Lightroom Tips

Wes From Wacom Talks Lightroom

Try saying that 5 times fast. “Wes from Wacom talks Lightroom… Wes from Wacom talks..” 🙂
OK so its really not that hard after all. Anyway, your job for today is to make sure you’ve read Wes Maggio’s (Application Specialist for Wacom Technology) guest blog appearance on Scott Kelby’s blog. Wes specifically talks about the pen/tablet combo and how it plays a role in today’s workflow with Photoshop and Lightroom. See, it used to be that whatever we did, we did in Photoshop. And if you’re in Photoshop its kind of a no-brainer to use a tablet. All of your major tools are pressure sensitive. But with Lightroom things change a little. Sliders have gotten so powerful at letting us target specific parts of our photo that we do a little more slider sliding then we do painting. Does that mean tablets don’t help out? Well Wes has some good insights but personally, I don’t think so.

True story. And I’m not writing this for Wacom, I’m writing it because I know the inevitable questions will come after reading this entry, on whether or not I use a tablet. So here goes: When I first started using Photoshop 8 months ago (kidding!). But when I first started, I swore by my tablet. But I gradually started getting away from it about 3-4 years ago. Partly because I did most of my work on a laptop while moving around or hanging out on the couch trying to be close to where the action was going on with my family. I got to the point where I never used my tablet anymore. But the Intuos 4 came out earlier this year so I decided to try it out. I’m proud to say I am again hooked. And I’m not just saying this because Wes (and Wacom) are friends of mine. Honestly, I’m hooked. So much so that I grabbed the small version of the Intuos 4 for traveling because my travels were really starting to beat up my medium sized tablet. And now I’m also facing a crisis at home because I don’t have a medium size tablet there and I really don’t want to get a 3rd one. So why am I hooked again? I think its a combination of a few things. First off, the Intuos 4’s just feel better. I can’t explain it but there’s a definite difference between the way that they feel from earlier tablets. That alone doesn’t do it though. The shortcut buttons on the left are cool and I use the wheel-shaped button a lot (not so much on the other ones). Its great for scrolling web pages, zooming in in Photoshop and changing brush size in Lightroom (yes I said Lightroom – it works there too!). Again though, I don’t think that sells it. But I think the main reason I’ve fallen in rekindled my relationship with my tablet is that it just makes sense. Regardless of cool new features and all that, using a tablet for what we do as photographers just makes sense. Even if I’m not using a pressure sensitive tool, being able to paint with the accuracy of a pen instead of the mouse works better for me.

Anyway, make sure you check out Wes’s post. Its quick and to the point. And very applicable to us as Lightroom users. In fact, its got me curious to see what most Lightroom users out there are doing so try leaving a comment to let us know. Do you use a tablet? Do you own one but don’t use it? Use it sometimes? All the time? Thanks!



  1. Mike Caine 21 September, 2009 at 06:03 Reply

    As someone who has never used a tablet – do they all work with Lightroom? Are some more compatible with Lightroom than others? Are there any brands or models to avoid if the main use is for Lightroom. I think I need to get one, but I don’t know if I need to spend about £300 UKP on my first one just in case I don’t get on with a tablet

  2. Kathleen D 18 September, 2009 at 20:58 Reply

    After Wes’ blog I pulled out my tablet and actually used it and was impressed with the sensitivity of the pen. I second the suggestion on a tutorial with specifics about setting up the tablet with LR settings.

    I have an older Intuos 3 and now wish I could have the radial feature that is on the Intuos 4. But the Wes’ blog will definitely change my workflow a bit.

  3. Dennis Zito 18 September, 2009 at 16:29 Reply

    Hey Matt,

    Thanks a bunch for getting back to me so soon! Okay, I’m off to buy the Intuos 4 Medium! I’m looking forward to using it!

    Thanks again!


  4. LJR 18 September, 2009 at 15:01 Reply

    I’m an Intuos 4 user and love it. I especially like the new Precision Mode which makes small adjustments so much easier than it was with the 3.

