Saturday, January 12, 2013

Paint Dock

Before I lose track of this, I figure I might as well post it here.
If you are one of the few folks who has a windows tablet and wants to use Photoshop, I put together a little tool that makes it much more doable.

http://www.twinstickgames.com/downloads/PaintDock.zip




DISCLAIMER - NOTHING IN HERE IS THAT CRAZY, BUT OF COURSE, DO AT YOUR OWN RISK!

I've now got a setup that feels really nice, really portable, and circumvents most of the issues you'll run into using hotkey-centric Photoshop on your tablet. It is now, dare I say, a pleasant drawing and painting experience! Yay!

In this tutorial, you're going to fix your busted stylus sensitivity, make various system adjustments, and install a super-cool overlay tool that will let you do most common Photoshop operations with touch WHILE using a pen and while DISABLING touch everywhere on the screen that you don't want it ( i.e. where you are drawing )

First, download the goodies here -

PREP WORK -
a) Disable Flick gestures in pen and touch settings
b) In Samsung Easy Settings, make sure Reduce Noise in the touch section is OFF - it makes touch response a crapshoot at best, and you're going to need it.


STEP 1 - MAKE PEN SENSITIVITY NOT SUCKY

First of all, the default curves for your stylus on the Samsung really, really suck. The pitiful slider to change between soft and hard isn't a lot of help - the threshholds are just awful. You can't have fine soft control without having to double-stroke to get full opacity. It is blotchy and janky.

You should absolutely adjust your settings for your stylus and you will be amazed at how much better it feels.

I've got a setup I spent a good hour tweaking using this program - Tablet Pressure Curve Tool | Secret Laboratory

Make sure you get the beta, which lets you edit individual values on the pen.

Your ISD_Tablet.dat file contains your sensitivity curves. These are very, very important to making your stylus feel nice. My setup has nice soft control from light to midtones and ramps to full opacity at about 80% pressure. 

The ISD_Tablet.dat file is located under USERS/YourUser/AppData/Roaming/WTablet - you will have to be able to see hidden files and folders to get to this location.

Edit it with the curve tool OR you can use my ISD_Tablet.dat file (included in the zip ), and replace yours with it. I recommend trying mine out to see what you think before you start fiddling to save yourself some time.

Once you have saved or replaced the file, you need to stop and restart the tablet service -

Go to Control Panel->System and Security->Administrative Tools->Services and select TabletServiceISD, then stop and restart it. That will commit the changes from your curve twiddling.

NOTE! IF YOU USE THE PEN AND TABLET CONTROL PANEL YOU WILL OBLITERATE ALL YOUR NICE CURVES AND IT WILL REPLACE THEM WITH THE CRUMMY HARD->SOFT SETTINGS AGAIN! BACK THEM UP!

STEP 2 - INSTALL MY COOL TOUCH OVERLAY TUNED FOR PHOTOSHOP

My touch overlay is based on the RawInputControlTest AutoHotkey script available here - 
RawInputControlTest.ahk Many thanks to the author for an awesome script!

I call my variant PaintDock, and I've made several changes, ( apart from basic visuals and functionality of the keypad )

When run, PaintDock disables touch, and when closed, it restores touch to its original state.
That means you don't have to worry about palm rejection or annoying errant scribbles from your pinky.

Paint Dock automatically hides if your stylus gets near it.

PaintDock has controls, tuned for your hand's position, for the following -

Pan
Eyedropper
Zoom In/Out
Brush Size Up/Down
Step Back(Undo) Step Forward(Redo)
Brush Mode
Eraser Mode
Select All
Deselect
Copy
Cut
Paste
CTRL
SHIFT
DELETE
Flip Horizontal

These are all things I use all the time. Swatches, selecting individual brushes, and managing layers all work fine with the stylus.

It is compiled to an Exe, so you should not need AutoHotkey to use it ( although I include the script )

You can modify any of the buttons and their controls by editing the paintdock.txt file included, WITHOUT having to recompile the script. I also included the PSD I used to generate the button art.

I link PaintDock to the taskbar near the start menu, turn it on for Photoshop, and turn it off when I'm done.

NOTE: FLIP HORIZONTAL IS MAPPED TO CTRL-H - 
There is no default mapping for flipping the canvas horizontally in Photoshop. If you would like to use this control, make sure to assign the keyboard shortcut in Photoshop.

Enjoy! Hope this proves a help to other artists fumbling around in a hotkey-less world.

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