Graphics Tablets and ArtRage
ArtRage and GraphicsTablets: advice, bugs, and reviews
If you're a traditional artist, or you'd like to be, or you have kids, or you just want to play with messy paint... and NOT cover the room with newspaper and splatters... then you'll probably enjoy ArtRage. And to do that properly, you need a tablet.
Well, actually, you don't, but it does make matters easier.
ArtRage is a very stable program, and usually works well with most tablet or operating systems - there are a few consistent problems (especially in Vista) and few a settings to know about, but that it's it.
Learning to use a tablet is mostly a matter of practice, and hand-eye coordination, but I'm gathering as many tips about using one as I can.
I've also added a section for reviews, for those people interested in the differences beteen tabelts, and wanting to know what's out there.
I currently paint in ArtRage 2.5 but most of this should apply to the ArtRage Free Edition and previous versions, but I haven't tested it.
Much of this page will apply to any digital art program, but ArtRage is my definitely my favourite, and the one I know the most about, so that is what I am focusing on. If you're interested in actual drawing and painting tutorials and resources, visit ArtRage Tutorials, Tips and Resources .This page was originally part the ArtRage: Basic navigation, reviews and how-tos lens. It was once just a couple of paragraphs, I went to update it and it spiralled out of control!
The illustrations on this page are mine, unless stated, and can be found on my DeviantART. Alternatively, visit my personal lens for more details about my artwork, websites (they breed! O_o) , free wallpapers, and more talking about ArtRage.
Cursors - Different Cursor options in ArtRage
The image above is for ArtRage 3, ArtRage 2.5 has a choice of Precise Cursor or Not.
As you can see, there are three options - precise, outline (a large round oval) and tool - which looks like a mini brush.
The Art of Unwavering Lines - A demonstration of smooth line drawing...
Drawing Smooth Lines With Mouse and Tablet: LazyNezumi
Lazy Mouse for AR and other painting apps
This FREE program has been developed to mimic the 'Lazy Mouse' app in Zbrush, this little program smooths out your lines as you draw, which can be VERY helpful for those trying to use a mouse, or 'ink' neatly.
It was pointed out on the Ambient Design Forums and helps tremendously with tracing linearts or using the mouse to draw with.
Being free, and still in development, it can be a bit buggy, and your drawing may lay behind. However, it doesn't interfere with other programs (that I've found).
It works best for long smooth curves and straight lines and it does not handle sharp corners and wiggly lines very well - see the last image below for a comparison with freehand lines.
It can also interfere with selecting options on menus, or clicking and dragging objects. Just untick the 'Enabled' box, or use the CTRL+F2 shortcut.
Support and Downloads
Supported for WinXP 32bit and 64bit, and variable results - both in Compatibility Mode and out in Vista.
Supported programs include: ArtRage, Photoshop CS, BodyPaint 3D, TVP Animation 9 Pro, MSPaint, GIMP, Xara Xtreme Pro, AR 3 Beta 10, TVPaint, Topogun, and probably a lot more - the developer is always interested to hear what worked (as they have only so many programs and operating systems to test it on)
And this forum thread discusses the development of that support in a bit more detail if you need assistance.
If you would like to test the authenticity of your download, here are the MD5 checksums for version 9.9.8:
Smooth Line Drawing With Mouse and Graphic Tablet - Setting up and drawing with the LazyNezumi application in ArtRageClick thumbnail to view full-size
Did This Help?
Drawing Problems in Vista
Issues with Ink
Vista comes with default Ink services, which can interfere with other programs - such as ArtRage.
If your lines are really jumping around, or adding ticks and wiggles, or leaving random paint blotches the problem may lie in the Ink Services settings.
See if it has anything to do with these settings by downloading this file and placing it in the Resources subfolder
e.g. c:\program files(x86)\ambient design\artrage 2\resources\ <-- file goes here
This should turn it off for ArtRage, next time you start it up.
Graphics Tablet Settings and Common Software Problems
Issues with pressure sensitivity, pen control, jitters and strange wobbly lines...
So, you've bought yourself a new Bamboo? Someone's passed on a Graphire to you? You've reinstalled something on your computer and the tablet isn't working the way it used to? Getting funny flicks, 'skips' and ticks at the ends of your lines?
