So far, everything in this book has been about what you can do with Elements right out of the box. But as with many things digital, there's a thriving cottage industry devoted to souping up Elements. You can add new brush shapes, Layer styles, and fancy filters. Best of all, a lot of what's out there is free. And many of the tools are especially designed to make Elements behave more like Photoshop. This chapter looks at some of these extras, how to manage the stuff you collect, and how to know when you really do need the full version of Photoshop instead. You'll also learn about the many resources available for expanding your knowledge of Elements beyond this book.
Probably the most popular Elements accessory is a graphics tablet, which lets you draw and paint with a pen-like stylus instead of a mouse. A tablet is like a souped-up substitute for a mouse: you control your onscreen cursor by drawing directly on the tablet's surface—an action that many artists find offers them greater control. If trying to use the Lasso tool with a mouse makes you feel like you're trying to write on a mirror with a bar of soap, then a graphics tablet is for you (Figure 19-1).
Some deluxe-model graphics tablets act as monitors and let you work directly on your image. But you need to budget a few thousand dollars for that kind of convenience.
Most tablets work like the one shown in Figure 19-1. You use the special pen on the tablet just as you would a mouse ...