Using a Wacom Tablet to Help Create an Altered Book


My first introduction to a Wacom tablet occurred when I was in multimedia school. This was back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth, mind you. 1996, to be exact. I liked these graphics tablets so much I purchased a small one with my student discount.

Amazingly, its still working just fine although I have upgraded my computer several times and gone from Windows 3.0 to Windows XP PRO.

You don't hear stories like that too often. My Wacom tablet is the only computer peripheral I haven't replaced in all those years.

So what is a Wacom tablet and what does it have to do with altered books and why should you care?

You care because these little gizmos allow you to create backgrounds for your altered book that are like nothing you have seen anywhere else.

Among other things, they allow you to duplicate your own handwriting on digital images that you print out for backgrounds or other decorations. Yes, your own handwriting! Not just a fancy script font that looks a bit like your handwriting, but your own handwriting.

As I said before, they're computer peripherals that you connect to your computer. My old Wacom graphics tablet connects by an ordinary port, but the modern ones connect to a USB port or even wirelessly, if you have the capabilities.

The tablets come in various sizes. Graphics artists use big ones, which as you may guess, have a big price tag. However, a small 4" x 5" tablet with pen costs about $85 at Amazon and works quite nicely for your purposes.

Once you become familiar with this item, you will use it regularly. Trust me on that. Everyone who dabbles with computer graphics loves these things once they give them a try.

Here is how they work. These tablets resemble small writing pads that sit on your computer stand in front of the monitor. A special pen comes with the tablet.

But the pen is not a pen. It is a mouse. You use it instead of your regular mouse when you are working with graphics. You hold it in your writing hand like you hold a pen, place the tip on the graphics tablet and then use it like a mouse.

The pen's tip gives a much finer and more delicate connection than a mouse does, plus you can adjust the pen for several levels of pressure.

This makes working with graphics for your altered book much easier -- PLUS -- it allows you to create images containing your own handwriting.

It works like this. You open your digital photo editing software. Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 for Windows is a popular choice.

Open a new file. Give it whatever background color you want. Next, locate the toolbar and select the pencil tool or a tool that allows you to draw freeform lines. Change the color to whatever color you want to write with. Then, holding your mouse/pen the same way you hold a pencil, WRITE (or print) your words, drawings or squiggles on the Wacom tablet.

You now have a digital image file containing your own handwritten message, or handwritten squiggles, if that is your pleasure. You can print your file out as is, or copy and paste it into any other image. And, since this is a digital image, you can resize the image to get any size handwriting you want.

Later, when you become skilled at using the Wacom tablet and pen, you can write your journaling directly onto your digital photography or digital image.

How cool is that?

Theoretically, you could do this with an ordinary mouse. But good luck getting the precision you need. Ordinary mice just can't compete with these art tablets.

tip If you create your handwritten signature, do not display this file on the Internet or send it to anyone by email. It is your signature and a dishonest person could use it to your disadvantage.

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Return to Altered Book Home Page when finished with Wacom Tablet