Digitizers For CAD

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Forum topic by RonInOhio posted 01-05-2013 06:08 PM 5431 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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721 posts in 3104 days

01-05-2013 06:08 PM

Did a search and didn’t find much in LJ about these. Was wondering if any of you artists or users of a CAD
program have one and use it. I just upgraded my CAD program and have been reading the reference manual to
get acquainted with all the features.

The digitizer perks my interest . You can use it for tracing, drawing, design work etc. Its an alternative way to design with a tablet and usually a pen instead of the mouse and keyboard.

There is a huge spectrum of these units out there. If I decided to get one I wouldn’t want to spend thousands but there seem to be some decent ones in the three to five hundred dollar range.

I can see how these would be helpful for people who design patterns or do intarsia and fancy scroll work. Or to make copys of designs to pull into a cad drawing. Lots of potential uses I suppose.

I also think this could be opening a whole new can of worms as far as compatibility of digitizers to CAD products and finding support , etc.

Thought it might be worth looking into sometime.

Anyone use the digitizer for design or CAD drawings ?

Note: I realize these can be used for CNC work but that isn’t really an interest I have.

14 replies so far

View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 3104 days

#1 posted 01-06-2013 01:33 AM

Bump. Nobody uses a digitizer ?

View Woodmaster1's profile


1089 posts in 2827 days

#2 posted 01-06-2013 01:45 AM

I used them with autocad six or seven years ago when teaching drafting. Now that we use Inventer a mouse works just fine. I do not know if you would gain that much so don’t invest a bunch until you try using one.

View WillAdams's profile


86 posts in 2235 days

#3 posted 01-06-2013 03:42 AM

I’ve used graphics tablets for a long while—- and switched to pen computers / Tablet PCs when it was possible to.

Writing this on a Fujitsu Stylistic now.

Software I use:

- Macromedia FreeHand
- Autodesk Sketchbook
- Corel Grafigo
- Futirewave Smartsketch

View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 3104 days

#4 posted 01-08-2013 12:22 AM


I am just looking into the possible advantages right now. As there seems to be relatively little info. Not too many
hobbyist woodworkers seem to be using digitizers. I thought perhaps getting a larger screen display for the CAD drawing,(tablet) and having the ability to trace or sketch freehand projects with a pen seems advantageous.

Guess I probably need to keep honing my mouse/keyboard CAD skills before I get serious about actually looking into acquiring a tablet and pen digitizer unit.


View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 3104 days

#5 posted 01-08-2013 12:33 AM

@Will Adams

A couple of questions Will.

Am I understanding this right ? Is the Stylistic an actual tablet computer that has built in digitzer or port for a pen ?

So you do your drawings directly to the tablet using a pen. And generally tablets are touch-screens. I assume you did this change for the portability and upgrade perhaps in software? Do you find it superior to adding a graphics display and pen as you said you use to do ?

Also do you use this setup for creative drawing mainly ? In other words, are you a graphic artist or do you use it mainly for shop drawings and sketches ?

Thanks .

View Mark Smith's profile

Mark Smith

509 posts in 2280 days

#6 posted 01-08-2013 12:41 AM

I use TurboCAD for my CNC and no I don’t use the digitizer. I have looked at them, but the way the drafting programs work now I’m not sure they would be much help. I do a lot of the drawing using keypad entry versus the mouse. You can enter the deminsions you want and angles and everything. But if you get one and use it, let us know how it works.

View WillAdams's profile


86 posts in 2235 days

#7 posted 01-08-2013 01:30 AM

Yes, the Fujitsu Stylistic is a pen computer—- the one I have, an ST-4121 is a Tablet PC w/ a Wacom digitizer—- uses the same pens as my old Wacom ArtZ.

Fell in love w/ the idea of pen computing when I read Niven & Pournelle’s The Mote in God’s Eye long before there were workable tablets. Using a graphics tablet w/separate screen has a bit of a disconnect. I do it at work where I have a Wacom Intuos and a couple of pens, but I prefer the immediacy and portability of a TabletPC w/ integrated stylus support.