Most importantly... your tablet isn't drawing very well, something's responding oddly, pressure sensitivity isn't on, or you've simply no idea what it should be doing? (Speaking as someone who spent a year with the pressure sensitivity turned off - the computer uninstalled my drivers right after I installed them - and never realised... it can happen. And it makes a HUGE difference)
There's a few settings you should check.
For all of these you will probably have to restart ArtRage to see the new settings..
Firstly, check you have the correct tablet drivers installed.
You should have a CD with your tablet, but even if you do, it is probably better to go to the home site and download the most recent ones. (Make sure you pick the right operating system - XP, Vista, Mac, Linux etcetera - although some drivers apply to multiple systems). Google the maker of your tablet (eg 'Wacom' and look for the 'Download Drivers' option)
Wacom has a problem with its installers being outdated - they don't always overwrite the previous versions properly. If this is the first install, this proably isn't the issue, but if you update your drivers and it still doesn't work, you'll need to completely uninstall the old files, then install the latest driver.
Secondly Check the settings for the tablet.
This will differ for every tablet and system, but the basics will be the same.
For example, on my Bamboo - basically, a Bamboo Fun without all the extra bundled programs - it's in the Start menu under 'Programs>Pen Tablet>Pen Tablet Properties'.
You may be happy with the defaults - I prefer the finger touchpad to be set to 'scroll' and not 'zoom' for browsing (I love this tablet) but it doesn't make a difference in ArtRage (it's still zoom).
One setting you should pay attention to though is whether it is set to the Pen mode or Mouse mode. These modes control the cursor movement and are largely a matter of preference:
Mouse mode acts like a regular mouse, and is considered better for browsing. The tablet area is mapped to the screen, so if you put the pen on the right edge, the cursor jumps to the right edge.
Pen mode is better for drawing, as a rule (once you adjust). With this setting selected, the cursor moves relative to its current position, allowing you to ignore its actual position onscreen.
Thirdly, there are a couple of settings within ArtRage, that you should check.
Most importantly, if you have a tablet, go to
Edit>Preferences>Precise Tablet Mode
NB: if you are having issues, try turning this off
This switches ArtRage over to using the much higher levels of sensitivity and detail available from a tablet, rather than a mouse.
Next, further up the menu is an option to turn on the 'precise cursor'. find this much easier to draw with (and you can 'magnify the precise cursor' if you have trouble seeing it).
If the Pressure sensitivity isn't working very well (for example, you have to press very hard to have an effect, or you cannot draw with a light enough hand to get thinner lines) this is either a dying tablet, or a software issue. Try reinstalling the drivers if this is a problem, but first:
Try changing the 'sensitivity' in the Tablet Settings/Properties. Move it in the direction of 'Hard' is if it's currently too light for you, and 'Soft' if the pressure is too high.
Alternatively: adjust the pressure directly in Artrage (top left dial). You'll have to do this for each tool, every time, but it's a quick fix while you're painting.
Ink Services and Precise Tablet Mode in AR3 - Turning on the graphics tablet options in ArtRage 3
You can turn ink services on or off - this is for Vista users (and Windows 7?) who ended up with conflicts with ArtRage 2.5 (See the section above about tablet settings for a solution).
Precise tablet mode is also recommended, as it enables a much hgiher level of senstivity
Signs Of A Dying GraphicsTablet
The end of an era... or just the drivers?
if you are having problems with your tablet, nine times out of ten, it's a driver or software issue.
Read through the section above carefully, make sure that you have the latest versions of the correct drivers, go to the forums for your specific tablet, and test it on another computer if possible.
Violent Jittering from the Cursor in parts of the Screen?
This appeared in my Bamboo a couple of months back and was driving me insane. One end of the screen was almost impossible to navigate - whenever I brought the pen up to that side, the cursor was shaking and jittering too much to click on anything.
After checking the settings (that active area of the tablet was mapped to the actual screen) and searching the internet in despair, I found a brief mention of 'magnetic interference'.
After a bit of experimenting, I discovered that my external hard drive was a bit nearer the tablet than usual.
Moving it away fixed the jitters completely, and waving it back and forth near the tablet proved the cause!
(Incidentally, it has appeared once or twice since, but not consistently. The hard drive had just been borrowed by my brother for his macbook, and I'm wondering if that affected it. Some days, the hard drive is practically sitting on top of the tablet, with no problems)
Signs your tablet is probably carking it
Especially if you've had it a few years...
