First Impression of Intuos 4

Last weekend I finally decided to splurge on an Intuos 4 digital drawing tablet. I had purchased a Wacom Graphire Tablet ages ago and continued using that for years (over eight years to be precise). The Graphire served me well and I used it on both my Mac and the PC successfully for quite some time with relatively good results. Of course, I didn't know what I was missing. Those $99 definitely went a long way.

I did quite a bit of research before settling on the Intuos 4 Medium. While the Cintiq offered unparalleled freedom and flawless hand/eye coordination (you draw directly on the screen) I decided against it as it would void my gorgeous 30" Apple Cinema Display. Who needs that? Four million pixels of goodness is the way I roll.

The packaging on this product was very impressive. Wacom has certainly done a great job rebranding themselves. One of the very first things I noticed was the pen holder. It might not sound like much but upon closer inspection it opened up to hold many different nibs for the stylus. Different strokes for different folks! It was nice and sturdy too, weighted at the bottom. The Graphire pen was always all over the place and often rested on the pad causing my mouse to jump around the screen. The pen holder was definitely an improvement! The tablet also comes with a mouse but I doubt anyone uses it to be honest. I know I probably won't be.

It was nice to see that with the purchase of the product Wacom also provided Photoshop Elements as well as two additional software suites for free download. I went with Autodesk Sketchbook and Corel Painter Sketch Pad. These programs are very easy to use and very fast to doodle on.

The tablet is built for both right handed and left handed users, as the interface flips vertically to accommodate both. The zoom wheel is truly fantastic, I can't say enough. It's tedious to go back and forth to the zoom tool when drawing, this makes it truly easy. I was amazed at the levels of pressure the tablet captures (over 2000) and that is serious creative power. I tend to use smaller brushes for very detailed work on my digital paintings such as hair or drapery folds and this sensitivity becomes crucial. I have yet to play with the express keys (which are illuminated) and set them all up but all in due time.

I chose the medium size because of my the space available to me at my desk. I have two monitors and two keyboards (yes I have a Mac and a PC) as well as assorted other things like phones, speakers, a WiFi rabbit (Nabaztag - more on this later) and the larger drawing tablet would have been too large to comfortably work on. The thin design is light and easy on the wrist. Very comfortable and easy to port to my lap. I tend to sort of sit with indian style and I often don't like to keep the tablet flat so this was important.

Overall I am extremely happy with it and I'm in the process of painting a new fantasy piece. The image shown here is nowhere near finished I'm posting it only so you can see what I'm up to so far. Soon I will be trying out the pen with my 3D rendering software as well as with Painter 11. So far I've only been working in Photoshop. At a $349 price tag this tablet is not cheap but it is worth it. Switching between stylus and mouse is also good for minimizing wrist strain. Highly recommended.

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