A few months ago, I received the Wacom Intuos Pro tablet (small size) to try it out and review it.
Since I’ve started to travel I’ve been using my MacBook Pro and its trackpad for any post-processing and photo retouching work. Now, there’s nothing wrong with using a mouse (or a trackpad) and a keyboard when editing. However, sometimes editing with that setup becomes harder, especially when the amount of precision you need is high.
This is where using a graphics tablet for photo editing is a great help. The Wacom Intuos Pro can give you a lot of control and precision in your retouching and it can also speed up your workflow.
If you’ve never used a graphics tablet for photo editing before, you may wonder if you actually need one.
First Impressions – How It Looks
The tablet comes with a USB-A cable ( however the tablet does feature a Bluetooth connectivity if you want to go wireless), the Wacom’s Pro Pen, and a pen holder with a wide range of replacement nibs.
The tablet itself has a really nice design, it doesn’t look or feel like a plastic toy. It’s very lightweight and slim, that makes it incredibly easy to carry around with you. If you travel a lot, you’ll find that this tablet will easily slip into your daily bag.
The pen is the best part. It is Wacom’s Pro Pen 2 and it has a balanced feel, it’s not too heavy and it is not overly light either. The pen nib is replaceable. I’ve been using it for 3 months now and it’s still fine, you can tell it’s been used but it still does its job perfectly. The pen also includes two customizable buttons, which are always handy.
Inside the pen base, you will find 10 extra nibs for the Pro Pen (six standard and four felt tips). I really like its design as it allows you to keep them neat and tidy. However, the metal screw cap can be a real pain to open.
Setting up the Wacom Intuos Pro (small) tablet
The Wacom Intuos Pro tablet has a very simple set up process. After installing the software, you can adjust the tablet and pen’s settings via the Wacom Desktop Center. You can fully customise it, changing the functions of the Express Keys, switching between left and right-handed orientation, adjusting sensitivity and more.
After you’ve set-up the basics, you can move on to the shortcut buttons. How you program them is totally up to you. I would say, a good way to approach this fase is to take a moment and pay attention to your normal workflow in Photoshop or any photo editing software you use. Which functions do you use the most? Which of those actions would be easier to use at the click of a button?
Of course, don’t forget to set up your pen as well. You will be impressed by the versatility it offers and the speed with which you can make changes – especially when it comes to the PS brush settings. You can delete, double click, adjust brush sizes and attributes all from your pen.
You can use the Wacom Intuos Pro tablet either via a wired connection to your computer or wireless using Bluetooth. In both cases, I found that the tablet is very responsive, with no action delay. Plus, the Pro Pen 2 works well and has very good recognition of pressure and tilt.
What I Use It For
The Wacom Intuos Pro tablet is the tool that now I use for editing in Photoshop. The ease of using a pen to draw as well as the customizable buttons on the tablet has improved my workflow speed. I found that some tasks – such as making precise selections, editing masks, and changing various healing brush sizes – in Lightroom, Photoshop or Luminar 4 are just easier using the pen and tablet combo than they are using a laptop trackpad.
Over these months I found that the pen and tablet are really handy when I need to apply localized adjustments using the Adjustment Brush and the Spot Removal in Photoshop. What makes the pen tablet more efficient is that you have the accuracy and fluid movement of a pen versus a mouse and you can even control the opacity simply by applying more or less pressure through the pen. You can also use the button on the Pro Pen 2 itself to quickly adjust the size of the brush you’re using to the precise size needed. Additionally, when using the brush you can hold the option/alt key which will turn the brush to an eraser, and then you can erase with accuracy and speed.
I use, instead, the Express Keys on the tablet for different functions such as scrolling, zooming, rotating, etc.
Knowing how you edit, you would assign the appropriate keys and tasks to the different Express Keys and skip all the menu navigation time.
What Size of Wacom Intuos Pro Should You Go For?
This is obviously a personal choice and will depend entirely on your needs. Initially, Wacom offered to send me a medium-size tablet, however I thought that, specifically for me, that option would have been too big and ultimately inconvenient to use so I opted for the small one.
As far as I know, most photographers go for the medium size and I think that’s because they usually have a static, home-based working station.
Persoanlly I’m happy with the small size and I honestly think that the small surface is even a too big workspace and you will reduce it, as I did. Your wrist will get tired more easily when you work on a bigger surface.
Also consider the size of your desk and the room your Intuos Pro will take up. I have a fairly small table at the moment and anything bigger than the small-size Intuos Pro would make it too crowded.
Is it easy to use?
The first days of using it will feel impossible and you will want to give up and get back to your mouse or trackpad. What I can tell you is that once you get a feel for using a tablet you won’t regret it.
As with every new tool, it is a learning curve that can only be mastered if you continue to use it. There were a few times when I thought I would never get used to it. Just put your mouse away for a week and use only your Wacom.
The second thing to know is that customizing the Wacom’s settings is essential for maximizing its benefit to you. I found it quite difficult to decide what settings and shortcuts I wanted to use and that was frustrating at first, but you can always change these so don’t stress too much about it at the beginning.
To Summarise – Pros and Cons
- Small and lightweight makes it easy to travel with, and it doesn’t take up much space on your desk
- The Bluetooth connection makes it wire-free
- Pro Pen is really comfortable to use and offers high levels of precision
- Great battery life
- Works with all major photo editing softwares such as Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One, Luminar 4
- Initial customization takes a while as you need to input commands manually
- The plastic used for the tablet leaves your fingerprints on the surface so it will look “old” and used from the beginning
- The pen stand that houses the extra nibs can be hard to open