A Review of Wacom's Intuos3 Tablet

GonWaki · February 22, 2005 10:14 am

Wacom's Digitizing Tablet - The Intuos 3

This is the first in a series of reviews and tutorials I will be doing for Renderosity. Some of you might remember my columns from about two years ago. I am always interested in readers' input and I hope you will let me know what type of columns you would like to see. My columns will deal with a number of Poser and Vue tutorials in the near future as well as a special on Corel's Painter IX.

I am still surprised when I speak to fellow graphic users and they do not know what a digitizing tablet is. I have been using one for the past fifteen years and don't even leave home without one. I have a 6" x 8" older model Wacom that I carry with me in my laptop case. Try writing your name the width of the lead from a #2 pencil with a bar of soap. Then try doing the same with that #2 pencil. Take the test. If you do not use a digitizing tablet, your mouse is your bar of soap. I'm not saying you cannot work in graphic programs, but you are soooooooooo limited. Digitizing tablets are pressure sensitive. There are over 100 programs that accept pressure sensitivity. On Wacom's website, you can check whether your favorite program has that capability. Go to: http://www.wacom.com/productinfo/tes.cfm

Below are some examples of brush strokes from Photoshop CS and Painter IX that demonstrate pressure sensitivity.

Some Pressure Sensitivity Controls and Examples

For those who do not know what digitizing or graphic tablets are, they are tablets that connect to your computer, now through the USB port, and interact with a special electronic mouse, pen, ink pen, or airbrush tool to create lines that appear on your screen. The pressure imput or tilt of the stylus causes changes in the output as seen by the examples above. There are even some graphic tablets that double as your computer screen, but, I am not discussing those. They are the Cintiq series. This article addresses the Intuos 3 which is the latest in the Intuos line.

The Intuos 3 comes in three sizes (actual working area): 4" x 5" for $219.95, 6" x 8" for $329.95, and 9" x 12 " for $449.95.

A mouse and a grip pen come with it as well as a number of excellent graphic programs. Other accessories can be purchased separately. The full line of accessories are:

Once you purchase a digitizing tablet from Wacom or if you already own one, certain software can be purchased at reduced prices. For more information got to: http://www.wacom.com/intuosprivileges/index.cfm. Also, one can purchase Painter IX and an Intuos 3 at a tremendous savings. See Corel.

If you look at the picture of the Intuos 3 above, you will notice tablet keys to the right and left of the pressure sensitive pad as well as the Touch Strip.You can customize the keys. So, for example, if you do a lot of undoes, you can customize a left key for undo and its right equivalent for something else. Really a nice time saver! If you will notice, in the menu below next to applications, the selected icon is Painter IX. You can individualize the tablet keys and the touch strip for different programs. Or you can apply them to all programs. The touch strip is especially good for zooming and scrolling.

Some of the other features of the Intuos 3 are:

  • "Ergonomic design with sloping, contoured palm rest for comfort
  • Multiple cord positions for greater workspace flexibility
  • 8 ft. cable allows you to kick back while you work
  • 1,024 levels of tip and eraser pressure sensitivity for control
  • Cushioned, contoured grip with programmable DuoSwitchâ„¢ for comfort and productivity
  • Three nib styles included for a variety of "feels"
  • Tilt sensitivity for even more control"
    (From the Wacom website)

For more information, go to the Wacom website of http://www.wacom.com. There you will also find tips and tricks and a lot of other information. In addition, Wacom sells refurbished tablets.

I cannot imagine using any type of graphic program without my digitizing tablet. It has become an extension of my arm and hand.

© Paula Sanders 2004

The Paula Sanders Report
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Article Comments

gary803 ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 22 February 2005

Thank you, I need lots of help and I don't have a tablet yet but will look ay them. Gary

Patschulynn ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 22 February 2005

Thanks much, good tips, i looking forard to buy one

shurikenblade ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 22 February 2005

I love my wacom pad. I have an older 4x5 Penpartner, and I can't imagine working without it. I would love to upgrade to one like the Intuos 3. Paul

Barringhupite ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 22 February 2005

The tablet sounds like a fantastic tool, I would love one, but I would also love to get the corelix, it was fun and easy to use the free download.