While I work as a graphic designer (the Intuos at work mostly gets used for photo retouching) I do most of my sketching for plans on my Stylistic and all of my formal plans are drawn up in FreeHand. I use my tablet as my main machine—- web browsing, writing & editing, some light programming and macro development. I also draw in Creaturehouse Expressioj.

It’s mostly a matter of working style. One Co-worker uses his tablet extensively to paint using ArtRage, another for photo retouching and Illustrator vector work only, another uses a Magic Trackpad —- I also use my Intuos for extra buttons / macros in InDesign, but the balance don’t use them at all.

View handi's profile


159 posts in 4679 days

#8 posted 01-09-2013 03:40 AM

Unless you need to scan in actual 3 dimensional parts, why would you need a mechanical digitizer? For intarsia or scroll saw patterns, a scanner will do the job nicely.

Many CAD programs, and even more CAD/CAM programs can accept scanned images and even photos directly into the software and convert or trace them into Vectors.

There are also stand alone raster to vector conversion programs. I used to use one called Scan2CAD. I don’t know if they are still around, but a quick web search will find them.

I recently needed some map outlines for inlaying. I found a map, imported the image into DeltaCad ($35.00 online) and simply traced over the image as needed. Quick and easy.


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View WillAdams's profile


86 posts in 2235 days

#9 posted 01-09-2013 11:46 AM

The big advantages graphics tablets have are:

- pressure input—- vary cursor size and/or hardness
- angle rotation (on Intuos tablets)
- precision and expressiveness when drawing Freehand
- immediacy of input—- I can slip a drawing under a tracing overlay and be halfway done before the scanner is done scanning

View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 3104 days

#10 posted 01-11-2013 10:07 AM

@Handi : Those are all great points. Some I frankly was not aware of.

More curious then anything I suppose. Also I’m not crazy about using a mouse to
draw with. I don’t suppose thats really enough reason to splurge for pen and


View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3211 days

#11 posted 01-11-2013 10:23 AM

I’ve been using AutoCAD since 1984.
We started out on DOS and used digitizers.
The digitizers we used still had a mouse shaped operator interface but they had 16 buttons that could be programmed.
I thought I would be more productive with a pen, before I learned AutoCAD software.
AFTER, I learned how the software worked I realized the extra buttons were, by far, more important.
The work I do, manufacturing process layout, machine design, electrical line drawings and such does not require, and would not benefit from using anything more than a mouse.

I will say that a good optical mouse is a very good improvement over the old roller ball types.

The digitizing tablets of today are more artist’s tools than drafting tools. Hence the features like pressure and angle input etc.

View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 3104 days

#12 posted 01-12-2013 11:18 AM

“The digitizing tablets of today are more artist’s tools than drafting tools. Hence the features like pressure and angle input etc.”

That was sort of what I suspected.

View oldnovice's profile


7380 posts in 3607 days

#13 posted 01-13-2013 04:13 AM

I use Creo Elements/Direct Express and use the 2D files directly for my CNC or the prints for standard woodworking drawings. My input device is an optical/wireless mouse and that is all I need. I import 3D models, or 2D drawings I have never seen the need for a digitizer!

Never used a digitizer, never considered one!

I also belong the the CNC forums and can’t remember anyone there using a digitizers!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View jontro's profile


5 posts in 2198 days

#14 posted 01-14-2013 09:52 AM

Been an ACAD user for about 15 yrs, cut my teeth on ACAD 14, also have used Revit Arch for the last 8 yrs or so. Have a older 12×12 Wacom that is like a Timex watch…it just keeps on tickin’. I’ve found that since I first upgraded to ACAD 2009 and subsequently ACAD 2011, using the the ribbon interface has me needing the digitizer less and less. Not so for Revit Arch and I use it nearly exclusively for Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop and Corel Painter. The latter two for my freelance graphic design business. The stylus give much more accuracy and control then using a mouse and it’s easy enough to switch between the two as need. Wouldn’t be without it.

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