Learn how to use the Tourbox Neo in 3 steps

The Tourbox Neo is a creative software controller to speed up your workflow of photo editing and video editing in creative software. When it comes to this kind of hardware, people sometimes react a bit sceptical. But is that fear that it would be difficult justified? After all, you managed to learn keyboard shortcuts, so why shouldn't it work with another controller? And once you have mastered it, it goes so much faster.

Is it difficult to use the Tourbox Neo?

If you watch the videos where people use the Tourbox, it goes incredibly fast. It seems complicated, but when you get the logic down it is not difficult. In the beginning, it takes some effort to break your current routine, but once you learn the new way of working, you will benefit a lot.

How does the Tourbox Neo work?

You use the Tourbox Neo instead of a keyboard. With one hand you control the Tourbox, with the other hand you control the mouse or drawing tablet. The controller has eleven buttons and three rotary knobs that you can set up yourself. The functions you assign to the buttons correspond to the shortcuts you often use while editing a photo or video. So you can set a button to work like the space bar, for example, or the key combination for 'Undo'. The button on the Tourbox then works exactly the same as if you pressed the spacebar, or pressed a combination of keys such as CTRL+Z or Command+Z.

Tourbox Neo topview

When do you want to use the Tourbox Neo?

You want to use the Tourbox if you spend a lot of time editing photos or videos. Of course, you want to edit in the most efficient way possible. The learned key combinations (shortcuts) help you quickly switch between editing software tools. In particular, using the three rotary knobs for different operations and/or zooming allows you to work very precisely and quickly. Even without having to move your hand away from your mouse, you can easily reach all the quick buttons. The Tourbox can be used by left-handers, although it is optimised for right-handed users.

The TourBox's added value comes mainly from the use of its three rotary knobs. This makes this editing tool especially useful for photo editing in Lightroom, video editing in Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro, photo retouching and illustration creation in Photoshop and Illustrator.

These are the three steps you need to follow

These are the three steps to follow to master the use of the Tourbox faster.

1. Understanding button placement

2. Creating or setting your own presets

3. Practice with a simple project

controller in hand
Controller next to keyboard

1. Understanding button placement

To make using the Tourbox faster a habit, we first need to understand why the buttons are placed in a particular way. Of course, the placement of the buttons on the device is not random, they can be traced back to the use of a keyboard.

"The placement of the buttons on the device is not random."

We'll take the Windows keyboard as an example. For key combinations on your keyboard, you usually use the little or ring finger to press CTRL and/or SHIFT. Use your thumb to press the space bar or the ALT key. The index and middle finger are left to press the second key of the combination.

Tourbox Neo buttons

If you look at the design of the Tourbox controller, you will see that the placement of the four main buttons pretty much corresponds to which finger you press them on a keyboard. Because you are used to performing these actions this way, using the Tourbox feels natural. The four main buttons are the Side, Top, Tall and Short-button.

The other seven buttons they call the Kit buttons. These are the four D-Pad buttons (Up, Down, Left, Right) to complete a button combination and the three buttons with a different function (Tour, C1, C2).

Why do you need to know this?

By being aware of your own actions on a keyboard, you make the transition to the Tourbox easier for yourself. For example, you may not be fully aware that in Photoshop, when creating a Clipping mask, you hold down the Option/Alt.

To switch tools in Photoshop, Lightroom or Premiere Pro, for example, you use the four arrow buttons (Up, Down, Left, Right). Here you group tools that belong together in terms of activities, or arrange the tools by frequency of use.

Most used tools can be accessed directly without a key combination, for the four less used tools you make a key combination with e.g. SHIFT (Top button).

Tourbox console adjusting
You can pause the video.

2. Creating or setting your own presets

To use the Tourbox Neo, you need to install the Tourbox console software. The software sees the Tourbox controller immediately when you connect it to the computer. Once connected then you can get to work setting up the shortcuts. When you install the Tourbox console software, four presets are already loaded.

You can also create a new preset yourself, or you can download presets and use ones that other people have made. You can only set the buttons when a Tourbox controller is connected.

"Once connected then you can get to work setting up the shortcuts."

Setting up the Tourbox

The software that lets you configure the Tourbox controller is very user-friendly. It is self explanatory when you open the console. At the top left, you can choose the preset you want to set the buttons for. Here you can also create a new preset. Setting up the buttons is also easy. You click a button in the list to select it, or press the Tourbox's physical button to quickly navigate to it. Double-click and you can assign a key combination to the button.

