Mobile Pixel-Pushing With the Wacom One

When working in Photoshop from home or on the road, the new Wacom One tablet can be a super helpful tool that matches up especially well with your laptop, giving you not only the control you get with a stylus and tablet but an additional screen as well. 

As a digital artist, I love the retouching and compositing projects I get to work on for my clients. And from day one, using a Wacom tablet has been essential to this work. For nearly 30 years, I’ve used Photoshop to paint, clone, mask, composite, etc. and cannot imagine how I could even think of working without a good stylus andtablet. (Unless you like the idea of painting with a brick, ‘er mouse.)

But for all the ease working with my Wacom Intuos has brought to the work, I have always jealously watched those of my colleagues who had a Wacom Cintiq, wondering how it would be to be able to paint directly on the screen. But the cost of those large Cintiq devices was always a barrier for me.

Then, Wacom came out with the Wacom One, sort of a Cintiq lite, priced in that “gotta have it” range that pulled me in.

At about 13 inches, the Wacom One is a bit smaller than the Cintiq 16, the smallest Cintiq, but it’s light and compact enough to fit into my workspace easily. And for those of you who are working from home or need a mobile setup, the Wacom One matches up perfectly with your laptop!

In fact, I think pairing your Wacom One with your laptop might be the best way to go for anyone working on the road or from home. The screen calibrates well, giving you a pretty accurate view of your image while also letting you extend the viewing space available much the same way you might add an extra monitor to your larger workstation. Add in the fact that you can use the stylus it comes with to retouch and paint directly on the screen, and you have a winning combination.

And it is indeed the ability to work directly on the screen that makes this tablet so useful, even if you already have a dual monitor setup on your home or office workstation. For instance, one of the most difficult tasks I have to do when compositing shots of people for movie posters and the like is painting hair, especially for women with long hair! No matter how clean a mask you’re able to create for the hair, it seems it’s almost always necessary to paint in those stray or flowing hairs to get a really natural-looking composite.
In the image below, shot by Nicole York, she needed the model masked out so she could composite him into another background.

As happens so often, it turns out you can only get so far with masking hair like this using various tricks like channel pulls or Select and Mask, etc. In the end, you have to paint in a lot of hair to wind up with something that works really well. In the image below, you can see the version on the left has an okay mask for the hair, but it still looks really rough, while the one on the right with more hair hand-painted looks a lot more natural.

And it’s in these kinds of jobs where being able to paint directly on the screen comes in handy. The hand-eye coordination is just that much easier, making painting those longer hairs a much more intuitive task.

Another task where it’s really helpful to be able to work directly on the screen is dodging and burning when working on getting a high-end result for portraits and beauty images. The precision that working directly on what you’re looking at makes it so much easier to get the results you’re after, because it feels so much more natural.

For instance, in the shot below, from photographer Emily Teague, the model was wearing a veil that had some wrinkles on it that added distracting light and dark streaks.

Cleaning those up took careful brushwork in applying the dodging and burning. Again, being able to paint directly on the screen made that work much easier. So much easier, in fact, I found myself going much deeper into the details than I normally would.

Here you can see the final result after the distracting dark and light streaks from the veil were cleaned up.

The Wacom One really hits the sweet spot between usefulness and affordability, especially if you’re looking to enhance your mobile retouching. The $400 price certainly makes this an option worth considering.

Images used with permission from Nicole York and Emily Teague. ­­

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