Use A Felt Nib on your Wacom Tablet Pen for More Drawing Control

Wacom Tablets are great but no matter what anyone says, they are no substitute for real life paper and pencil… not even close. I hear the Cintiq bridges this gap considerably but until I can afford the $2500 price tag, I’ll have to keep going on the rumor.

The biggest factor that makes drawing on a Wacom Tablet so difficult is the lack of pen control, the surface is just too darn slippery and it doesn’t feel natural. I may as well be drawing on a ceramic tile with a greasy plastic spoon…. Okay it’s not that bad, but it does get frustrating when you have to “undo45 times in a row.

However there is a way to improve the feel of the drawing surface… did you know you can buy felt-tip replacement nibs for your pen?? Oh yes, these are awesome. They have a marker-like feel which creates friction and causes “drag” so you gain much more control than you have with the standard plastic nibs. Almost feels like real paper.

They come in 5-packs for only $4.95 on the Wacom Direct Site. It’s a bargain steal for the difference it makes.

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[tags]wacom, tablet, cintiq, drawing[/tags]

33 Replies to “Use A Felt Nib on your Wacom Tablet Pen for More Drawing Control”

  1. That is cool! With TabletPCs coming down to $1300 or so, they are better than a cintiq because you can take them with you.

  2. You know what, I never thought about the portability factor when it comes to the tablet vs the cintique, good point Chris. A good reason to keep the tablet after the Cintiq purchase.

    I use a 6×8 Intuos 2… the Intuos 3 looks pretty sweet with the new hotkeys and all. You can get a new 6×8 for under $300 on Amazon these days. I think they come with some replacement felt-tip nibs too.

  3. I’ve never liked the feel of wacom tablets until I was given a useful tip…..cut a peice of paper to the size of your drawing area and tape it down using masking tape.

    It’s a bit of a pain to replace it every couple of weeks when it gets dirty, but it certainly feels more natural.

  4. Hi Chris, thanks for the tip. I’ve tried this a few times and if it were not for the felt nibs, I’d probably be using this technique.

    It’d be nice if Wacom would offer replacement surfaces for the tablet with different textures.

  5. Crap…I have a regular intuos tablet (not even intuos 2). Do the nibs work with older pens?

  6. Dave – I’m pretty sure all Wacom replacement pen nibs are universal for all models of the standard wacom pen. However I’m not 100% positive so you might want to drop them a quick line before ordering just to be sure.

  7. I just nabbed a felt nib from the bin at work and I’m using it at home with my original model Intuos- it’s awesome! Way more control now: No more slipping before placing points with bezier tools! I heartily second the recommendation, and for $5! How much is shipping tho?

    I’ve used the Cintiq 21U a bit, and for now, I still prefer the Wacom Tablet (I’ve taken the past 9 years to get used to Tablet interaction)- the most frustrating thing about the Cintiq for me was that my hand was constantly covering pop up dialogs and contextual menus. Granted, this is a problem with the paradigm of the current software and operating systems, and not a problem with the tablet. I’d definitely grab one of the new 13″ Core Duo tablet PCs before dropping $2.5k on a Cintiq.

  8. Thanks for comment Sean. I don’t remember exactly what the shipping was, I want to say only 2-3 bucks… (US) The package was pretty tiny as you might guess. And I remember getting them quickly, within 3 days I think.

    Interesting thoughts on the Cintiq, I never gave much thought to how software could clash with this new hardware technology. I think this might be the first time I’ve heard anyone say they prefer tablets over Cintiq’s.

  9. I didn’t mean to make it sound like the Cintiq wasn’t a great and evolutionary thing for people who draw (or sculpt in zBrush)- it certainly is that, but the my work method and style has adapted to using a tablet. I do a very rough sketch with the stylus and then trace over it with bezier curves- something that’s probably just as easily done with a mouse.

    One thing that I definitely prefer about the Cintiq (and this is huge) is the ability to rotate it to get those inverted curves the first time instead of sketch, undo, sketch, undo, sketch, undo… Direct contact with your art is definitely more intuative too. At the studio I work at, we’re using them for drawing animitation directy into flash and then tracing over it with bezier curves- And it’s probably easier to get the curve right the first time. For animation, it’s a boon because it eliminates several steps in the process- drawing a whole stack of papers and the PA who has to scan them all in.

    Given time apart from deadlines, I’m sure I would grow to love the Cintiq more than my tablet (I’d dreamed about such a device for years), but for the rest of this year, I’ll make do with my new felt nib.

  10. I draw and paint directly in painter using a Wacom Intuis 3 6×8 tablet. I use my Wacom tablet and my laptop in my weekly Life Drawing sessions to employ taditional techniques with digital tools.

