I’m a CS graduate and I’ve been programming small personal utility tools for my self. I recently did some photo retouching in Photoshop and thought “well, this isn’t all that bad, maybe I should take it one step further”. So I pulled a sheet of paper out and then realized… I’m really, really bad at drawing.
I’m wanting to do some graphics design effects for my program’s logo or something like that. I almost bought a Wacom Intuos Pro Medium, just for photo editing, but now I’m really on the fence about it.
- Should I buy a Wacom tablet or would it be a waste of money?
- Would a tablet improve both my handwriting and/or drawing?
A tablet can make your workflow more efficient, even if you are not an illustrator with a hand drawn style. Particularly, it can make photo retouching in PS more efficient.
If you buy a tablet that comes (or can be used) with a pressure sensitive pen, then you can program the pressure of the pen to do different things for you. You can program it to change the opacity of the brush, for example, so the harder you press the tip of the pen against the tablet the more opaque the strokes are. You can also (or instead) program it to change the width of the brush so the harder you press, the thicker the brush becomes.
More advanced pens also have tilt sensitivity, so you can program the pen to change settings for you depending on the angle in which you are holding it. For example, suppose you have a brush that is not round but a very narrow ellipse. You can program the pen to rotate the orientation of the “footprint” of your brush when you tilt it more or less, which can be very handy to “attack” the area you are retouching from different angles.
- The tablet might also come with extra programmable buttons, which you can wire to do tasks you perform very often, for example, “Toggle background/foreground colour” which is done constantly when you are working with masks.
All these things can be done in PS without a tablet, of course, but it takes a lot of key pressing and finger yoga. It is way more efficient and ergonomic when you can change these settings by only pressing harder or softer on the tablet or tilting the pen.
By the way, by programming I mean “selecting an option in PS”, not “writing a device handler in C++”. And by brush I don’t mean only the brush tool but any similar tool such as the eraser, the smudging tools, the retouching tools, etc.
As Naty mentioned, it does take time to adapt to a different mindset. You will also find that when you are using the tablet, even when you could do everything that can be done with the mouse, certain simple tasks (such as re-sizing) become cumbersome because their interface was designed with a mouse in mind. Eventually you will learn which tasks are better done with which device and learn when to switch to keep yourself efficient, sane and carpal tunnel free.