If sometimes you lack a photo to dress up a blog post or web page you might like to try drawing your own digital pictures with a Wacom tablet. A couple weeks ago I bought a mid-range one, the Create model of the Bamboo series. I’m having a ball with it!
Learning to draw on a surface other than the screen
When you draw with a special pen on a Wacom tablet your motions are transferred to the screen. Everyone who has learned to use a mouse has already mastered the challenge of linking eye and hand through an intermediary device. But would a drawing tablet be different? Some users report that they tried a Wacom and gave up. Could I get over the awkwardness? Not wanting to splurge on a tablet-computer, I decided to try a Wacom. I soon found that if I place the tablet in front of my screen instead of to the side, drawing accurately is much easier.
Benefits of Drawing On a Computer
I’ve only done a few digital drawings, but already I’m finding that this art form has several benefits:
- Not least of which is that if you make a mistake it’s really easy to take back what you did with the “undo” command. Several of the apps I use allow multiple undos. I’ve found that I can try some strokes in a corner of my screen to see whether I like a setting I’ve chosen before I draw with it. This helps me especially in choosing colors and pen widths. After trying some strokes I can undo them, and my “canvass” is pristine in that area once again.
- I love the airbrush tool! It lets me lay down large patches of color, the way a watercolor painter lays down a base. The airbrush can be used very subtly, which is good for hesitant beginners. I’ve found that if I use the smear tool I can make faint streaks within an airbrushed area, affording much more nuanced control than even the finest of the marker “brushes” do.
- Livebrush is so cool! Livebrush is a vector drawing app that comes with the Wacom boxed software. Livebrush includes some “decoration” brushes that automatically spit out patterns when you draw a line. The leaves on the tree in my daffodil hill drawing above were done with the “ribbon green” decoration brush in Livebrush. The dead tree silhouette to the right was done with the “life branches thick” decoration brush.
- As a photographer I’m looking forward to using my Wacom drawing pen for selecting objects in Photoshop. I’ve always found a mouse very awkward for following the contours of a face that I want to lighten. My Wacom pen should make tasks like this much easier.
Don’t Forget to Register Your Wacom Tablet
If you get a Wacom, don’t forget to register it and download at no extra charge several more drawing apps that aren’t included on the installation disk. My favorite of these is Autodesk Sketchbook. It has a very simple, intuitive interface, but includes most of the drawing features that a beginner would want.