I've recently purchased a Wacom Bamboo graphics tablet to use with PhotoShop, I'm mainly using it with the Brush tool, but I'm finding it hard to get used to. Does anyone have any tips on making it easier to use? Or any settings for the tablet I could try tweaking? Or even how long it took you to get used to yours?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about use of a tablet without any reference to photography. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philip Kendall
    Commented Jul 19, 2015 at 22:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just because something could be used in photography doesn't mean that you are asking about that. If you want the question to stay open and get answers, refocus it actually on photographic use. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Jul 19, 2015 at 23:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm Refocusing it around Photography is as simple as changing the words "drawing in PhotoShop and Illustrator" to "adding effects in PhotoShop". All I'm asking is how to use the tablet, what I want to use it for is irrelevant. I thought I'd ask here since these tablets are popular with PhotoShop users. They can be used for anything, they're a mouse replacement. They give a much higher level of precision than a mouse with the familiarity of a pen. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 19, 2015 at 23:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ So, if using it for photography is just one thing you could happen to do, and you don't want answers particularly geared at that, I think this should just be closed. Consider some other peripheral — if you want help using a mouse in general, including sometimes happening to be using it to control photoshop, eh. If you want help tuning it specifically for photoshop for some reason, maybe okay. If you need help hooking up your printer, not so good. If you need help tuning your printer for making photographic prints, then yes. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Jul 19, 2015 at 23:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm done! Is that any better? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 0:09

2 Answers 2


I've been using a Wacom tablet since 2000, or slightly earlier.

Photoshop has settings for what to do with pressure: more opaque, or larger brush. There used to be two checkboxes, now it's more complicated.

Set a white background and a red or blue FG color and draw. Use the pen and see how pressure affects the stroke.

When editing a mask, such as a mask of a layer or rubytith mode, note how a soft brush can be just enough to reach the line you are coloring in, via pressure. Hey, all that coloring book stuff as a kid really is a iseful skill after all!

Those are the two things a stylus is good for using the brush tool. The prwdefined general brushes are pretty good: use the [ ] keys to make bigger/smaller, and it works the way you expect. The visible check box (one or two in the current versions) should be all you need to change, and rarely. I suspect the way brush patters are defined for a normal soft brush, it must be a gussian fall-off from FG to transparent, so scaling the size or changing the transparency amount to the same thing. On hard brushes (for masking) or funny shapes, the difference can be useful.

The Bamboo is the low end product: maybe that has something to do with it? But mine is 15 years old and I would think the cheap ones are at least that good today.

Try some things, and ask again re specific techniques and any issue with it.


The single most obvious way to get comfortable is to use it! It's a bit like learning to use chopsticks by picking up shelled peanuts... tricky practice makes perfect. As a point of historical interest, the reason that Microsoft released Solitaire and Minesweeper with Windows was to teach using a mouse. So, you can still find these games, or variants, on pretty much any platform and they're a very good way to exercise your use of any pointing device, including your pen and tablet. I would start there.

Beyond that, there are some basic things you can do...

  1. Tweak the active region of the tablet to the area that you can comfortably move your hand to go edge to edge on the screen. When I discovered this tip, it changed my life with a tablet.

  2. Spend some time with the general pointer settings in the driver. You need to tweak pointer acceleration, double click speed, etc. and then refine as you get more comfortable.

  3. Use it as your mouse, even when not using Photoshop. Goes back to the practice thing.

  4. Aaron Nace is your friend. Watch the video, worth your time. You will learn about some of the things I've mentioned and a few more besides. In this episode he covers basic tablet settings, reasons for why, etc.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.