Pen Lag Solution for Photoshop on a Tablet PC
(or Cintiq. Or any tablet input device)
This is a post for others out there who are exploring digital illustration using Photoshop and draw-on-the-screen Tablet PC, or Cintiq systems.
The Tablet PC I'm currently using is a Tecra M4 made by Toshiba. It is equipped with a very large screen, 14" at 1400 x 1050 dpi, one of the very biggest in the field, making it a great choice for graphic artists of all stripes. I've written elsewhere about my experiences with using that tablet to make comics.
The problem, however, is that the Tecra M4 is an older machine. It has a single core processor which is not altogether super-speedy. The demonstration in this video was done on a machine with a CPU clock speed of 1.73 GHz and a RAM capacity limited to 2Gb. Now, while this doesn't render the machine worthless by any means, (it's still pretty darned quick on its toes), it does pose some speed limitations when working in Photoshop on very large graphics files. That is to say, when I'm doing two-page spreads, I run into some speed problems. And by 'speed problems' I mean, Pen Lag. (Brr!) This will affect any older tablet PC, and even the latest models when they happen to be pushed to their respective limits.
Luckily, there are some fairly simple work-arounds which I have discovered that effectively negate pen lag problems and allow an artist to squeeze the most out of his or her system. It boils down to working on the background layer and using non-transparent layers in a way which still allows for the benefits of transparent layers.
I hope the video I've made helps anybody else out there who is experimenting with Photoshop and digital comics. Please let me know your thoughts or if you have any questions, please post them either in the YouTube comment section or over on the Tablet PC forum.
July 25th, 2011