I have been using a 6×8 Wacom Intuos3 for the past 4 months, and can’t live without it. It has become a important tool in my Illustrator work. Not only is it more natural using the Wacom compared to a mouse, Illustrator has some tool features you can only use with a pen tablet. With some tools you can set how the tool responds to the Pressure, Stylus Wheel, Tilt, Bearing, and Rotation of the pen.
Before we get into which tools utilize the Wacom’s pen features, it is useful to know the definition of Illustrator’s options associated with the pen.
- Pressure: The amount of pressure applied to tablet by the pen.
- Stylus Wheel: The location of pressure on the touch strip.
- Tilt: The angle the pen is tilted.
- Bearing: The direction the pen is tilted.
- Rotation: The orientation of the pen around its long axis.
This is probably my favorite Illustrator tool that utilizes Wacom’s features. You can either create a new calligraphic brush from the Brush Panel or edit an existing one. To create a new calligraphic brush, press the New Brush button at the bottom of the Brush Panel and choose New Calligraphic Brush from the options. This will bring up the Calligraphic Brush Options. You can also access these options of an existing calligraphic brush by double clicking on the brush you want to edit in the Brush Panel.
You can set the Pressure, Stylus Wheel, Tilt, Bearing, and Rotation for the Calligraphic Brush’s Angle, Roundness, and Diameter. This is a great place to experiment with different setting to see what kind of line you can produce. I like setting the diameter to the same point value will using Pressure for the setting. This creates a brush that you can easily create hair, grass and swirls with.
Symbol Sprayer Tool
Within the Symbol Sprayer options you can set the sprayer intensity using the same pen options as the Calligraphic Brush. Double-click on the Symbol Sprayer Tool in the Tools Panel to bring up the Symbolism Tools Options. Changing the Intensity with the pen options will also change the Symbol Shifter, Scruncher, Sizer, Spinner, Stainer, Screener, and Styler Tool. Experiment with the different Symbol Sprayer Tools to get different effects. Using the pen feature will gives a more natural variance in the Symbol Sprayer rather than the static default Intensity. Below is a simple example of using all the Symbol Sprayer Tools.
The Eraser Tool uses the same options as the Calligraphic Brush Options. You can create the same kind of line and effects as the Calligraphic Brush, but in reverse. I experiment with the Eraser Tool all the time. It helps train your mind to look at Illustrator elements differently. Below is an simple example.
The Liquify Tools (located on the Tools Panel) can utilize pen pressure. The Liquify Tool includes the: Warp, Twirl, Pucker, Bloat, Scallop, Crystallize, and Wrinkle tools. If you double-click on a particular Liquify Tool it will bring up the options for that tool. Under the option you can check the option for using pen pressure.
Get a Wacom
If you don’t have a Wacom yet, maybe some of these features will inspire you to get one. You can also enter a drawing from the folks over at SnapVillage for a Wacom Cintiq 21UX. Entering the drawing is open to anyone in the US, UK, Canada, Germany and France. All you have to do is fill out a short entry form. Good luck!