Shortcuts to a faster workflow with your Wacom tablet

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Check out this tutorial to find out how much faster a customized Wacom tablet makes your workflow

I personally began using a Wacom tablet to work with Photoshop some time ago. It was more out of necessity as I found it simply too uncomfortable to use a mouse for long periods of time while retouching images.

Never looked back

It took me a couple of days to get used to it, but since then I have never looked back.

More recently I have begun to explore the Wacom preferences and added in some customization of the pen and the tablet, adding additional shortcuts I can use in Capture One Pro 7.

Customize more and work faster

Capture One Pro 7 already supports pressure sensitivity linked to the size of the Local Adjustment brush, but there is so much more you can do to leverage the various options in the Wacom preferences to use other features in the software.

I have found this is an additional way to work faster, as well as using keyboard shortcuts.

The following blog post was written based on using a Wacom Intuos 5 touch, which is similar to the more recent Intuos ‘Pro’ series.

Why use a Wacom Tablet?

I mentioned in the introduction that I moved from using a mouse for comfort reasons. In fact, even for non-imaging applications I still stick with the pen and tablet. I find it faster and easier to use.

If you haven’t tried out a graphics tablet before, then in my opinion it is certainly worth a trial. They consist of a touch and pressure sensitive tablet and a pen. The tablets are available in a variety of sizes with varying functionality, for example how many levels of sensitivity they may offer. You can read more about the Intuos here

Customizing

All functionality of the pen and tablet is changed in system preferences (In this case on the Mac). Here, for example, we are looking at the various options available for the pen:

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What I like about the customization options is that they can be application specific.

Note, in the ‘Application’ heading I have added Capture One Pro 7 as an application and all changes to the pen and tablet options will only be made for Capture One. I could continue to add other applications here. Applications that are not shown will use the options in the ‘All Other’ tab.

The tablet has a number of programmable shortcut keys, known as Express keys, while the pen has a two way rocker switch and also an ‘eraser’ on the end – more on that later!

The Pen

I only make a couple of changes to the Pen, namely on the rocker switch. I have this set to enter the ‘Radial Menu’ (more on that later) and to be able to Pan and Scroll.

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Pan/Scroll means that when I hold the button down, and subsequently drag with the pen, I can scroll through the thumbnails, for example, and any other scroll action, like moving up and down a web page.

If this does not fit with your personal preference then you can see from the screen grab below, that there are a multitude of options available!

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That’s indeed one of the strengths of the Wacom system. Pretty much any input option on the pen or tablet can be set to do a huge variety of actions.

The Tablet

The mind also boggles here with the number of customizable options you can make, but I limit myself to a few changes.

The tablet has a number of Express keys on the side of the tablet. These again can be set to do various different options and keystrokes. I don’t make extensive use of these as I always have my wireless keyboard close by. I do however use the Touch Ring and Radial Menu.

The Touch Ring

The Touch Ring is a touch sensitive scroll wheel that I mostly use for changing the size of the Local Adjustment brush. There is a keyboard shortcut in Capture One Pro 7, that also changes the size of the brush. This is [ and ] – The square brackets.

Therefore it is an easy task in the Touch Ring menu to add this keystroke to one of the Touch Ring options. You can have four different actions of the touch ring, by pressing the centre button to move between each one. Here is the setup page for adding the square bracket keystroke.

2014-01-09_10-40-42

Now it is easy when I am working with Local Adjustments to keep one hand on the pen and my other hand on the Touch Ring to quickly alter brush size as I work around an image. The good news is that brush hardness can also be controlled by the shortcut Shift-] so to avoid having to enter the Local Adjustment brush dialog box, I can also use the Touch Ring to change hardness, by setting the Keystroke in a similar way.

 

See how fast it is to move round an image in this short video clip below. What I wanted to do for the title image was to lighten the background compared to the sculpture. I figured the easiest way to do this would be to mask the sculpture itself and then invert the mask.

