Wacom Line quality; tips anyone?

I recently bought a larger wacom tablet but I am having some trouble gettting the results that I’ve seen others get… I know part of the problem is that I can’t draw like Syd Mead on paper, so how could I spect to on a tablet. The real problem is that I can’t seem to get the same line quality that I CAN get on paper…

Now I know it is possible, I have seen many examples online, but I have to ask if anyone else started with a Wacom thinking this and overcame it? Specific problems I am noticing:

  • tilting the pen makes the line “wobble” where a pencil and paper would not

  • throwing lines in one direction works ok, but the “cross” direction doesn’t come out as nice - and spinning the canvas or tablet doesn’t feel natural

  • Throwing the lines in the natural direction sometimes start off a little screwy, jittery, but fade out normally

  • is it easier to start off with a scanned-in underlay, or does an experienced Wacom-er just dive in on a blank canvas?

  • how much masking do people use? Is the normal workflow to mask, etc by mouse then go back to the stylus? ( this is pretty much how I have rendered with PShop and a mouse… but is seems an exacting process)

If anybody could offer some advice with these or any other secrets, i would really appreciate it


I would say it has some what to do with the program.

I have found that Alias Sketchbook Pro and Corel painter have better line quality than Photoshop.

Those are the only 3 (raster packages) )that I have used with the tablet though.

You’ve probably already tried it but, I’ll ask anyway… Have you played with the control panel settings? There are a couple of settings there that might set you in the right direction.

Here is a link to all the Wacom user manuals which have specifics on setting up and using your specific Wacom.


If you’ve done all that and are still having problems outline the specifics of your hardware and software. It may be one or both of those.

If I want to get decent linework in PS, I go into the brush settings, pick a hard-round tip, then select the “shape dynamics” to make the stroke taper at the ends and use the pen pressure to do it. I also select “other dynamics” and make the stroke fade out at the tips also using pen pressure.

While PS doesn’t give you quite as smooth of a line as painter and alias will, it can do an acceptable job if you knwo what settings to use.

It can also help to up-res the file size for line work.

Hope that helps!

Thanks for all the advice…

I’m going to put alot of practice in and see if I am still having the same problems after a week or two

I have been using a wacom (Intuos2) for a little over a year now and just starting to be able to get the line quality reminicent of pen on paper. Two tips though:

I know I tend to be heavy handed (why i sketch with pen instead of pencil) and the wacom sensitivity maxes out too fast and I end up with fat, uneven lines. I found that if I set the control panel sensitivity to be pretty high (too sensitive) and then select the firm pressure setting on my actually intuos (upper right corner of the tablet) I can press on the stylus and DRAW without having to worry about pressing too hard and wobbling.

In addition, in regard to the shape dynamics setting in photoshop is that if I set size dynamic control to pen pressure and set the minimum diameter to around 35% combined with the first tip, i can get pretty decent lines. This tends to work for me.

I can draw a heck of a lot better in sketchbook though… I though for CS2, adobe would improve the tablet support and painting engine again but maybe CS3?

Good luck!

Right now I have been been going back and forth between Photoshop CS and Alias StudioTools 12 …

the biggest thing I have noticed is how nice the line quality seems to be in Alias

The difficult part it is to work with the layers and masking, which I know like the back of my hand in Photoshop, but don’t have a clue how to manuipulate in Alias.

I have found that locking the bushes to curves is really great in Alias too… but even the curves are a little tricky for a newbie familiar to Illustrator

Man, this is exactly what I’ve been doing as well. The layer functionality in PS is far better than V12. Also, PS handles large file and layer manipulation much better. I’m talking about things like transforming an image or layer, masking, and color editing. On the other hand, PS sketching is not as good as V12. Not only is the line weight harder to achieve but, the tesselation when sketching circles is amatuer looking at best.

Now if PS would just fix the line weight, tesselation, and if you could snap to curves you’d have an awesome, less costly, sketch and rendering program.

it is really nice to be able to rotate the canvas like you can in ST12 too…

I read somewhere that you should keep the canvas highlighted then you can dab your pen on the rotate tool and drag to spin. This seems to be how people can throw those lines “the other” direction

it still doesn’t feel right for me yet, but its always like that til I spent a ton of time on it. you should check this out if you haven’t already —>



Some of thoose guys there are great illustrators and spend the time to share their skills