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- Understanding the axes of motion with a Wacom tablet
- Choosing a brush shape and Bristle Tip
- Adjusting brush angle
- Loading color and control the behavior of the Mixer Brush
- Modifying surface texture
- Simulating the texture of canvas
- Saving tool presets for brushes
- Creating a painting from a photograph
- Painting from scratch with the Mixer Brush
Skill Level Intermediate
One of the nice things about the Wacom Intuos4 is an item on the Control surface called the Touch Ring, and the Touch Ring is just a circular area with a depression in it that makes it very easy, like a slight groove, to run your fingers through. In the center, is a button that you can assign four different functions to, to use this Touch Ring to, say, rotate your canvas. I am going to show you now how you can assign those elements to the Touch Ring to take advantage of it within Photoshop CS5.
I will show you right now. I am going to click through this so you can see that each time I click, I can get to one of four functions I have assigned to my Touch Ring. This is really nice. In the initial iteration of the Intuos4, they didn't show this on the screen so you were left to have to remember the order of things you put in here. It's really nice that this now shows up. So let's go through, and I will show you each one of these. The Auto Zoom and Scroll lets me do just that.
I'm using my finger on the Touch Ring, so without having to take my hand away from the tablet or put the stylus down, I have this ability. The second one is probably my favorite one, and let's first zoom up to 100% here, so you can see this. This enables me to scroll back and forth through the history. Now right now, I have got 10 states in here, so it doesn't go back long ways, but you can adjust that certainly in the Photoshop Preferences. What I've done is I have just set it up so that a counterclockwise gets me backwards, and then clockwise takes me forwards.
So it's a really nice way to be able to undo some things, and I even find kind of going forward and backwards like this sometimes give me some insights that I wouldn't otherwise see about how I was constructing an image. The next one is Brush Size; this is another very useful one. This lets me take my brush, and you can see here that I'm scrolling it up and down. So once again counterclockwise takes it down and clockwise makes it larger. Finally, we have Canvas Rotation. So this lets me rotate the canvas.
Depending on the kind of artwork you're doing, this can be really useful. For example, it might be more useful to have the canvas at an angle to paint certain lines in an image, and then I can quickly get back. One nice thing I like about this, too, is there seems to be a little detente for certain angles, and one of them is 0. So it's not difficult to snap back to 0 just by rotating, and once you get close to the default angle, it just snaps into place for you. So these functions are very useful, and if you do some exploring, you may even find other things to do with them.
But I will show you exactly how I'm doing it, and I'm going to the Apple menu and go to System Preferences; on Windows, you'll go to the Start menu and go to Control Panels, and we will navigate our way down here to the Wacom tablet. What we want to do here then is make sure that - you know most people aren't going to have more than one tablet installed, but you start with your tablet. We are going to go to Functions, and I already have Photoshop set up in here, but if you don't, you're going to want to create a new application-specific icon in here, so you can assign keyboard shortcuts that only affect that application and not, say, the Finder.
So to do that, you are going to click on plus and since I already have Photoshop in here, I am going to go ahead and browse, and let's say we wanted to add something like Illustrator. So I will go in here and go to Illustrator CS5 and find the application, say OK, and now I have got an application that I can start to assign keyboard shortcuts to. In this case, we are going to go to the Photoshop CS5 icon that I have already have installed here, and let's take a look at how I did the modifiers.
What we want to do is go to the Touch Ring, and now this is where I can actually go in here and assign specific kinds of functionality to the four different functions that are capable of being addressed by the Touch Ring. The top one, I just used one of the default commands that you can do here, and that is Auto Scroll/Zoom. So this one is very simple; you just select that. For Undo/Redo History, I used Keystrokes, and if we take a look at what I did here, on the Mac, I used the Shift+Command+Z to undo, and I used Option+Command+Z to redo.
On Windows, you are going to use Shift+ Ctrl+Z, and for a redo, you are going to use Alt+Ctrl+Z. Once you have assigned the functions, you can go ahead and give it a name, and this is what will appear on the little onscreen heads-up display when you click on the center button. We say OK. Now for Brush Size, this one is pretty simple; I just go in and I use my left and right bracket keys to enlarge and reduce my image. So in this case, I use the right bracket key to make my brushes larger and the left bracket key to make brushes smaller.
Then once again, I gave it the name Brush Size and said OK, and that's that. Then finally, for Canvas Rotation, this is another one, if you go into Keystrokes, you use on the Mac the Option+F13 key to rotate clockwise, and you use the Option+F14 key to rotate counterclockwise, and on Windows you would substitute the option for Alt, and then I gave it the name Canvas Rotation. Once you're all done with that, then you have what we see when I click on my middle button; I've now got those functions built right into my tablet.
This is another one of those functions - once you install them and start using them, you will wonder how you got along without them. So the Touch Ring is yet another tool you can use to improve workflow, and really take full advantage of the Wacom tablet. I'll be honest with you. I used to use the tablet and didn't use much of the control service; I really didn't think there was much use to it. But once I got into it, I can't do without it anymore. So take full advantage of, not just the stylus, but the control surface on your Wacom Intuos4.