pen tablet for editing (general question)

Started 5 months ago | Discussions
davidedric Veteran Member • Posts: 6,257
Re: pen tablet for editing (general question)

hwg wrote:

Thanks for all the advice.

I have just ordered from the birthday fairy a Wacom intuos small for 63 ukp

I will give it a go.

D850 & D300
Nikon: 35mm f1. 8, 50mm f1. 8, 85mm f1. 8, 105mm f2.8, 24-120mm f4
Sigma: 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM
Windows 10 Professional 64 bit, i7 quad core, 16GB RAM, SSD

Enjoy, but expect a bit of frustration to start.

To feel the difference, try signing your name with the pen and tablet,  then with a mouse 

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Digitalshooter2 Contributing Member • Posts: 809
Re: pen tablet for editing (general question)

graybalanced wrote:

hwg wrote:

What is Tilt Recognition?

Does this mean that tablets that do not have this feature need the pen to be kept vertical in order to function?

Or, does it mean that pens with this function display different effects when the pen is tilted.

The second one. The tilt function replicates what you get with a real world brush or pencil. Think of pencil sketching: If you draw with the pencil vertical, you get thin marks from the sharp tip. If you want to shade the drawing, you tilt the pencil to lower the angle, which draws with the broad side of the pencil lead, creating a very wide mark. A mouse cannot do that because it has no angle sensing.

Tilt is not all. In addition to pressure and tilt angle, some tablets also support stylus rotation angle. With rotation angle, you can use a flat brush in Photoshop and change the character of the brush stroke by rotating the stylus while dragging it.

Pressure, tilt, and rotation angle are for if you were trained in fine art brush/pencil handling where you need those abilities. If you are only going to use the tablet for photo retouching, you might only need Pressure, because Tilt and Rotation are not really useful for photographic work like retouching portraits or painting masks. Pressure is useful, though not necessary. And for photography you do not need the highest number of pressure levels either.

About cheap vs expensive tablets: I have used Wacom and Huion. The low end of those only support pressure, and as I said, for photographers that is enough. But the reason I still like Wacom is the quality of the software driver. The Huion, and from what I read the XP-Pen, can have flaky drivers that don't always work well with the latest OSs. I have odd issues with my Huion that I never had with my Wacoms. There are also years of valid complaints about Wacom driver quality/compatibility, but their software tends to work better overall.

But since photography does not need all advanced features like stylus tilt and rotation angles, it is still a good idea to start with a cheap tablet and see if any of the shortcomings bother you. If it works fine, then do not spend more money. For photo work, cheap tablets are fine, that is why Blake Rudis is fine with his super cheap XP-Pen tablet. Wacom is better if you want to use the tablet full time, in all applications, for all operations, instead of a mouse or trackpad; Wacom is also better if you are a fine artist drawing or painting from scratch because then the stylus tilt and rotation make a difference.

I have thought about a tablet for a long while but never bought one. Does it really make retouching photos that much easier?

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graybalanced Veteran Member • Posts: 6,801
Re: pen tablet for editing (general question)

Digitalshooter2 wrote:

I have thought about a tablet for a long while but never bought one. Does it really make retouching photos that much easier?

The two main benefits are more natural feel, and more control.

The first is subjective, you decide. Some say drawing/painting (retouching) with a mouse feels like drawing with a bar of soap. If you are more comfortable controlling a pencil or brush than a lump of plastic, you would enjoy retouching more with a stylus.

The second is objective. There is no question that a tablet gives you more control. When retouching, a mouse button is binary on/off. Nothing in between. If you want an opacity or brush size changes during retouching, you must hit keyboard shortcuts. A stylus gives you pressure control, so if you want a heavier retouch, you press harder. And you can control exactly what happens with more pressure: Do you want a darker stroke, a wider stroke, a more opaque stroke, etc. ? Your choice, you configure that in Photoshop which directly support stylus pressure controls for brushes.

Also if you want to vary the stroke quality while painting, that is a challenge with a mouse. But with a stylus it's no problem, you just vary your pressure at any time during a single stroke.

For some it is also about having more interactive brush control when painting masks for retouching/compositing.

If you are happy retouching with a mouse, controlling opacity and brush size with the keyboard, then maybe you don't need a tablet. But if you ever think "I wish I didn't have to press the keyboard at the same time as dragging this mouse around" then maybe you should try a tablet.

And as I already said in my other reply, for photo retouching, it doesn't necessarily have to be an expensive tablet. All you probably need is some pressure control. High end features like stylus tilt and rotation, and finer pressure levels, are more for fine-art digital painters/illustrators than retouchers.

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