What You Need To Know Before Buying A Drawing Tablet

What You Need To Know Before Buying A Drawing Tablet

Long gone are the days of the traditional drawing. Today, artists tend to use more modern equipment to present their work. That's where drawing tablets come in. Unlike paper, tablets allow the user to erase their mistakes and create more complex designs quickly.

How Do Drawing Tablets Work

In this article, we want to teach you the basic mechanics behind drawing tablets. When used properly, they can make some outstanding creative results. Our main goal is to teach you everything there is to know about tablets so that you can buy the best one when you're out shopping.

What Is A Drawing Tablet

A drawing tablet is a rectangular shaped tablet that transfers your drawing motions onto the computer. Some tablets are even able to replace computer monitors, and you can draw directly on them. No matter which tablet you'll get, you'll have a fully functional tool ready to help you make some amazing creations.

For the price of $20-$100, you can find a few good entry-level tablets in the market. We suggest beginners look for tablets in this price range because they will help your hand transition from drawing on paper and a tablet. While they have limited features, they are ideal for beginners starting off with digital tablets.

Drawing on drawing tablet.

If you're a professional artist, chances are you'll pay at least $200-$600 for a tablet. These mid-grade tablets have enough power to be used on almost any professional drawing software and are durable enough to last for at least 4 years.

High-end tablets cost around $1000-$2000. These tablets have the same size of laptops and can be drawn on directly. They have the most features and are guaranteed to last for a long time. Most of the time, you'll see professional design teams use these tablets to maximize their creative output.

How Do Drawing Tablets Work

Drawing tablets attempt to replicate the drawing motions like a piece of paper. Even if you haven't drawn on paper before, a tablet with the right pressure settings will help you draw naturally. There are two important parts of a tablet: the stylus, and the tablet itself.

Once you draw on the tablet with your stylus, it registers it onto the computer, and an image is made. The speed at which your computer responds will depend on your tablet. Cheaper tablets might have a bit of lag while high-end drawing tablets respond to your movements instantly.

How Do Drawing Tablets Work

Your tablet is a central part of the device. It has an active area which is the amount of space you can draw on. The larger the active area, the more space you can draw on. Try to get an active area that's overs 12 x 12 in dimensions to draw as if it was on paper.

Types Of Drawing Tablets

We will go over several types of drawing tables.

Embedded LCD Tablets

These tablets are bright and are used for purposes such as illustration and 3D projection mapping. The tablets have an LCD screen which comes with an adjustable brightness setting. You should look into an Embedded LCD tablet if you're trying to get a tablet you can use after dark.

Active Tablet

The main distinction between an active and a passive tablet is how the stylus is used. Active tablets come with a stylus pen that you can use to draw as if it was a pencil. Active styluses are great because they allow the user to draw directly on the screen and make some interesting art compositions.

Also, active tablets come with touch sensitivity, memory, electronic erasers, and input buttons. Try out active tablets if you need a direct and simple method to draw.

Passive Tablet

Passive tablets are touchscreen monitors that don't register information from a stylus. Unlike active tablets, you need actually to touch the screen to use a passive tablet. Every passive tablet can create drawings out of your fingers and a small passive stylus.

Passive Tablet.

Optical Tablets

Also known as Optical Drive Tablets, they are faster than other tablets when it comes to memory and data storage. They come with a disc drive that can be used to save your creations on one disc file. Get an optical tablet if you're trying to showcase your art and have enough memory to keep it all stored in a safe place.

Acoustic Tablets

While it's rare to see them in today's time, acoustic tablets are still a useful piece of artistic equipment. Historically, acoustic tablets have been used since 1971. It's the first tablet that was created and is the main cause of the modern tablets that we have out in today's market.

Also known as a spark tablet, acoustic tablets use sound to find the location of the stylus position in the drawing area. The tablet functions by having a microphone to record the sound from a sound emitting stylus.

The stylus position is measured based on the difference between the recorded sound's timing. When the stylus is placed on the tablet, a small electromagnetic spark is created on the surface of it. Acoustic tablets are great if you need a digital tablet with a large surface area.

Capacitive Tablets

First-time buyers should look into getting a capacitive tablet. They are the cheapest types of tablets available and can teach you how to get used to drawing on one. Capacitive tablets come with a stylus that acts similar to that of a passive stylus.

Capacitive Tablets.

However, there is one main difference between the two tablets. Capacitive tablets have styluses that distort the screen to show its position. Your screen has an electrostatic field that shows the position of the status as soon as your finger touches it.

