my god where is the power button
November 20, 2012 4:00 PM   Subscribe

Please help the dumbest person you have never met figure out how to use a wacom tablet.

I recently bought my partner a wacom bamboo create tablet for her graphic design work. She, being technologically advanced, has since used it to create masterful studies and pieces. Since I, too am in the visual arts field and interested in illustration she has said that I can use it. She does not have the time to show me how to use it or do anything other than simply tell me where in the house it is.
I am terrible at it. Not normal person terrible. I spent two hours trying to figure out how to turn the damn thing on. I know the normal advise is to practice, but I've been drawing stick figure cats for the past few weeks and I can't help but think that I'm doing something wrong. I've been trying to draw basic shapes or what I normally would draw on paper and its... abysmal at best. I can't even figure out how to trace things. I'm normally a decent artist on pen and paper but something isn't translating with this computer bit.
My question is, are there any tutorials or step-by-step instructions or tips and tricks that I can use to help me function this thing? Preferably on the intelligence level of a neanderthal. I understand that I need to practice. I simply can't figure out how.
posted by shesaysgo to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
The most important trick to using a Wacom tablet is don't look at the tablet, look at the screen.
posted by kindall at 4:09 PM on November 20, 2012

Have you tried the Bamboo Tutorial that comes with it? If you're on a Mac, it would be in /Applications/Bamboo, or it's on the installation CD. I tried to learn mine without the tutorial at first and failed miserably (and that is with experience using other Wacom tablets in the past), but once I used the tutorial, it was much better.

What program are you using to do the drawings in? If you use one with pressure sensitivity turned on (like in Photoshop or Illustrator), the drawing might feel more realistic to you.
posted by dayintoday at 4:17 PM on November 20, 2012

I bet you haven't set it up correctly.

My bamboo wacom defaulted to the wrong aspect ratio. It meant that all my circles looked like ovals. I couldn't even draw a straight line correctly.

Bamboo Manual - specifically page 43
Set up your tablet.
posted by just.good.enough at 5:30 PM on November 20, 2012

It sounds as if you may need to install some drivers or configure the settings a little differently if you're having that much trouble.

It should work without drivers, but to use settings and pressure sensitivity you may need to download the relevant drivers. Once you do that, go into the settings. There should be mapping settings you can change. I unfortunately don't have mine set up at the moment so I can't check the settings exactly, but there should be an option to calibrate it. This should help a lot.
posted by matcha action at 5:31 PM on November 20, 2012

I got mine 2nd hand- and it took me a min to figure out I needed the right driver. Dollars to doghnuts it ain't set up right.
posted by Blisterlips at 5:36 PM on November 20, 2012

Har! I have just come through "the other side." I feel your pain. As a fairly decent artist with pen and paper, and with stylus on iPad, I thought that moving up to tablet on computer would be a cinch. It was not!

(And I have to say... now I totally understand why so many people will drop three grand on a Cintiq.)

All I can say is, practice practice practice. It seems like it's going to take forever and your brain will never adapt. But then one day you will magically find yourself able to draw with it. I promise.

Assuming that your drivers are set up correctly (do follow everyone else's advice here), just spend more time with it. Try opening a picture in Photoshop (or whatever program you are using) and tracing the lines. Zoom in and work as slowly as possible.

You will get the hang of it eventually, I promise.
posted by ErikaB at 5:47 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

As with a mouse (and this is why tracing is not where you want to start) don't look at your hand, look at the screen.
posted by redfoxtail at 5:58 PM on November 20, 2012

My left hand lives on CTL-Z when I'm painting. Plus Wacom tablets aren't completely awesome at totally smooth lines anyway--the best thing to do is a basic sketch and then use the pen tool to make smooth lines.
posted by xyzzy at 9:27 PM on November 20, 2012

Hello! I am a software engineer at Wacom. We understand that switching to a pen can take some getting used to, and we are always trying to make the transition easier. I can't keep up with all of the resources we have available (I spend most of my time with the driver code), but there is tons of stuff on our web site - tutorial videos, forums, and the like.

But mostly I want to say: please don't be afraid to call our tech support at 800-922-6613 when you have questions. They are right here in-house, and are all wonderful, helpful people. Slight caveat: we are about to close for Thanksgiving weekend. But they'll be back first thing Monday morning.

It does take some practice, but it's our goal to make tablets available and useful for everyone. Good luck!
posted by Sibrax at 12:02 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I will look into calling tech support- thanks for the link.
I've tried the tutorial that comes in the dock and I can't figure out how to open it.
If anyone has links to specific tutorials they found helpful, it would be appreciated.
Are there specific drivers that you need? Is there a way to figure out which ones are the right ones?
Otherwise, thanks for the answers!
posted by shesaysgo at 6:10 AM on November 22, 2012

Which wacom tablet do you have? You should just be able to search on the wacom site for your model to download the appropriate drivers.
posted by matcha action at 8:42 PM on November 22, 2012

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