BrettCantrell ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 22 February 2005

Thanks for the tips. . . I use one of the smaller (and cheaper) Wacom Grafire tablets and I've been thinking about upgrading to the newer Intuous 3's. Again, thanks for a great review!

Grahamhoc ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 23 February 2005

I agree, I am lucky enough to have an A6 Intuos 3, I use it as I have painful hands and the pen is much kinder to them. I really love the pressure pads on the left of the A6, they are great time savers and make the whole drawing and painting experience so much more natural and enjoyable.If you got the money spare and its burning a hole in your pocket, get a graphics pad as it will take your computer art to a new level.

SndCastie ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 24 February 2005

I have a wacom tablet and love it. I use it often and agree that it is a must for anyone using graphic programs. I really enjoy your colums SndCastie

Bobbie25 ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 24 February 2005

i have the intuos3 4x5 and love it more then my old wacom i dont know how i use to work with my "bar of soap" lol i would not go back to it im happy with my wacom's hugz Bobbie

UrbanChilli ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 24 February 2005

I bought it right after it came out. I had a very bad expirence with a pen years ago, but decided to take the chance on Wacoms intuos 3 A5. I'm so happy about it, it was the right thing for me to buy. The setting is easy. I twisted on the settings twice and havn't done it again, set up is so easy.

flyboy ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 24 February 2005

You are so right about the wacom intous tablet. I have been using one for several years and use it just like an art tablet and pencils or chalks. I quickly found when I first started to do digital art that a mouse was very clumsy. Thats when I found wacom. A trick I have been using is to tape a piece of art paper or construction paper on top of the tablet surface to give some friction to the pen simulating the same feel as a pencil on paper. I found that the plastic tipped pen sliding on the very slick plastic surface of the tablet just did not feel right and lacked accuracy. Thanks

Paula Sanders ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 24 February 2005

Flyboy's use of paper creates interesting results. When I did it, I found that the strokes looked different than when I just used the tablet. Thanks Flyboy. I appreciate your sharing this with us. Also, I want to thank everyone for your comments and additions. Paula

Acadia ( posted at 12:00AM Sat, 26 February 2005

I have an Intuos tablet, I believe it's an Intuos 2. It was given to me a couple years ago. The working area is the smallest one... 4" x 5". Personally I am not impressed by it. I was gung ho about it and ordered extra pens of various types. However, I found that it was pretty difficult to manipulate a pen in a small 4 x 5 area while looking at a 17" computer monitor. Also, I found that even with updated drivers, that it would always just up and stop working and the only solution was to disconnect it all, uninstall it and start all over from scratch again. That was pretty much on a daily basis. Each time I went to use it I would have to go through the uninstall and reinstall procedure. During my last reformat I packed the tablet up and put it into a closet. If I ever invest in a tablet-like device again, it will be a laptop that has tablet capabilities and you can draw right on the screen instead of the desk next to you while looking in another direction. In my opinion, if you want a lesson in frustration, but a graphic tablet.

Paula Sanders ( posted at 12:00AM Sun, 27 February 2005

Acadia - I would just like to comment on your experience. I agree that a 4x5 is too small. I think the 6 x 8 should be the smallest tablet purchased. However, it not working has me stumped. I have owned 4 different tablets for about 15 years now and have never had the problems you are having. I have used them on Windows, from 3.11 through Win XP Pro skipping ME. Even when I travel, I take one with me. I tried one of the Cintiqs at Siggraph 2002 and it is really awesome. Paula

RedundantlyAbundant ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 01 March 2005

Yeah, I am definitely considering purchasing one of these bad boys. I tried the standard pen but felt that it was hard to use. It took me about an hour of signing my name before I was happy with it. Maybe the other pens are easier for that type of thing? I might wait for the next version.

