12 Replies Latest reply on Apr 10, 2012 6:50 PM by bnies813

    Preferred for Photo Editing: Graphics Tablet or Mouse?

    bnies813 Level 1

      Hi Graphic Designers and Photoshop hobbyists. This past weekend, I bought a graphics tablet. However, I’m having a hard time seeing the benefits in this thing. For those that have tried it or use it, what are your thoughts? Do you think it was a good investment or do you prefer the good old-fashioned mouse? I would use it mainly for photo editing.


      I spend a lot of time on the computer for work and I thought this product would help protect my wrist in the long run. I occasionally wear a brace when my wrist starts to bother me.


      It’s starting to get easier to control my cursor on screen, but when I tried photo editing, it was annoying. The precise control wasn’t there. For instance, a mouse is on a flat surface and when I need a precise edit, I can anchor my fingers on the table to help move the mouse just that tiny bit that’s needed or just help steady the mouse. With the graphics tablet, I have to hoover the pen above the tablet and every movement in my hand, registers to the cursor on the screen and I couldn’t get the cursor to move just a miniscule amount because there was no way to fully steady the pen. I also had to keep leaning forward to access the CTRL or ALT keys on my keyboard. The other problem I had was that my wrist was actually starting to hurt. Although, that might have been due to how I was sitting, with the tablet in my lap – I don’t know.


      Maybe I’m rushing to learn this and not giving myself enough time to get used to it and see the benefits, but as of right now, I like the mouse SO much better and am considering returning this tablet. But I’d like to know if it’s worth keeping and maybe I just need to give myself some time to get used to it.


      I bought a Wacom Intuos 5.

        • 1. Re: Preferred for Photo Editing: Graphics Tablet or Mouse?
          Curt Y Level 7

          I have the same thoughts as you.  I became accustomed to using the mouse for editing and it works well in both right and left hand.  That way it spreads out the starin on any one wrist.


          I  have a Intuos 4 tablet which I have had for years.  I use it rarely, but it does seem a little more awkward than a mouse.  Always think it will provide more control and dissapointed when it does not.


          I am sure if I just stuck with it the pen would become mighter than the mouse.  But do not want to spend the time for the learing, as happy with mouse.


          That said we are a very small majority.   Almost everyone eles thinks the pad and pen are fantastic tools and they could not be productive without one.

          • 2. Re: Preferred for Photo Editing: Graphics Tablet or Mouse?
            Barry Hillyard Level 1

            I've used both mice and tablets over the years. I much prefer the tablet, not just for graphics work but for all other work.


            In particular I do on screen marking of examination papers and it's just like using a pen as in the pre computer marking days, much more intuitive than a mouse.


            I wouldn't be without the tablet now.

            • 3. Re: Preferred for Photo Editing: Graphics Tablet or Mouse?
              John Danek Level 4

              Count me as one of them.  I have been using the tablet since 1995 ( Wacom ).  You may want to take a look at some of the adjustments you can make to the sensitivity.  Production speed ( for me ) vs. the mouse is 3:1.  It takes some getting used to.  I wonder if the size of your 5 is too small.  I started with a 12x12 to match my screen size.  Manipulating anchor points in both Ps and Ai is much more accurate than using a mouse.  But, again, that's for me.  You may be different and if it's a hindrance, dump it and return to the mouse.

              • 4. Re: Preferred for Photo Editing: Graphics Tablet or Mouse?
                c.pfaffenbichler Level 9

                It took me a long time to get accustomed to the tablet and I maintain that for certain tasks the mouse is more convenient (for example hovering) but for image editing the tablet is quite simply a highly valuable tool in my opinion.


                I also had to keep leaning forward to access the CTRL or ALT keys on my keyboard.

                I more or less always have my left hand on the keyboard when working with the tablet, so having tablet and keyboard both on a table might help.

                Keeping the tablet in one’s lap seems a somewhat unconventional and peculiar choice …

                • 5. Re: Preferred for Photo Editing: Graphics Tablet or Mouse?
                  bnies813 Level 1

                  I look forward to more opinions, but from what I'm hearing so far, it sounds like it's going to take time to get used to, along with settings adjustments, which is why I wanted to get it while I was between projects, but after I bought it, two other projects came up.


                  My laptop has an 18.5 inch screen and the tablet is the small version. That was the only size the store had.


                  The tablet in the lap is not by choice. I use it for my freelance work so it gets used at home and my desk space is not very large. Although, as you bring that up, I thought of a possible way I could configure my workspace when using this.

                  • 6. Re: Preferred for Photo Editing: Graphics Tablet or Mouse?
                    the_wine_snob Level 9

                    For me, it's not even close. I have used a Wacom tablet from the days of the ArtZ II Serial, and would never go back.


                    The only question for me is, what size tablet to use? I like a larger tablet, and have a 4 x 6, that sees almost zero use. My others are 9 x 12's, or a 12 x 12. Now, I draw with my arm, not my fingers, and also do not work with the tablet in my lap, so the larger sizes work best for my uses. Others like the smaller tablets, as they draw with their fingers, or use the tablet in their lap.


                    I like the control of tilt and pressure, and use each often for my work.


                    That said, for general clicking and dragging, such as file management, or even click+dragging on Paths, I often grab my mouse - just not with anything related to "painting," such as building Masks, etc.


                    When I am too lazy to hook up a tablet to my laptop, and try to do even simple Masking with my mouse, I usually give up, just get one of the tablets and quit being so lazy...


                    At the end, it is all about what one is most comfortable with, and for me, it is the tablet, hands down.