TourBox has 11 keys and 3 dials (dial, rotary and scroll) that can be set up in more than 160 ways, including single clicks, double clicks and key combinations. Of course, you don't have to use all 160 combinations, but it does show that you can set up the TourBox entirely to your liking.

using Tourbox

Finding the best settings

To discover which settings are completely tailored to your work is a matter of experiencing it. You may want to start with a downloaded preset to avoid starting from scratch. You can then polish the preset yourself to optimise it. What you need to keep in mind is that the functions of the buttons are logical and useful for you. For instance, the presets that are pre-installed probably don't quite fit your workflow.

In the preinstalled preset for Photoshop, the four buttons (without having to make a combination) of the D-Pad have the functions Brush, Eraser, Healing Brush and Stamp. In case you use the pen tool more often than the stamp tool, you can swap this.You can also create multiple presets for the same creative software. Connect the Built-in ‘Switch preset’ function to a button and quickly switch between presets with a star.

On your screen, a HUD (heads-up display) is displayed with the functions of the D-Pad buttons. In the console, you can turn it on or off. Right-click on the HUD to adjust the display.

shortcuts photoshop

Key combinations you use the most

Creative software have a long list of key combinations. This list can basically be divided into three groups: the first group contains the shortcuts you use most often, the second group contains the shortcuts you use sometimes and the third group contains the shortcuts you rarely use. Of course, these are different keys for each programme and user, but the fundamental keyboard shortcuts are basically the same for everyone.

You link the shortcuts of the most frequently used tools (tools) to the D-Pad's shortcut buttons. These are some of the actions and basic tools you should think about for each specific task:

Video editing (Adobe Premiere Pro) 

Cut, select, delete, play, undo, redo, mark in, mark out, zoom in/out, scroll through the timeline and save.

Make illustrations (Adobe Photoshop)

Brush, eraser, hand tool, duplicate layer, enter, undo, redo, zoom in/out, enter, reduce/enlarge brush size, reduce/enlarge brush hardness and save.

Retourch photos (Adobe Photoshop)

Retouch brush, stamp tool, sharpen, push through, hold back, hand tool, brush, eraser, duplicate layer, enter, undo, redo, reduce/enlarge brush size, reduce/enlarge brush hardness, zoom in/out, and save.

3. Practice with a simple project

It is not that the Tourbox Neo has no learning curve at all, but it is not as difficult as you think. In fact, memorising button combinations goes a lot better when there is a certain logic to it. Think of it this way: if you're a Windows user and then switch to a Mac keyboard for the first time, you'll find that you struggle with that for a while too. This is because some of the function buttons are not exactly in the same place. People who often switch between Windows and Mac will agree that at some point you can switch between the two flawlessly. This works exactly the same with the Tourbox Neo controller.

Learning a new routine

At first, it may feel counterproductive because you have to learn a new routine. Editing a photo or video may even be a bit slower than you are used to. The best way is to get used to the new set of finger combinations step by step. After all, you have to learn to walk before you can run.

Pick a simple edit and start with that. Use the most frequently used key combination first and slowly expand the number of buttons. Make sure you can't mindlessly return to your keyboard. You will see that it gets faster and faster!

Are there any pitfalls?

One advantage is that you can use the Tourbox Neo with a wide variety of creative software. Some people get discouraged when they want to use too many different software at once with the Tourbox. So in the beginning, be selective with which software you will use the Tourbox. In the beginning, avoid using software that are similar in terms of workflow, such as Adobe Premiere Pro or Adobe After Effects. The keyboard shortcuts look similar but don't function quite the same and it feels inconvenient.

"Retouching a photo or organising your photos in Lightroom is also faster."

Yet most time-consuming chores become much faster with the Tourbox, such as cropping A-roll or colouring in illustrations. Retouching a photo or organising your photos in Lightroom is also faster. But you might not like the Tourbox Neo for very specific jobs. That's possible, and of course it doesn't matter if you use the keyboard for those too. It's all about saving time!

tourbox neo with wire
Tourbox Elite Bluetooth

Tourbox Neo vs Tourbox Elite

The appearance of the TourBox Neo and Tourbox Elite are almost identical, but there are two major differences between these two controllers. With the Tourbox Neo, you connect the controller with the long USB-C to USB-C cable that is included. Using a cable is inconvenient if your laptop or computer has few ports.

The TourBox Elite has the advantage here that you can connect it to your computer using a Bluetooth connection. Also, all the dials of the Elite have haptic feedback, the Neo has this on one dial. When adjusting the dials, you feel the value change with your fingers. If these are two important aspects for you, check out the Tourbox Elite.


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