Is a Graphics Tablet Worth It?

I’m thinking about getting a graphics tablet to use with Blender. Would it be better as opposed to, say, a regular mouse? What are some of the things I can do with a graphics tablet compared to a mouse?
Also, I’m wondering if there’s one compatible with Linux. Any of you (smart ;)) Linux guys use one you like?

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I think it is better in the sense that you can use pressure sensitivity for the Sculpt mode, and possibly that you can benefit from not having your hand in a prone position all the time. As far as it goes, a tablet and pen are more likely to feel comfortable when painting in the uv image editor or in Texture Paint mode in 3d space, as well as be of benefit in Gimp or other image editing programs.

A wacom replaces a mouse in a second.

With the pen you have a higher smooth draw ability
then with the rather sluggish mouse.

I would not go with an expensive version.
I think a Bamboo can be already enough.

There is a linux port of wacom drivers here:

I use a Graphire 2 (I think it’s now Bamboo), and really like it, but I don’t use it in Blender for anything but texture paint. A mouse still feels more comfortable for pushing verts and bones.

I would hate to have to draw or paint without a tablet though.

The drivers that came already installed with Debian have been fine for me, as long as xorg.conf is properly configured.

Wacom Intous A4+ here.

I mostly use a mouse in Blender for modelling, animation etc.
I am just faster - I use it though for sculpting, weighting and texture painting.
Also use it in myPaint, GIMP and Sculptris, sometimes with InkScape.
I also got the 4D mouse, which is able to track rotation on the tablet and got 4 topbuttons, but I barely use it.

For me an artpad replaces nothing completely, it is an additional tool in my bag.
Where I am technical I use the mouse, where I am more artistic and would use pencil and paper I use stylus and tablet.

Also never had any problems with Linux, had 3 tablets before the Wacom, all worked with the Linux Wacom Project, however I could kick my own podex for wasing money on other tablets and not getting a Wacom right away. What you pay double you´ll get back tenth in quality.

I recently have issues with my Wacom after a Kernel update in Ubuntu 10.04. I get around this by running a script I wrote to disable the Wacom buttons which otherwise currently lock my cursor up, forcing me to cold boot (hold in the power button). So I have a work around, but yes, there can be issues.

A tablet is pretty much essential if you’re wanting to do ay 2D sketching or painting. You don’t have to go top of the line, but I wouldn’t go less than a Wacom; these are pressure sensitive and don’t require batteries like other cheap brands.

I use the cheapest wacom i could find (and smallest). On previous versions of Ubuntu Linux (before 10.04), i had to manually compile the driver (a specific version that supported those Bamboo tablets)… but now with a newer driver included, it supports those by default.


I upgraded from a really old wacom wich I think was some pre-bamboo model, to the Intuos4 last spring, and I’m loving it.
I went for the smallest version, and it fits me perfectly. I’ve been using a graphire A4 now and then at work, but to me, it simply feels far too big. I think I get better control on the small one, and I don’t have to move my hand that much, so less strain on the wrist in that way too. It is rather expensive though, but you get what you pay for. The weight of the pen and the feel of the tip and drawingboard friction is like they say the <3.

In Blender I -never- use it for modelling etc. as you have so much more control with a mouse. But for sculpting and texture-work it is absolutely brilliant.

I’d advice you though, as already mentioned to try out one of the bamboo models, as they are cheaper, and also you really don’t need all of the features on an intuos (thinking of the extra buttons and wheel, since having a hand on the keyboard gives you access to anything you need shortcutwise in Blender atleast.)
And try out the difference on sizes. imo less is more. A4 is too big for me when working on screen, but when I draw on paper I gladly go all the way up to A2, so… there is a difference between the connection with hand-pad-screen-eye VS hand-paper-eye.
hope that made sense somehow. :slight_smile:

Most people at my department (i work in an Advertising Agency) demand the biggest tablet they can find, only to end using the mouse mode… What’s the point in owning an A2 tablet if you’ll be using only the down-left corner?

I use a cheap waccom pen tablet i picked up for about $69 last christmas and i love it for sculpting. Like others i still heavilly use my mouse for most modelling and what not but i enjoy having the tablet

I use NumPad and other right-hand keys a lot and it is not that easy to switch keyboard-pen than keyboard-mouse. So I use pen only when my wrist is painful.

