Recently saw the light of a new line of tablets from Wacom – Intuos4. In the new model, of course, new features. But one thing – to read the press release, and quite another – to try out these very new opportunities on their own experience. Before you report on testing Intuos4, held by ArtTower.ru, which tells about the possibilities of the new tablet, and also helps to decide whether it is worth buying Intuos4, in case you are thinking about purchasing a tablet. The description shows the tablet settings for use in Adobe Photoshop CS4 (11.0.1) – in other programs, the combinations of hot keys used for the same actions may differ, however, the principle of the setting remains the same.
So let’s get started. The first impression of the tablet: everything is taken into account down to the smallest details – starting with packaging, like an elite class product, and ending with design and convenience of work. There are no complaints about the design of the product itself: stylish and beautiful design – it stands out compared to previous models of Wacom tablets, a pleasant work surface – not too rough, not too slippery, cleaned easily, does not get dirty. The tablet itself and the “inkwell” (stand for the pen) are literally glued to the surface of the table with the help of rubber nozzles from below – the tablet itself is rigidly fixed in one position with them, which is very convenient: the old Graphire, for example, strived to move all the time.
Strikingly different, compared with Intuos3, the location of the buttons on the tablet. If on Intuos3 they are located on both sides of the working surface, then on Intuos4 all controls are concentrated on the left side (see fig. 1) or on the right side — you can rotate the tablet 180 degrees and program buttons for right-handed operation in the driver – this is possible specially implemented for left-handers.
With this arrangement, one hand is occupied by the actual drawing, and the other is located directly on the sensor ring and buttons (see. Fig. 2). If it is necessary to use one or another button, it is no longer necessary to carry the hand to the other end of the tablet (blocking part of the working area) or tear off the hand with a pen from drawing. Ergonomics with such an organization is much better, this is a definite plus. For me personally, this fact was very pleasant. As an experienced gamer, I affirm that the greatest effectiveness of actions is achieved by dividing the management functions of individual aspects into two hands. In our case, one hand controls directly the movement of the pen, the degree of pressure, and the second hand controls the switching of additional modes, the size of brushes, etc.
The aspect ratio of the working area – 16:10, which makes it possible to use the tablet with widescreen monitors. In the Intuos3 model range, there are options for “conventional” and “wide” (Wide) tablets, which is of course good, until you change your monitor. Here, the ability to work with 4: 3 monitors is solved in one of two ways – either the drawing area on the tablet is narrowed to a 4: 3 ratio, or the whole area is simply “stretched” – until the screen borders and the working area of the tablet completely coincide. In this case, if you draw a circle on the tablet, then an oval will be drawn on the screen.
There are two USB ports so that you can connect the tablet to a computer through the connector that is closer and more conveniently located (remember, did I mention the possibility of deploying it first?). An unused port is covered with a lid – dust inside does not fall.
Another important innovation is the sensory ring. In the middle of the ring is a button to switch its modes. Four modes are available. The button switches cyclically between these modes (the current mode is displayed on the tablet by highlighting one of the four indicators), the ring adjusts the desired value. First, a little unusual, but you quickly get used to it – in this version the action is more visual. But to feel the full effect of using the ring, you have to dig a little in the settings.
Immediately make a reservation – it is better to download and install the latest drivers available on the manufacturer’s website, since Now these drivers can change quite often, for example, if they detect any errors (the product is still new), and the latest version of the driver (in my case was 610-6) can be bundled with the tablet. When testing, I used the latest available driver for Windows under this version. 611-3 from 03/28/2009.
The window for editing the tablet settings is quite clear, with a “snap to the terrain” —the current values of each ring operation mode are marked on it (see Figure 3). It is quite simple to choose new values - from the drop-down list, select either one of the pre-installed options or “Keystroke …”. If you choose to enter an arbitrary combination of keystrokes in the resulting window, you must sequentially press the key sequence that you want to program. The input sequence is displayed in the window.
For the touch ring, the following actions are set by default: in the first mode — scaling, in the second — transition through layers, in the third — changing the brush size, in the fourth — rotating the canvas (see Fig. 3).
