How to make a simple pen leash for the Ugee P50S tablet pen

How to make a ‘pen leash’ for the Ugee P50S tablet pen:

After my recent problems with damaged pens for the Ugee 1910b tablet monitor, I purchased a new pen. It solved all the problems I’d had with the old pens, and so I wanted to ensure the new pen could not fall on the floor and be damaged. To do this I made a simple but effective “pen leash” or “pen necklace”. Here’s how to do the same.

1. Take the long cap from the top of the popular Crayola Mini-Marker. These are widely and very cheaply available for kids in budget stationary shops and large supermarkets, and you can probably also get them via eBay. Its cap has a perfect snug grip on the top of a Ugee P50S. Snug and firm, but easy to remove.

2. No need to drill holes in the cap for a chain. Find an old long bootlace, of the Doctor Martens or hiking boot type, with the usual crimped tubular plastic-covered lace-ends. These small lace-ends can be jammed very snugly and firmly into the ventilation slots in the top of the Crayola pen cap.

3. The cap fits and grips firmly onto the end of the Ugee P50S. But not so firmly you’ll never get it off again to charge the pen (the USB cable’s charging hole connector is at the top of the pen).

IMPORTANT: To detach the cap once it’s on firmly, hold the top bit of the pen marked “Ugee”, then gently pull the cap off. Do not hold the main pen body while doing this, because the detachable top part of the pen can itself be pulled off in this way.

4. You now have a simple ‘pen leash’ which you can hang around your neck, and which will prevent your pen from being dropped. Dropped either through fumbling, or being put down and then rolling or being brushed off the desk.

The balance of the pen in the hand is only minimally affected, due to the lightness of the cap and lace. The softness of the lace means that it won’t cause wear-damage on your tablet or cause an annoying rattling noise like a metal chain would. If, after a while, the lace becomes grubby then it can be easily replaced.

Since the pens come in a pack of multiple colours, as do boot laces, you can have various colour combinations to suit your taste.

Problem and solution: the Ugee pen can no longer ‘double tap’, behaves strangely

Problem: The Ugee pen can no longer ‘double tap’, behaves strangely.

Possible solution: The pen’s battery is very weak, but still functioning. Charge the pen’s battery, or switch to the supplied second pen (if it has a charged-up battery). Update: see the foot of this blog post for more suggestions, one of which partly worked.

I went to my Ugee pen monitor today and found that the pen was behaving unusually. It had worked fine for six months or so.

* When the pen tip hovers over a tab, it will instantly “magnetise it”, automatically pick it up and rip it out of the UI as you move the nib. It does the same for Windows Taskbar icons, Photoshop Tool presets and similar.

* “Double-tap to open” no longer works at all. Tapping ‘X’ or ‘_’ to close or minimize a Window no longer works.

* A ‘bottom-click’ press with the pen button is needed in order to select, which was not needed before. It makes no difference if you select ‘None’ in the Driver settings for this button, it still acts as an activating click.

* Typing on the On-screen Keyboard and Notepad is near-impossible, because the Window focus is not synced and a single pen-button key-press causes multiple repeating letters to appear in Notepad.

None of these things had happened before, and I had made no changes. I assumed the problem was due to a Microsoft update, which had messed up the pen tablet settings in Windows. But nothing in the Control Panel’s ‘Ease of Access’ center could help, and nor could ‘Pen and Touch’ or ‘Mouse’ or the Monitor drivers or settings or similar. There was no Windows Tablet service running that would conflict with my Pen driver. Cables were all seated well, and a switch of the USB cable socket had no effect. Screen calibration was fine, and the pen drew well in its Driver’s small test window. Nothing on the Pen’s own driver settings window helped return the pen to the proper normal double-tap behaviour.

I tried changing the pen nib, with no result. I rebooted the PC, again with no result. I hard-booted everything, again with no result.

Then I dug out the second pen that comes with the Ugee, and suddenly everything was working as normal. The problem seems to have been that the battery charge had finally run out on the first pen. Which shows how long a charge lasts — about six months, it seems.

Update: this was only a temporary fix, regrettably. It worked but the same problems have returned, with both pens and even when they are well-charged.

Update: Breakthrough No. 1 — I found that the old double-tap functions are still there, just positioned somewhat above the screen rather than at the screen surface! If I behave with my pen as if the screen is ‘up in the air’, about half an inch or more above where it actually is, then I get a great deal of the old functionality back again. A hardware Factory Reset of the Ugee Pen Tablet monitor does not fix this proximity problem. Menus and Windows can at least be used by hovering and gesturing with the pen, with care, but the use of brushes and pens is problematic unless one can paint onto the surface of a screen.

