I have 2 wacom tablets, an a5 wide special edition and an a4 tablet. You might wonder why i'd have 2 tablets and the reason is that I work on two sizes of display, a 15" laptop and a 26" external monitor, I got the bigger tablet to sit on my desk so it would always be connected up for use with the big screen, the smaller tablet would be my travel companion. Things didn't turn out that way though. The big tablet is quite an imposing product, it has a very large footprint, and is in a 4:3 ratio which seems to make it bigger than it really is. It's a light gray plastic which actually now looks dated (like the beige computer cases that were around when this product was current generation). If you can get past the looks you can get a great deal on this product as it still does 90% of what the newer models do for a fraction of the cost. The pen sensitivity is great, sensing pressure and tilt, there is no problem with the pen at all. The mouse is completely useless though as it feels so weird to be unable to reposition the mouse for comfort without moving the cursor, don't bother with it, use a real mouse, they don't even ship the mouse with the new tablets. The main issue with this product is that it's a 4;3 ratio, which means it won't match up to your widescreen display, but if you can learn to compensate, you can get this product for a very good price. Although I think the a5 version is easier to use, but for detailed accurate drawing you can't beat sheer size. In terms of build quality wacom make amazing products, they are untouched in the tablet field and despite daily use the damage to my tablet is only cosmetic. The wacom intuous 4 actually is in some ways a worse product, with the new friction surface it means your pen nibs wear down very quickly, on this intuous 3 I've replaced my nib once in about 3 years. I don't use mine too much, because I have a model that fits my needs better, but if you just want a tablet then this is a good one to get
I first started using Wacom tablets at university and continued to use the Intuos3 model both at home and work afterwards, so for about 5 or 6 years now I haven't actually used a mouse but have used one of these instead! The basic function of the tablet is that you can control your computer using a pen action instead of a mouse. The surface of the tablet represents the screen and wherever you put the pen is the cursor. You hover over the tablet to move the cursor, tap to click, and press and drag the pen to er, drag! I find the pen tablet to be a great alternative to a mouse, as its much more comfortable on the hand and wrist. It feels much more natural as most of us are used to holding a pen from a very early age, and after a long day working at a computer you don't have the aches and twinges you do with a mouse, so less chance of repetitive strain injury! However, this tablet would be very expensive if it were just a fancy mouse, where it comes into its own and is most useful is for people who use graphic design or illustration programmes. The Intuos3 allows you to recreate the process of drawing by hand but with the results appearing instantly on your screen. It makes drawing on a computer about 100 easier and gives much much better results than drawing with a mouse. You have so much more control over your lines, it almost feels like you are drawing directly onto the screen. The pen glides smoothly over the tablet and is even pressure sensitive so you can vary thicknesses, weight, shading etc. The area of the tablet that is sensitive surface is the same as A4 paper and there is a border of about 2 or 3 inches around the edge. On each side are buttons which are programmable to perform various functions, but I have to say I've never used these as I am so used to the keyboard shortcuts I use I didn't see the point. I'm sure they're useful for lots of people though. The pen itself is well designed, a rubber grip for your fingers makes it comfortable to hold and there is a button which can function as a 'right click' near the nib and an 'eraser' on the end. There is also a mouse supplied with the tablet which works when placed on top of the tablet in aslightly different way to most mice in that where you place it on the tablet always corresponds to where the cursor will be on the screen. I don't use the mouse, I see no need when you have the much superior pen. The tablet is easy to set up, it connects to your computer by USB and has a long cable so you can sit quite far away from your screen with the tablet on your lap and really get comfy! There is a CD with the driver software which is easy and quick to install and doesn't take up too much room. Alternatively, or if you lose the disc like I did, you can download the drivers for free from the Wacom official website. This tablet has now been superseded by the Wacom Intuos4, but it is still a great piece of kit, especially if you're on a budget. You can get one on ebay for between £100-£200 while a brand new intuos4 will cost you around £400. If you need something cheaper, you can get an A5 intuos3 which is not quite as perfect but you do get used to it and it still gives great results. The only niggle with the Intuos3 is that is a little bit on the ugly side. Battleship grey, with varying shades of grey trim for variety, it doesn't really fit alongside the most modern, attractive computers. The Intuos4 has taken a step in the right direction in the looks department but the 3 wasn't really there yet.