                    Good luck,



                    • 7. Re: Preferred for Photo Editing: Graphics Tablet or Mouse?
                      JJMack Most Valuable Participant

                      I use the device the is best suited for what I'm doing.  The pointing device I use most often is the trackpoint on my ThinkPads.  One of my Tinkpad also has a touch pad and I have a Bluetooth mouse as well as a Intuos Tablet.  I never use the touch pad or the mouse.   In Photoshop when I use a brush type tool I always usethe intuos tablet with a pen never the intuos mouse.  On my desktop I use a wireless mouse most of the time but again in Photoshop I use an intuos 12" tablet with pen never the five button mouse. I also map the tablet as two tablets Wacom quickpoint option and when using Photoshop I only map the tabletit to the main display I edit images on.  This is also the case with my Thinkpads the 4x5 tablet is mapped to the Thinkpad 15" 1600x1200 IPS LCD the external display is not maped and is where I keep Photoshopts paletts.

                      • 8. Re: Preferred for Photo Editing: Graphics Tablet or Mouse?
                        Trevor.Dennis Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                        Might as well add my my two cents worth...


                        I used one of the original Graphires all the way through to when the Intuos4 came out, and have stuck with the Intuos4 since then.  I can't see myself changing it any time soon.


                        The Express keys and touch wheel on the Intuos, are helpful, although I use the wheel (for brush size) way more than the keys).   I only use the tablet for laying strokes on the image, and I always use a mouse for selecting tools etc.  I also prefer a mouse when using the Pen tool, or with Free Transform, because I don't like that uncertainty when you almost, but not quite, have the pen touching the tablet.


                        The rotate canvas feature that came in with CS4 (I think) is a huge help with the tablet.


                        JJMack - do you use the Display Toggle button on the tablet?  It toggles between covering a) both monitors, b) main monitor only, c) second monitor.  If anyone has an Intuos4 and does not use that feature, then they are wasting a bunch of tablet area (unless they use the pen to select tools).


                        A decent mouse is also a help, and adds to the pleasure of using Photoshop, as is a low friction mouse mat.  I use an MX Revolution, which is smooth as can be, and you soon start to rely on the extra buttons, and miss them when using someone else's system with a standard mouse.


                        I also have a ShuttlePro V2 which apparently has some function in Photoshop, but I never ever use it as such (Only with Premiere Pro).  I just had a play with it to see if I could make any sense of it in Photoshop, and I am sure it would slow me down rather than be a help.  But if you get CS6 and use it for video, the Shuttlepro is only $90 and about as useful with video, as a tablet it is with Photoshop.

                        • 9. Re: Preferred for Photo Editing: Graphics Tablet or Mouse?
                          Hobotor Level 3

                          I use both. I prefer the pen when working with brushes/stamp/ etc , as I have mapped the increase and decrease brush size keys to the buttons on the pen.  For selections or selecting a tool from the palet,  I often use the mouse. As others stated before, the size of your tablet is important. If it's too small, it can be hard to control small movements without zooming in a lot.

                          All in all, I wouldn't ditch either as I use them simultaneously.

                          • 10. Re: Preferred for Photo Editing: Graphics Tablet or Mouse?
                            JJMack Most Valuable Participant

                            My intuos are old they do not have the buttons and wheel. Intuos 1 and intuos 2 i see no reason to upgrade to the newer ones. The Intuos 5 does look good though. I map the display for the Photoshop application in the wacom applet it switches to single display when Photoshop is active. I could just always map to the one display for I do not use the Pen for anything other then Photoshop Brush type tools. Many tools are brush like. Eraser, Clone stamp, quick  selection ect.  I don't thinl I could work well on a layer mask without a pen.  As I wrote the device I use most often is the Trackpoint,  wish all keybords had one.

                            • 11. Re: Preferred for Photo Editing: Graphics Tablet or Mouse?
                              pf22 Level 2

                              I use both... well, I use a medium Wacom and a trackball... can't stand all that pushin' and shovin' that goes on with a mouse! LOL!


                              Although the tablet can be used in both "Pen" and "Mouse" modes, I really only use it in "Pen" mode whilst I'm Photoshopping; I do a LOT of masking, and the drawing action with the tablet is so quick and so natural it's a real joy to do. Similarly when cleaning up a portrait, getting rid of spots/blemishes, softening lines/creases etc, I find the tablet to be a much quicker, natural, and more precise way to work.


                              I've been using the Wacom for a couple of years now, and quite frankly I simply couldn't image going back to just using my trackball.

                              • 12. Re: Preferred for Photo Editing: Graphics Tablet or Mouse?
                                bnies813 Level 1

                                Thanks EVERYONE for their input. I adjusted the placement of the tablet. I rearranged my workspace and placed is where my mouse is. It was instantly so much easier to use. However, I still wasn't finding the benefit in this until I had to do some very detailed photo editing. I had to clean up an image, between words, and I can't say the tablet was easier than the mouse (at least yet), but it was smoother and a lot more comfortable. With the mouse, I noticed a lot of jerking of the cursor because I was pushing down trying to keep my mouse steady in the small space. I also noticed a difference in the way my wrist felt. My wrist bothered me (almost hurt) after detailed photo editing, when using a mouse. It didn't bother me after the pen and tablet.


                                Someone had mentioned that I may be using too small a size. After I became comfortable with the table, I realized I do have too small a size. I constantly was having to reposition.


                                In the end, I can't say I like it better than the mouse, but in all fairness, I haven't had much time to give the pen and tablet much of a try. However, what I can say is that I see the benefit of it protecting my wrist and protecting me from carpel tunnel in the long wrong. It's expensive, but I think it's worth the investment.


                                Thanks again everyone. Without your input, I would probably still be using this in my lap and would end up not wanting to keep this.