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Graphics Tablets and ArtRage

Updated on March 16, 2013

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

Cursors in ArtRage Studio Pro
Cursors in ArtRage Studio Pro

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...

The version on the left is my original drawing. The middle version was re-inked by Somonesane using the LazyNegumi app, and coloured in ArtRage.

If you want to try your hand at colouring this, and other drawings, or share your own, come add them to Colouring Project thread!

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.

(Quick links: Colouring Linearts in ArtRage and Beginner's basic mouse tutorial in ArtRage)

Issues

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

You can read about it and check for updates here and the link to the latest version is here.

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:

lazyNezumi.exe: d1a2e52a372d5fbe03565feed040b131

mouseHook.dll: 1f3731808722abe62aa5bad1055d5752

mouseHook64.dll: fc57a719968522472990e6620dd62d42

Smooth Line Drawing With Mouse and Graphic Tablet - Setting up and drawing with the LazyNezumi application in ArtRage

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Starting LazyNezumi is very easy. Simply open the folder and find the icon labelled 'lazyNezumi'.Doubleclick and the little box pops up on your screen, and then go to the drawing program (ArtRage, in this case. See next image)This is what it looks like on your screen - as you can see, it's very small and can be moved around.Check the little box at the top, next to 'Enabled' to turn it on (or off) and you can start!.The Other OptionsEnabled checkbox enables or disableHere you can see the difference between drawing freehand and using the LazyNegumi program.I am using a Bamboo graphics tablet and tracing over a sketch I made and photographed, in ArtRage.I was using the felt pen tool.The BLACK lines are drawn f
Starting LazyNezumi is very easy. Simply open the folder and find the icon labelled 'lazyNezumi'.Doubleclick and the little box pops up on your screen, and then go to the drawing program (ArtRage, in this case. See next image)
Starting LazyNezumi is very easy. Simply open the folder and find the icon labelled 'lazyNezumi'. Doubleclick and the little box pops up on your screen, and then go to the drawing program (ArtRage, in this case. See next image)
This is what it looks like on your screen - as you can see, it's very small and can be moved around.Check the little box at the top, next to 'Enabled' to turn it on (or off) and you can start!.The Other OptionsEnabled checkbox enables or disable
This is what it looks like on your screen - as you can see, it's very small and can be moved around. Check the little box at the top, next to 'Enabled' to turn it on (or off) and you can start!. The Other Options Enabled checkbox enables or disable
Here you can see the difference between drawing freehand and using the LazyNegumi program.I am using a Bamboo graphics tablet and tracing over a sketch I made and photographed, in ArtRage.I was using the felt pen tool.The BLACK lines are drawn f
Here you can see the difference between drawing freehand and using the LazyNegumi program. I am using a Bamboo graphics tablet and tracing over a sketch I made and photographed, in ArtRage. I was using the felt pen tool. The BLACK lines are drawn f

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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.

Artwork:

Ink Services and Precise Tablet Mode in AR3 - Turning on the graphics tablet options in ArtRage 3

How to turn on the Tablet Mode in ArtRage Studio Pro
How to turn on the Tablet Mode in ArtRage Studio Pro

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.

No

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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

ArtRage 2 Wacom Edition - Solutions For Known Problems

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...

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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.

Graphires: $50-60

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

Vistatablets:

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)

Cintiq Tablet review

Basically -

Intuos4 has more pressure sensitivity than the Cintiqs - but you can draw on the Cintiq's surface like you would on paper

*(US dollars)

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 worked.

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*

On Size

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.

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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

Wacom Intuos Intuos4 - Medium
Wacom Intuos Intuos4 - Medium

Software:

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 ^_^

Wacom Techno Cintiq 21UX 21-Inch Interactive Pen Display PC Tablet With Pen and Software
Wacom Techno Cintiq 21UX 21-Inch Interactive Pen Display PC Tablet With Pen and Software

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... ^_^

Some points:

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.

 
Wacom Cintiq 12WX 12-Inch Pen Display
Wacom Cintiq 12WX 12-Inch Pen Display

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!

Leave a comment! - Let me know what you thought, or suggest an addition!

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    • MillBucks profile image

      MillBucks 5 years ago

      Very nice presentation, these drawing tablets are just amazing!

    • FlynntheCat1 profile image
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      FlynntheCat1 8 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I am finding these lenses extremely helpful. SquidAngel Blessings for you!

    • mekimare lm profile image

      mekimare lm 8 years ago

      Thanks for the great info...I'm always on the look out for some new programs like this...Now I just have to get my hands on a tablet!

    • FlynntheCat1 profile image
      Author

      FlynntheCat1 8 years ago

      [in reply to ChapelHillFiddler]

      (pah, word limits)

      Also, I was actually updating this lens as you commented, so it's a bit more useful!

      And thank you, the 'contact me' button isn't visible when logged in, so I've doublechecked it now!

    • FlynntheCat1 profile image
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      FlynntheCat1 8 years ago

      [in reply to ChapelHillFiddler]

      Firstly THANK you for the comment - I thought I had contact allowed, so you've helped already XD (It's on now)

      Secondly, I won't delete this as a) it's nice and honest and actually helpful and b) hopefully you'll get a bit of traffic from it.

      Thirdly - I know this lens is my most 'promotional' (It makes me a bit uncomfortable, but I figured maybe it was because I don't talk about products much). I'm much better about writing informational stuff and not so good at toning down the 'selling'; it actually was part of of the 'main' lens then got too big - still, I'm not entirely sure which bits you had trouble with at the start. I believe you, but I was writing it for 'what do I think people will want to know - i.e. are they on the right page?' rather than aiming at googlerank (I was relying on people to come from the other ArtRage pages if interested - I was a bit surprised it started getting visits on its own. I'll try again, but any specific parts...?

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      HI, I would have left my comment in "contact me" but you don't have your contact button turned on. Please feel free to delete this comment. I almost didn't read down past the first screen of this lens because the keyword stuffing is so extreme, but because I have a bamboo and just have begun to use it I did persist and I am glad I did. Please consider re-writing the beginning of this lens more towards the humans who come here and less for the benefit of the spider robots. Thanks, from a real human.

    • FlynntheCat1 profile image
      Author

      FlynntheCat1 8 years ago

      [in reply to LeShan Jones] Thank you for that. I'm adding to this as I find more tips etc, it's just easier to research product reviews than 'tablet tricks'! Also, ArtRage usually works well with a tablet, so there aren't many tweaks to write about (just a few common ones).

      Most of it is practice really *shrugs*

      (It's just this section got far too long for the original page - I know it needs more)

    • FlynntheCat1 profile image
      Author

      FlynntheCat1 8 years ago

      [in reply to Den] Ha! yes, pretty much! It's what this site calls its pages (like this one). I assume it's something vague to do with magnifiying lenses, 'focussing' on a specific subject...

      But lens = page on thye Squidoo site.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      What on earth is a 'lens' please? Is this another peculiar distortion of the english langiage?

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Very useful information, but I already own an actual tablet PC (HP Pavilion 2500z) and I could use info on maximizing my copy of Artrage 2.5 on a standard tablet pc rather than a Cintiq.

      Thank you.