 

Also in this clip, I choose to ‘clean’ up the mask using the erase brush. You can actually flip the Wacom pen upside down to automatically choose the eraser, but I actually find it faster to simply hit ‘e’ on the keyboard to select that option and then ‘b’ to return to brush.

If you would prefer to link brush size to pressure, then turn on the option in the Brush Settings dialog box. Access it by right-clicking while the brush tool is selected.

2014-01-09_12-05-49
The Radial Menu

The Radial Menu brings up a floating circle of customizable options when you hit either one of the Express keys, or in my personal case, the top part of the rocker switch on the pen. It looks like this.

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I have customized each segment with a useful command in Capture One Pro 7. For example creating variants, as you can see in the top and adjacent segment.

So to create a new variant, I click the rocker pen switch once, and then click on the segment itself. Each segment can be changed here.

2014-01-09_12-12-58

I haven’t fully decided if this is faster than keyboard shortcuts or menu selections (one thing I find with a pen and tablet is that I can move much faster around my monitor area compared to a mouse), but it does give me another option.

 

One final mode that I have discovered recently is Precision Mode. If I want to draw more complex masks, it can often be a help.

 

I have set one of the Express Keys on the side of the tablet to activate this mode.

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Initiating Precision Mode concentrates the area of the tablet into one section of the screen.

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Therefore you can be extremely precise for mask drawing. You can adjust the size of the precision area too.

 

I hope you have found the above suggestions useful. I am sure there is more I could do to leverage the tablet even more, so I would be interested to hear if any of you have come up with some interesting ways to work with tablets and Capture One Pro 7.

 

Best regards,

David

David Grover

David Grover

David Grover is part of the Capture One marketing team based at our head office. He runs our weekly webinar series on Capture One 8 and produces the video tutorials on Capture One too.

41 thoughts on “Shortcuts to a faster workflow with your Wacom tablet

  1. Paul Lunnon

    Excellent timing I was given the Wacom Intuos Pro at Chrisitmas and the little I have used it has shown me how more comfortable it is in comparison to the mouse. I have been looking at how to set it up for Capture One now with this article I have a good start. Many thanks
    Paul Lunnon

    Reply
    1. David Grover Post author

      Hi Paul,

      Thats a nice present! If you find any other time saving options, please let us all know.

      David

      Reply
  2. Gerald

    Hi,
    Excellent post, certainly agree with your statement about being more comfortable to use, as a sufferer of carpal tunnel syndrome I switched to a tablet some years ago and found that much easier to use, even trying a simpler version initially, would never return to a mouse afterwards.

    Reply
    1. David Grover Post author

      Hi Gerald,

      My thoughts exactly. Certainly more comfortable and useful.

      David

      Reply
  3. Arthur

    Tryed to use your brush size tip. Using a wcom tablet 4M and CO 7 pro latest version. I programmed my tablets wheel function for the brush size like you showed with the square brakets [ and ]. The test showed it does not work nor directly via my keyboard I can not use square barckets to rezise my brush.

    In went via text menue of CO7 I found the standard short cut to enlarge the brush is “oem6″ and for the oposit “oemOpenBrackets”! But what is OEM and what OpenBrackets – there are round and squere ones….

    Reply
    1. David Grover Post author

      Hi Arthur,

      It doesn’t sound like you have the default keyboard shortcuts set?

      GoTo>Capture One>Edit Keyboard Shortcuts and see if you have the default selected.

      David

      Reply
    1. David Grover Post author

      Hi Wim,

      I have an Intuos 5 small, which I find is adequate for me as I can travel with it too.

      I guess for serious retouching work you might want to go larger, but its personal preference. I used to have a larger one but I prefer the smaller one to be honest.

