By Harold Glicken

Tribune News Service

When I was gainfully employed and swamped with meetings that seemingly had neither beginnings nor ends, I’d pass the time doodling.

My coworkers on each side of me would look at my doodling, including sketches of the group leader droning on, and there’d be smiles and nods of encouragement.

In a typical meeting, I’d go through a dozen sheets on a yellow pad on which I was supposed to be taking notes. All that wasted paper meant that whole forests were being destroyed on my watch.

If I had an electronic graphics tablet in those days, I can only imagine how many trees would be left standing.

I still doodle, only now, I have a graphics pad, the Wacom Intuos. Fellow doodlers will love it; serious artists will need a pad that’s more powerful.

I can see teachers using the cheaper pad for class demonstrations. Children as young as first-graders can draw picture stories on it. I draw as well as the average three-year-old, which means stick figures and wobbly lines.

The tablet is about eight inches wide and four inches deep, large enough for some serious drawing. It connects to a Windows PC or a Mac with a USB cable and uses a pressure-sensitive pen, which also can be used as a mouse. Open up Microsoft Word, and you can watch the progress of your drawings on your monitor. If you register the device at, you’ll get drawing software, and you’ll find the manual.

Once it’s up and running — after going to the Wacom website for drivers — you can have a jolly good time of it, especially if you draw well.

My 8-year-old grandson emailed some of his creations, and I must admit, grandfatherly pride aside, that they’re quite good.

The $80 Intuos is an entry-level tablet, so don’t expect much in terms of either user-friendliness or an intuitive interface. More advanced models are also available for anywhere from $100 to $400 and more, the high-end models for serious artists.

People who have reviewed the tablet on Amazon rave about this drawing and graphics tablet with its untethered pen and replaceable pen nibs. But for me, it’s a luxury, not an essential. That aside, I like the ability to draw without paper, and emailing my work to my grandson, and vice-versa is lots of fun, but that’s about the limit of its usefulness for me.

A wireless pad is available, which does away with having to connect the tablet to a PC or Mac with a USB cable. In my meetings, the wireless connection would have made my doodling less noticeable to the droning group leader. I also could have shared the pad with coworkers.

More sophisticated graphics software also is available for the Wacom line of graphics pads for artists. Doodlers might enjoy the help of that software, too. As for me, yellow pads of paper are all I really need.

— Harold Glicken is a retired newspaper editor. He can be reached at and a collection of his columns can be found at