9 x 12 and it's too big to fit in my laptop bag. I ended up getting a smaller 4 x 6 Graphire to take around with me.

I haven't actually noticed any difference in line quality between the Intuos and the Graphire, and they seem to use the same drivers. 512 pressure levels on the Graphire seems more than enough. Especially when you consider that RGB only has 256 shades of grey anyway.

I would recommend the 6 x 8 Graphire4. Even if you are happy to pay more for the Intuos3, I don't think you'll be getting significantly more for your money. The only things the Graphire is missing is tilt sensitivity (surprisingly useless, I never turn it on) and the possibility of using additional pens. Most people only ever use the pen their tablet came with, I went 7 years before I eventually bought an air brush (which turned out also to be surprisingly useless)

As for the other brands, a friend of mine had an Aiptek which suffered from the cursor jumping randomly (very annoying). I've also read about this happening on some of the Trust models, though I haven't used one. Wacom tablets are usually very reliable, I can't see any reason at the moment why someone would consider getting another brand.

DavidCarlson
11-23-2007, 05:36 AM
Well, that seems to be unanimous... I never understood exactly what 1024 levels of sensitivity would do over 512. I understand it could be great for shading, but I can do a lot of that with the touch up. (Mine is more of a render issue than hers...) What is the point, though, of the tilt? Is it for thicker lines, or is it just for a shading thing? From the sound of it, I don't see that to be a feature that will be often used...

Thanks a lot, folks. I really appreciate the help with this issue. Final question... Is SCAD worth a *(@# when it comes to the real world? Again, I've read reviews... Reviews mean little to the words of someone that is where I want to be. Thanks again...

Cronholio
11-23-2007, 06:22 AM
I haven't actually noticed any difference in line quality between the Intuos and the Graphire, and they seem to use the same drivers. 512 pressure levels on the Graphire seems more than enough. Especially when you consider that RGB only has 256 shades of grey anyway.

I would recommend the 6 x 8 Graphire4. Even if you are happy to pay more for the Intuos3, I don't think you'll be getting significantly more for your money. The only things the Graphire is missing is tilt sensitivity (surprisingly useless, I never turn it on) and the possibility of using additional pens. Most people only ever use the pen their tablet came with, I went 7 years before I eventually bought an air brush (which turned out also to be surprisingly useless)

Pressure does not neccessarily control the value of a brush, it can be used to color, brush size, opacity, gradiations pretty much anything in any combination depending on the package. Add to that many paint packages can work in 16 or 32 bit color spaces. Also, if you use your wacom for sculpting in any of a number of 3D packages the extra sensitivity is quite useful. Another thing people have not mentioned is the greater resolution of the surfaces on the intuos tablets over the consumer tablets. If you are working fine details on a large scale image, the exta resolution is great. Tilt I think is also important; it allows great control over your edge and makes the tablet perform much more like a traditional brush or pencil.

The consumer tablets are great, but the extra features of the intuos are quite useful to have, and as you progress you will probably want them.

Marcel
11-23-2007, 09:15 AM
Wacoms are a bit pricey, but they are more than worth it. I'm using my current tablet for almost 8 years now and it's still working fine. I had to replace the pen because the switch kept falling off (and taping it on was not a good solution).

The lower half of the tablet is insanely polished because of all the use, it's literally shiny.

You can also see by the tablet surface if somebody is a modeller or an animator: with modellers the middle is worn, with animators you can see the timeline scratched in the surface. :thumbsup:

smackcakes
11-23-2007, 11:52 AM
Pressure does not neccessarily control the value of a brush, it can be used to color, brush size, opacity, gradiations pretty much anything in any combination depending on the package. Add to that many paint packages can work in 16 or 32 bit color spaces. Also, if you use your wacom for sculpting in any of a number of 3D packages the extra sensitivity is quite useful. Another thing people have not mentioned is the greater resolution of the surfaces on the intuos tablets over the consumer tablets. If you are working fine details on a large scale image, the exta resolution is great. Tilt I think is also important; it allows great control over your edge and makes the tablet perform much more like a traditional brush or pencil.

'Golden ears syndrome' was a term coined in hi-fi circles to describe a phenomenon where people would be convinced that their system sounded better simply because they paid more for it. Splashing out on things like inch think cables and solid gold connectors. When in fact these flamboyant upgrades were insane. Having gold connectors on the outside makes no difference when it is just ordinary solder inside the amp, or the difference was so minor it was inaudible even to bats.

I think the difference between 512 and 1024 is largely a case of something similar. All the things you mentioned like brush size... When was the last time you used a 512 pixel wide brush and needed perfect accuracy? Opacity graduations are normally out of 100%. 16 and 32 bit files may have more shades of grey but the human eye can only discern around 200 so I think it's laughable than anyone actually needs this level of accuracy. As for 3D sculpting it's not really my thing, but I believe most push/pull tools I've seen are again +/- 100%.

You also have to take into account the pure mechanics or the whole thing. The way Photoshop smoothes and interprets lines probably isn't all that accurate anyway. Take into account the friction between the pen tip and the barrel (the tips also wobble a little) I've also taken one of the pens apart and all that's behind the tip is a little semiconductor the exact same as in a joypad. I seriously doubt that detects pressure in a linier way and probably takes a certain amount of time to flex back into shape.

Then behind all this you have a human. I can't execute 1024 distinct pressures. I doubt I could even do 20. and your hands make loads of tiny involuntary movements, only having a whopping 512 levels of pressure sensitivity is seriously the least of your worries.

As for tilt. I don't find anything good about it. there is only a very narrow range of angles at which you can comfortably hold a pen, let alone draw with it. if I'm holding the pen in my right hand I'm never going to want to tilt the pen so the tip faces right, it's not a natural thing to do at all.