Pressure sensitivity is dying.
Response time is slow, or it fails to respond at all.
Try replacing your pen battery, if it needs one.
Also, the cable - detachable with Bamboos, not in other cases - may be the issue.
Did this answer your question?
What Problems Has Your Tablet Had?
Share your experiences, sob stories, disasters, and blissful trouble-free lives.
How did you fix YOUR tablet issues?
ArtRage Wacom Edition
Background and Answers to Common Problems
The ArtRage Wacom Edition comes packaged with
It has the same features as the standard Full Edition.
For help, see this thread
Topics in this thread:
1. How Do I Find My Registration Key? (also see Registration: Issues, Answers and Links )
2. ArtRage Crashes on Mac OSX Leopard.
3. ArtRage Will Not Start and Tells Me I Need a Wacom Tablet on Mac OSX Leopard.
4. How Do I Update From ArtRage 1 Wacom Edition to ArtRage 2?
5. I Need My Registration Key, But My CD Only Has ArtRage 1.
(Posted in 2007, so the issues may all be fixed by now)
If you've got anything to say or share, go ahead here. If you're interested in looking at different kinds of tablets, and whether they're worth getting, keep going to read Part Two: Buying A Tablet
The Best Tablet For ArtRage Is...
An Overview of Different Tablets - A quick comparison of the different graphics tablets available
*search module not working properly.
This is a quick and dirty overview - I will tidy it up, rewrite it, and finish the accompanying reviews.
The cheap tablet - you may see local versions that are equivalent. If you're really unsure, it's the least investment, but...
The Graphire tablets only sense pressure.
Intuos tablets sense pressure and the pen angle/tilt.
Hanvon Tablets are a new range on the market - they cost around the same as a small Bamboo ($80-$120 depending on size). I haven't found much information on their performance...
The Bamboo and Intuos tablets:
These have much better sensitivity/responsiveness/accuracy and are overall nicer to use. Obviously, the more you pay, the better the tablet ^_^
Bamboo will be about $79.99 and Bamboo Fun is $99.99 or $199.99 (small and medium sizes) Bamboo Tablet review
Intuos: $229-$500 Intuos Tablet Review
These are cheapish (about $130 US) but not brilliant - fragile, and unresponsive. Microsoft's attempt to compete with Wacom.
Cintiq Tablet PCs are the new and shiny toys of the tablet world, and are either $999 (12 inch) or $1999 (21 inch)
Intuos4 has more pressure sensitivity than the Cintiqs - but you can draw on the Cintiq's surface like you would on paper
Buying and Using Graphics Tablets - ...because, seriously, where's the fun in a mouse?
I bought my first tablet soon after discovering ArtRage, and celebrated by upgrading to the full version. I was a poor, struggling university student (Marine Biology, for those who care) and had to buy the cheapest one available - no Wacoms for me!
It may not have been as sensitive, the pen broke after a year (literally in half, I have to hold it very gently now), the pen nib is almost worn away two years later and there were no spares, and finally, it is starting to get very ... scratchy, and refuses to respond for no discernible reason.
But it worked. Even after I spilled my tea all over it (I still miss that tea).
If you are just starting, there is no reason not to buy the cheapest brand you can.
And now? Now I know I want to keep drawing, I know how to use a tablet, and I have more money, and my old tablet finally, finally stopped pretending to be absolutely fine, no cheap parts here - so I bought a new one.
I now have myself a little black Bamboo, and it is FANTASTIC. I REALLY appreciate it, and its eraser, and its battery-less mouse, and its browsing buttons, and its zoom/scroll wheel...
For some comparison, here is a little something I created in MSPaint with a mouse, back in July, 2008. I was very bored at the time. I believe at I was procrastinating on an assignment.
It was painted only a week after THIS, with a tablet, in ArtRage
ArtRage and tablets were made for each other (uuhh, almost literally, actually) and while you can learn to use a mouse to paint... it is awkward, slow and few people manage to achieve much in the way of a finished painting.
Note: The first time you use a tablet, you will not find it as easy as a pen and paper. You will be looking up at the screen, not your hand - have you ever tried the drawing exercises in which you look only at the subject matter and never the scribble that is your drawing? It feels like that (although you can see your drawing).
