My first exposure to using a graphics tablet for photo editing was way back when I got my hands on a basic tablet mainly designed for PC operating systems. The design of the tablet was pretty basic, but it gave me a good idea of what the benefits of using a tablet were. Even though when editing with a tablet instead of using a mouse is not crucial, the advantage of a tablet comes in the form of speed and control of your editing. For me editing with a mouse is about as fun as doodling with one of your feet. But then again tablets are not everyone’s cup of tea.
I hardly do any editing on the road and considering the size of my hands the Wacom Intuos Pro Medium is perfect for me. Should I have to choose a tablet that I could carry with me everywhere, then I would rather opt for the Wacom Intuos Small (previously labelled as the Bamboo). Wacom tablet sizes are available in Small, Medium, and Large. What is great about larger Wacom tablets is that you should the drawing surface be a bit too big and cumbersome for your liking, then you can always re-map the drawing surface of the tablet to a smaller drawing size. Creating a smaller drawing surface will make your pen strokes a lot faster and for the most part only involve movement of the wrist. On the Mac the mapping can be changed using the Wacom icon under System Preferences.
What is great about the Pro version of the Wacom tablet range is that it can measure up to 2048 levels of sensitivity, compared to the non-Pro range that can only handle 1024 levels of pressure. What I also like about the Intuos Pro is that it comes with a wireless kit that enables you to work totally wireless, should you want to. All you need to do is plug the wireless dongle into your computer and you are ready to go. Using the USB cable connection in a conventional way will recharge the battery for the wireless kit again for you. The amount of charge can be seen in System Preferences or on the side of the tablet. Wireless is good for up to 30 feet (about 9 meters). A neat feature about this tablet is that you can neatly store the dongle underneath the tablet itself. On the negative though, I have read a few comments about the lack of sturdiness of the physical USB connection on the tablet that my result in connection failures later on. Touch wood that hasn’t happened to me yet and maybe Wacom has already attended to this problem. Keeping fingers crossed here.
The Intuos Pro is not only a pen tablet, but also acts as a multi-touch trackpad as well. With it you can use one to five finger gestures on the tablet surface. Standard gestures can be used or you can also program your own gestures with three to five finger gestures. The touch functionality can easily be enabled or disabled using one of the ExpressKeys. Should the touch functionality be active and the pen be brought close to the drawing surface then the touch functionality is disabled automatically. I prefer to have the touch feature off most of the time – purely out of preference.
The Intuos Pro Medium has 8 ExpressKeys on the side that can be programmed to perform common tasks with just one touch. Computer tasks that can be performed by any of the keys can be (and not limited to): Clicks, Settings, Show the desktop, Certain Keystrokes, Display On Screen Keyboard and more. Within System Preferences you can assign different tasks for different applications to the same key. For example the same ExpressKey can have a completely different function for every application that you want to use it for. Compared to the Medium, the Intuos Pro Small only has 6 programmable ExpressKeys.
Sandwiched in between the 8 ExpressKeys is the Touch Ring. The Touch Ring can be used to perform tasks of increasing or decreasing values. I love to use the Touch Ring to quickly adjust the brush sizes that I want. One of four lights will also light up on the tablet itself to indicate what mode you are in. The four default modes are Autoscroll/Zoom, Rotate, Cycle Layers, and Brush Size. In System Preferences I can set how fast the Touch Ring must react.
On the topic of the having the ExpressKeys and Touch Ring on the left of the tablet, should you want them on the right then all you have to do is swing the tablet around. The Intuos is as easily programmable for right-handed people as it is for left-handed creatives.
What I like a lot about the Intuos is that whenever I hover my hands over any of the ExpressKeys or use the Touch Ring then a heads up display appears on screen to show me what key I am about to use – with its function. This feature is super neat.
Another heads up type of menu that can be displayed wherever the pointer is located is the Radial Menu. The Radial Menu can have all kinds of actions assigned to it, as well as submenus can be added to extend its functionality.
The battery-free pen senses the amount of pressure applied as well as the amount of tilt. On the side of the pen are two programmable buttons similar to that of a mouse to simulate a left or a right click. The tablet also comes with a pen stand that houses some extra standard nibs as well as a flex, stroke, and three felt nibs. Located in the same space as the extra nibs, the nib extractor tool is also discretely centred.
A bit of a bummer was that full versions of certain types graphics software wasn’t included with the tablet as is the case with other parts of the world, such as the USA. Maybe they are available for download somewhere, but I haven’t seen any reference to it in any documentation included.
Top to bottom: Medium Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet / On-screen display / ExpressKeys / Radial Menu / Pen holder / System Preferences