I am a fashion designer/illustrator and I always do print drawings free handed on to photoshop using my 3rd generation Intuos wacom..my first wacom was the Graphire and then I decided that I needed to upgrade to the Intuos as the Graphire was way too basic (I believe Graphire is now discontinued-simular function to the Bamboo). The Graphire restricted stroke abilities, however if you are on a budget and you only want something for simple access then I would recommend the Graphire/Bamboo as its more simple and easier to begin with! As a designer I love my intuos, at the beginning it is hard to get used to drawing with, as it is quite sensitive..but once you have mastered it, it's the most useful tool ever. You can finish blends in photoshop very quickly and the outcome is very smooth too, you can control you photoshop or illustrator more accurately! I currently have this A4 size board and in my opinion I think its more then enough, you can change the settings of your wacom to draw using the whole board or only a little spot=this is the reason why I don't think a bigger size board would make any difference you'd have to move more widely to draw and you also would need to pay more! I edit a lot of photos with the wacom and its great you literally just use the wacom grip pen like how you would with a paint brush or a pen, if you want darker shades you just press done on the pad harder, do lighter then just lightly tap- it works as it looks very straight forward and brilliant. The buttons on the left works like your scrolls and its like a zoomer button too, so you wouldn't need to keep turning back to you mouse. This Wacom has lasted me for almost 2 years now it works amazing with my apple, these are deffinatly 2 things I cant not have to produce my artworks. Wacom is known for its tablets and aimed for professional graphic artists/related career designers and it features the highest specifications of any Wacom device., it has several different lines and im sure atleast one line would suit your need!Some tablet packs include a mouse, mine came with a mouse too..!so do look around before purchasing!Price do vary quite a bit and I really don't recommend a size bigger then A4 you wont beable to carry it in your bag and big or smally just works the same!
Having done art at school and college, I was constantly doodling and drawing. I never ventured into painting though - too messy, too much margin for errors, too long for it to dry (I'm an impatient perfectionist if you can't tell already). However, I soon got into digital art, firstly pixel by pixel in MS Paint, but later drawing with various 'brushes' and 'pencils' in more advanced imaging software. I bought my first graphics tablet, but went for a cheaper brand, an A4 tablet at the £90 mark. As an introduction to drawing, it wasn't too bad, but you get what you pay for and after the second replacement breaking within a few months of getting it, I decided to splurge a bit more money on something that would last. After scouring the net, it seemed Wacom was the name to look out for. I saved my pennies and eventually invested in the A4 Intuos3 - I need space to draw, having tried out the smaller models, I couldn't deal with the limited A6 workspace. It was pricey to go for the bigger one but definately worth the money. It was easy to set up, the preferences panel made it easy to customise any options - such as how your cursor scrolls, what the side buttons do, what the shortcuts on your pen buttons do. Using the pen is much like drawing on paper. It takes a little while to co-ordinate your hand and eyes when you're not seeing your drawing on the tablet, but on the screen (the Cintiq nails this, but at a much higher cost). However, the ability to draw so realistically onto a computer screen is perfect for me. I can experiment with watercolours, oils, pastels - and erase at mistake by flipping my pen upside down and rubbing it out, much like you would pencil on paper (bar the annoying little bits of eraser left on your work!) The large size of the tablet allows me to have it sat on my lap too, handy when working for several hours on a piece, as I can curl up on an armchair and draw instead of being hunched over my desk. The buttons either side of the tablet save having to move the cursor around to zoom in, and any other shortcuts you want to set up with them. One downside is that the scrollbar seems a little too sensitive, and I've accidentally scrolled in or out without meaing to on several occasions. The mouse comes in handy too as it works on your tablet, so no need to clutter your desk even more (handy, given the large size of this tablet) My Wacom has lasted me years, despite going through several housemoves and being dropped a couple of times - the quality compared to the cheaper brands definately speaks for itself. I've yet to replace the pen nib with any of the spares included either, the smooth surface doesn't create too much wear, and the handy storage 'bucket' stops me from misplacing it. The pen is much more hand-friendly than the one of the cheaper brand I went for too, the shape and rubber casing makes it much more comfortable, especially when drawing for a long time. Even as a home-user simply using this for a hobby, I definately think I've got my money's worth - so for someone who requires a graphics tablet for work, I would definately recommend Wacom.
The A4 tablet size is perfect to provide a 1: 1 mapping ratio for most monitors and is ideal for artistic styles that need full arm motion. It features ExpressKeys and Touch Strips on both sides of the active area to accommodate left- and right-handed people. The Intuos3 A4 comes with the cord- and batteryless Intuos3 Grip Pen and the ballfree, cord- and batteryless Intuos3 Mouse to make the most intuitive input system for your computer.