Tablets and Blender

Hello all! I am fairly new to Blender and am interested in how a tablet can work with Blender. I know people that can draw well and would like to use a tablet with Blender to draw help make their drawings 3D. Also, I and a few people are interested in how tablets work with sculpt mode. Could you please describe how they work and if there are any requirements for the tablet that we use? Also, can any of you recommend a specific brand or model of tablet to use?

Thanks a bunch!
-M

Hi

This relates to a question I have been meaning to ask for a while.

To answer your question, currently, there is tablet pressure support in both the sculpt tools and the texture paint tools, both of which are very useful. For the texture paint (UV/Image editor), go to properties and open the paint tools window. The little “p” buttons next to opacity, size etc toggles pressure sensitivity.

For sculpt, go the the menu that appears in the 3D window header when sculpt mode is turned on. There you will find “Input devices” and there you can choose how the size of the brush and the strength of sculpt is determined by pressure sensitivity.

My tablet is a Graphire II and is meant to work with Blender immediately. It does when my tablet drivers are working but that is a seperate issue entirely.

Now for my question, in one of the test builds there is a tablet feature allowing you to control all blender sliders with pressure sensitivity - light touches will allow more sensitive input than when more pressure is applied. As this feature implies tablets are being used instead of a mouse in Blender, what I want to know is how do people do this? Blender’s interface requires one hand on the mouse and one on the keyboard but I find it hard to work with both on my desk simultaneously - the tablet takes up too much space. Are people able to use the tablet with a hand on the keyboard comfortably?

Koba

Hi, I implemented that feature (though it’s temporarily disabled now), and yes these days I do use a tablet instead of a mouse. I find it far less straining on my fingers.

I just have the tablet sitting in front of my keyboard (closer to me) and I can work fine that way with two hands. For many things like compositing I don’t even need to use my left hand on the keyboard that much anyway.

I’m also interested in implement pressure sensitivity for other things in Blender, but need ideas. One thing on my list is to scale the size of the ‘brush select’ circle with pressure, but I’m sure there are plenty of other innovative ways we can integrate this extra depth of interaction in the UI that are yet to be found!

Thanks for the info broken and great work on the features you are adding!

I just tried using my tablet again with Blender. The thing that annoyed me was how every time I tried to right click with the stylus I would go into move mode. Of course the solution is to use left click select.

The biggest issue that still remains is zooming and general scroll button usage (my stylus has no scroll functionality). I was going to see if mapping one of the tablet buttons to MMB would help but my tablet drivers are kaput.

If I get zoom working then yes, scaling the brush select circle by pressure would indeed make a tablet more useful than a mouse!

Koba

I got a question too :slight_smile: But its kind off-topic:

I have seen on the internet how the professionals uses a tablet to add/make special effects to their movie. How and what do they do? And Why I a tablet better than a mouse to do that?
Hope You got a answer :O…

Yeah, it’s almost impossible to use a tablet in Blender with RMB select. The stupid problem here is that painting and sculpting need LMB select. This really needs to be fixed up in a much better way.

The biggest issue that still remains is zooming and general scroll button usage (my stylus has no scroll functionality). I was going to see if mapping one of the tablet buttons to MMB would help but my tablet drivers are kaput.

Yep, it’s just about essential to have the tablet driver set up for 3 button usage. I have LMB = tip, RMB = lower switch, MMB = upper switch. Life will be quite difficult without that.

As for zooming, I’ve also been experimenting at work with a new way of zooming, which I’ve stolen from Fusion, a compositing app I’ve been using lately. Basically, MMB pans/rotates, and MMB+LMB zooms. This works extremely nicely with a tablet since it means you can just hold the MMB switch to rotate, and then press down on the surface to zoom. It lets you have two different operations with just one hand, which is much nicer than having to press Shift or Ctrl, and it feels very gestural. I need to finish up getting this working, I’m just busy :slight_smile:

I have seen on the internet how the professionals uses a tablet to add/make special effects to their movie. How and what do they do? And Why I a tablet better than a mouse to do that?

A tablet is just like a mouse, you move the pen over the surface to control the mouse pointer, and press down to click, so the people you’re imagining are just using any kind of software app, but controlling it with a different input device. There are quite a few advantages to using a tablet, some of the main ones are: it puts less strain on your fingers than a mouse, it’s a lot easier for tasks like painting, drawing or sculpting (especially if you have experience drawing in traditional media), and most tablets have pressure sensitivity, where you can do things like vary the intensity or size of a paint stroke based on how hard you’re pressing against the surface.

  1. Tablets let you hold your pointing device like your instrument of choice–pen, pencil, paintbrush–in whatever position you choose–pen-style, overhand, underhand. This allows for greater speed and accuracy, and usually makes it a lot easier to work in finicky details and light touches, etc. A mouse does absolutely none of this, ever tried drawing with a mouse?

  2. Pressure sensitivity. Lets you lighten your lines or make them heavier and thicker. Great for working expression into pen strokes.

This is just an addition, but wacom sells an ‘art pen’. Which also picks up the barrel rotation and tilt of the pen, and takes those into account. If you have a program like Painter–which synthesizes real media–these options are great.

