Mouse vs pen, which is best?
Mouse vs Pen, which is best? I’ve worked with both for at least 10 years each and so here are my thoughts on each.
For 20 years I’ve used a mouse for general computer usage, also for drawing in Illustrator for all my vector work. I’ve always believed that using a mouse to control the Pen Tool was far more accurate for vector work than using any other method.
In 2005 I decided to buy a graphics tablet with a pen to try out, solely for my vector work. I tried it on and off over a couple weeks, but just couldn’t get the hang of it. Eventually went back to using the mouse. I simply couldn’t get the accuracy and control that I could with the mouse.
RSI Mouse Problems
Anyway, a few months later I started to suffer from RSI (repetitive strain injury), which became more and more painful as the day went on. Therefore, I needed to try and find ways to alleviate this problem. I purchased a better chair, used a wrist support and bought a voice recognition software package to cut down on typing. All of this did help a little but it never got rid of the pain.
Then one day, I read an article about how using a tablet and pen can help reduce RSI pain. So out of desperation I went back to using the graphics tablet that I’d previously purchased. I practiced using a Wacom Intuos, during a quiet time of the year to give it another go.
Of course, at first, I had the same problems that I had previously had, struggling to control it accurately. But I did notice that it felt very comfortable, and I wasn’t getting the same pain as when using the mouse. Holding the Pen doesn’t twist your wrist round unnaturally the same as it would if you were using a mouse. If you only use a computer occasionally then this wouldn’t be a problem, but if you’re working on it 8 hours plus a day like I am that’s when you can start getting arm and wrist pains or RSI.
The Turning Point
This time I decided to have a proper go at it. I unplugged the mouse completely and used the Pen and Tablet for everything. Not just drawing, but also for general computer usage. The first 2 weeks was a real struggle. But then after about a month I started to find I was gaining more and more control of the Pen. From then on, I realised that this was the way to go for me.
About 3 months later, I seemed to have gained full control using the Pen and tablet. Right clicking, scrolling, everything is now second nature and best of all my RSI problem has disappeared! Also, I’m finding drawing in Adobe Illustrator or using the brush tool in Photoshop much easier and it feels more natural. Not only that, but as a bonus, I find I have more control when sketching on paper using a pen or pencil.
Which Tablet & Pen?
I would recommend using a Wacom. I did try 2 cheaper alternatives and I didn’t get on with them. I found that the pen felt ‘scratchy’ on the tablet surfaces.
My Wacom tablet only cost about $120 and I’m happy with it. There are more expensive tablets which can cost several hundred dollars. I’ve never tried any of these so I couldn’t say whether it would be worth the extra expense. Although no doubt I’ll be buying one sometime in the future. You will need to buy nibs for your pen as these do wear out. But I’ve used one pack of 5 which cost $7 for 2 months. They will vary how long they last depending on how you use it.
So, the winner for me between Mouse vs Pen, I obviously prefer the Pen. But if you’re only an occasional computer user then it might not be worth switching as you may get frustrated trying to get accustomed to it. But for full time users, especially if you work with graphics, I would recommend a graphics tablet, especially if you’re starting to get wrist problems as I did.