Need advice on buying a Wacom graphics tablet
July 12, 2016 3:42 PM   Subscribe

So, I bought a cheap Wacom graphics tablet (Intuos) to make it easier for me to do photo editing. But I've found that it's really jittery (the pointer jumps around a little bit on the screen, even on a slow setting) and in some ways a mouse was more accurate. Do I need a more expensive model, and if so, which one? Or do I just need more practice?
posted by dontjumplarry to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have a desk lamp? A friend of mine has a really cool changing color LED desk lamp, and he can't use his touchscreen computer anywhere near it because the lamp drives the digitizer nuts. I'd look for interference sources...
posted by straw at 3:52 PM on July 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Is there something inside the pen? I had this problem and there was a little dust inside the pen.
posted by Young Kullervo at 4:00 PM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Wacom tablets, even the cheap ones, shouldn't act "jittery" otherwise they'd be absolutely useless for their target market. I'd definitely look for sources of interference, and failing that, get in touch with Wacom to get it replaced.
posted by Aleyn at 4:15 PM on July 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It should definitely not be doing that; my Wacom Intuos is buttery-smooth.

If it's jittery for every program, or just moving around the desktop, it may be that you have an out-of-date graphics card driver. (I have an Nvidia card, and they update the drivers every month or so.) If it's just in certain programs like Photoshop, you may have a plugin or extension that's interfering with the tablet's drivers.

If it starts out smooth and then gets jittery, you can always try restarting the Wacom drivers. On a Windows machine, search "services" in the start menu. Click on "Wacom Professional Service" first, and then click on "Restart the service." Do the same with "Wacom Consumer Service." (I have to do that driver reboot after a gaming session where I use my USB-connected Xbox controller -- something makes the two USB devices not get along.)

It definitely could be something else plugged in near your computer like a desk lamp, as straw mentioned above. Or it could be conflicting with another USB device on your machine (like the Xbox controller example). You could try unplugging the other USB devices one at a time to see if that fixes things.

It also does take some practice to get smooth with the pen when you've been using nothing but a mouse. Make sure you're holding your hand relatively still, and moving your entire arm around on your desk to make smooth strokes. (I find a long-sleeved shirt helps immensely with the sliding.)
posted by themissy at 4:15 PM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ages ago I had a 4x3 Graphire, possibly the equivalent entry-level to your tablet. I had a fourscreen monitor set up at the time which meant that my longitudinal pixel count was not quite 8000 while my latitudinal count was never more than 1080.. As the device was optimized for use with screens at or under 1080p, it had to interpolate to figure out how to relate the active squarish tablet input area with the loooooong and skinny screens. It jittered, as one might predict.

I share this anecdote in order to ask that you consider the resolution of your digitizsr in relation to the resolution of your display rig.

I resolved the issue by bumping to the then entry-level Cintiq12, and restricting the active stylus area of the displays to the surface of the Cintiq.
posted by mwhybark at 5:40 PM on July 12, 2016

if you have both the tablet and mouse hooked up at the same time, and the mouse is moved while using the stylus, the cursor will go nuts - double check that you're not accidentally nudging the mouse
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 7:01 PM on July 12, 2016

Nthing that it shouldn't be doing that. One off-chance question -- are you using it in "tablet mode" or "mouse mode"?

In tablet mode, you put the pen down over the tablet and the cursor appears at a place on the screen relative to the mapping of the tablet area. So, if you hover the pen over the upper-right, that's where the cursor will appear.

In mouse mode, the cursor always picks up where you left off. Like a mouse, you have to lift up the pen and reposition it, but the cursor stays in place no matter where you put the pen back down again.

Sorry if this seems like a dumb question.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 7:04 PM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Nthing that it shouldn't be doing that. Update your drivers, look for other sources of interference. Make sure you don't have jewelry (a ring, watch, bracelet) that might be interacting with the tablet. It's also possible the tablet is defective; try it on a different computer.

I have been using a Wacom for years, and one tip I can give about keeping a steady hand is that instead of holding the stylus like I do when writing with a pen, angled outward from my body, I get much better lines and control holding it angled slightly inward toward my wrist.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:42 AM on July 13, 2016

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