Today i took delivery of a Wacom Bamboo Pen, I’ve been looking at tablets like this for a long time ever since i got back into using photoshop and illustrator while i was at University. I almost bought one about a while ago but managed to talk myself out of it as i believed it was another of my ‘fads’ that i go through and this urge to buy one came just after my friend Jon got hold of a new Wacom Intuos.
Jon is a brilliant concept artist and all through university I was always amazed at the work of his that I would see on the regular visits to his house.
As you can see from the sample above Jon is very good and his little portable design setup is also enviable to say the least!
You can check out a lot more of Jons work over at his blog I will definitely be making more posts about some of his artwork for sure!
Anyways back to the Bamboo Pen. I’ve been playing around with it for a few hours now and i have to say I’ve gotten used to it very quickly! It has an active area of 147mm x 92mm (5.8 x 3.6 inches) and depending on how you setup the drivers this area will either be mapped to area of your display (single or multiple!) or to a certain screen or area on your screen.
The drivers downloaded and installed quickly and after meddling with the pref pane settings i was away. The settings consist of the pressure required to register certain actions with the pen and orientation of the tablet, which i will speak more of in a moment. The feel of the pen is strange to get used to at first and i found myself trying to navigate around the screen in much the same way i do with a trackpad, for example with a mouse once ive scrolled to the last quarter of the trackpad i start from the top again whereas when you do this with the pen the cursor instantly jumps to the top of your screen again. Once you’ve made that mistake a few times it soon becomes a relic of the past.
Unless you have a large amount of desk space in front of you for your computer keyboard, or in my case laptop, and tablet then you are probably going to use the bamboo to the right or left hand side of your setup. The annoying thing is if you are right handed the cable will be protruding from the left hand side of the tablet and thus gets in your way also vice versa if you’re a lefty. To overcome this its worth setting the orientation of the tablet to the opposite of your dexterous persuasion thus keeping the cable on the opposite side of your work space. The attached (slightly annoyingly) USB cable has plenty of reach, I would estimate about a metre to a metre and a half therefore making this orientation switch a pleasing workaround.
The performance in Photoshop and also in music apps such as Ableton when drawing in midi notes for example is great! For the reasons i use Photoshop / Illustrator the tablet is perfect, custom logo’s sketching designs and even the occasional anime character from my youth it beats a mouse hands down!
As i mentioned it’s also great in music software, although i still find myself returning to the mouse for many tasks such as moving regions and adjusting levels its by no means the sole tool anymore. Drawing in automation, midi notes and fades are all simple and intuitive with the tablet and the headache of having to redraw all the time because you jerked the mouse or you ran out of table is a thing of the past!
If you do any sort of design/music work that you find frustrating with a mouse then i really would recommend giving one of these a try. I’ll be posting some of the work i do with the Bamboo Pen in the future too so look out for that. I got it for around £50 delivered on Amazon.