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Take a look at any software application user interface and you'll find two basic types of controls. The first is an absolute control, which controls only set values. This includes interface elements like checkboxes, radio buttons, and drop-down lists. These elements control choices like on or off, visible or hidden, or small, medium, or large. ExpressKeys are useful for this type of control. The second type is a relative control, where a specific value within a continuous range of values can be selected.
This includes interface elements like sliders, which adjust choices like brush size, opacity percentage, and canvas angle. As we'll see, the Touch Ring is perfect for selecting relative values. Let's take a look. We'll begin by taking a look at the control surface of the Wacom Tablet here, and you noticed before that we have the two sets of ExpressKeys, but here in the center we have what's called the Touch Ring, and the Touch Ring is a concave, depressed area on the surface of the tablet, and what this does is it makes for an easy way for you to target this without even looking at it, which is kind of nice because once again this helps aid in workflow.
The center of the Touch Ring is a button, and you'll notice onscreen when I touch that and click on it, it brings up a little heads-up display that shows what the functions are that are assigned to the four possibilities of the Touch Ring. Several things are already programmed into it by default. For example, screen rotation, which is excellent way to rotate your screen. Now why would you do that? Well it turns out that a lot of times when you're drawing, it can be difficult, for example, to draw a horizontal line.
It's ergonomically difficult to draw that horizontal line. I can do it, but it's just an unusual kind of motion that you have to do. When you rotate that screen, now it's just easier for the arm, hand, and wrist to draw that line. So, screen rotation is one thing I highly advise you to utilize the Touch Ring for. The second thing we're going talk about is using it for going back and forward in history. Just to demonstrate this I'm going to go ahead and just make a few marks here on the screen so we can see how this works.
Now normally you can go backwards and forward in history using a pair of keyboard shortcuts, and Option+Command+Z on the Mac goes backwards in your history, and Shift+Option+Z takes you forward. So there is already built in this nice way to do this, but this is one of these relative controls where I can assign this to the Touch Ring and it makes it a much more elegant way to do it. So let's go about doing that. Let's take ourselves over to the Wacom Control Panel, and we're going to go over to the Touch Ring, and I'm going to mention this again as I will several times through the title, always make sure that your application is set to the application you want to apply this to.
I can't tell you how many times I've gone through the motions of setting this up only to realize later on that it wasn't even in the application I wanted it to be. So first things first, check your application setting to make sure you're applying it to the correct application. And now let's go to the Touch Ring Panel, and if we want to, in this case, I'm going to reassign this Auto Scroll/Zoom to show you this. So let's pop down the menu, and in this case we're going to go to Keystroke, and you'll see there's a pair of boxes located here.
The top box indicates counter clockwise motion, and the bottom box is going to indicate clockwise motion. Always try to think through to what is it you are doing here. In this case, we're going backwards and forwards in history, which is almost like time. So it makes sense to go back in time in a counter-clockwise motion and go forwards in time in a clockwise motion. That way it just makes it one step simpler to understand what you're doing. So in this case we're going to assign going back in history here in the top panel, so I'm going to do Option+Command+Z, and let's activate the second box, and in this case I will do Shift+Command+Z. And we're going to name this, and we'll just call it Undo/Redo.
And click OK, let's go back to our application, and I'm going to press on the center button here again, and you'll see that we now have among our selections, Undo/Redo. So when I use this now, and I go in a counter-clockwise motion, I'm going backwards in time, and when I go clockwise, I'm going forward in time. And I can't tell you how useful I have found this over my experience using the tablet ever since they introduced the Touch Ring. This is just a great way to be able to slide back and forth and evaluate your last strokes to see where you're going and where you've come from.
I find the Touch Ring to be incredibly useful, particularly for controlling canvas rotation angle and stepping backward and forward in a painting's construction history. Anytime you want an elegant control for relative value UI elements, look no further than the Touch Ring.
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