However, after the first check, it turned out that only two modes actually work – scaling and rotating the canvas. To change the size of the brush are not set keystrokes – you must enter yourself ] to increase and [ – to reduce brush. To navigate through the layers, the default values were set Alt + ъ and Alt + x, instead Alt +] and Alt + [ accordingly – i.e. Russian (!) Letters instead of English letters, located on the same keys of the “ordinary” keyboard (QWERTY / YETSUKEN layout). In what form the application will receive the encoding of keystrokes on the keyboard, depends on the operating system and keyboard driver. When using standard drivers in Windows XP, even with an active Russian layout, keystrokes are generated in English literature. The tablet driver honestly sends the combination that was given to it. I hope these minor issues will be fixed in the next version of the driver. To navigate through the layers, you need to set the key combinations Alt +] and Alt + [ (see fig. 4). Naturally, for the touch ring, you can customize your own actions, which people like.
A separate story with the setting, probably the most spectacular use for the sensory ring – the rotation of the canvas. Naturally, I would like to try this opportunity in the first place – because unlike other settings that change one or another parameter in terms of “over / under” or “up / down”, the turn of the canvas just acts as a “turn on / counterclockwise” arrows, and the use of the ring in this case is most natural. Here we digress a little from the settings of the tablet and turn to the settings of Photoshop. Let this be a small departure from the main topic of our testing, but the end result in the complex is interesting, isn’t it?
The fact is that in CS4 the rotation of the canvas, and some other functions, are implemented using the capabilities of the video card. That is, firstly, the video card must be able to perform the necessary actions and its driver must provide the OpenGL interface to applications, and secondly, the option to use this feature must be enabled in Photoshop. It is not clear why in Photoshop this option is turned off by default for Windows XP (despite the fact that it is enabled for other platforms), but the fact is a fact, and as they say in one joke – “this is impossible to understand, it must be remembered.” J. So heading to the menu Edit / Preferences / Performance … and turn on the option Enable Opengl drawing (see fig. 5). Here you can click Advanced settings and choose which of the acceleration capabilities provided by the video card should be used and which should not (see Figure 6). All mentioned options (or their part) may be unavailable – in case your video card does not have the required capabilities or does not have all.
At this dance with a tambourine does not end there. It turns out that when using the acceleration functions, the work of some tools is quite slow. There are two reasons for this. Perhaps you are using an old version of video card drivers — you need to download and install the latest drivers from the website of the manufacturer of your video card. The second reason may be covered in Photoshop itself – in version 11.0.0 there is an error that leads to noticeable lags when drawing with a brush and performing some other operations (see GPU and OpenGL Features and Limitations in Photoshop CS4). Therefore, you need to upgrade to version 11.0.1, where this bug is fixed. After that, there may also be “brakes”, but not as big as without an update. Adobe indirectly acknowledges the existence of such problems, saying that “this is possible for a different reason than those fixed in release 11.0.1” (see Known issues Phohoshop CS4 11.0.1), and recommends … to disable acceleration (see Brushes are slow or lag in Photoshop CS4). However, the problem may not lie in the program, but in the video card – its power may simply be lacking. I am using far from top NVIDIA GeForce 8500GT with 512MB of memory. When drawing with large brushes on a large canvas, small delays are noticeable. In the event that you are not satisfied with the performance, you need to either upgrade the video card, or disable the use of certain features of OpenGL (you can even disable them all in the window GL Settings (see fig. 6), leaving only the tick itself Enable Opengl drawing (see fig. 5)).
Turns in Photoshop are configured, you can return to the settings of the tablet. Do not be alarmed to see key combinations in the settings of the canvas rotation Ctrl + F13 and Ctrl + F14 – any keys have their own encoding, and even if they are absent on your keyboard, the tablet “reports” to the target application without any problems that such keys were pressed. The only caveat is that if you inadvertently changed these key combinations to others, it will be difficult to enter them from the keyboard. If you do not know the scan key codes F13 and F14, you can simply use the default settings (see Figure 3).
Now you need to configure the actions that the tablet will perform when you click on the buttons located on the pen and on the tablet itself. For buttons on the pen, in my opinion, it is best to assign modifiers Alt and Shift (see figure 7). In this case, it will be possible in the process of drawing to quickly take the desired color with a “pipette” (Eyedropper tool) when pressed Alt or scale with respect to proportions, draw straight lines and use rotations that are multiples of 45 degrees when pressed Shift.
The buttons on the tablet panel are best assigned to the functions that you use most often in your work. At the same time, those that are used more often are better concentrated in one group of buttons – above or below the touch ring – for whom it is more convenient (the second group is better left for service and less frequently used functions). For me, such functions are setting the background and foreground colors by default, filling the current layer with the background color, writing a file and … I have not yet decided which combination to choose – there are many of them, and I want to choose one that will always be needed. Therefore, the fourth button in the lower group and a few at the top is still under question (see fig. 8). When entering your key combination, you must enter the sequence of emulated keystrokes themselves (see fig. 9) and specify the name for this combination (see fig. . ten). The entered name is quite important – in addition to displaying the entered value in the tablet settings window, it is also displayed on the indicator built into the tablet body, next to the corresponding button (see. Fig. 11). By the way, the inscription on the photo in the title of this article is not montage at all.
