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Wacom tablets are a popular alternative to the mouse for painting, drawing, and navigating your computer in a more natural position. In this course, artist and teacher John Derry shows how to get up and running with a variety of Wacom tablets (Intuos, Cintiq, and more), covering everything from setup to stylus selection. He then shows how to speed up your workflow and enhance your command of the drawing surface with ExpressKeys, the Touch Ring, and other controls. Plus, learn about tablet ergonomics—which makes your Wacom even more compatible with your working conditions—and follow a few exercises to warm up your drawing arm.
When using the Wacom Pen, you've literally got a pair of convenient, customizable controls at your fingertip, the side switches. There are a lot of different ways to employ this pair of buttons. And you can get pretty creative in what functionality you assign to them. In this video, we'll take a look at some of the ways these easily accessed controls can be utilized. The first thing I want to talk about is the buttons themselves on the Pen, and there's a couple of ways you can address them. A lot of people use their index finger, and that works pretty well, but some people find that this rear button, it just cramps up a little bit when you have to move your finger in that position to address that rear button.
So the optional way to do it is to turn it on its side and then just use your thumb, and there is not quite as much crimping in your thumb when you go back and forth between here. So it's different for everybody, and it just depends on what works for you, how your hand is built, and what makes you comfortable. So you've got those two options to work with. Now let's take a look at the Wacom Tablet preferences, and we're going to work with the Grip Pen, so I'm going to click on it. And it's right here in this panel. It shows me what is assigned to the buttons, and right now the defaults are the Double Click for the rear and the Right Click for the front.
So before you do anything though, I do want to tell you, make sure if you're working with Photoshop as we are, be sure that this is selected up here. If it's selected like this, you'll make these changes, go to Photoshop, and nothing happens, because you've assigned it to anything but Photoshop. So make sure that you assign it to the application before you get started. So let's take a look at what we can do here. I'm going to jump over to Photoshop. We are in the Mixer Brush, and the Mixer Brush, like the regular Paint Tools, utilize the Option key to be able to select color on screen, and just to show how that works by default, I'm going to hold down my Option key, and you'll notice that the cursor changes to the Color Selection Tool in the Mixer Brush.
When it's in that mode, I can now select a color, pick it up, and now I'm painting with it. So it's nice that I can do this, but it's taking a lot of extra motion and disconnection from your workflow when you do this. So what we want to do is take that option functionality and apply it to the front button. Let's go back to our Wacom Preferences, and I'm going to go into that front button options, and I'm going to select Modifier in this case, and we're going to select Option.
We'll say OK, and let's go back, and instead of using the Option key, now I can just click on that button and I instantly get the color that I want. In fact, the Mixer Brush happens to have the functionality of picking up multiple colors. So if I pick it up, say right in the center there, I'm now going to be painting with multiple colors across the brush. So every time I want to switch colors, it's very easy to pick up colors right off of the existing colors on your canvas. So we've got that set.
The other thing I'm going to show you is that when you're using the Mixer Brush, when this Wet value is set to zero, you are going to get an Opaque Brush, and let's just set it anything other than zero. So I'm just going to move it up a little bit, and we'll see that the behavior now changes. It becomes a smeary brush, it still applies paint, but it also is starting to mix the colors that are on the brush as well as the colors it finds underneath of it. So we have altered the behavior of the brush in a fairly radical way.
So what we want to do in this case is somehow assign this functionality, once again, in this case, to the rear button of the Wacom stylus. So let's go back to our Wacom Preferences, and instead of Double Click, I'm going to open this up, I'm going to go to Keystroke. And I'm going to put zero in there. So we put 0, and I'm going to call this Smear Toggle, and hit OK.
Now I've got a different functionally. I'm going to show you how this works, because it's not obvious at first. Let's go ahead and put this down to zero again so we're now painting with an Opaque Brush, but if I click the rear button, it now changes to 100%. Now I've got a fully smeary brush. But how do we get back to zero? Well, it turns out a Double Click alters it back to the zero position, which now once again gives us an Opaque Brush.
So now I've got two combined functions on here that are actually close to the Pen, and I kind of think of the front of the Pen as the place where the paint comes out, so it makes sense to me that these buttons somehow be associated with what's going on in the tip and being able to change its functionality. So now I can go ahead and I can pick up colors, I can alter the behavior of the brush so that it becomes smeary, and I've got just a lot more functionality, I am longer relying on the keyboard.
The Stylus switches offer another option for assigning and accessing absolute value UI elements. Doing so serves to break the reliance on the keyboard, and anytime you can eliminate extended physical motions like changing focus to address the keyboard will improve your workflow.
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