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The Hidden Manual – AaronWilliams.tv

Being relatively lively in the #postchat group on Twitter, I had heard a lot of people speak about utilizing Wacom tablets for post-production. I had seen the VFX and Flame artists at my internship with Zoic Studios use them a ton, but I didn’t understand how prevalent they have been outdoors of the VFX business. You’d be stunned by the number of folks that use them as their main “mouse”, particularly amongst editors, and perhaps not so stunned by mograph artists and colorists who use them. I had heard that they have been a very good in-between step before getting a full set of colour grading panels, that Wacom tablets helped scale back wrist and hand strain vs. a mouse or trackpad, and that you would be able to edit far more effectively – both in packages particularly designed for pill input like Smoke or Flame or – to an extent – Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Results, and in packages that aren’t designed for a pill.

My curiosity in getting one grew and grew, and ultimately I received my arms on my very personal Wacom pill: an Intuos Professional Giant. I dove in instantly, googling, studying blogs, and asking questions from associates on Twitter, but what I used to be really lacking was a “bootcamp” of types, to offer me sensible advice on what somebody felt worked or didn’t work when utilizing one for video production. Wacom had a number of video tutorials on methods to set one up for “editing”, nevertheless it was from the viewpoint of a graphic designer modifying in a display recording program, so it wasn’t really very sensible for knowledgeable editor.

What I’m going to do here is attempt my greatest to fill in that void: I’m going to put in writing concerning the issues I tried, what I experienced, what labored and what didn’t, what caught and what I by no means used.

Which One To Buy

My advice on which measurement to buy principally will depend on your monitor/pc setup:

  • For those who’re working on a laptop computer: Go for the small or the medium measurement. A laptop computer often has a relatively small display, and the small tablet works simply wonderful in that setup. It additionally matches easily in the laptop computer bag, doesn’t use a whole lot of desk area, and you only lose 2 buttons on the pill compared to the larger sizes. Should you just need extra room for detail, a medium will work as nicely, but don’t go giant; you’ll in all probability regret it.
  • For those who’re working on a single-monitor desktop: Go for the medium measurement. A single-monitor desktop usually has one giant display, so that you’ll respect the additional tablet area. It nonetheless matches properly in a bag, doesn’t use a huge quantity of desk area, and it really works nicely with a laptop in case you happen to have both. Truthfully, the medium is probably one of the best value and most usually useful of the three sizes.
  • When you’re working with a dual-monitor setup: Go together with the medium or giant measurement. With a medium, you is perhaps okay with spanning both screens throughout the whole pill, however you’ll in all probability want having one monitor mapped to the pill at a time and have a button assigned to modify between the screens. In case you go giant, you’ll be able to span each screens across the tablet easily and have plenty of pill space for tremendous detailed management. On the down aspect, it’s means too huge to fit in a laptop bag or a backpack (you’ll have to buy a separate carrying case for about $40 or so), and it takes up an unlimited amount of desk area.

Once I was buying my Wacom, I went with the massive measurement. Here’s why: I’ve a 27“ iMac with a secondary monitor at work, and a 27” iMac and not using a secondary monitor at residence. I knew I might primarily be utilizing it at work, and needed to span my tablet across both screens. A coworker had a medium and twin screens, and once I was checking it out, I hated urgent the toggle time and again to modify screens. Once I convey my Wacom house, I exploit the mapping function to lower the tablet area used to more snug match what I expertise on twin screens at work.

The Setup

Pen Buttons

By default, the smaller pen button is about up for “right-click” and the larger pen button for “double-click”. The “right-click” button is perfect, but I found that whereas tapping twice with the pen wasn’t an enormous deal or onerous to do, grabbing the stupidly small, disappearing scroll-bars in OSX was a huge pain in the butt. With that in thoughts, I changed the larger Pen button to “Pan/Scroll”. This permits me to only hold that button down and drag across the tablet to scroll (the pen does truly need to be touching the tablet). I also set my scrolling velocity to the max since I have a big tablet, so I wouldn’t have to tug one million occasions to resolve a big webpage.

Pen Settings

The one exception to this: After Results. After Effects doesn’t play good with Pan/Scroll. Whenever you need to have the hand device pan you around within the comp window, you end up zooming in/out as an alternative. It also doesn’t work properly or at all with the other panels. As an alternative, I particularly mapped the larger pen button in After Results to be “ ” (area). This lets me use hotkeys for zooming in/out and the pen for panning around in each panel. Just remember that this implies Pan/Scroll gained’t work in save dialogues in After Results. You might need to assign a pill button to that perform. only for After Effects.

