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5 Wacom Tablet Tips, useful hacks

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5 (really 6) Wacom Tablet tips to get the most out of your wacom tablet


1. Sneaky tip for fast Dodge and Burn switching

2. How to test and fix tablet aspect ratio

3. How to fix the annoying ring around the curser on Windows 10 and the pen settings

4. Pen smoothing, when it’s good and when its not

5. Quick access to the Radial Menu

6. How to back up your Tablet settings


Hey Cafe Crew, it’s Colin Smith here from Photoshop Cafe and today, we are going to be talking about WACOM tablets.


Alright, so we are going to get started on 5 tips for working with the WACOM tablet.

The very first one – Dodging and Burning

Okay, so here we have got a photograph and what we want to do is create a dodging and burning layer. So I am just going to hold down the Alt key or that would be Option on Mac. And I am just going to click on the new layer icon. This will come up with options. So I am just going to choose Overlay for the mode, you could fill up 50% if you want but that’s not necessary but we will. Now we are going to hit the D key to reset the foreground background color. So the foreground color is black and the background color is white. Now I want to turn this Opacity up to around 30 and that’s good enough. That will actually work quite well.

Now I am going to show you the tablet part. So, what we are going to do is just go into our tablet preferences here and there’s one of the things you do want to make sure is that you have the Wacom driver installed. This is not a tip, it’s an additional tip. If you don’t have the driver installed, you are not going to get a lot of functionality out of the tablet. So you can just grab that from the Wacom site, just go to support and then at the top, there’s drivers, click that and get the driver.

Alright, so here’s the tip, a part of this pen that is very rarely used, is the eraser. People think, all you do is just erase things. So what we can do is we can actually set the keyboard shortcut here. So under the eraser, I am going to change it to a key stroke. And for the key stroke, you guessed it, we are going to hit the X key. The X switches foreground and background colors. And that’s all that I am going to do.

So I just take our pen here and I just tap it on the tablet and notice it changes between foreground and background. Okay, so now if I take my pen and I am painting and I want to change between black and white which would be dodging and burning, flip the pen around and just tap. So you can see that how we can quickly change between foreground and background color.

So let me demonstrate. I am going to make the brush bigger. Make sure you turn on the pressure and then I am just going to do some really, really basic dodging and burning. So let me do the burning first, just like really quick. Darkening around the edges, just more of a vignette kind of thing. Maybe fill in some shadows, just kind of darkening the shadows down a little bit.

Now when I am ready to paint my light, all I can do turn the pen around, tap and now I am painting the light. And we can go and tap around here. So right, if we look at the before and the after.

Alright, tip number two – have you ever noticed that you are drawing and for some reason you know, you are trying to draw a perfect circles but your circles gets squashed or they get stretched, let me show you something interesting. If you are using your tablet on your default setting depending on your setup and then I am going to draw and so we can get a perfect circle.

Now you might do this, you know, if you don’t have a stencil, you could use a toilet roll or you can use all kinds of things for the this and look, notice that it is squashed, it is not actually drew you a circle and that’s because the aspect ratio of your tablet is different from the aspect ratio of your screen. Let me show you how to fix that. So we just go down to the preferences and get our tablet preferences. Then what we want to do is we want to click on Mappy and you will notice here, alright, there it is, if we turn on force proportions, now watch what happens when we do go to drawer, let me go over here, we will draw a circle using that stencil and look at that, now we have the perfect circle.

Alright, tip number three – if you are working on Windows and you put your pen down and you see that annoying ring come up, maybe you have found the different ways of you trying to get rid of that and there’s actually two places where we need to get rid of that.

We are going to do that right now but I’m going to magically switch to a Windows desktop.

Okay, so here we are on Windows. Let’s create a new layer and we are going to grab our brush tool by just tapping the brush key or the B key. So now this is something that happens if you click and hold this little circle thing that appears and you can’t really paint, it is really annoying right? Okay, so there’s two places to get rid of this. We are just going to go on to the Windows menu and we are going to click on settings, go to devices, under devices go down to pen and Windows ink, turn visual effects off. Okay, that is the first thing.

Now, the second thing we want to do is we are just going to tap our Windows key there and we are going to type in Control Panel. So we go to that Control Panel and this is on Windows 10 by the way. Then we are going to go to Hardware and Sound, go down to pen and touch, this is where it’s actually been moved to. And when this pops open, we are going to go to Press and Hold. Under pen options, click on Settings. And all we need to do now is turn off, enable press and hold for right clicking, click OK and make sure we choose Apply.

Alright, close everything down. Go back to Photoshop. Now, we grab our pen and we click and hold and look at that. Wola! Now we get to draw exactly how we would like.

Alright, tip number 4, a feature dropped inside Photoshop CC 2018 makes it easy for us to draw. So for people that are doing any kind of drawing or sketching, we have got this pen smoothing, for the brush tool and look at that. It makes it easy to draw curves. You know it just makes things nice and smooth. And that’s great if you are drawing or painting. However, if you are doing Photographic work like dodging and burning stuff like that and precise smooth pen strokes and not important, for example, you know, in Illustration, turn that pen smoothing off because watch how it effects the performance, on your computer. See that’s kind of slow. If I take the pen smoothing all the way down, look at that, it is instant, follows you around. So, that’s tip number 4.

Alright, tip number 5 and I am actually going to give you double parts, so it is really going to be 6 tips here, make sure you turn the touch on, on your tablet if you have a tablet that supports it, and it is just a little switch on the side there but then, take three fingers and tap with three fingers. Brings up the radio menu. This radio menu, if you are working on older tablets that doesn’t support touch, you can also enable the radio menu with your pen. Like with one of the pen buttons or even the buttons here, on your tablet. So you have a lot of options there.

So, here we go, let’s click on the little gear icon and let’s customize this. So notice, we are sitting here, it is under Functions and it is under On Screen Controls. Okay, so on the radio menu we have the options to set keyboard shortcuts and all kinds of things so we don’t run out of express keys. As much as we love these express keys here, which I really do, there’s only 8 of them. By using the radio menu you can extend that and have all the keyboard shortcuts and little tricks and tips and stuff like that from Photoshop, right there at your fingertips.

And I said I was kind of like a 5 and a half or tip number 6, really is once you have customized this, you have set your touch rings, you have set your express keys, you have set your radio menus and, all of  that, you really want to be ought to be back that up. Okay, what we are going to do is we are going to type in tablet, WACOM tablet utility. And if we open the WACOM Tablet utility right here, we can actually back up our settings and we can call it Colin WACOM and you know I might just dump that on my desktop for now and then click Save. And then later on, you want to bring it in, just restore and there it is, right there. Click open and all your settings get restores. So this is really useful if you are using different tablets or even if you are going between different computers and you are taking your tablet with you, you can savor the settings and all the pen settings, tablet settings, everything will be on there.

So guys, I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, if you did, smash that Like button into dust. If you are not a subscriber, hit the Subscribe button right now. Drop a comment, and until next time, I will see you, at the Cafe.


Premium training on Wacom Tablets


My Dodge and Burn Tutorial



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