Update: Breakthrough No. 2 — The best suggestion found so far is from the Ugee Help FAQ:

* The pen draws even while hovering.

It could be the nib in the pen is stuck in depressed (clicked) mode. The nibs are replaceable. Pull it out with a pair of tweezers or needle nose pliers (gently so you can re-use the nib) and let the pen sit on its side for a few hours, e.g. overnight, and see if it the pressure sensor will reset itself.

It seems strange that this should be the case with both pens, but that does seem to be the most logical explanation (all other possibilities having seemingly been tried) and would also neatly explain why the double-tap is not working when other functions are. I also read that the pens should not be stored horizontally, and my second pen was stored that way for six months — that may perhaps explain why the ‘second pen trick’ (see above) was only a temporary fix?

If the “remove nib / lie pen on its side” suggestion doesn’t cure the problem with either pen, the next step seems to try for a replacement pen (the P50S) — which in the UK ships for about £15-£20.

Update: Breakthrough No. 3 — Ugee’s suggestion partly worked. After leaving both pens nib-less and on their sides for 18 hours or so, the older and more-used pen is much improved. Not enough to give me back my lovely double-tap, but enough to ink and paint perfectly. It’s now in its vertical pen-holder and it’ll be interesting to see how it is after a night like that. Further improved, hopefully.

The newer less-used pen is the same as before. But at least the clear difference between the behaviour of the two pens shows that the problem is in the pens rather than the software or the monitor. I can live with awkward menu-opening for a while, via the pen buttons, so long as I can draw a clean pressure-sensitive line — but it now looks like I’ll be getting two new P50S pens when I can next afford it.

I’ll also now be giving the newer pen another 18 hours of nib-less lay-down, in the slim hope that it’ll reset somewhat. If it doesn’t improve I might disassemble it, as it’ll be useless otherwise. Perhaps my leaving it horizontal in storage for six months didn’t help matters, and contributed to it working perfectly for 30 minutes and then abruptly ceasing to work properly.

Update: Breakthrough No. 4

I ordered a new pen, a branded Ugee P50S, and it arrived new and boxed today. On charging and testing it worked fine. Problems all solved, albeit at the cost of taking a £15 chunk out of my PayPal. Once I have the funds I’ll be ordering another two of the pens as backups.

I’m not sure what to do with the two older pens. One is obviously kaput, and the other is meh. I might try disassembling the kaput one, as a trial run on trying to repair the meh one.

10 Photoshop panels for Photoshop CC 2017

Since SketchBook Pro can read-write Photoshop .PSD files, the software makes a natural first-step before you finish up the sketch in Photoshop. Here are ten Photoshop panel add-ons which can help get the job done in everyone’s favorite uber-software, once you’ve finished up in Sketchbook.

1. Free. The very first thing the new user of Photoshop panels need is ZXPInstaller. It quickly and automatically installs all your Extension Panels direct from their .zpx installation file. Installing manually is not advisable. You used to be able to do this with something similar from Adobe, but they squished it with CC 2015. However ZPXInstaller is an open source continuation, and it uses the same Adobe engine to make it work.

ZPXInstaller doesn’t uninstall, a process which is a total nightmare (because it needs to be done manually, and often the Panel has scattered its files into several obscure bits of Windows) — but if you need to make a start on uninstalling then you’re likely to find your installed panels and bits-of-panels in folders at:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Adobe\CEP\extensions\..
C:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\CEP\extensions\..

The intrepid Photoshop panel-hunter on the Web probably also needs to know that in 2017 it’s wise to avoid older Panels that require Adobe Flash to work, especially if they auto-update. Newer ones are made in the much-safer combination of JavaScript and HTML.

2. $. Coolorus Colour Wheel 2.5 gives you a Photoshop colour picker modelled after the best, namely the one which is found in Corel Painter.

3. $. Brusherator 1.3. A beautiful little panel on which you can store a custom arrangement of Brushes. 1.2 also added the ability to have Actions on your panel as tiny buttons, which makes it even more useful.