In addition to indicating the name of the action assigned to each button on the tablet itself, you can see the settings of the buttons on the monitor screen at any time, if you assign the action “Show parameters” to one of the buttons (see fig. 12). By default, this action is assigned to the first top button.
The tablet also has a very useful high-precision drawing mode, which can be used when drawing small elements of an image without changing the scale (by default it is the third top button in the upper group). In fact, this is just a change in the resolution of the tracking movements of the pen. Those. when you press the high precision mode button, you need to make a physically larger movement with the stylus to draw the same image element. Since Since the hand cannot be absolutely fixed or move along a mathematically perfect trajectory, such an increase in the scale of drawing allows for smaller errors in the final drawing. For example, I tried to draw two circles with a hard brush, so that the errors could be seen better (see Fig. 13) – one in the normal mode (left), the second in the high precision mode (right). And although my hand to the compass is still very far away, it is not difficult to notice that the second option was more correct.
Special attention is given a new interface element – a circular menu. Its essence is very simple – when you press the call button of the circular menu (by default, the second from the top button in the top group) a circle divided into 8 sectors is displayed on the screen, centered at the current position of the pen (see Fig. 14). With a small movement of the pen, we select the menu item that interests us – and the action that was assigned to it is performed – this can be either an action itself or a nested circular menu (see Fig. 15). The benefit is obvious – you need to take action to choose; you do not need to take your hands off the tablet controls to get away from the keyboard or rummage with the mouse (pen) in the wilds of the menu. And this, with proper organization and thinking through the system of such a menu, saves time seriously. Example – see fig. 16 – all actions are performed without the keyboard. The driver allows you to set three levels of nesting menu – it gives you the opportunity to program 512 different actions, grouped as you wish. In my opinion, more than enough for any application. To be honest, I was even a little stunned by such a wealth of opportunities. And although it is immediately clear why this can be used, I couldn’t quickly create a convenient menu system for myself. Here you need to think. Therefore, here I will confine myself to a fairly simple demonstration of this possibility in order to show the flexibility of this technology, and I hope that when you have such a tablet at hand, you will already take on setting up the menu quite prepared. The setting is done on the “Circular Menu” tab of the driver settings window. For one sector, we add the action “submenu” with the name “Selection” (see Fig. 17), and for this submenu, we define actions in the submenu — I chose the tool Lasso Tool / Polygonal Lasso Tool / Magnetic Lasso Tool – they are all selected by pressing the key L (see fig. 18). Now, without touching the keyboard, you can select this tool and make a selection in the figure (see. Fig. 14-16). It is clear that it will take longer to call a tool in this way than if you program it to directly call one of the buttons on the tablet, but since their number is still limited and there are already concentrated the most frequently used tools, this method is faster than using the keyboard. After practicing just one minute, I was convinced of this.
Now about the pen and rods. The pen has a thickening for comfortable grip with your fingers and is provided with a rubber coating in the grip area with your fingers. Here, probably, it is worthwhile to draw an analogy with the pen on the Graphire 4 tablet – initially the gum on it was kept loosely and after prolonged use began to eat away and come off in pieces. Here the gum is kept very tight and gives the impression of much greater reliability and durability, which is important. Another set includes a spare rubber band of a different design – a wider and completely covering the buttons on the pen. It is convenient to hold the pen in your hand, but it is difficult to say whether there is a fundamental difference in this moment from the design of the pen in previous tablet models. From the other end – the traditional “eraser”. Both for Intuos4 and for Intuos3 there are several feathers of various modifications: Grip pen – standard feather with a narrowed grip area; Airbrush – with a special thickening in the area of capture and a very large sensitivity to pressure and tilt, it allows you to realistically simulate the application of ink and the radius of spraying, it is best suited for people engaged not only in drawing, but also in retouching and simply editing images; Art pen – reminds a marker or felt-tip pen with a beveled tip and is most suitable for designers; classic pen Classic pen – unlike the standard, it is more compact and does not have a rubber insert; finally Ink pen, ideal for writing handwriting, copying and illustrating original graphics, because it has a ballpoint pen with interchangeable rods. Working with this pen resembles a letter with an ordinary ballpoint pen. Here you have to choose for your application. Only one standard pen is included. Grip pen.