Pen Settings AE

Pill Buttons

There are six buttons (three above the wheel, three under) on the small, and eight (4 above the wheel, 4 under) on the medium and enormous tablets. Truthfully, I solely use four of them (the top four for ergonomic reasons), and here’s what I have assigned to them, from prime to backside:

  • Touch On/Off
  • Mission Control
  • Precision Mode
  • Pan/Scroll

Button Settings

Touch On/Off:

My coworkers typically have to get on my pc, and either they don’t like utilizing the Wacom or typically I’ve wheeled away with the pen in my hand (a nasty habit I’ve…). I truly put this button there for them, which allows the pill for use as an enormous multitouch trackpad. I’ve truly found myself utilizing this sometimes when I have to scroll a ton, or once I’m doing lengthy stretches of typing in order that I don’t need to maintain choosing up and placing down the pen to move round (more on that in a bit).

Mission Control:

I’m an enormous consumer of the “Spaces” (multiple desktops) function in OSX. I exploit that to arrange apps, duties, and so forth., and to scale back visible muddle when making an attempt to do multiple issues directly. Once I was utilizing a mouse, I relied on the multitouch gesture to maneuver from Area to Area, but that wasn’t sensible with the Wacom. I might also have tailored to using the keyboard instructions, however that may mean either shifting my hand fairly far over to hit the best button, or shifting both arms to the keyboard to hit multiple buttons. As an alternative, I simply hit the one categorical key proper on the pill, tap the area I would like, and I’m good to go.

Precision Mode:

I don’t use this a ton, however once I do, I’m very glad it’s there. This maps a small area of your display to all the pill, in an effort to be much more precise in the place your cursor strikes.

When Precision Mode is on, the entire tablet is mapped to the boxed-in area.

When Precision Mode is on, the whole pill is mapped to the boxed-in area.


If I had a medium pill, this is able to in all probability be set to toggle show, however since I have a large, I hold this button set to Pan/Scroll to be used in After Effects’ save/export/import/and so on. dialog bins like I mentioned above.

The different buttons on my tablet are mapped to varied modifier keys, but to be trustworthy, I by no means use them. I’ve been contemplating mapping them to undo/redo/save, but my left hand virtually all the time rests on the keyboard once I’m working, and I’ve obtained an awesome muscle memory already inbuilt for these commands.

Touch Wheel

Like a few of the buttons above, I discover myself virtually never using this both. I saw a tutorial on Wacom’s studying website about mapping this to be a job/shuttle controller and truly ended up making an attempt it out, however it worked like crap and I put it back to the default. The solely time the wheel will get used is once I’m utilizing a brush software in Photoshop, Illustrator, or After Results. In those apps, I exploit it for brush measurement. It really works nice for that, so I simply depart it alone until needed.


Utilizing the tablet as a multitouch trackpad truly works surprisingly nicely. It’s very responsive, and the gestures work persistently. Like I mentioned above, I principally have it there for coworkers who hate the pen, or once I’m typing one thing really lengthy. The gestures are near (however not precisely the same as) Apple’s default trackpad gestures. Dragging works a bit totally different, and you need to be more intentional with gestures that use extra then two fingers. I maintain pretty much each gesture turned on in case I need to use them, then toggle multitouch functionality itself on and off as wanted.

Radial Menu

It’s a cool function, and I even took a while to arrange some commands. Truthfully although, I by no means use it. It’s in all probability an “out of sight, out of mind” type of factor.

Bodily Setup

Apart from the options and settings, you even have to figure out what works greatest from a physical perspective. Here’s what I’ve discovered:

Desk Format

I had heard a variety of different things about methods to organize the pill and keyboard on the desk. The two that I heard most frequently have been: keyboard on a slide-out keyboard tray in case you have one and the Wacom immediately under the monitor, or keyboard above the pill, and just reach across and rest your arms on the pill when typing.

KB Setup 1

Keyboard within the tray at my house pc.

KB Setup 5

Keyboard above the pill at my work pc.

While each actions above may fit with the small and medium tablets, they have been abysmal with the massive. With the keyboard in a tray I found myself continuously pulling the tray out or reaching across it and having to carry my arms up in order to not press buttons when on the Wacom. With the Wacom under the keyboard, I found it extremely uncomfortable to do prolonged periods of typing whereas reaching across the massive Wacom, and it was too distant to maintain a hand rested on it for keyboard shortcuts when modifying.

What I ultimately settled on as probably the most snug was a side-by aspect strategy. This lets me hold one hand on the Wacom and one on the keyboard for shortcuts and quick typing. Both are simply accessible and not using a huge attain, and once I needed to do prolonged typing I can just slide over a bit.

KB Setup 4

Aspect-by-side works so a lot better for me.

KB Setup 2

It’s slightly cramped, nevertheless it works properly at my house pc as nicely.

