Why You Should Consider Using a Pen Tablet Instead of a Mouse

Pretty much everybody learns how to edit photos using a mouse, but as a photographer becomes more advanced, they will often switch to using a pen tablet to work on their images. If you have not yet made the switch, this helpful video will show you seven reasons why you might want to consider picking up a tablet for your editing work.

Coming to you from Unmesh Dinda from PiXimperfect, this great video discusses seven reasons why a pen tablet can often be superior to a mouse for editing images. It can certainly take a bit of practice to get used to a Wacom Tablet, but most photographers swear they will never return to a mouse once they have put in the time to learn how it works and develop the technique to use it effectively. Besides being a more natural physical motion than using a mouse, a pen tablets offers a range of advantages. For me, the most significant is pressure sensitivity. By linking different Photoshop settings to how hard you press the pen to the tablet surface, you can easily and efficiently vary things like brush flow, making it far simpler to take precise control of techniques like dodging and burning. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Dinda. 

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wonderful!!!!!! I got it and will change.

David Love's picture

I ruined my wrist using a mouse for graphic design and photography. I finally got a tablet and if I had gotten one years earlier I wouldn't still suffer from wrist pain even now with it. Wrist, neck, back pain, eye strain are what you can expect from photography and design and people think we charge too much.

liliumva's picture

It def. changes how you edit, and makes it smoother(for me at least) to do comps or crazy edits. WELL worth it if you do more than basic editing or colorgrading!

The Wacom tablet is a must have for image editing for those who spend a lot of time doing it.
However, I have some beefs with Wacom at the moment.
They have a few bugs in operation (Mac) that have not been fixed despite a year of complaints.
In addition, it can get very laggy and I have to switch to a mouse just t get things done.

I hope they get their act together on it soon.

Motti Bembaron's picture

I have the XP-Pen and although I still did not get to practice too much I can tell you that it works wonderfully. I have to try to force myself to put the mouse aside for a solid two weeks (as many suggest) but still did not have the will to do so :-)

Rod Kestel's picture

I used a Wacom for a years until the cursed thing stopped working. I like them but the hardest thing is lining up your hand movements with the screen. Some lines are good, but really awkard where they angle towards your hand.

Stefan Gonzalevski's picture

Since I started to use a tablet, I don't get how you can properly edit without one !

Spy Black's picture

Back in the mid-90s I bought my first serious graphics workstation for it's time and I got a 12x12 Calcomp tablet, which at the time had 256 pressure points over then Wacom's 128. I started getting really good at working in Photoshop with it. I then proceeded to start freelancing in Photoshop.

Every place I showed up to work had a tablet - for the head retoucher. Everyone else had to work with mice. A lot of gigs were like that, and I had to re-learn retouching with the mouse!

I eventually landed a job at an ad agency where I finally had access to a tablet, but I realized I had gotten so used to working with the mouse, it doesn't matter to me anymore.

I still have the Calcomp tablet, it makes a great wrist rest for my computer keyboard...

Tried it. Wasn't worth it for me. The benefits for retouching were minimal (it's far more beneficial for illustration) and the sheer inconvenience it added when dealing with every other bit of software that doesn't involve drawing outweighed those minor benefits by a mile for me.

With a mouse, I can move my cursor from one end to the other with the flick of a wrist-zero elbow movement. With a Wacom, I'm basically moving my whole arm around to navigate the cursor around my screen. Yeah, you can still have your mouse attached, but then it becomes awkward as to what you're placing where on your desk and constantly switching back and forth between input devices with your right hand.

YMMV. I know some people swear by the things, but I found myself swearing at it more often than not. :/

Colin Robertson's picture

Just make sure you get the right size for you. I went from a large model, where I felt like I had to move my arm too far, to a small model, where my movements became too fast. Next time I'll be going back to a medium size. I still use a mouse for most general computing—not sure if I'll ever go tablet-only.

In my opinion, some tools in Photoshop work better using a mouse... Tools where you want the precision of being able to place the cursor somewhere and click down without accidentally inducing movement. I mostly use the pen tool with my wacom, but sometimes I find placing points more accurate with a mouse. Also (in Lightroom), the perspective correction lines are easier to nail with a mouse.