  5. mattk 18 September, 2009 at 09:36 Reply

    Hey Dennis,
    I’d recommend the one I have – Intuos 4 Medium. I have a small version but only for traveling. If you get a Bamboo you’ll like it but probably want to buy a higher end version shortly after 🙂

    – Matt K

  6. Dennis Zito 17 September, 2009 at 23:33 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    I read Wes’ blog and watched his video. I was hooked! I would like to get a tablet, but I just started using Photoshop and Lightroom for my photo editing. My question is what is the best size to get, small or medium? Also, which Wacom, Bamboo, Bamboo for fun, or intuos 4. I have a lot of trouble controlling the mouse when I’m making selection and such. I know the tablet would be much better and save me time. So if you don’t mind, which Wacom and size would you recommed I use?

    Thanks for your help! I’ve learned a lot from you on Lightroom and Photoshop and value your advice.


  7. Rich Whetton 17 September, 2009 at 21:24 Reply

    I always use the pen rather than a mouse with my Desktop at home which Lightroom sits on, it’s just my preferred tool of choice on the computer. However – I haven’t configured it (Intuos 3)and off the top of my head don’t know how – I’ll go and work it out having read the article but might this make a good subject for a future tutorial – How to configure your Wacom for Lightroom?

  8. Martin 17 September, 2009 at 16:16 Reply

    I use my Wacom Intuos (an old series 1) for absolutely everything in every application. In LR I’ve programmed the shortcut “buttons” on the tablet to switch between the 5 modules. That way I never need to display the upper retractable area which shows the identity plate and module names – it essentially gives me a bigger screen area to work with.

  9. Mike Pennington 17 September, 2009 at 15:53 Reply

    I started with a small Graphire and have never looked back. I use it all the time and travel with it as well. When I started using Lightroom it never even occurred to me to switch back to the mouse. of course it never occurred to me to use a potato to draw a picture but that’s what the mouse feels like now. if your on the fence about a Tablet i say “Just do it’. And with Intuos 4 the redesign of the buttons and the addition of the dial it’s no brainier now. I think the time I save over a year resizing brushes with the dial saves enough time to justify the cost (if you put value on your time that is). the Intuos 4 is a great product.


  10. Christine Morgan 17 September, 2009 at 13:06 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    I started using a Wacom tablet (a Graphire) about three years ago, mainly because constant use of a mouse brought back the carpal tunnel syndrome I’d suffered with in the past, and the Wacom pen really made a huge difference. I use it for almost everything I do on a big screen iMac, be it PS, LR, MS Office apps or just scrolling web pages, and now find it really difficult to do much PS or LR stuff on a laptop with just the track pad – it just doesn’t give any control once you’re used to a pen, which when you think about it is how we all started off as kids, scribbling about on bits of paper with coloured pencils! Am just about to invest in an Intuos 4, and as mentioned above I’d love to see a class on setting it up for maximum effect.

    Thanks for all you do here

  11. Lorri E 17 September, 2009 at 11:40 Reply

    I have a medium Intuos 3 and have to admit I don’t use it as much as I should. I have never really spent the time to learn how to set up all the custom keys, etc.. I usually only get it out when I have some extensive retouching to do in a photo. I have not used it in LR but after Wes Maggio’s guest blog yesterday I am going to try it. I would love to see a class on Kelby training on how to setup and use the Wacom tablets for Photoshop/LR (maybe there is one and I just missed it).

  12. Justin Van Leeuwen 17 September, 2009 at 11:16 Reply

    Actually after reading Wes’ post yesterday I went straight to my tablet settings (after dusting off the surface – literally) and configured it for Lightroom. I spend SO MUCH TIME IN LIGHTROOM now, and do so little mask work, I had forgotten that I could configure a tablet per program. So basically I had made the incorrect assumption in my mind that the shortcut keys would always be their defaults.

    So I switched the shortcut keys to work with what I use most in Lightroom (G and D keys for grid and develop modules). And started using the pen again with the adjustment brush – much better than the mouse; and I didn’t realize it was pressure sensitive until the post either because I had never tried it!

    To anyone on the fence about getting a wacom I say go for it – get the biggest Intuos you can afford (I have an Intuos 3 4×6 and it works great for me!) – it’ll change the way you work!

  13. Dave 17 September, 2009 at 10:51 Reply

    Hi Matt. I am actually looking into getting a tablet since yesterday post on Scotts blog. Great stuff. I do have question concerning your print templates the other day. I have a PC. I use Mpix but do some of my printing at home. Please tell me what the 8×10,5×7 and the other templates do. I know it sounds like a dumb question but I played with them the other night and I am kind of in the dark on it. I enjoy your blog and thanks in advance for the help.

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