Holding The Pen

The huge question on holding the Wacom pen is how greatest to press the buttons. Do you press them together with your finger or your thumb? I’ve tried each, and probably the most natural for me is to use my thumb. With my finger, I’ve to maneuver it from the small button to the massive, and when the grip slips it takes longer to get the buttons in the suitable place (not that long, but small amounts of time add up). With my thumb on the buttons, I exploit the tip of my thumb for the smaller button closer to the nib, and the joint of the thumb for the bigger button in the direction of the again of the pen. Additionally, since I exploit my thumb to place strain to use strain on the pen when holding it, I found that the buttons slipped misplaced much less typically then once I had them beneath my finger.

I wasn't a big fan of this grip.

I wasn’t an enormous fan of this grip.

This is the grip I usually go with.

That is the grip I often go together with.


Extended typing was a pain. I requested a ton of individuals, acquired a bunch of different solutions, checked out devices and DIY solutions, and didn’t really like several of the solutions. Listed here are a few of the things that have been steered to me:

Typing 1

Typing 2

What it came right down to was the truth that, not matter what, typing with the Wacom pen in hand was incredibly uncomfortable and prompted hand pressure. So, I simply ended up putting the pen down. It’s admittedly an additional effort to select the pen again up, however my hand doesn’t harm anymore, so I’m calling that a win.

Typing 3

I do maintain the pen in my hand when doing brief bursts of typing or pecking at shortcuts, with a grip like this:

Typing 4


Listed here are a pair issues to concentrate on when utilizing a Wacom tablet in several purposes, plus some details on my experience and changing workflows since I moved to a tablet:

Premiere Pro

In Premiere Professional, “Pan/Scroll” works, however can get somewhat funky/glitchy in the timeline panel typically. Additionally, adjusting audio levels using the keyframes/rubber-bands within the timeline tracks isn’t nice. It looks like a limitation of Premiere that it solely jumps in bigger increments. With a mouse, you’ll be able to hold numerous modifier keys to extend or decrease the quantity change as you drag; for some purpose, these modifiers don’t work with a tablet. You’l end up using precision mode quite a bit, or simply giving up out of frustration and sticking with the quantity increments it lets you do.

Aspect observe – if anyone is aware of a option to cope with this situation, please let me know!

In my day by day use, I’ve grow to be even more keyboard targeted in my modifying. That’s to not say that the Wacom will get in the best way. Quite the opposite, making adjustments with the pen is way more fluid and natural than with a mouse, and I actually take pleasure in it when it comes time to do one thing cursor heavy. What I’ve discovered is that the larger effort required to modify from the tablet to heavy keyboard and back has made me depend on the keyboard extra, since I are typically a keyboard-based editor anyway. I might assume that mouse-based editors would gravitate extra in the direction of the tablet. Both are great, the pill just seems to make me lean extra in the direction of one moderately than the opposite.

Last, in case you use any Pink Big Shade Suite plugins, they’re very finicky with a pill. Colorista II (and the free version as nicely) could be very sensitive/buggy. I’d highly advocate using the separate hue and saturation management as an alternative of dragging within the offset wheel. When you do drag in the wheel, use small strokes, or just faucet exactly where you need it to go.

After Results

Using a Wacom in After Effects is a pleasure, no joke. In the event you’re doing lots of rotoscoping or matte portray, you may even find it life-changing. After considering the “Pan/Scroll” to “space” button task I discussed above, nearly each facet of After Effects is made higher with a pill, with one exception: Choosing layers within the timeline. As you begin out, you’ll by accident slip or slide layers in time. Typically you gained’t even notice, because it’ll only be by a couple of frames. I extremely advocate you pay very shut consideration when clicking layers in the timeline, and hold a hand on “command+z” for when it occurs. As I’ve gotten more adept with my Wacom, it occurs much less typically, nevertheless it still occurs. Remember, and be on the lookout for it.

Photoshop & Illustrator

Wacom tablets have been made for Illustrator and Photoshop, so it ought to come as no surprise that they work amazingly nicely together. The only thing to concentrate on is that the Wacom driver routinely comes with special presets for these two apps, so don’t be freaked out when your common button assignments don’t work. Adapt or modify them as wanted.

DaVinci Resolve

A Wacom pill truly works amazingly properly in Resolve. It makes adjusting the hue-offset wheels far more intuitive, makes masking extra fluid, makes linking nodes higher, and so forth. Precision mode particularly is useful on the hue-offsets. My only suggestion can be to show off “Allow Mouse to Zoom” within the viewer, otherwise you’ll be by chance zooming in and out like loopy on a regular basis.


SpeedGrade doesn’t work so nicely with a Wacom. Very similar to Colorista II, I’d advocate utilizing small strokes as an alternative of dragging, or simply sort in numbers the place you’ll be able to. It’s undoubtedly potential to make use of a Wacom with SpeedGrade, but you may need to save your self some problem by turning on Multitouch and working with it trackpad-style.

