Best pen tablet (non-screen) to use with Sketchup?

Anyone have experience using a pen tablet (with no screen) to use Sketchup? I have hand issues and have to use a pen (instead of a mouse).
Thank you!

I’ve used a Wacom tablet since 1993, so almost a decade before SketchUp came along. SU is not particularly friendly to it, but with a few tricks, you can get along. I was having carpel tunnel issues before picking up the tablet, and it did help. When I go back to a mouse for a while, it starts to flare up again.

The biggest problem is that SU assumes a mouse which you can let go of with your hand and it stays perfectly still while you enter numeric input. You simply can’t with the pen, but what you can do is deliberately click somewhere in the right direction, and then type the correct numeric input after the fact. If it weren’t for that feature in SU, the pen would be much more problematic.

Some other things aren’t the easiest with the pen. Parallel offset works better with click and drag than click-click, and you may want to turn off continue drawing with the pencil tool.

Also, I use mine with a MacBook Pro (and an external monitor). I typically have my left hand on the trackpad to do two finger scrolling to replace the middle wheel button of the mouse. Lately, I got a 3D Spacemouse for my left hand, and they make a good combination.

I also use wacoms, several versions going way back to a graphire I think it was called, fairly clunky and had a mouse you could put on it too. (I just googled it and people are still selling them). Up to a full blown Cintiq live screen version. I currently use two Intuos Pros, one with the Paper Edition. So neither have a screen and the cintiq died and wacom won’t fix it because they say it is obsolete, the only obsolete part of it is the battery won’t take a charge and they won’t replace it. Their helpful suggestion was to buy a new model at great expense, this only a year after they had replace the motherboard in mine at great expense. While I like their products I don’t have much time for their policies.

The intuos work beautifully for me with SU, but yes you need to rethink a bit. One of the buttons can be set to middle mouse so you can orbit pan etc but not zoom, you can pinch zoom and two finger zoom and set up various gestures. As I have several pens I can set them to behave differently, so one does orbit for when I’m not working at my normal spot. But mainly I have the buttons set to right click and double click and use a spacemouse for navigation. The two buttons on the space mouse are set to ctrl and shift, this gives me quite a lot of useful tools without going to the keyboard. I will point out here that I have never been a keyboard hoverer, so keyboard shortcuts aren’t that important to me. I have a rather fluid approach to modelling, sometimes my left hand sometimes my right goes to the keyboard, all depends what each is doing at the time, and you don’t have to drop the stylus to do it. Plus I use a custom toolbar that floats and I move around close to where I am working, sometimes I even use a small floating onscreen keyboard.
I’m certainly not saying I don’t use shortcuts, I do, many many of them and I even have an android tablet setup with named shortcuts and two number pads so I can input numbers easily with right or left hand.

So, tablets can work very well in conjunction with other tools, I think a tablet alone would be less that ideal, compared directly with a scroll-wheel mouse and keyboard. Others may feel differently. Mind you I can happily use a Stylus with the web version using finger zoom and middle mouse button as it doesn’t work with the spacemouse. Perhaps if I didn’t have the spacemouse for pro I would adapt quickly.

I don’t find this an issue, I just lift up and the cursor stays put, no trouble defining an accurate direction.

I’m a bit unsure what you mean here, you can tap and drag. Perhaps you have your stylus set up to click rather than tap. I have mine so the tip touching the tablet is a single click, it is possible to set it so you need to click the button for a click. Perhaps this is related to the other lift off issue too.

Yes, true, I do that a lot actually, but sometimes the cursor moves just enough while lifting it, that something goes a little off.

I wish the control panel let you designate a true “click” as an option, and I’m not sure if that’s what you mean. What they call “click” is really “mouse down.” This is what I have:

The tablet as well as touch interfaces like the iPhone are prone to skidding when you go to click or tap on something. If your finger or the stylus skids a little when you try to click, the interface sees it as a click-and-drag and does something else.

I haven’t used the touch interface much, and assigning the Space Mouse buttons is an interesting idea.

If you click the options button you get a few more choices.

Oh,yes, that. I could try playing with that again. I’ve never loved the side buttons on the pens, but never hurts to try.

The other thing I do is Map my specific su pen to only the one screen so it is contained within sketchup and I reduce the area of the tablet being used which means less moving to get to things, but I guess that might add to your small inaccuracy issue.
Having the pen mapped this way means I can use the touch feature to move to either of my other screens then just drop the stylus back and I’m straight into SU again.

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I’ve just noticed you have the second button disabled, I have that as double click and find it extremely useful and much more accurate than a standard double click, with either stylus or mouse. So often I’d be double clicking a few things all to the same amount and suddenly the double click hasn’t worked perfectly and the size has changed, doesn’t happen when using the button.
Here’s a very simple example of what I mean. If the double click goes wrong on either the offset or the pushpull you have a bit of trouble resetting it.
Double click button

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Thank you Box & RTCool for your responses and additional notes. I’m bumping up to a better pen/tablet and will restart from there. The trickiness is obtaining the same control that the mouse has, so thank you again for the notes that I may reference. I may revisit this again when I’m at a next plateau. Very best all.

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I also use the Intuous Pro for many years. Far less fatigue with a pen and tablet.

That’s the one I’m going to try (and looking for less fatigue). Thanks.

Have you had occasion to try alternative mouses, like a “vertical” model?

I started my computer use when a tablet was the preferred CAD input device. The late 1980s and early 1990s models were quite clunky and I got all kinds of hand symptoms - and, perhaps paradoxically, they were greatly relieved when I switched from tablet to mouse.

I still use mouse too, but haven’t tried the ones that rotate the wrist to natural position. The tablet feature I like best is that it is mapped to your screen(s).

I think it would be great to use a tablet. I’ve got a 21" Cintiq that I really like for image editing and other things but I can’t get on with Sketchup on it. Part of my problem is that I’m left handed but use a mouse right handed. I just find the stylus clumsy for working in SketchUp but I envy those who can manage it without problems.

You can do double duty with a left handed tablet!

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I could run two instances of SketchUp, one on each screen if I could do that Marty Feldman thing with my eyes.


It’s worth a try. I’ll bring my tablet to basecamp and you can give it a go!

I’ll work on getting my eyes to point in different directions.

Actually before I bought the Cintiq I had a Wacom Intuous and I really had a hard time with that. Maybe if I’d practiced more…

Once you get the screen mapping aspect, it works really well. That’s where most struggle as they try to use the pen like a mouse.

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