      David

      Reply
  4. Gregory

    I love using wacom tablet both with PS and C1. If you use many adjustments locally it will bring your postprocessing to the new level. It’s more precise and you can do masking much faster. I miss some keyboard shortcuts though which I use in PS…

    “/” to reaveal or hide a mask
    “ctrl+space+click” to zoom in (I can press “h” and double click to have 100% view but it’s not enough
    “alt+space” to zoom out
    “alt+moving the wacom pen up/down” to change the brush size or softness

    Would that be possible to introduce these shortcuts in the future updates?

    Reply
    1. David Grover Post author

      Hi Gregory,

      M is our shortcut to show hide, the mask. You could always set an Express key on the Wacom to do that?

      I like the sound of your other shortcuts and ill see if there is a way to program that!

      David

      Reply
  5. Arthur

    Hi David!

    Yep, I do use “CaptureOne Default” shortcut-settings.
    I also do use the German language version of C1 and a German keyboard…

    Regards

    Arthur

    Reply
    1. David Grover Post author

      Hi Arthur,

      As a quick fix, you could redifine the local adjustment brush size to the Square Bracket – or anything else for that matter.

      Go to the keyboard shortcut editor, hit the ‘Duplicate’ button at the top and that will create a new default set for you. The keystroke for the Local Adjustments is found under Shortcuts>Local Adjustments.

      David

      Reply
  6. Taylor Payton

    David, this is an epic tutorial! Precision mode made my life as a digital illustrator so much easier. I’d no idea the function existed until I read your post. Now I can detail to my heart’s content!

    Looking forward to more workflow tips in the future, Cheers!

    -Taylor Payton
    Founder of powerpainters.org

    Reply
    1. David Grover Post author

      Epic! :) Thanks for the compliment.

      I am sure I have only scratched the surface so looking forward to working more with it.

      David

      Reply
  7. Bill Morgan

    Thank you for putting this together; very helpful.

    ~Could you clarify how to make my brushes softer/harder.
    ~I do have ] and [ for size and it’s a wonderful shortcut.
    ~I am doing something wrong because I am unable to follow the instructions/tips on making the chose brush harder or softer.
    ~When time permits: can you give more step by step on how to make the brush harder or softer?

    I will keep trying but your help would be appreciated.
    Note: I can’t seem to enter ” Shift-[ ” into the location. Exactly where do I type ” Shift-[ ” ?

    Many Thanks,
    Bill

    Reply
    1. David Grover Post author

      Hi Bill,

      My pleasure!

      Basically you want to program the Touch Ring to mimic the keystroke of [ and ].

      So first of all, decide which option in the Touch ring you want to configure (you can choose between four different actions) and choose ‘Keystroke’ in the drop down menu. Then you will get into the configuration window for entering [,] and/or Shift-[ / ].

      David

      Reply
  8. James

    Hi David – thanks for sharing this. I think that with the shared catalogues, the better default results and now this I am getting closer and closer to switching from Lightroom for a lot of my work.

    I still need to learn more about some of the ways of working though yet!

    Reply
    1. David Grover Post author

      Hi James,

      My pleasure! I am glad we are getting you closer to the switch!

      David

      Reply
  9. Pingback: Ramp up your efficiency with Local Adjustments | The Image Quality Professor's Blog

    1. David Grover Post author

      Hi Rob,

      Yes, there would be no reason why you couldn’t use one of those tablets. I guess the main difference is that they don’t have the same level of pressure sensitivity.

      But as that is a feature I don’t use… I wouldn’t miss it. ;)

      They seem like a very good price!

      David

      Reply
          1. Rob

            Haha. You’re a bad influence! My only concern is whether it will tax my aging iMac (2009 vintage) too much using the tablet along with C1. It’s a tempting price. Only a few months ago it was £80.

          2. David Grover Post author

            Its just a glorified mouse really. I just had a quick look at the Activity monitor and it barely scratches the surface, so I shouldn’t worry.

            Certainly a pleasure to use for any application, not just Capture One.

