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Review: Wacom Intuos3 Tablet

(February 2005) posted on Wed Feb 09, 2005

A review by The Big Picture's art director.


If you use a mouse, there is a better
option: the new Intuos3 tablet series,
from Wacom. Available in three sizes"?4 x
5, 6 x 8, and 9 x 12 in."?the Intuos3 is a
great alternative for day-to-day use, as
well as more complex actions.

For this review, Wacom provided us
with a 6 x 8-in. unit. Set-up right out of the
box was easy; there are no power cords or
extra parts that can get in the way"?one
wire connects directly into the USB port
on the back of your computer. After connecting
the tablet, installing the software
(in my case, for OS X) also was simple,
and took only a few minutes.

Once the driver is installed, you're ready
to go. You can access the control panel for
the Intuos3 and adjust the pen pressure,
pen tilt, program the pen, map the tablet to
the screen, and many other options.

New features

One of the Intuos3's new features: the
adjustable ExpressKey buttons on the
tablet area. These buttons default to keyboard
options such as control, option,
command, and the space bar keys. The
ExpressKeys require a little extra time to
get familiar with if you are already in the
habit of using those keys on the keyboard,
but they are a good feature; as
you become more familiar with them, you
can easily use the ExpressKeys for
shortcuts that you're familiar with in
everyday use"?copying selections,
changing brushes, printing, etc.

Located next to the ExpressKeys on
the tablet is the new Touch Strip, which is
very useful when you need to quickly
zoom in to work on fine details, and then
zoom out to view your entire document.
It's also great for scrolling when you're
browsing the Internet. Yet, this great tool
can also be frustrating because it's so
sensitive. While I was working, I would
occasionally rest my hands too close to
the TouchStrip and would inadvertently
and abruptly change my document view;
I would have to take the time to get my
view back to the way it was before. Once
I became more familiar with this option
and just where to rest my hands, this
posed less of a problem.

Redesigned pen and
tablet area

Other new features on the Intuos3 include:

  • A redesigned pen, which Wacom has
    increased in size for a more comfortable
    feel. It still has the programmable buttons
    that can be set by the user, as well as the
    eraser option on the top of the pen.

  • A redesigned tablet area that eliminates
    the option of lifting the plastic cover
    for tracing"?an example of "improvement
    by deletion," since the cover could tear or
    come away after lengthy use.

  • A graphite look that's very clean and
    sophisticated compared to earlier versions.
    Wacom also has included a few tutorials
    on the accompanying CD to help you
    get started"?particularly helpful if you
    work with Adobe Photoshop and other
    design programs. One great tutorial of
    note is how to use brushes within Photoshop;
    the tutorial shows you how to take
    advantage of the pressure-sensitive pen,
    and explains different options with the
    brushes themselves. (The tablet also
    comes with a wireless mouse, a nice addition
    if you're just not comfortable using a
    pen for everyday use.)

Advancing your workflow

Wacom's Intuos3 tablet series is a great
option if you are feeling frustrated drawing
complex curves in Photoshop or simply
if your hand is cramping from using a
mouse all day. It's so versatile that it can
be used in a variety of ways that will
assist you in your workflow.

Street prices on the Intuos3 tablets:
$199.99 (4 x 5 in.), $329.99 (6 x 8 in.),
and $449.99 (9 x 12 in.). The Intuos2 line
of tablets is being continued for customers
seeking serial connectivity or
larger sizes (12 x 12 and 12 x 18 in.). (Wacom: www.wacom.com)

Jaxon Cook is art director for The Big Picture
magazine.


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