EDIT: Broken beat me. Shifty beggar. :stuck_out_tongue:

Actually all of the Wacom Intuos series (and perhaps some others by other manufacturers) have tilt sensitivity, though not rotation. Tilt data is supported in Blender’s tablet code, just no tools are currently taking advantage of it (yet?). Here are some fun experiments demonstrating the pressure and tilt support that I made with the game engine :slight_smile:


So far as I understand, the Intuos has both, but the default pen doesn’t relay the data back. The art pen has the additional components and the data capacity. Also, sweet. I’ll have to try these.

Well, yeah, the extra art pen has rotation info, but the default pen that comes with the Intuos most definitely has tilt sensitivity. In those videos you’re looking at my Intuos 2 that I got in 2001, and they certainly haven’t removed this capability in the Intuos 3 that I use at work :slight_smile:

Oh yeah, I just checked and it does. :stuck_out_tongue: That’d explain a couple things.

You have some great ideas broken!

MMB pans/rotates, and MMB+LMB zooms
Would love that! That said, in 3D mode pan and rotate aren’t the same. If you implemented such a mode make sure it is an option (default off) so not to bother people without tablets (goes without saying really).

Tips for using tablets:

  • I use “Click and Tap” option in my tablet drivers. I need to do a tap do send the command mapped by the pen’s side buttons. Also define the tablet area to your liking (I map about a quarter of my tablet area to the screen). This make things much easier.

  • Switch on the “Open on mouse over” option in the information window and reduce the times to open menus by hovering.

  • As already mentioned, switch on LMB select. Shame that this will require you to hold down your RMB button to sculpt though.

Actually all of the Wacom Intuos series (and perhaps some others by other manufacturers) have tilt sensitivity.

My tablet doesn’t support tilt. :frowning:
So get basic tablet functionality in before worrying about such additional features!

Koba

All of this discussion and nobody really answered the original question, tsk, tsk.

If you’re using Windows, you will need a tablet whose drivers conform to the WinTab specification. Most tablets seem to be fine, but I’ve seen reports of people who have ‘Genius’ tablets saying that theirs don’t work in Blender, since they have their own proprietary drivers, rather than using the standard WinTab interface, which is what Blender supports. On other OSes I would assume that this isn’t a problem.

In any case, I’d definitely recommend Wacom tablets. They really own the market, and for good reasons, they’re very nice pieces of kit. As for what model, it depends on how much you’re willing to spend, how seriously you’re intending to use it, and how far you want to be moving your arm around your desk.

As a mouse substitute I’d recommend at least an A5 sized tablet. I use an Intuos A5 wide since I have two monitors.

Does anybody have any experience with the really big Intuos3 tablets?

I’ve been considering getting one, either the 9x12 or the 12x19… but it would be quite an investment for me… and the 12x19 tablet is just over two feet wide, and almost seventeen inches deep. I’d almost certainly have to get a bigger computer table, but even with a bigger table, I can’t quite work out the ergonomics of how to use such a beast. Where in the world am I supposed to put my keyboard??? I suppose I’d have to put the keyboard at arm’s length when using the tablet, and then, I don’t know, just put the keyboard on top of the tablet when coding? Seriously, how the heck is this supposed to work!!! Is it a bigger problem with Blender due to the extensive use of hotkeys? Or does Blender work better with a smaller tablet in terms of ergonomics?

Any input appreciated…

Sarah

I’ve tried using the huge tablets and I just don’t like them. They’re nowhere near as easy to manipulate (can’t easily throw it on your lap, or rotate it for a different angle), there’s much less room for other things like keyboards, but the main thing I don’t like is having to move my arm so far around all the time - it just gets tiring and annoying using them. Especially if you’re using an interface that has buttons scattered all around the screen, you have to keep moving back and forth to hit them.

IMO, the sweet spot in tablet size is the humble A5 (6"x8" ?)

Out of curiosity (not pressuring) - any progress on tablet support, Broken?

I’m quite interested in the status of the project. Thanks.

Koba

I like using an 6x11 and I like it a crapload better than my previous one. I suppose I have less of a problem, though, because my keyboard is on a drawer, so I can get a bit of over-lap which lets me lean over my tablet like I’m using a piece of paper. I like the size, it’s comfortable for me and makes it easier to fit in details.

mmm I have an intuos III that works good on linux, at least for the gimp and inkscape, both handle pressure sensitivity just perfect.

So far I didn’t manage to get pressure sensitivity to work in blender, either in sculpt mode or texture paint.

Any succes story under linux ?

this is an old post BUTTTT, i have a bamboo fun, yes, its the second cheapest wacom but it works great with blender. no driver issues, it just goes in and works. even my crappy cheap wacom is the don. I actually cannot use blender without it and is the main reason I stopped using max. the only thing you can’t do (to my knowledge) is scale the edit size of proportional editing, but i always have my mouse next to my tablet so its not a problem to occasionally swap, this would apply to anything that uses the mouse wheel because on most tablet pens there is no mouse wheel but the time you save on everything else more tan makes up for this.

side point: i have always held a pen wrong but this means i am free to use multiple button on the side of my stylus, if i had listened to my teachers i would not be able to easily hit extra buttons