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Artistic Review - Wacom Bamboo "Fun" Tablet

When I chose to re-join the artistic community a few months ago as a Art Director behind the Trese Brother's Software's creative vision, I was faced with a steep learning curve. I had never used a tablet before, and had only junior experience and exposure to digital painting, Photoshop, and the whole lot.

Obviously, to start, I new that I needed a Wacom tablet. The brand name seems synonymous with a digital artist's workspace, and the only brand I knew. Everyone has one--I should get one too! They are not prohibitively expensive, but they do run into the hundreds of dollars.

As a constant traveler, I knew I needed something small. As a constant traveler, I needed something durable. And since few computer parts are truly durable, and I had never used Wacom before, I wanted something cheap. Because, I knew I was pretty likely break it within 6 months of buying it, I choose the Bamboo tablet from Wacom. Its small, has a very limited feature set, supports a limited amount of sensitivity, and generally does not stack up to the other tablets.

However, I would highly recommend the Bamboo to myself. Because of my travel, because of my hard demands on hardware, and because of my burgeoning level artistic talent, it was perfect for me. The tablet has been all across the US, to Europe and back, has scars and scratches around its edges, and is still as good as new.

So, in summary:
  • Its tough
  • Its cheap
  • Its tiny (and portable)
  • It gets the job done, even if it doesn't have all the extra features and power


  1. I also bought a similar wacom bamboo a while back but due to lack of inspiration and motivation my aspirations to learn drawing is on hold right now. Two questions.

    How do you go about finding the motivation to draw(on the wacom or otherwise) and/or inspiration when it is lacking.

    Any general usage tips for using the wacom bamboo?

  2. Joel,

    The Wacom has no additional features that I have used. I do not use the mouse, I keep my Wacom pen capped with the cap from a sharpie (for travel), and I have never used a single one of the "shortcut" buttons on the top. Its a point and paint device for me, which I appreciate.

    One suggestion I would give is--use it all the time. Your accuracy goes up the more you use it (for drawing or for normal computer usage). I no longer use my mouse if I can avoid it, and just use my Wacom. I am a sharp-shooter with it now, and can do all computer tasks faster with it than a mouse. And, its great cross-training for art.

    For motivational advice, it takes a heavy dose of the following to keep me going:

    1. Be complementary and nice to yourself. You are not an amazing artist yet, but in training. Congratulate and laud small victories.

    2. Get a project! Find something to be working on, even if its a set of images you want to put together. Projects are good because they set goals and timelines, so if you don't have a project on hand, set some concrete goals.

    3. Use real images and photographs. A lot of painting training that I do involves finding a cool looking image, bringing it into Photoshop and then re-painting it in another document right next to the real one. I end up with the two images sitting right next to each other and see how close I can get them.

    I hope this helps!

  3. Thanks for the help. Ive not hardly drawn anything for ages but I'll try to get into it again and when I did I was mostly focused on drawing female faces.

    Some better than others.

  4. Joel,

    Cool work! Its definitely good to keep a single subject or topic repetitively until you feel good about it. One of the things I did heavily when I started (and still do) is read tutorials, and use other people's guides to techniques down.

    Here are the two places I started, and have grown from there to a wide variety of tutorials, videos, etc:

    How to Draw Fantasy -- simple artwork with good results, and very simple places to start. Wisely starts with simple roughed-out drawings of anatomy-shapes and then fills in the details.

    Soft Cell Shading Tutorial -- awesome advice for adding simple color to works.

  5. Thanks for the links. I have been reading alot of tutorials and watching youtube videos (jay french is one of my favorites). I did try drawing a rose and coloring it with watercolors for valentines, it was my first attempt at using watercolors since.. well.. highschool or something, but it turned out quite nice, not like I had hoped though. The important thing was that my fiancee loved it.

    Gonna try to sit down for an hour or two when I get back from work tonight and try to get back to the drawing, perhaps try it on the computer. The dream still lives :)

  6. I just got a used Wacom Graphire 4, and I'm having a hell of a time with it. The problem for me isn't the tablet, but Photoshop. I HATE Photoshop.

    Got a recommendation for an art program that would work better for fantasy art than Photoshop? I'd be really grateful for the recommendation. You can see some of my art at my serial novel site

    I do illustrations for my story in pen and ink, and really want to up my game on the colorizing.

    Thanks a bunch!

  7. CT,

    Thanks for sharing the link to your work and your experience with Wacom. I agree-their products are awesome.

    What don't you like about Photoshop? Ever tried Gimp? I remember it back from my Linux days as pretty competitive.

  8. My problem with Photoshop is that I'm a complete and total technical dud. It's confusing and I haven't been able to make much progress just playing with it... even WITH documentation!

    I'm either going to have to pay to take a class, or just give up and find something easier to use.

    I've never tried Gimp, but I was giving it the eyeball pretty hard last night. I might give it a whirl.

    I usually do pencil roughs, then ink them with a tech pen. Then, I scan them in. I used to colorize them with colored pencils or markers (like on my site) but really want an upgraded look. I've had a few people approach me about doing custom character portraits- I sketch when I'm at D&D, and usually do free character portraits for the whole party- and I want a better solution for color that I currently have.

    Thanks for the input! I'm sure glad someone responded!

  9. A response is all buy ensured if you contact us. =)

    Photoshop is an incredibly dense application. I am a big fan of Photoshop, and use it constantly, but at the same time I realize I know only a fraction of it's full scope.

    My suggestion is to take it one tool at a time -- and don't use anything that you haven't researched. I started by reading about pencil and just using that tool for like a few days before I moved on to pencil AND paintbrush =)

  10. CT,

    I'd second Cory's suggestion. As a learner in PS right now, I am tackling tools and filters slowly. Its a lot to learn out of the gate, and even after 6 months of solid use, I find that 90% of my time is still in a few simple, specific tools (brush, erase, pencil, edit -> transform, and burn).

    Two major tips:
    1. Try using a brush, and playing with the opacity and color to draw a surface that is shaded (face, etc).
    2. Key-board shortcuts... you MUST use them.
    -> 1-9, 0 - changes opacity from 10%-90%, 100%
    -> b, o, e, i, w, etc - selecting different tools


  11. Well, I tried downloading Gimp, and i couldn't get it to install. Not sure what's going on. Did I mention I'm not at all technically oriented? ;)

    Photoshop. It's so intimidating. I can't even figure out which tools are which most of the time.

    I have good intentions, but don't have the skills to pull this off... and I'm getting pretty frustrated with my experience thus far. I'd hate to end up with equipment I can't figure out.

  12. CT,

    Let me just encourage you to keep trying. I was frustrated with PS as a new user as well, but (being a little technically savvy), came to love it quickly.

    Try just brush (b) and eraser (e) and try painting something. Using 50% opacity, and some different shades of color. You'll be in love in no time.

  13. Yep, I have NO idea how to do what you just suggested.

    I'm having a hard time just telling which tools are which, much less adjusting things with them.

    Wish I could get this Gimp thing to load.

    One of my friends told me to check out the one on Deviant Art too.

    So many choices, so little technical ability to make them work... :P

  14. You should check out some tutorial video, like this one, on YouTube:

    That way you can learn what things are called, makes the blogs, manual, etc more useful IMO.


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