Plutom ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 02 March 2005

I bought my 4X5 WACOM tablet back in 1997, never had to replace the nub and had absolutely no trouble with it. It's great for putting on my knee, leaning back in the old swivel chair and drawing, painting etc (I have a 18" LCD)Plutom

stephen_tacoma_wa ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 02 March 2005

I am curious about whether I would gain anything in human 3D figurative sculpting with 1024 sensitivity over the 512. Painting is totally off my radar, instead swelling muscle groups and defining meshes is my concern. Primarily working with ZBrush 2. If I buy a Graphire 512 version I can purchase this week. But if I buy a Intuos 1024, I have to wait another month. Being a fast learning new user, will the Intuos be worth my wait and twice the cost? P.S. I will be buying the 4"x5" tablet.

Paula Sanders ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 02 March 2005

I cannot really answer your question definatively. I have used different Wacom tablets over the years and have not found differents in sensitivity to inhibit my work. I think pressure sensitivity depends in part on the user. Some people naturally press heavily. Even though one can set the tablet for how one uses the pen, I would think that pressure sensitivity is also relative. Why not go on zbrushcentral and ask this question? I did a search under "Wacom forums" and found a few. I hope this is helpful. maybe some others will respond also. Paula

fuaho ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 03 March 2005

Acadia, As you don't specify your operating system or computer hardware, it is difficult to pin down, but it sounds like you were having an IRQ conflict - possibly modem or mouse. I have a 4x5 Wacom that is so old it doesn't even have a name on it, but I've used it successfully for years. Present hardware is a 2.4 GHz P4 with a 20" monitor and the only difficulty I have is that occasionally it "sticks" a little before moving when I'm zoomed in to 300 or 400 percent in PhotoShop. Many times, there are programs running in the background, such as "Drag-to-Disk" CD burners or keyboard utilities that can severely impact the operations of other software like ProTools, the Avid, Poser, etc. You might want to get that tablet out of the closet and give it a second try. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ <')#^#<< _____________________________________________

stephen_tacoma_wa ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 03 March 2005

I have asked at ZBC and will be patient for a few days so I can get more opinions. Thanks for your honest well written answer as well as your informative article. I look forward to others.

Acadia ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 03 March 2005

My system is a Pentium 3, 1 gig, with a Rage Fury Pro/Xpert 2000 Pro graphic card. I was running Windows 98SE. I switched to Windows 2000 a year ago, and still had the same problem. The tablet was given to me by a friend who used it for a short while and he warned me in advance of how it would just up and stop working on him, and what he had to do in order to get it back up and running again. His system was Windows 98SE, but he was running a different processor and thought there might be an incompatibility issue with his system. My system was different than his and I had the same problem with the tablet as well. I called Wacom and they spent a good 45 minutes on the phone with me getting me hooked up with new software, new drivers and helping with the set up; none of that helped. That experience has left me with a bad taste in my mouth were tablets are concerned.

stephen_tacoma_wa ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 04 March 2005

All told I have recieved ten responces. I Just placed an order for the Wacom Graphire 3 4"x5" via NewEgg. My reasoning is that even if I do decide shortly that I want to upgrade to a Intuos and or a larger tablet model, all the Wacoms hold their resale value so very well that I can always get most of this purchace price back via eBay. And at half the price of the Intuos 3, the Graphire 3 will still be giving me a heck of a lot of bang for the buck in the mean time. Thanks for the help.

fetter ( posted at 12:00AM Sat, 05 March 2005

At the risk of sounding heretical, I use an AIPTEK 6x8" tablet and it works acceptably with Photoshop 7. Would love to have the big Wacom, but then I'd like a BMW M5, too! If price is a consideration the AIPTEK isn't a bad choice.

fractalartist01 ( posted at 12:00AM Sun, 06 March 2005

Dear Paula, I stumbled upon this review totally by accident today and just want to say THANKS to you and also to all who have voiced their opinions on this product and similar ones! I have never owned a tablet and have been wanting to buy one since Christmas. Since I have never used one before and don't know anyone else who has, I have been searching all over the internet for reviews/opinions, in order to make a more informed choice. Thank you very much for more help on one page than I have been able to find in total online in the past three months!! :) fractalartist01

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