This doesn't apply to the new Cintiqs, which are basically a flat computer with a sensitive screen - in other words, you can draw straight onto it.
There are quite a range of tablets available...
A Drawing Tablet I I recommend is... - The Bamboo Fun Graphics tablet from Wacom
Now, I actually use this tablet. So I know what I'm talking about! Unlike the bigger, shinier, more expensive ones *eyes longingly*
Like the strangeness of visual coordination above, the size of the tablet will be quite limiting initially. Most graphics tablets start at less than A5 size, and increase. The entire area is sensitive (like a much less vulnerable, more responsive version of a laptop touchpad) and the price increases accordingly.
While large pads are nice, and usually considered better, this can be a matter of personal preference - either way, you will still have to get used to the size and how far you have to move your pen, to make lines.
And finally, please allow me to point out.... The ZOOM option. This helps minimise or negate most of the size differences ... in ArtRage you can zoom in so that a few centimetres fill your screen, or out, so that the whole canvas is only a couple of centimetres across.
Did this help?
The Intuos4 Tablet
For price and sensitivity this sounds like the best one out there. The Intuos3 is still considered very good, so if you're a little short on cash, take a look at that one.
Works well with Vista, and I need to dig up a lot more information on it to add here...
2048 levels of pen pressure sensitivity for precise pressure control
I've only put one size up, as it's overkill otherwise ^_^
Small is $229
Medium is $369
Large is $499
This tablet comes with 2 plugins and 2 applications
(you can choose between Photoshop Elements 7 , Autodesk SketchBook Express or Corel Painter Sketch Pad)
Cintiq Tablet PCs - The amazing and the awful
Tablet PCs are univerally loved for the way you can draw straight on the screen. If you have trouble adjusting to the tablet-monitor view, then this is definitely something to look at.
Basically, they are monitors and graphics tablets in one, so you DO need a computer. Both Mac and Windows are available, and all the fancy Wacom pens and airbrushes work with them.
They come with stands, so you can work on them at any angle from upright to flat...
If you have achieved great skill with a standard tablet, you'll have to unlearn all your coordination ^_^ - you'll need to watch the pen and not the screen, and you may find your hand gets in the way.
Smudging from your hand may also be an issue.
Generally, for smoother hand movement and to protect against heat and smudging you might want something like a SmudgeGuard
These don't work with iMacs, as they don't have a secondary DVI connector.
The smaller - 12 inch - version seems to have a few problems, but the 21 inch version is apparently perfect ^_^
Almost every review I've seen of this has been overwhelmingly positivie . The price includes a good monitor and a good graphics tablet, so it isn't quite as outrageous as it appears - but unless you are a professional artist, you probably should be looking at the Bamboo and Intuos ranges... ^_^
Large monitor - better quality than most screens
Intuitive interface - leads to faster, more comfortable drawing, with fewer undos. The learning curve is very low, unlike a standard tablet.
12 inch Cintiq:
Colour is perfect, but suffers from usual brightness and contrast issues of LCD's when you change your viewing angle - screen is basically a cheap laptop screen
Excessive number of cables
Comes with Painter Light and Photoshop Light
Limited 2-point calibration (versus 5) - causes major tracking and accuracy issues. However, a driver update is supposed to be coming out to fix this.
Less sensitivity than an Intuos4 - 1024 verus 2048
Nice thin design - very portable - apart from the cables.
Pen is quite bulky
Overheating issue (reports vary on how bad this is - generally smaller tablets have fewer issues)
The overall consensus is that it costs about $400 too much - but just as many people love using this tablet (and obviously the larger one is out of most people's prce range)
Best Graphics Tablets? - Small or large? Intuos? Bamboo? Graphire? None at all?
IS a tablet worth it? Do you need it for ArtRage? Which is the best? What's important?
What kind of tablet is best for ArtRage?
I always welcome comments, and I especially welcome praise, useful suggestions and the odd joke! Do you enjoy using a tablet? What about ArtRage? were you disappointed by this page? Do I have too many Amazon modulesS? :D Did I fix your tablet issues? Is there something else I should talk about? Do you just want to tell me how wonderful I am? Have a page or a lens of your own I might want to link to?
Go for it!