            David

          3. Robert Davis

            Hi David – I finally bought one! I have a question though. I’m a little disappointed with the way it works in C1 compared to Lightroom. In Lightroom pressure sensitivity seems to be set to control the strength of the effect. For example if I have the brush set to -2 exposure then light pressure darkens a little, increasing pressure darkens towards -2. In C1 pen sensitivity seems to be set to brush size which is not what I want.

            Can I change this? I want the pen to act the same way as it does in Lightroom. Thanks.

            I’m really enjoying the Wacom but not the buggy driver software. I had to downgrade the software in order to get everything working. Judging from the Wacom forums I’m not the only one!

          4. David Grover Post author

            Hi Robert,

            Currently you can only link sensitivity to size. I agree what you suggest would be nice also.

            As an alternative, set the brush to a low opacity and make multiple passes.

            Yes, I find I have the odd issue with the driver. Normally, unplugging and replugging the tablet helps.

            David

          5. Rob

            Yes, hopefully we’ll see the option to assign Opacity to pen pressure in version 8. It just makes more sense to me when editing photographs. Thanks.

  10. Rob

    You’ve convinced me. I think I’ll order one. Not quite sure how I’m going to hide this purchase from my wife. Though I’ll try and extol the virtues of using a tablet over a mouse :-)

    Reply
  11. James

    Hi,
    I can’t seem to make the pan (hand) button work in capture one pro 7 with my Wacom intuos 4. Space bar works to bring up the pan tool as a keyboard shortcut and the pan/hand button on my Wacom works in all my adobe software so I know it’s not the tablet.
    Any suggestions?

    Reply
    1. David Grover Post author

      Having you tried setting one of the quick keys to a space bar shortcut?

      I am not at my Wacom right now, so I can’t check, but will do so when I am next in front of it.

      Reply
      1. James

        Hi David,

        Thank you for your reply.

        I have to reprogrammed the ‘Pan’ ExpressKey to spacebar and this works.

        The only problem is none of the other express keys are reprogrammable as ‘Shift’ ‘Command’ and ‘Option’ keys are non active and non responsive when I try to reassign them using my keyboard.

        In fact ‘Pan’ is the only Expresskey that is now compatible and reprogrammable out of all 8 ExpressKeys with my version of Capture One pro. Which is now version ‘8’ as I have upgraded the licence.

        Surely It would be better just to have the Wacom intous 4 PTK-840 fully compatible with the software in the first place? Rather than having to reprogram Keys for the software.

        I’m running a macbook pro Retina display with OS X Yosemite version 10.10.1 if that helps you solve this problem.

        Though this problem has occurred throughout all my upgraded operating systems since purchasing Capture One Pro 7.

        The tablet Is also fully compatible with all the latest Adobe photographic software, So I know its not a fault on the tablets part..

        Any suggestions on a patch or any fixes for this problem?

        Reply
        1. David Grover Post author

          Hi James,

          I am not sure I fully understand?

          On my wacom settings I can program any of the express keys to Opt, Shift, CMD etc.

          David

          Reply
  12. David

    Hi, really thorough article, thanks.

    I recently changed my old Intuos 3 6×8 for an equally old 9×12, I (mistakenly) assumed that all my settings would be instantly available on the new tablet since they are using the same driver, but I was wrong.

    I have pen clicks and Expresskeys set up for almost every application I use and I’m almost positive that there has to be a way to have this “new” same model-different size tablet be able to see them without me having to manually create them all over.

    I tried restoring using the Wacom utility but it did no good. Do you have any ideas for me to try?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. David Grover Post author

      Hmm that’s a good question David, and I think I experienced the same issue some time ago.

      You would hope there would be some way to export!

      Have you tried to ask Wacom?

      David

      Reply
  13. Fábio José

    David ,
    I just bought mine first Intuos and this post is being very useful.

    I am very Happy with the support and mentoring provided by Phase One and has helped a lot in my learning of image processing.

    Thanks

    Reply
  14. John

    Wonderful guide! Thank you so much for taking the time to make it as well as respond to all the comments so diligently!

    Reply

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