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Wacom Starter's Guide 2011 by fox-orian Wacom Starter's Guide 2011 by fox-orian
UPDATE SUMMER 2012: This tutorial is obviously a little bit out of date. My how the technology landscape changes over time! We now have a vastly different lineup of Cintiq tablets, all new Intuos 5's, and tablet PC's are going the ways of the dinosaur! Windows 8 tablets are going to be having real digitizer pen input! This is going to be some exiting times for the future of a digital artist! So please take what information I provide here as BASE value -- it can be applied to newer products as well!

Check out this journal post for a little more info:

--------------- EXTENSION OF "GRAYSCALE UNDERPAINTING" -----------------
I know the last section about grayscale underpainting is a little short. I had to suddenly end the tutorial a little early because I didn't realize I had reached the end of my 18,000 pixel max allotment. (DA can't take more than 18,000 pixels at a time.) I might fiddle with that section a little bit to squeeze slightly more relevant information, and make it feel less "cut-off."

There's not a lot I can add to it, anyway, though. Painting the grayscale layer is no different than just using the technique explained above it. This is also not exactly relevant to the actual use of the tablet, but more of a technique of Photoshop or another program. I only mention trying grayscale painting because it's easier than straight-up color painting, and can provide good practice on blending shades together. (Grayscale is like drawing something in 2D. It's easier because you're only concerned about two aspects of the process. Color is like 3D. It's harder because there's more to consider along the way.)

However, I will touch lightly upon adding color to the grayscale layer is a matter of either painting over it intuitively with appropriate values, or use a layer above the grayscale set to something like "Overlay" or "Multiply" and paint flat colors on it. You'll find that the layer will blend the color with the grayscale, combining all the appropriate values automatically. You shouldn't use this as a method to finish a piece, however. Touch-up work will have to be done on additional layers or your work will appear somewhat lifeless and "paint-by-numbers-esque."

*Omar-Dogan has a great tutorial speaking more about coloring grayscale art here: [link]

------------------------------ Original Description --------------------------------

I know, it's not P&C part 3 -- but I really wanted to put this one out. My old 2008 wacom tutorial is my most viewed, and I felt it really needed a massive rewrite talking about all kinds of aspects about things to CONSIDER, rather than things you should just "do" in a normal tutorial skill-building sense. I mean, the old 2008 tutorial doesn't even have any mention of the bamboo or intuos 4 or latest model cintiq, so yeah, it was time to update.

Man, another article 18,000 pixels tall.

It's a lot to read, I realize that, which is why I call this an "article" more than a tutorial. I also state more opinion in this than my previous tutorials, also lending to that "article" name.

Give it a read if you think it will benefit you. I want to try to help as many people as possible learn about those scary unusual things called Graphic Tablets.

Anyway, this is only like version 0.5 of this tutorial. There will be edits made to certain parts to better clarify, and some parts potentially rewritten because of the sudden lack of space to continue writing. I haven't fully proofread it yet, so there are some spelling and syntax errors. Bear with that for now :)
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Daily Deviation

Given 2011-07-01
Suggester's words: Wacom Starter's Guide 2011 by `fox-orian is wonderful! Helpful, pleasing to the eye, and totally thorough--It is a total life safer to the tablet curious. ( Suggested by Gloomy--Rainbow and Featured by FantasyStock )
CKdailyplanet Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2017  Student General Artist
JatZio Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2017
Nice guides!
Apostle-of-Dawn Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
You don't know how much helpful your articles are for a newbie like me... thanks a lot.. :)
PrettySkitty16 Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2016  Student General Artist
I just got a tablet to replace my older one, but now I have an issue where I cannot get the strokes smoothe again and no one really is answering the issue I have. I have the intuos pro medium .
SyazzzOneniy Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you sir, this is very obliging!
Amacdesigns Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2016   General Artist
awesome! great tutorial
Mayeru Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wait, in that case, which tablet PCs do you recomend now?
Corgbyte Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm moving from a Bamboo to Intuos pro at X-mas :D My bamboo only costed 40 GBP and getting a 150 GBP tablet 
SAR500 Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thankyou for a very informative and useful tutorial, this has enlightened me thankyou very much :) (Smile) =P (Razz) 
Origamimacaron Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the tutorial! I've been thinking about buying a wacom for a while, and this is the perfect guide! 
LucidKitsune Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2014   Traditional Artist
While outdated, I think this still contains a lot of useful information! I'm about to purchase my first Cintiq after using the regular ol' Intuos for years. There is a lot of useful information in here that I did not know I didn't know. Thanks for this, even if technology has outgrown it now! :D
OmarArRTs Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2014  Student Digital Artist
What program should I use?
Laugh-Butts Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
drion4 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you. I've been struggling with these till now. Please continue making such helpful infographics.
AffinityShy Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2014   Filmographer
Thanks for making such a detailed, in-depth tutorial! This will help me streamline my workflow so I can focus on drawing and painting - the fun stuff - rather than doing everything the painstakingly slow and difficult way that I'm, unfortunately, used to.
grenader1 Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2013
Great tutorial!
sweetlacie Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
yes it's out of date but still is useful! :DDDD thank you!
Flightx Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2013   Digital Artist
Thank you!
Anadia-Chan Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2013   General Artist
This is great, thank you.  I made the first mistake you listed, about buying a professional tablet with no experience whatsoever.  I ended up spending my entire summer's pay on a cintiq (the 22hd one . . .).  I felt like a complete idiot at first, but luckily I'm serious enough about art and I LOVE using it.  Still learning, but it's going great and this is very helpful. :)
xobybr Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2013  Student Photographer
i love you for making this guide. i got an intuos pro small for my birthday and i have used tablets a little bit in the past but this guide has been so helpful. thank you so so much!!!
NADreamer Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I had a really hard time getting my head around layers but I think I finally understand their importance and how to use them to my advantage so thank you. Also I will keep your advice on drawing and painting in mind when I get my tablet soon.