All Intuos4 pens have 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity, which is double what Intuos3 has, and four times as much as Graphire 4 and the entire Bamboo lineup. In general, the difference between 512 and 2048 levels is not particularly felt; rather, there is simply some effect of greater smoothness of the lines.
The stand for the pen in appearance resembles an inkwell. The similarity is especially strong when the pen is installed in it (see fig. 19). The same “inkwell” also serves as a repository for interchangeable rods (see Fig. 20), as well as a tool for extracting tips (a metal ring in the center), which is very convenient – all rods are always with you and never lost.
The kit includes one rod for hatching (with a spring), one “brush” (with a white tip), three “felt-tip pens” (felt) and five standard rods (rigid, plastic) – see fig. 21. Expanding the range, of course, pleases – complete with Intuos3 rods, “brushes” were not.
With standard rods, everything is clear – everyone who has worked with graphics tablets knows what to expect from them. This is a universal tool that can be used for almost any purpose, but at the same time it has certain disadvantages in some applications. It would be more interesting to get to know the rest.
The most unusual is, of course, a rod with a spring. The instructions say that this is a rod for hatching. Let’s try shading with two rods (see fig. 22) – standard (top) and stylus for hatching (bottom). A hard brush was used with the same settings in both cases. It is easy to see that with a standard rod, the strokes are almost like twins when compared with their neighbors. The rod with a spring makes it possible to make the strokes more diverse. At the same time, it is more sensitive to the degree of pressure due to the fact that the spring adjusts the degree of pressure of the rod and allows the use of the greatest range of sensitivity of the pen to pressure. Having become accustomed to the standard rod, it is unusual to draw with this, it is actually necessary to re-learn how to use the hand. At the same time, contrary to the name, the standard rod seems to be more suitable for imitating the drawing technique with a pencil, where darkening of certain areas by hatching is often used. The effect of drawing a spring tip looks more like a brush drawing, it is more complicated to use, but then they can get more effective results.
The rod “brush” (with a white tip) fully justifies its name. This core moves very gently along the working surface, there is practically no friction, you can draw as your heart desires, without any clinging, in the literal sense of the word. It is a pleasure to paint with them, but, apparently, because of the greater slip on the surface, it is less sensitive to pressure – the stroke is somewhat wider than with a standard pen.
“Markers” according to their characteristics are the same as standard tips, but when drawing by them, a lasting effect arises that you draw with a marker on rough paper. The process is accompanied by sound effects – when you hold the rod on the surface, you hear a clear creak and rustle. So to say, the effect of presence. Such an effect can be distracting and annoying, but at the same time it can, on the contrary, be like someone with its realism. However, after some time you get used to them, and the rustling is not so much distracting. There is an assumption that such rods, thanks to the material from which they are made, will be stronger and more durable than standard ones. Unfortunately, to quickly verify this assumption is not possible.
The rods, as expected, are not eternal and are erased when working. During the week of intensive use, the change in the shape of the most frequently used standard tip was already noticeable by eye (see Fig. 23).
Testing participants reviews:
In general, the impression of the tablet remained very good – finally they made an almost perfect product for artists and designers. If you compare it with Graphire 4, which I used for 2.5 years before the acquisition of Intuos4, then we can say that initially the impression is made of greater reliability and durability of this tablet. On the one hand, nothing can be done on it from what cannot be done on Graphire, but on the other hand, it is much more convenient and thoughtful than Graphire 4 – everything is taken into account in detail. Therefore, in my opinion, if you want to change the old tablet to a newer one and there are no big financial constraints, then this is the tablet that is ideal for a replacement.
fleur: a sketch made as part of testing
For Intuos3 users: I personally would not change the 3rd to the 4th, the difference is not too strong, and in some moments the 3rd may be better. So change the third except that only on Cintiq. And for users who are going to buy a brand new tablet, of course, better than Intuos4, and the price difference is not particularly noticeable.
Anya Seryapkina: drawing made as part of testing
I will allow myself to draw an analogy with cameras — and the simplest soap box, and the heaped professional apparatus perform the same functions — they take photographs. And so, and others can make a masterpiece. But professional models are equipped with the ability to control all possible parameters of the shooting process, have a thoughtful design and ergonomics to the details, are made of high quality materials. And there is a masterpiece to get faster and easier (provided that you learn to use all the possibilities). Intuos4 leaves behind the best impressions. This is really a tool for the professional.
Review prepared by Foxx. Especially for ArtTower