I thought tilt might be handy for calligraphy type stuff. In calligraphy it's quite common to use a slight adjustments in pen angle to change your line weight, but it doesn't seem to work that way in Photoshop, which seems more focused on direction than angle. So is therefore handled much better by the 'direction' control which even the Graphire can use.

I'm not saying the Intuos isn't better. it's possible you may find a use for it's extra features if you tried really hard. But I doubt there is anything of importance you can do on it, which you can't do on the Graphire. I think the extra features are largely superfluous and more for prestige than anything else.

Cronholio
11-23-2007, 01:17 PM
I think the difference between 512 and 1024 is largely a case of something similar. All the things you mentioned like brush size... When was the last time you used a 512 pixel wide brush and needed perfect accuracy? Opacity graduations are normally out of 100%. 16 and 32 bit files may have more shades of grey but the human eye can only discern around 200 so I think it's laughable than anyone actually needs this level of accuracy. As for 3D sculpting it's not really my thing, but I believe most push/pull tools I've seen are again +/- 100%.

You can't really compare this to the golden ears syndrome. There are frequencies that can be produced by audio equipment that humans cannot hear, however the same is not true of your paint software. You can see every one of the 16.7 million colors your 32bpp software is capable of generating. The photoreceptors in the human eye discern continuous values, not discrete values. It's true there is a limit to how much the receptors can discern at one time, however the eye will discern any of an infinite number of different shades of gray individually. There are literally infinite shades of gray between pure black and pure white, think about that. Are there any that you can't see?

Also the pressure sensitivity on a tablet does not correspond 1:1 to any function of any program.

Using the diameter example. Your tablet has 512 levels. You are painting with a circle brush that is 12 pixels wide. When you press with full force you do not get a brush that is 512 pixels wide, you get a brush that is 12 pixels wide with a hard edge. You have 512 levels between nothing and a 12 pixel brush with a hard edge. It's working internally at a subpixel level.

It's called a fit fuction. You look at your software and see these discrete units; pixels, integers, whole numbers, 256 levels per channel, 0-100%, but under the hood the software is working with floats most often between 0 and 1, off and on, with millions of values in between. Even 1,024 levels of pressure isn't enough to accurately replicate the level of control a good artist can get out of a standard pencil. It's not about "prestige" and it's not about a human being able to discretely apply pressure to a particular level between 0 and 1024, it's about having tools that allow artists to interact with their software in a way that accurately replicates real media. As good as Wacoms and imaging sofware are they are still quite far from reaching that goal.

Have you ever seen someone who was an honestly great traditional artist work with a wacom? The people I've seen tend to go for the biggest tablets available because they draw most often with their entire arm, not with their wrist, palm resting on the tablet. They hold the pen in different ways actually utilizing the tilt feature:

http://www.tpub.com/content/draftsman/14263/img/14263_24_1.jpg

Now I personally don't consider myself a great artist, and I wouldn't presume to tell someone who was or wanted to be that it's not possible to tell the difference between an intuos or bamboo or a graphire. A good artist can tell the difference in these tablets the same way that violinist can hear the subtle difference in an instrument depending on the type of wood or the type of string or bow used to play the instrument.

smackcakes
11-23-2007, 05:47 PM
The golden ears analogy has nothing to do with stuff outside of human perception. It's to do with people imagining an increase in quality where there isn't one.

I'm fully aware that if you press full force you don't get a line 512 pixels wide. As I have already explained I have an Intuos and a Graphire, and I am very familiar with what kind of lines they both produce, and I honestly can't see an awful lot of difference.

Please don't just take my word for it. Here is a little comparison I did with a 12 pixle brush...

http://i103.photobucket.com/albums/m134/SmackCakes/compare.jpg

The line on the top I drew on my Intuos, the line on the bottom I drew with my Graphire (or was it the other way round? LOL) I will defy anyone to tell them apart.

I'm not gonna say the Intuos isn't better, or that someone shouldn't get it, if you can afford it... hell why not! I'm just saying for every day painting and drawing it's difficult to tell it apart from the Graphire, which is something to consider before you buy.

As for tilt again... your picture is of someone drawing on a vertical surface. I have never seen anyone using an ordinary (non Cintiq) tablet vertically, and I still don't believe tilt does very much, I have been experimenting with it a lot and the resulting lines are usually counterintuitive and confusing rather than natural and precise. It's something I personally could quite happily live without.

As for tablets versus pencils, I agree with you very strongly. Tablets don't compare to pencils. More and more I find myself abandoning the tablet to draw stuff by hand and scan it. Using the tablet mainly just for colouring.

grrinc
11-23-2007, 06:39 PM
Bearing in mind I am just a hobbiest who gets a few paid gigs a month......


A year ago, I got caught up in the old 'need a wacom tablet' thing, but found the cost quite off putting. I decided to invest in a cheap Trust one just to see how serious I was about needing a tablet. I figured that when I start to notice the limitation, I could go for the Wacom then.
One year on, I still use my Trust and I think it is great. Any limitations it may have I havnt noticed and I would recommend any one starting out to give the cheaper brands a go first.

And before you ask, I had a chance to try out a Wacom a few months back at a local college and although the pen felt a lot better, there wasnt really enough going on to justify the extra 200 quid. Also, I've always wondered if could personally 'control' 1024 levels of pressure too. 512 levels has never given me any problem at all.

therealpepe1
11-23-2007, 08:21 PM
Get a Intuos by buying a cheap one your only putting off the inevitable.
About the tablet surface just tape a piece of paper to it I tape a piece of mylar or velum.

Pe

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