I got one of the Wacom Intuos 3 tablets and I could never seem to get used to it.
What I found is either you love it because you have no problem looking at the screen
and using the pen at the same time or you don’t like it (like me) because it feels
awkward not being able to see what or where you are drawing on the pad because
your looking at the Monitor.

Now the Cintiq 21UX is what I want however it’s kind of big at 1600 x 1200 pixels
and the $2,000 price tag is out of my league.

If you do get one go for the Intuos4 Medium.

Completely worth, after a little bit of a learning curve, and getting used to pressing the SHIFT button more to slow objects speed, it is really worth it. You have to set up blender to Emulate 3 Button Mouse, then you use ALT to rotate, ALT+SHIFT to pan, so on so forth, but I love my pen, I use it as much as a program allows me. My one problem I have, is I haven’t set up proportional editing tool to work with it properly, since I don’t have a scroll, I can’t ever change the size of the edit, and +/- buttons don’t work for it, only with the C button circle select. But completely worth getting.

I got a Wacom Bamboo:

But there is also the pen and touch, which might be pretty cool:

The little red piece on the end is for putting your pen in, a life savor, I would have lost mine a long time ago otherwise.

Whoah Inferno… those Amazon prices are seriously cheaper than what’s going in the stores… about 1/3rd of the store price!

If you’re starting out, get a Bamboo Pen. £49 mine was and I’ve never looked back, before the Wacom however, I had a Trust TB-7300 A4 Tablet and it was a nightmare, the nib wore out in 3 weeks and the replacements that came with it didn’t fit, on top of that it just felt horrid, so don’t be fooled by the size of a tablet or be lead into thinking you need a larger tablet.

As for 3D work with it, I only use mine for sculpting and painting, and the reason for this is you can get much more natural and fluid strokes with a Tablet. try writing and S with your mouse and then do it with a pen on some paper and you’ll see what I mean straight away.

** EDIT: I’ve had my Bamboo running under Ubuntu 10.10, it just takes a little bit of Terminal input, just like any other program really.

Yeah, I got mine through Amazon, and I’m glad I did, much cheaper, I love amazon for that reason, most stuff is way cheaper.

Went in to buy off Amazon (actually, my father wanted me to order one on his behalf to give as a present to one of my half sisters)… turns out they won’t ship Wacom out of US.

So looks like us Kiwis are stuck with $200 price for a simple Bamboo. :frowning:

Try it from or some other show within the european union.
It should be no problem to order it to New Zealand as long as the shop delivers.
I don´t know for your import laws, but export from EU is no problem. Neither is import to the EU, because “mobile data processing contraptions” where the keyword is mobile are tollfree, all that remains is the VAT (or the VAT difference)

The Bamboo Pen only is about ~45-50 Euro.

The page is in german but I am sure you know how to use google translate. Most shops ship worldwide, shipping fee on request.

Thanks. I tried that but ended up with them running me around to nowhere. After making out the order, phoning my dad to verify he was okay with the new price, filling in my mailing details all over again, I was so far into “the checkout” only to be greeted with…

Important Message
* Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch cannot be shipped to the selected address.
Obviously these important message people don’t think I’m an important customer. Goodbye Wacom purchase.

A Graphics Pad is a must.

I had a pad, a Waltop. It worked in Linux then it didn’t. I fixed it and then it got broke after the usual updates. But then It would not work at all. Well, the tip did but no buttons. i.e. the MMB. I tried in vain agian and again only to end up fixing it with a hammer to end my woes… How I wanted that Tablet to work.

With no pad, my issues are with the mouse-wheel, in particular, the middle mouse-wheel button. With my near new Logitec wireless one (M305), the button is hard to push and you tend to do a lot of that. And a lot more of that.

I think this is why my shoulder is getting sore after just a week back in Blender. The answer is to re-map the buttons.

But having a wireless joypad and using QjoyPad, I can map any button or mouse event to the joypad. Now I don’t have to push the MMB again!

I also mapped some common ones as 1/MMB, 2/G, 3/L Shift, and 4 is dot.
So I can use the four to grab, pan with shift + MMB (1 + 3), orbit wit 1 etc etc. I have others for menus but as I only thought of it and set it up yesterday I have to think about what I want mapped to what and where.

After one day and using it, not having to press that very hard Logitec MMB is a relief.

And you bet I’m getting another pad, I looked yesterday afternoon. Just the Small “Pen and Touch” for 160 will have to do.