Wacom Tablet or Mouse?

Maybe I can paint?

Yesterday on Facebook  a friend of mine asked the question “How many friends use a Wacom Tablet for Post Photo work?  What do you think of it and does the Wacom make Post Photo work easier to do than a mouse?”

Some of the answers were:

“Absolutely use a tablet! You’ll wonder how you ever used a mouse before.”

“I have one, but I ended up with my mouse. I have spent so much time with a mouse, I just couldn’t make the transition.”

“I have been using one for years. Love it. Can’t work without it!”

“I have one but I am finding it very very hard to not use the mouse, I have been using it for so long.”

My answer was “A Mouse! I can’t draw a straight line with a pen and my handwriting looks like chicken chicken scratch! However I really good using a mouse.” Now while I don’t use a tablet, I know many people who do use them and they swear by it. If I were to use a tablet, I would probably just swear at that it.

That got me thinking about my attempts at drawing and painting with paper, pens, pencils, paints etc. My experience with that medium has been pretty much a complete disaster, going all the way back to elementary school. I have always been able to see in my mind what I wanted to create, but my eye-hand coordination just wouldn’t co-operate.  I have always wanted to be able to paint and draw, and you know what now with my mouse and Photoshop, I can!


So what do you use for Post Photo work : Wacom Tablet or Mouse?



Here are some of the comments from my Facebook friends.

Steph K: “ Yeah, buy one :-)”

Andrew K: “ Wacom tablet by far! After using a tablet a mouse feels like you are using a brick!”

Rob S: “ You don’t have to give up the mouse though. Tablet on the left, mouse on the right, keyboard in the middle. :)”

Rich G: “ I am right handed so I use tablet on right but honestly after a few weeks a mouse will feel like you are cheating poorly on your hand! You will regret grabbing the mouse.. I have an original Intuos 9×12 purchased in 2002 or so…I hardly use it now due to the fact I have little real estate for it at my new house. I think it’s time for a 5 Medium, not only that but my arm gets tired from having to move so much on the 9×12. Got to check and see if the older pads can be mapped smaller, large would be good for dual monitors with mapping 50% of the pad to each screen.”

Andrew K: “ Just ordered the Intous5 Medium. Have always used the Medium size. Tried out the Small but felt too restrictive.”

Steph K: “I have the small Intuos5 and LOVE it!! I had a Intuos4 Medium previously. BTW LOVE LOVE LOVE the hand gestures that you can set up…….. very cool.”

David L: “I just started using a Wacom bamboo capture pen/touch and I love it. My workflow has been sped up and I find myself switching to touch and have gotten rid of my mouse all together. Getting my tablet was the best thing I did. I will eventually upgrade to the intuos as I didn’t have the money which is why I got the capture. The capture is great but you don’t have as many options as you do with the upper end Wacom’s. Having a few more preset button would be nice.”

Roger W: “Using an Intuous 4 wireless – great!”

Stan K:  “Tablet -it’s faster and more precise- for Photoshop manipulations and heavy edits. -Mouse-for adjustments in Lightroom .”

Gilles V: “I love my Cintiq 12″, great for detail work.”

David P: “ I use both: the tablet (Intuous2, 6×8) for anything where I’m using a brush (e.g. masking, dodging/burning, etc.); for pretty much everything else I use the mouse.”

Barry F: “I tried to comment on the blog but got blocked. I’m in the tried to but can’t draw a straight line camp. So I have one but use the mouse. Not as well as you but I’m working on it.”

Garry Black:  “Barry all the comments on the blog have to be moderated, or else there is a ton of SPAM comments. So when you post a comment, it won’t show up for a little while.If you are using a mouse the size/shape is important, I spent ages trying many different styles before settling on a Logitech MX700, which has now been discontinued.”

Sheila R: “I love the tracPad, have barely touched a mouse since it came out. I use Intuos4wireless when editing.”

Tom B: “ I’m the same with the mouse. I’m just used to it.”

Barry T: “I just adjust my hand to fit – I did find it’s like driving (years ago) my race car, you have to look where you want to go not where you are.”


Carol N: “ I could not live without my Wacom! For detail-editing work, and for building photo-composites. As I can spend hours doing work of that perfectionist nature, I cannot imagine using a mouse… when I do my hand takes a beating! Some folks get a tablet that is too big… I have a huge one in one location and a smaller one in another… the big one is great for motions like drawing. For photo-retouching the small one is just fine… somewhat mores scrolling, that`s all.”

Barry T: “ Carol what is smaller in inches?”

Carol N: “ my smaller tablet = working area 6.5 x 8.8.25 inches. Large one is twice as big (at least 14 W), good for larger arm movements.”



5 Responses to “Wacom Tablet or Mouse?”

  1. David Pollard says:

    I use both: the tablet for anything where I’m using a brush (e.g. masking, dodging/burning, etc.); for pretty much everything else I use the mouse.

  2. Scott Valentine says:

    Tablet, without a doubt. And I can’t draw to save my life. But I don’t usually draw or do straight painting in Photoshop, anyway. The tools I use are far more forgiving, but you do get used to the more natural feel with a tablet so it’s a win-win.

    In the last year, I’ve pretty much used a laptop only, so there’s the tiny trackpad and my Wacom. It’s a rare time indeed when the tablet is not plugged in.

  3. Terry Babij says:

    Garry i have been using a Wacom Tablets for several years. Have a medium Intous3 and now that I have seen the power of the Intous5 I believe this device is tops. For much of the editing I do the pen and tablet ate the main tools. I not like the pen buttons on for right and left click. In Lightroom when you want to take an image into Topaz or Photoshop for editing. I have to pick up the mouse and right click and open the image. I find the hand to eye is better using pen over a mouse and creating masks is now easier with the pen. Straight lines are simple hold the shift key and drag.

    A tip after having issues in Topaz was I could not edit or make changes because Topaz knew i had a tablet and needed input from thew pen and not the mouse!

    After seeing a demonstration video from Europe online for the 5 I think this is the answer. Your finger is now the mouse and it recognizes the number of fingers on the pad and gestures! Very much like working on an iPad. You can program gestures for specific hot keys or keystroke shortcuts.

  4. A.J. Wood says:

    Garry – the thing to understand about a pen tablet is it’s not a mouse. It’s been my experience that folks who jump into using a Wacom expecting to be as proficient are immediately disappointed, which leads to frustration and inevitably going back to the mouse.

    A pen tablet will require some adjustments and getting used to the nuances it provides over a mouse. It will require practice, which is a challenge for some. I can tell you that the benefits of using a pen tablet far exceed the challenges of learning how to use one.

  5. anselm smith says:

    I use both. The wacom tablet for when i use the brush tool, editing a mask, and work like that.
    I use the mouse for cutting clipping paths, and the other tools that does not require brushing or any drawing.