Thanks again for this guide. :thanks:
AzaSket Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2013  Hobbyist
Thanks for sharing!
Iskander1989 Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
BlackFlyBird Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2013
Thank's so much!!
Really helpful 
gossj10 Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
tx a lot budy love ya
Tiny-Munster Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow, before I read this, I really believed that my drawing skills would be better if I purchase a tablet, Thank you! I feel more confident in using a tablet now!
M-Lee08 Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
I read some where that in order to work the Intuos5 you have to have the latest version of Photoshop other wise it does not work. Is that true?
borninstorm Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
thank you so much for this, i just got my first tablet and you really helped me out to start with it! ^.^
Paloceropalo Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2013
thx, very clear for noobs as me :)
Susan-s-Poker Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2013   Photographer
Ali-C-05 Featured By Owner May 22, 2013  Student General Artist
this is such an amazingly useful tutorial! :O Thank you so much for making it! :la:
ViniFranco Featured By Owner May 19, 2013
Tannalein Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Hi, great tutorial. I have a question, if it's not a problem. I have an old Graphire A4, I've been drawing on it for a while but not as often as I should. I have a problem with longer lines, they tend to run away from me. They're smooth enough, the paint program smooths them out for me, but I can't control them. For example, if I want to trace an existing line, even roughly, I can't. I can start in the right place, but I can't make the line go where I need it to go. If I try to draw a strand of hair, I can never get the ends of the lines to meet at the right place, or to curve as I want them, if you know what I mean. It's like the stylus slides out of control or something. I was wondering, is this just a matter of practice, or there's something wrong with my tablet? The plastic surface is not as smooth as it used to be. Is there some way I should hold my hand, move it in the wrist, or move it in the elbow, or something like that? A zoom setting you can recommend? Right now I can only draw with those short "chicken scratch" lines, and even those "slide" in unwanted directions :(
kniznik Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2013
Thanks for tutorial. This is definitely very helpful for a noobie like me
selenaloong Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2013  Student Digital Artist
thank you for this tutorial!OWObb It's really useful!>W<b
Millgret Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I've had my tablet for a long time now, but it never crossed my mind to prop it up... thank you, haha.
darkpix3ls Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Student Digital Artist
thanks for this♥
InvisibleColour Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2013
Thank you so much! I just got a wacom bamboo for my birthday and I can't wait to get started!
Knightice765 Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2013
This help me a lot! Thanks!!!!!!!
YorukoChikokoro Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Great advice! The bamboo is a great cheap beginner tablet (Although my parents got the $200 one....) and after using that for a while they decided I've become serious enough with my artwork and got me an intuos 5 medium for christmas last year. So it's great to get the bamboo first to get used to it and such! :D
Blue-Aquila Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2013
Thank you so much! It helped a lot in my difficulty in digital art
Petziey Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Student General Artist
thankyou this made it so easy to introduce my big brother tothe world of digital art :)
eeah Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you for creating this tutorial! I'm just now trying my hand at digital art and I found this very helpful. I learned quite a bit and I'm looking forward to putting that new found knowledge to good use. (:
rohit-rc Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2013
just speachless!!!
baiuneedvicodin Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
$70 bucks Wacom would be the one I buy..
thx 4 the guide...
bakaVseiji Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2012
Awesome guide, just got my first tablet but wish I had this guide beforehand, helps with thinking things through and working on getting ones skill level up
LoneSWolf Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I just wanted to say thanks for this tutorial. I read it a while ago, when I didn't have a tablet. Now, a year later, I just got a wacom bamboo splash tablet, and this tutorial popped up in my head. So, after reading it, editing my system, I'm hoping to now have a better experience then I have in the past few days since I got it.
MegaAnimeFreak7 Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Bless you and your beautiful soul. :iconcryforeverplz:
MajorasWaker Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2012
So much thanks for this incredible helpful guide!
Me and my Bamboo get along way better now ;)

I would like to ask you one thing though: Is it normal that the tips of the pen wear of? Or am I applying to much pressure to the pen/scratching to fast? It came with a couple of replace tips, so my guess would be that they wear out over time, and need replacing.
CaptainVonJr Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks! This should help when I get mine, (I know I'm getting it for Christmas, so...!).
So hopefully when I get it, I'll be able to refer back to this to help me out. It will work with a Wacom Bamboo Manga, right?
And thanks again!
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Submitted on
December 18, 2010
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