For those of you who are interested in making digital art, there is nothing like investing on a drawing tablet to help you draw more easily, ergonomically (i.e. easier on your hand), and much more quickly than a mouse. This article will take you through the possible drawing tablets you can pick up for yourself. But first, let’s start with settling some semantics.
Drawing Tablet or Graphic Tablet?
The terms are inter-changeable but I tend to find that those who actually use the tablets call them drawing tablets and those who sell them call them graphic tablets. In the end though, they’re both the same. Just make sure you add “drawing” or “graphic” to describe your tablet or else people might think you’re talking about iPads and the like.
What’s Out There?
The most well known drawing tablet brand is Wacom. It’s the drawing tablet generally used by artists and art-field related companies across the globe. There are two types for people to purchase, the budget priced Bamboo line or the more professional Intuos series. The main difference between the two is price and pressure sensitivity with Intuos being pricier and having more pressure sensitivity than Bamboo. As of this writing, Bamboo’s range from $79 – $199USD and Intuos are $229 – $789USD. Special edition sets are also released every now and then where a Bamboo is bundled with certain software as a set.
Wacom isn’t the only option, thankfully. You may purchase other lines from companies such as Monoprice, VT PenPad, DigiPro, Genius, VisTablet, and Adesso. Getting one of these tablets allows you to get bigger sizes for less money and are, spec-wise, generally comparable to what Wacom has to offer. From members who have bought non-Wacom tablets, they were generally happy with their alternatives but as always, do some research into each tablet, read reviews, check out requirements and so on before buying.
And Then There Were Tablet Monitors
Tablet monitors are the type of tablets that bring the drawing process as near as possible to drawing on a paper. Instead of staring at the screen and seeing your arm in your peripheral view, you can watch your arm and the result all at the same time! The most famous line of tablet monitors is Wacom’s Cintiq.
Wacom is known to have the best line-up of tablet monitors with their Cintiq 24HD Touch, Cintiq 24HD, Cintiq 22HD and Cintiq 12WX. Prices are rather exorbitant for them though at $3699, $2599, 1999, and $999USD respectively. Most artists use them at their place of work and if they have the money, may purchase one for their own personal use. Do research the different sizes if you’re undecided about getting one version or another. There are positives and negatives to each one but if you have access to one, it’s best to try one out before you buy.
Thankfully, there is another alternative to the Cintiq and it is the more affordable Yiynova brand. They have the smaller DP10 and the larger MSP19. The DP10 is akin to the Cintiq 12WX and the MSP19 is similar to the pricier 22 and 24 models but the big difference is that Yiynova’s tablets are much more affordable! Prices range from $299 to $499 USD which is definitely kinder to your wallet. You can pick up a Yiynova at Amazon, which is the only place where I’ve seen it being sold. Here are a few reviews for you to check out and do read this awesome review by Frenden (and his video below!).
Which to Get?
If you’re unsure which tablet to get, I suggest you consider the following main points to consider:
How much money do you have? Or how much are you willing to spend? If you don’t have the money or balk at the idea of spending several thousand dollars on a piece of equipment, then opt for a model that doesn’t make your blood drain from your face. There’s a price point for everyone so shop around and pick which one meets your wallet’s needs. I bought my Intuos refurbished directly from Wacom which is not bad since I saved money when I bought it and it lasted about 5 years. Consider getting used or refurbished drawing tablets from a trustworthy seller if you’re on a tight budget. Alternatively, if you know an art student personally, they generally are required to get the latest Intous tablet so ask them if they have an old model they’re willing to sell to you. On that note, if you are a student, see if you can get a student discount if you’re planning on purchasing a drawing tablet. There are certain sites out there where you can get a deal if you’re a student.
2. Skill Level
Are you a beginner, intermediate or advanced artist? If you’re a beginner, consider getting a starter tablet that’s smaller and less expensive. When you’re first getting used to a new equipment, it’s best to see if you like using it first before you invest on a bigger, more expensive version. Likewise, it’s best to know if you even like making digital art as well. Buying top-of-the-line equipment is pointless if you’ll never use it after the initial use or find that you don’t like digital painting. If you’re an intermediate artist, consider upgrading to something mid-line or if you can afford it and know you like making digital art, invest in one of the professional models.
3. Pressure Sensitivity
Pressure sensitivity is important for those serious about digital painting particularly those who are into line art and using air brushing. Depending on how much or how little pressure is put onto the tablet, it will respond accordingly on screen. If your art style isn’t reliant on varying line widths, air brushing or the like, then pressure sensitivity won’t matter but generally speaking, it’s best to get as much as possible.
4. Traditional Artist or Non-Traditional Artist?
This is for those of you out there who either learned to draw on paper (traditional) or learned how to draw directly onto the computer (non-traditional). If you learned to draw directly onto the computer, then getting a drawing tablet wouldn’t be so bad for you. Since you’re used to drawing without looking down at your hand and the result, it won’t be so bad making the transition from mouse to drawing tablet. On the other hand, if you started drawing traditionally, you may want to invest in a tablet monitor. There may be some differences such as lag from your pen to the monitor but the transition from pencil and paper to pen and tablet monitor won’t be as jarring as using a drawing tablet. If you opt to get a drawing tablet, expect to re-learn or at least adjust to drawing in a different manner than in which you learned.
Things to Expect When You Finally Get a Tablet
As with any new equipment you get, there is a bit of learning curve when you switch to using a drawing tablet. Expect some time to get used to using it as it’s a switch from using a mouse or from pen and paper to digital drawing. If you’re not getting the results you want, truck on, keep practicing and you’ll eventually get the hang of it. On a side note: getting a drawing tablet will not make you an awesome artist. You still need to practice and work on your drawing skills if you want to get better. Drawing tablets just makes it easier for you to achieve that.