Unlike the passive tablet, capacitive tablets are better at registering your finger movements. We suggest getting a capacitive tablet if you need a tablet that can be used for touch applications or other art styles such as finger painting.

Uses

Your tablet is one of the most versatile creative equipment you can have. It can be used to create industry level drawings or for practicing your sketches at home. Before getting a tablet, we suggest you know what you'll use it for.

Drawing

One of the most popular reasons to use a tablet is for drawing. Digital artists swear by tablets as it allows them to have a wider range of color choices than via traditional paper. It doesn't matter if you're good at drawing on paper or not, a good drawing tablet will feel natural once it's in use.

Common software applications for drawing is Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and SAI. Before buying a tablet, make sure that it's compatible with them to create beautiful designs on it.

Input Device For CAD

If you're planning to do create art on CAD, understand that there are two types of input devices. Touch screen input devices are easy to use, and you can use your fingers to pan, rotate, and zoom in on the image that you're working on.

Input Device for CAD.

Keyboard Shortcuts are the preferred choice amongst professional artists. They allow you to set up certain hotkeys to be used at any time. This results in more completed art pieces and can reduce the time it takes to find the tools that you need.

What Is CAD

CAD stands for computer-aided design. It's used by engineers, architects, designers, and artists. One thing that's cool about CAD's software is that you can create both 2D and 3D models. It's versatile and is used by almost every professional designer in the industry.

CAD is also used to create products such as electronic boards for computers and engine blueprints for cars. You'll find a lot to do with CAD and you can create a lot of interesting art, 3D models, and designs with it.

Illustration/Animation

For illustrators and animators, drawing tablets are perfect as they allow them enough space to draw on. If you're an illustrator, you'll want to get a tablet that has at least 1024 levels of pen pressure. This helps you draw more accurately, and can help when making complex creations.

However, animators will need a tablet with the highest level of pressure settings. Animations require the most natural feeling when using a tablet, so get a tablet with a pressure setting of 2048. Doing this ensures that your animations will have great quality.

Graphic Design

Graphic designers love to use tablets for their work. Software programs such as Adobe Indesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop are used to help them create professional visual solutions. Get a tablet that's compatible with these software applications to improve the efficiency and creativity of your designs.

Graphics drawing tablet.

Architects

Tablets aren't just for artists and designers. Architects use them to create 3D models of buildings they are planning to create. If you're an architect, get a table that can use 3D modeling software such as CAD, 3DS Max, and Blender to make your buildings come to life.

Educational

Drawing tablets are great for educational usage and are easily accessible for students. Instead of wasting money on an expensive tablet, students should go for a simple tablet with limited features. It will help them learn how to create digital art while also preparing them for the more professional tablets.

Signature (Banks)

In financial industries, tablets are used to help make bar graphs, pie charts, and other pieces of statistical data. Using a drawing tablet helps them accurately create organized data and make financial reports. Because of this, you should get a tablet that's simple to use and is compatible with financial software such as SAS and Excel.

Similar Devices

However, drawing tablet is not the only device like that. We will shortly go over a similar device.

Interactive Whiteboards

Like tablets, interactive whiteboards are versatile. They can be used for creating presentations, teaching students, or for personal use at home. Because of that, they are widely accepted and can be used in almost any situation.

Interactive Whiteboards.

Just think of whiteboards as a mixture of a chalkboard and a tablet. Interactive whiteboards have a larger surface area, making it easier for the user to write and draw on. Also, these whiteboards can use a projector to display computer images. Use a whiteboard if you need to showcase or present your creations to a group of people.

Drawing Tablets Accessories

There are several features of a drawing tablet that you should be aware of.

Stylus

This is the most important accessory you can have in your inventory. They usually come battery powered or battery-less. When using a stylus, you need to know a few things about it to utilize it properly.

Battery Powered

This is a standard stylus, and it's usually charged by AAA batteries to work. Remember, when using the battery a powered stylus, it will weigh more than usual. Because of that, you need to adapt your and motions with the stylus to draw correctly.

Battery-Less

Unlike battery powered styluses, these styluses already have a battery built in battery. On average, they have a lifespan of up to 800 hours. If your stylus does run out of power, then it's time to get a replacement.

Pen Pressure

Pen Pressure is an important feature to know before getting your first stylus. The higher the pressure levels, the more responsive the stylus is. We don't recommend getting a table with a pen pressure level below 1024.

Drawing on tablet.