    Painter allows you to rotate the page with a simple short cut that I have programed into the customizable hot keys on the Intuis 3. This customizable set of hot keys makes for a keyboard free experience which is very helpful in life drawing. I like the 6×8 size because it is small enough to carry with my laptop back and forth and about the same size as a sketchpad in your lap. After upgrading (after years of working with a graphire) to the Intuis I would say that it is defiantly worth the extra money to get the Intuis 3 model.

    I highly recommend getting a l laptop and taking it with your Wacom tablet to a weekly life drawing session. This way you get to work on developing your drawing skills and get used to working on the Wacom tablet at the same time.

    David Ferguson
    Free Wing Studios

  11. I feel that I have more better control after I started wearing SmudgeGuard to draw on my Wacom. I have no more friction and my sweaty hand moves more freely with better control. It’s really a great little glove.

  12. Apparently my new tablet doesn’t have an instruction manual, so I don’t know how to swap pen nibs/tips.

    I’d appreciate the help.

  13. Hi John,

    The pen nibs just pull right out. I use my teeth but I’m sure the more civilized use tweezers or small pliers… gently.

    Hope this helps!

  14. Kind of a silly question, but the only purpose of the nib is to create a different feel between the tip of the pen and the tablet, right? I thought somehow I’d see a different stroke (like using different tips — chisel, square, etc) on the screen. But after reading this I’m thinking it’s just to provide more tactile feedback as one draws.

    I’m using the wonderful Intuos 3 Special Edition, which comes with 2 pens and a host of nibs — felt, stroke (spring loaded), flexible. I don’t notice much difference between the others, but the felt nib indeed has more drag and is a nicer feel. To me it feels more like a 4B pencil on paper than a felt tip pen. Would be nice if they created ones that simulate actual sketching materials — charcoal, felt, and a rubbery one for the eraser…

  15. greetings to all :D
    i am a wacom intuos user but i DONT KNOW HOW TO CHANGE THE nibs. i searched all over the internet but yet i havent found a thing to help me :S could someone be kind enough to explain me how do i replace an old nib with a new one? a link showing the whole procedure would be even cooler :D thanx in advance

  16. mmmmmmmm….i just show the comment above :P
    hahaha! is it so simple ? i just tried it and i felt a little bit stupid for opened to pieces due to my curiosity of how it opens – and of course never make a thing :P
    thanx fitz!

  17. I’m new to tablet and nibs, too. Found your site through a ‘how to change nibs’ Google search. Thanks! I’ll be back…There’s lots to learn.

  18. Any large 39 cent plastic comb has about 10 usable nibs, that’s what I use,
    on my Graphire, if I want it rough I sand it.

    1. Holy crap! You’re a genius! Chance of damaging your pen if it doesn’t fit perfectly, however.

  19. quote
    Chance of damaging your pen if it doesn’t fit perfectly

    I’ve had the same comb tooth for 10 years, it’s just large enough to fit in the hole without falling out, and round, not square, looks just like the ‘real’ thing. You can take your pen to
    the comb store and try different combs. Not sure how Wacoms work, I guess the nib is just to get the pressure
    and direction to something ‘smart’ farther up the pen.

  20. How do I get my mid size tablet to match the ratio of my 24″ screen?

  21. How to change nibs on your Wacom Intuous 4.

    Open the pen stand by twisting the base of the stand clockwise. Take the metal ring from inside the centre of the stand. Use it like tweezers to pull the nib out of the pen. Slide a new nib in.

  22. Ive found that toothpicks and uncooked spaghetti noodles work great if there are no replacement nibs around.

    Just cut both ends of either item to appropriate length – And use a small fingernail filer to the necessary shape.

    Im really surprised the spaghetti noodle works as wonderfully as it does. Try it if you find yourself in this situation.

    1. Wallace – Wow! spaghetti noodles! I never would have thought of that but now that you mention it, it makes sense… I imagine it took a while to get the correct thickness?

  23. I finally wore out my comb tooth and went for
    a toothpick, just sanded it down on my
    grinding wheel. Those felt nibs sound good,
    it’s still too slippery. I taped a piece of paper to my Graphire, which helps. Then
    I cut tablet-shaped holes in pieces cardboard to
    get my arm level with the tablet. Still get tired hand syndrome. Building a lightbox out of a skinny flat flourescent fixture, paper and pencil are 5-10 times
    easier to use.

    1. Terry, I tried putting tracing paper over my tablet laptop screen, but never thought to try it on my desktop tablet… great idea. Did that work well for you?

    1. Great pick-up Terry! That’s the best light box under 4 bucks I’ve ever seen! Thanks for sharing.

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