Last year I was on a debate whether to add a graphic tablet to my every day tools after hearing many good things about it from other photographers. For those who aren’t familiar, a graphic tablet is a device that “enables a user to hand-draw images, animations and graphics, with a special pen-like stylus, similar to the way a person draws images with a pencil and paper,” (thanks Wikipedia). Basically it allows you to use a pen to take place of your mouse. Used by many digital illustrators/ graphic designers, it enables great control and fluid motion.
I finally purchased a fairly good beginner, affordable graphic tablet to try out – a 8 x 6 inch Turcom for $40. What happened after the first week? I wasn’t comfortable with using a pen, I didn’t like the experience much, and I ended up putting it away for weeks. For what I’ve read around the web, this is pretty normal for many people. Change is always hard at first. Recently, though, instead of wasting another investment, I decided to brush the dust off my tablet and bring it back to life. Surprisingly, I haven’t removed it from my workspace!
How would a graphic tablet benefit you as a photographer? I’d say it might not be a great contribution to your workflow if you don’t do a lot of retouching. Some people use mainly Lightroom to batch process their photos for the look and feel and maybe Photoshop for minor edits. But if you do more fashion/ portrait photography and you work with Photoshop a lot, using a stylus pen provides a great level of precision and speed that can hardly be accomplished with a mouse.
Because the pen is pressure sensitive, when you press it hard or soft, you’ll get different results. For example, you need to use the brush tool in Lightroom to brighten up your object’s face. Once you set the desire amount of exposure in your brush tool, you can start painting over your image. If you press the pen soft, the face will be lighten up a bit, and if you press the pen harder, the face will be much brighter. This can help you to work faster since you don’t need to go back and worth to readjust the exposure amount.
The stylus pen does an amazing job when it comes to retouching and really helps to maximize all the features in Photoshop. It allows you to control over the details of your image, and fixing visual annoyances can never be easier. Removing blemishes, dodging and burning, other skin retouching have never been easier for me. Once you get a hang of it, the pen will become much more comfortable than the mouse, and it’ll be a very effective tool to add to your workflow.
As for my Turcom tablet, there are a few drawbacks, and sometimes I wish it had a scroll option similar to a mouse. Regardless, it’s great for first time user and it’s very affordable too. I’m still trying to work past the learning curve and get used to using a graphic tablet but I’ll surely keep it in my daily routine.
Do you use a graphic tablet to edit your photos? If so, how do you like it!? Share with me in the comment box below!