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Customizing Your Tablet

It's easy to see that Wacom put a lot of thought into the design and layout of the Intuos 3. As with earlier incarnations of the tablet, you can customize it for use with Photoshop, not to mention most other applications, meaning it will behave differently depending which application you're working with at the time. For example, the new ExpressKeys mimic the keys you use often on your keyboard. Use the bottom Space key to pan around an image. The middle key with the dimple in it functions as Alt/Option for switching to the Eyedropper when painting and also works with the Clone Stamp and Healing Brush. Use the large outer key as Control/Command to switch to the Move tool when the Marquee tool is active. The keys are also "chordable," meaning you can use them in combination to perform even more functions, like creating a perfectly circular marquee at the center of the canvas with Shift+Alt/Option. Use the Touch Strip located next to the ExpressKeys to zoom in and out of an image, by sliding your finger up and down it. Pointing with the pen as you slide your finger up the Touch Strip will zoom in on a specific area. There's a set of ExpressKeys and a Touch Strip on either side of the drawing surface (on the 6x8 Intuos and above), and you can program them to do different things. I combined the Touch Strip on the right side with the Keystrokes option to change brush sizes. Sliding up makes the brush larger and sliding down makes it smaller—how's that for convenience! You barely need the keyboard anymore.

Speaking of Keystrokes, let's clear those up. Customizing ExpressKeys and Touch Strips involves assigning functions in the Wacom Tablet Properties setup. When you select Functions in the Tool: area, you're given a choice of three tabs that control tablet keys: ExpressKeys, Touch Strip, and Pop-up Menu. I then set the Function by going from its drop-down list to Keystrokes, clicking the sliding up button, and typing the ] key then clicking OK. I did the same for the sliding down button and then assigned the [ key. Make sure that you add Photoshop to the Application: list by clicking the Plus (+) button on the right and either browsing to the Photoshop directory and selecting the executable, or by just clicking its name from a list if you already have Photoshop open. This is important if you want to ensure that you only use this particular function in Photoshop. I also decided to reassign the set of ExpressKeys on the right side of the tablet to execute keystrokes I use often, such as Save, Open, New, and Undo/Redo. Wacom includes a quick reference card that you can write new button functions on in case you're forgetful like I am. The 5BTN Intuos3 Mouse is also programmable, and as I indicated earlier, you may opt to use it as a replacement for your regular mouse. You can also use it with the same 1:1 mapping (Pen Mode) the pen uses, or you can leave it set in the default Mouse Mode. The mouse and the pen can even have different functions assigned to them so that they can function differently in Photoshop if you choose. Also, of course, the pen and mouse can be individually configured for each application you use.

Figure 4

Figure 4 Default and customized ExpressKeys

Figure 5

Figure 5 The Wacom Tablet Properties dialog

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