The Finder

There’s not a lot for the Finder, besides concentrate on not letting your pen come up off the pill when dragging information round; you may by accident drop them somewhere you didn’t imply to drop them. It’s straightforward to keep away from, simply concentrate when dragging.

In Every day Use

Okay, to begin to wrap things up, listed here are some basic observations I’ve had from the method of transitioning to solely using one as my mouse:

What Works Nicely

I work quicker; much quicker, truly. I feel way more environment friendly (particularly in After Effects and Premiere). I don’t actually know the right way to objectively clarify it, but belief me: I work quicker with my Wacom than I ever did with a mouse.

I don’t miss my mouse. At all. I have a mouse on my desktop at house (I solely deliver my Wacom house when wanted; it stays at work most days), and every time I sit down and grab the mouse, I miss my Wacom for a few minutes. the identical can’t be stated of once I get to my work pc and grab the pen. I can still work nicely with a mouse, nevertheless it doesn’t feel nearly as good.

Utilizing a Wacom has virtually utterly eradicated fatigue and strain in my hand. My fingers used to get slightly crampy and achey after gripping the mouse all day, but not so with the pen, and my wrist feels superb. There was slightly hand fatigue once I first switched, however it pretty much went away after every week or so of strong use. The only strain that remained longer was the typing pressure talked about above until I decided to only put the pen down utterly when doing extended typing.

What Will Be Frustrating For A Whereas

Scrolling. OSX makes the scroll bars so damn small, plus they vanish (yes, I do know you possibly can flip that off; they’re still annoying)! It drove me nuts till I dug into the settings and found the Pan/Scroll choice. After that, the problem was just about solved.

Faucet/click on precision was a problem at first. I discovered myself lifting up for a much bigger tap, which meant that once I put the pen down on the tablet, it was further to the left (I’m proper handed) from my preliminary place/target. The answer? Hold the pen nearer to the tablet when shifting round, and don’t carry up when tapping/clicking. It doesn’t take lengthy to regulate to this problem.

Just like the above, precision when right-clicking took some getting used to at first. You’ll be able to set the pen to either hover and right click once you press the button, or maintain the button and tap to click. I chose the hover technique, and simply made myself regulate to tips on how to do it accurately. It simply takes time.

Associated to both of the precision gadgets above, a whole lot of purposes have tiny clickable areas on their UI parts (value fields in After Results being a very good instance). I tried being super exact at first, but ultimately found out that I was better off trusting my hand to do what felt/appeared proper as an alternative of hovering and being tremendous exact with my clicks. Don’t stress too much about this. Attempt to work at a fluid tempo/movement, and also you’ll be stunned how little you miss.

Navigating in a 1:1 area was bizarre at first, having come from a mouse. I truthfully assume that’s what freaks my coworkers out probably the most once they use my pc. Give it time, and your muscle reminiscence will construct up. I know right the place to put my pen to get to the dock or the menubar or wherever else I need to go. It just takes time to get the pc display mapped into your brain-to-hand management.

What Nonetheless Sucks

Typing nonetheless sucks. I’ve settled on an answer that doesn’t harm my hand, however I’m still not proud of putting the pen down and having to select it again up. It looks like an enormous waste of effort and movement to me. I’ve tried the tips, devices, and grips beneficial, but none of them felt right. I want there was a better answer. Ergonomic geniuses, go make this better!

This will just be me, but I all the time walk off with that silly pen and depart it at another person’s desk. I’m making an attempt to make myself put it in my pocket once I walk off with it, however I discover myself all the time on the lookout for my pen after I step away from my desk. You mileage might very.

Specifically with the Intuos Professional Giant, desk area is tough to return by. I don’t regret shopping for the massive, however I’m not going to say it doesn’t get in the best way typically. And the fact that it gained’t fit into my laptop computer bag is a pain. I have to buy a totally separate case only for it.

I’ve advised my experiences with the change from mouse to Wacom. For those considering doing the same, I’d pose a challenge:

The Wacom Challenge!

For one month, put your mouse away and solely use the Wacom tablet. Don’t turn on multitouch or use it as a trackpad for at the very least two weeks.

One notice: once I say “put your mouse away,” I don’t imply put your mouse off to the aspect; I mean away, as in positioned in a drawer and turned off).

This problem will make you give the pill a fair probability earlier than deciding whether or not or not to go back to a mouse for most of your work. I made myself go through this, and I never went back to my mouse.

For those of you in the strategy of switching (or considering of doing so), I hope this has helped you overcome a number of the little frustrations and challenges that you simply’ve encountered, and I hope you take pleasure in utilizing your tablet as much as I do (rather a lot)!