A computer mouse is a great input device for most computing functions but it falls well short of the mark as an accurate and precise drawing tool. If you’ve ever tried to sign your name or draw something freehand using a mouse, you know what I mean. The Wacom Bamboo Splash Pen is an ergonomic, comfortable drawing tablet with a wireless pen that will unleash your creativity in ways you never thought possible.
The Bamboo Splash Pen tablet connects to your computer with the included USB cable. The pen stylus requires no batteries and works on a radio frequency generated by the tablet. The pen is slightly thicker than a regular #2 lead pencil but feels comfortable in the hand for writing, drawing, and other precision tasks. Transition your art from paper to digital with the natural feel of the pen in your hand as you draw on the Splash’s tablet workspace. What you draw appears on your computer screen. The touch and accuracy is truly amazing.
My previous experience with another brand of drawing tablet, several years ago, was mostly disappointing. That tablet had a shiny glass screen with an awkward pen connected with a cable which always got snagged. The glass screen of that drawing tablet lacked the right feel for a drawing surface and the accuracy was seriously lacking. The Bamboo Splash Pen provides a work surface with a matte finish that is more like drawing on paper. The wireless pen means no cable to snag and interfere with your creativity. The Splash can be set up for either a right or left handed user. It’s lightweight and easy to hold for long work sessions without cramping your fingers.
What’s in the box
- Bamboo pen tablet – 10.9″ x 6.9″ x .4″; Active Area 5.8″ x 3.6″
- Bamboo pen with 2 button control – slightly thicker than a #2 lead pencil
- 3 Spare pen nibs plus a tool for changing nibs. Nibs are the replaceable points for the pen.
- Quick Start guide – Provides a brief overview of the tablet, features and optional accessories.
- Installation CD – includes driver software, interactive tutorial, and information on the care and warranty of your tablet.
- 2 additional Discs of Software – including Autodesk SketchBook Express and ArtRage® 3 Studio
The installation disc will install the necessary drivers for the device along with the Bamboo Dock which is a software application that loads to your Desktop. The Bamboo Dock includes a selection of useful free applications made for the Bamboo tablet that you may choose to install and use. These include Adobe PhotoShop Elements 7 for photo editing, applications for taking notes and creating a digital signature, drawing simple animations, Sumo Paint, and other useful programs to enhance the use of your new drawing tablet. You can also access the settings for the tablet and the pen using the Dock. There are many options available to adjust the feel and functions of the pen to customize it for your own use.
The Bamboo Dock also provides access to video tutorials for using your tablet as well as the product manual. Clicking on the ? in the My Tablet section on the Dock will load the manual for you to view. It appears that it downloads it from the Internet each time instead of offering to save it on your computer. If you visit the Wacom support page you can download the PDF manual and save it for future use or print it. I did experience some problems with downloading the file but found that right clicking on the Download button and then selecting ‘Save Target As’ will bypass the problems and quickly download the file to your computer.
The Bamboo Splash Pen includes an exclusive suite of software which is sure to get your creative juices flowing. Even the images on the box are fun and stir the imagination.
ArtRage Studio provides painting and drawing tools in an easy to use on-screen interface. I spent hours playing with the stickers and stencils options which can add a lot of fun and color to your drawing with very little effort. Another great feature that’s great tool for us novices is the Tracing option. This will give you a selection of images from which you may choose to load onto the screen. You can adjust the opacity of the image as it’s displayed on the screen and color settings. If you choose, the program will automatically produce the correct colors for each area of the traced image. Then just select the brush or pen point and the size you wish to use as you paint the image on your screen. Choose from a brush for Oil Paints, Watercolor, an Airbrush, a Paint Roller, a variety of pens, crayons and more. It’s a great way to get comfortable with using the tablet and pen interface to perfect your brush strokes. ArtRage even allows you to define the texture and roughness of the canvas which will change the way your chosen medium will display. You will be amazed at how quickly you can produce professional looking results.
The ArtRage Help Menu includes access to the User’s Manual, the ArtRage Support website, program updates, the online members’ area, forums and more. Help is only a click away if you need it. Visit the ArtRage website to see samples of the things you can do with the program and even download a 30 day trial version of ArtRage3 Pro.
Autodesk Sketchbook Express 2011
Sketchbook Express 2011 gives you professional drawing tools and brushes for quick sketches, doodles and more serious art work. Many of the drawing tools are similar to those found in ArtRage with the addition of a couple of new tools with real possibilities.
- Soft Eraser – gradually lightens the selected area on the screen without fully erasing it.
- Hard Eraser – completely erases the selected area on the screen.
- Chisel Tip Pen – works just like a real chisel tip pen with lots of drawing edges and possibilities.
- Smear Tool – draw a line or image and then use the Smear Tool to soften the edges for a more natural look.
- Blur Tool – draw clouds and then use the Blur Tool by itself or in combination with the Smear Tool to get real looking fluffy clouds.
Sketchbook Express provides the tools to get to get the job done and should appeal to serious artists. Beginners will probably have more fun if they start out with ArtRage. Sketchbook Express is apparently no longer available as a standalone product but you can visit Autodesk online to find out more about Sketchbook Pro 2011 and the latest version of the program which is Sketchbook Pro 6.
The Wacom Bamboo Splash Pen comes in a black matte finish with lime green accents. There is a lime green pen holder on one end of the tablet. Keep your pen in that holder when not in use. If the pen is allowed to rest on top of the tablet when not in use, it could interfere with any other pointing devices that you use on your computer.
The Bamboo Splash Pen lets you use your computer the way you always wished you could to draw, paint and sketch digitally with the natural feel of a pen in your hand instead of a clumsy mouse. The included software allows you to select drawing tools that replicate oil paints, watercolors, chalk, pencils and crayons. Have fun experimenting with the look and feel of each.
The affordably priced under $80, Bamboo Splash Pen is the perfect way to get started in digital art without spending hundreds of dollars for the tablet and pen. The Wacom Bamboo Splash Pen might just be the best gift ever for yourself or someone else. Even the images on the box are fun.
The Bamboo Splash Pen is available directly from Wacom online for $79. BestBuy lists the tablet online for $79.99 with free shipping and Amazon is offering it for $64.25 with free Super Saver Shipping.
Accuracy: +/- .02 in (+/- 0.5 mm)
Active Area: 5.8″ x 3.6″
Color: Black and Lime
Compatibility: Windows 7, Vista SP2, XP SP3, Mac OS X.10.5 or higher, Intel Processor
Connection: USB Type A (PC) , USB Micro (tablet)
Max Data Rate: 133 pps
Orientation: Reversible for right- or left-handed users
Physical Size: 10.9″ x 6.9″ x .4″
Resolution: 2540 lpi
Warranty: 1 Year