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April 2014
Issue: November 1, 2004

REVIEW: WACOM'S INTUOS3 TABLET

Bashir Hamid

Designer/Animator

UVPhactory

The team at UVPhactory was given the opportunity to test-drive the new Wacom Intuos3 6x8 tablet. The tablet was circulated back and forth between the designers and 2D/3D animators. Most didn't want to let go.

The Intuos3 6x8 tablet comes with the standard bundled software, improved GripPen and five-button mouse. Installation was easy on an XP system, just plug-and-play into a USB port, literally, you don't even have to install the drivers. Driver installation is always recommended considering you want to use the added features and it's these features that make this tablet great.

After driver installation, the tablet control window lists all input tools the tablet uses: the function buttons, grip pen, and mouse (more can be listed depending on your accessories). Through the tablet software each tool and its buttons can be customized and tailored to specific applications. A handy configuration if your priority shifts frequently from motion design, graphic illustration and 3D.

The ergonomic design of the 6x8 was comfortable and allowed for large brush strokes on the pad with ease and flexibility. Intuos3's enhanced electronics provides twice the resolution of previous models, making it highly responsive and very accurate. At 5080 lines per inch, the tablet captured all of the pen strokes with the precision and control of ink on paper.

The Intuos3's pressure and tilt sensitivity was a key feature that I was looking forward to explore. I used the Intuos3 with Photoshop CS. Sketching using Photoshop brush manipulation tools coupled with the Intuos3's pressure/tilt sensitivity was extremely engaging. I managed to achieve brush strokes, shading, and line weight in Photoshop that I was only able to produce with non-digital media; paints, airbrushes, pencils. To further provide the feel of traditional tools, the ergonomic GripPen features a dual tip for easy erasing. Just pretend it's a pencil; flip the GripPen and erase away. Of course both tips are pressure sensitive. However, unlike other tablets, the Intuos3 drawing surface is not transparent to allow tracing.

The new Intuos3 features yet another innovative tool that increases workflow and productivity; eight fully programmable express buttons and two finger-touch strips on the top corners of the tablet. No more keyboard hanging lazily at the side, the eight buttons were more than enough to switch tools, move, and cut/paste. The finger-touch strips are set to zoom on default, but can be programmed to scroll.

Sean Donnelly, an After Effects animator working on several projects with UVPhactory had this to say about the Intuos3: "I really liked the addition of the track pads to the tablet. It made navigating around the canvas much easier and almost more natural." Donnelly also found the tablet very useful during a particular project in which the client wanted to simulate paper being ripped for a title sequence.

"The increased sensitivity coupled with custom brushes in Photoshop made creating mattes for ripped paper a breeze," he notes.

Entering the field of digital design from a traditional art background, I personally approach input devices with a lot of skepticism about their claims of comfort and control. However, I found the Wacom 6x8 a powerful tool able to harness traditional skills to explore the digital-scape. The Intuos3 is a must-have for professional designers and I highly recommend it to aspiring artists.