One Weird Trick! Artists Hate Her!
An Introduction to AutoHotKeys

lmao sorry, I couldn't help myself with the title.

I recently came across a neat little device that artists had been talking about for a while: the Tourbox NEO. It's basically a controller with a bunch of knobs, buttons, and other doohickeys that can speed up an artist's workflow by a considerable amount. I've also seen artists say that it was a livesaver for their hands.

I thought it was pretty neat, but I'm sure you can tell why I decided against buying it, with it being $169 USD and all. I can hear my wallet crying. As far as I know, being an artist isn't the best-paying job out there, which doesn't make sense to me since they honestly deserve a lot more money and credit than they're given, but I digress. I can't help but feel like these companies are really taking advantage of artists with these fancy thingamabobs that are said to improve these artists' productivity, when they really don't offer much more to the table than the price suggests. I mean like, the screen tablets I see right now cost twice as much as laptops that can do the exact same thing. I think that, while very pretty and undoubtedly useful to some, Tourboxes look nothing more than overpriced fidget cubes to me, especially when there are so many other alternatives out there.

What are these alternatives, you ask? There are actual devices created by the same companies that also sell tablets: HUION, Wacom, and even Clip Studio Paint has its own little device. These tend to lie in the $50 to $100 USD range. But we can go cheaper! Macropads, or one-handed keyboards, can go from $50 USD to just $20.

But we can go even cheaper!!!

The last alternatives include external number pads! These can go for even less than $20 USD.

Like this one!

Image of an Astro Boy figure next to a colorful number pad
Astro Boy agrees!

This one was $18 USD, but I've seen numpads that can go for as little as $10 USD. I only went with this one because the keys are pretty lol. Either way, although number pads are used to, well, input numbers, it is possible to completely remap them using some software out there. I have even seen people make guides on using the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons with art software. It's really neat and definitely worth checking out if you want to use Joy-Cons (or pretty much any gaming controller that uses Bluetooth) for your computer. :3

I haven't been able to entirely vibe with the Joy-Cons since I prefer to have my hand flat on the table. So, I had to resort to the numpad like in the above photo. There are hundreds of ways to remap numpads and keyboards in general, but I've grown fond of AutoHotKey. It's free, easy to download, and there's a huge community dedicated to helping people program their keyboards to use any shortcut they want. The most difficult part about this, that you have to program the scripts yourself, and the language is even harder to grasp than HTML and CSS in my opinion. I've seen plenty of scripts out there, but none really had what I really wanted my numpad to do.

So, I made my own!

What this script essentially does is that, as long as the Num Lock is off these keys can be used as a seperate shortcut, and some of them even do different shortcuts depending on how long you hold down the key! For example, if I were to press the PgDn key (3 on the numpad) in Clip Studio Paint, my mouse would change to the Fill tool. However, if I held down the key for about a 1/5 of a second, it would turn into the Zoom tool! It's pretty nifty. :3 I'm still trying to memorize each key by muscle memory, but at least I saved more than $100 USD! I think it would at least help artists save some money, and if they decide that they want to upgrade, there is absolutely no shame in that!

Anyone is more than welcome to use this script for their own, and if you want it to adjust it yourself, AutoHotKey has some really useful documentation. However, I definitely understand that it's definitely daunting at a first glance, so I might put in a small tutorial/guide/etc. in my "Coding Bits" section if anyone is interested. If you are...maybe leave an email at Either way, thanks for reading!

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