After install, it’s not the easiest of tools to figure out. In fact, let’s be frank: it’s a bastard. It uses odd metaphors like ‘shelves’ and suchlike, has no tool-tips on its control buttons, and has a manual that needs a clearer re-write. Swop brush sets in Photoshop Brushes, and suddenly it “can’t find” the brush you placed on its Panel. The other main problem, common to all Panels it seems, is that its dialog windows don’t respect dual monitor use (they show up on the other monitor, for instance). But Brusherator is however unique and vital, once you discover how to fully use it and get it set up. Which may take a day of your time, frankly. The first step to Brusherator sanity seems to be to make sure that you always have all your Photoshop Brush sets loaded at once, in the Photoshop brushes library — or Brusherator will “loose” brushes as you swop out brush sets. The second is for those on a pen monitor to understand how vital it is to use your main monitor + mouse (with the vital right-click) to set this up on the main monitor first, because trying to set it up with a pen + second monitor is very frustrating,

4. $. Lazy Nezumi Pro provides a real-time brush-smoothing engine for Photoshop, like you have in Sketchbook Pro and Manga Studio and other software. It’s robust and quite simple, though the developer over-explains it on the landing page and makes it look scary due to all the settings and sliders. It’s actually mostly controlled by a handful of drop-down presets.

It’s very light on your PC system resources, too. Not all brushes play nicely with it. If you beloved inking brush (Kyle’s ‘Mister Natural’ springs to mind, though it’s nearly impossible to find after install — turns out it isn’t under Brushes at all, but over on the Tool Presets panel) isn’t doing the business, just remember that you probably need to turn off Lazy Nezumi for a moment.

5. $. AD Brutus Symmetry. Yes, you already have excellent Symmetry tools in SketchBook Pro. But how cool and useful would it be to also have them in Photoshop? Simple and robust, Brutus does the job well and with a neat-o retro comic-book style.

6. $ Font Hero, a font previewer and organiser inside Photoshop. Oh yes…

Of course, font bookmarking was officially introduced by Adobe in CC 2015, but this is arguably more useful.

7. $$! Corel ParticleShop for Photoshop. This is a full-blown Photoshop plugin from the same Corel Corp. which makes Painter. If you have SketchBook Pro you may not consider that you need it. But, when used with some of the expensive add-on Painter-like brush packs, this is very impressive. Not all the brushes make me go “wow!”, and nor does the price. But the Fur brush set is especially nice, and the brushes are fast even with Lazy Nezumi enabled.

More Brushes? I’ve tried a lot, and Pixelstains 6 Charcoal Brushes are very wonderful — especially when used in combination with Lazy Nezumi Pro.

8. Donation-ware. RadialMenu, a standalone Windows version of the Wacom radial menu. You can store anything you want on it, shortcuts, even macros!

9. $. SVG Layers for Photoshop. Import a layered SVG vector file (from Corel Draw, Inkscape, Adobe Illustrator etc), and keep the editable vector layers. Export, too.

10. $. And lastly, the fun 3D Map Generator GEO. Everything you need, including graphic tiles and elements, to quickly assemble an isometric bird’s-eye view of a place and a route through it. The maker also has a free Isometric Icon Plugin to assist with making your own tiles, for instance for a RPG game. Not something you’d use every day, but nice to have installed for the moment when you need it.

How to pan and zoom the canvas in Sketchbook Pro

For total newcomers to Sketchbook, here are the absolute basic steps on enabling the option of moving the canvas around in Sketchbook Pro:

1. You need to go to the Lagoon in the corner of your screen and find a way to the Puck.

(If the Puck is not visible it can cause newcomers to become very frustrated, as they have no idea where it is or how to turn it on or even that it exists. If you’re a Photoshop user, you naturally go to the top Menu drop-downs to open a window for panning and zooming or navigating — but there’s nothing there).

2. The Puck is actually activated by clicking on the deeply un-intuitive icon of the Hammer, which is in the rainbow-shaped Lagoon…

3. Click and hold the Hammer icon, then slide your mouse cursor over to the Magnifying Glass icon.

4. This will make the Puck appear, and the Puck is how you can pan and zoom around in your picture. The Puck can be easily re-positioned.

Sketchbook 4.0 mobile

The mobile version of Sketchbook is being been updated, and is due for release this summer. Digital Arts has a round up of the new features and UI and a rough release date…

“SketchBook 4.0 will be released first for iOS [in summer 2017], and we expect upgrades for Android and Amazon Fire to follow.”

Autodesk’s Sketchbook Pro 8.4 has also reportedly been updated to play nicely with the Windows 10 Creators Update issued in mid-April 2017.