Designing UI with graphic tablets in Figma.
This article is for UX/UI/Visual/Graphic/Martian Designers who work in Figma. Already using all the keyboard shortcuts and looking for some new ways how to design. That’s what I call a proper target group filter.
I started to experiment with the graphic tablet that I borrowed from a nephew. Now, I held him hostage and let me tell you why.
Changing the color
First moment that I noticed that there is something special about interacting with Figma using the tablet was when I changed the color of a rectangle. Normal rectangle nothing fancy.
The moment I tried to change the pallete it just, I could somehow pick the better color or to feel it more. When I was approaching the right one in the Figma color selection square, I could slow down and move to The color simpler.
There was just something special about it. I even catch myself using the tablet just to pick color and nothing else.
Time flied by and I started to get more experienced with working with a tablet. For whatever reason my scrolling speed is super slow and zooming out and in is just a pure pain.
So, I started to use keyboards + and - to zoom in and out. Also, I use space for moving the board a lot. All the shortcuts like shift+2 to zoom into the selected frame started became a real saver for me, to work with the tablet.
Curve the curves.
Next revelation moment was when I wanted to create a presentation and wanting to use something more pleasing that just a 1/3 title rectangle and 2/3 content rectangle presentation template. With a mouse it was a bit of a pain making any adjustments to the curve. To hit the damn small circle and move him just how I want.
Oh, I know where I could really see the contrast. When I’ve drawn a storyboard inside the Figma using shift+P and P tool. Let me tell you: You don’t want to do it with a mouse.
It wasn’t only about the precision that I could much faster and easier click on the small dot, to adjust the curvature. There is a different experience if you use a graphic tablet rather than a mouse. It’s even hard to explain. Maybe people who tried iPad’s Apple Pencil to draw something could relate.
The whole human computer interaction is different.
Coming back to today, I went for a full day of just graphic tablet and keyboard shortcuts. No mouse (almost). And I was just amazed how fast it was. The pixel perfect clicking (or rather touching) and getting the icon right into the place where it “feels good” was different. More pleasant more precise nicer to create.
As if drawing on a paper but you have all the Figma algorithms doing stuff. You know the moment when you move a circle icon around with keyboard up and down. No more, no no no. You just hit the sweet spot much more easier.
I would even argue that in a “Figma designer battle”, I could kick the mouse team asses in a speed contest. The moment you start you use the pen on everything combined with shortcuts. You just don’t use the mouse anymore. Left hand on keyboard and right holding the pen and just blasting through whatever you want.
Edit: Yeah, I’m not sure about the man talk anymore. When you hurry and just want it to be done whatever look it would have, I used the mouse back last time.
There are some “pain moments” like interacting with a left bar where you have your frames but this could be “shortcuted” in most cases by using the shift+enter to jump into parent frame or enter to enter the frame. (You can use the button on a pen for scrolling. I have two, but it’s harder to command line them in Linux. Yeah, open source team swimming among terminal mud!)
Hopefully, I am not that guy who came to a 21st century screaming: “Hey people have you seen this, it’s a wheel! And you can do this and that …” Yeah, that guy. But so far, I just haven’t sawn too many people use the graphic tablet setup for Figma prototype creation. (Maybe there is a surprise waiting for me to be unveiled.)
Especially for the visual designer it’s just got a different feeling. All the circles, rectangles oh and the Pen tool interactions, a pure satisfaction. (Not always sometimes the visuals sucks, you know but that’s not the stylus fault.)
Edit, edit after some time, edit time!
When I was thinking about how to visualize each point for the publication and imagined a tiny guy sliding down holding a giant stylus in hands, I stumble upon an idea explaining the difference that, I so talk about!
You play more.
It almost like the tablet gives you the permission to do so. There is something on that interaction that with each hit of the stylus, to change the text size or picking a color, is calling you to do so. “Come, try to hit it on a first try, come.”
Granted, sometimes you don’t want to play. As, I edited few paragraphs up. However, that’s more of an adult “I am tired, I just want to finish it, I need to hurry.” thing. You can, use the adult mouse here. I’ll get you that point, you, mouse team!
But when it’s time to create, let’s just play.
I really think that, that is what this tablet is giving me. A more playful interaction with a computer. Or to put it differentially; This is what this tablet is doing to me. It’s waking up the kido within me.
I’m not gonna lie. Each time I wrote this play thought, I was asking myself: “Are you sure about that?” and right after that question disappeared from my head, I wasn’t. All the doubts that I use it only for a month, and created only two projects in Figma using it.
But then, I look back on the article and think about my experience randomly drawing a crazy P line or just clicking on close icon on a computer and I’m like: “Yeah, I do think so. You play more, and you are more free to do so!”
Which again in the adult world, it isn’t always what you want. Also, programmers wouldn’t thank you for the curves. Sorry guys! Maybe, the ones who like a proper challenge would, I don’t know.
Yeah, I wouldn’t sell the idea more. Hopefully you would not come back and ask for money after buying a tablet: “Hey you human, it isn’t as you’ve said!” You shouldn’t listen to people on an internet, okay? I am not the one to blame.
Jokes inside, I do enjoy it. Sorry mouse team. Your days are counted.
Bye, and graphic tablet on you designer,