Tablets under that level are slow, and some graphics software aren't completely compatible with them. Here is a table of the different pen pressure levels and their purposes for digital drawing.

Pen Pressure Level & Purpose

  • 256 - Low pressure level. Used for creating basic sketches and designs. We suggest using this tablet for everyday and casual use.
  • 512 - Medium pressure level. Artists use this setting when they have to create brushstrokes and other painting applications
  • 1024 - Optimal pressure level. Most modern computer software will accept tablets at this level. Is easy to customize and has an almost natural feel when drawing.
  • 2048 - Maximum pressure level. Used for professional artists, designers, and comic artists. It’s fast, responsive, and will feel as if you’re drawing on paper.

Before you buy your first tablet, check to see which pen pressure setting you need. Try to get the highest setting you can as it will make it easier for you to complete your drawing projects and is more responsive to your drawing motions.

Pucks

Second to styluses, pucks are the most commonly used drawing accessory. Pucks are mouse-like devices that detect the exact position and rotation. This is different than mouse aided devices that use relative velocity to track the location.

Pucks have a different range of sizes and shapes. Some are completely similar a mouse, while others are large and have a multitude of controls and buttons for the user to utilize.

Most professional pucks come with a reticle that allows the user to see their exact location on the tablet as directed by the puck. It's used or more detailed applications such as CAD and for detailed tracing.

Which One Should I Get

Most first-time tablet buyers tend to ask. "Should I buy a stylus or a puck?"

The correct answer is "a stylus."

Stylus for drawing tablets.

The stylus is used for drawing and will be used for about 95% of your projects. Make sure you get a stylus that's responsive and is easy for you to draw. Beginners need to learn how to use a stylus to help them get the most out of their creative outlets.

While pucks are great for advanced creative applications and 3D Modeling, they can be confusing to use if you're just starting off. Once you are comfortable with using a stylus, then you can use a puck as an additional accessory.

Manufacturers

Tablets come from different manufacturers. But, not all of them create tablets of the same quality. That's why it's important to know which manufacturers produce the best tablets to help you save money. No matter which tablet you buy from these companies, you'll have a fully functional device that will aid you in expressing your creativity and in your professional designs.

Wacom

Originated from Japan, Wacom is a company that specializes in making graphic tablets for all skill levels. You should purchase tablets from Wacom if you're a first-time user trying to recreate their sketches on a computer.

One thing consumers like is the company's multiple product lines. For instance, they have Cintiq tablets which are for industry level designs and have a myriad of features. But if you're trying to get used to tablets, we suggest looking into their Draw and Bamboo product lines as they'll help users learn the basic mechanics of a tablet.

Wacom Intuos Draw CTL490DW Digital Drawing and Graphics Tablet

Plus, the company has an assortment of replacement stylus pens. Just like their tablets, the pens are made for different purposes and skill level. We recommend checking the pen's features and making a purchase based on which one will grant you the most utility.

Turcom

Turcom is a US based electronics company. Currently, they sell an assortment of products such as LED lamps, security cameras, and drawing tablets. Their tablets are usually standard for comic artists and can be used for multiple purposes. You should get a Turcom tablet if you're planning on creating mid to high range pieces.

Turcom TS-6610 Graphic Tablet Drawing Tablets and Pen/Stylus

Huion

Ever since its beginnings in 2000, Huion has gained a reputation as a quality tablet manufacturer. Since it has partnerships with countries such as Japan, Singapore, USA, and Egypt. Because of this, it's a great company that has international appeal.

Huion tablet.

We like their tablets because they are the most responsive. Most of their tablets come at a pressure setting of 2048, making it easier for you to draw as if you would on paper. Give their products a look if you want to have a tablet that will accurately remember your motions and produce great results.

Extra Information

Before buying a drawing tablet, there is some additional information you should know.

Resolution

If you ever planned on buying a tablet, you need to know what your tablet's LPI is. LPI stands for lines per inch, and it measures how sharp your image will look.

For instance, an image with an LPI of 10 will appear like dots on the screen. However, an image with an LPI of 3000 will look like a complete drawing. You should aim for a tablet that has an LPI of 4000 or higher to ensure that your drawings look perfect and ready to be presented.

Programmable Settings

You need a tablet that has settings that you can have full control over. Artists who tend to use programmable settings increase their work productivity. With the right settings, you'll be able to complete your drawings at a faster rate than you would without them.

Imagine that you have to paint an entire area of an art piece. Instead of wasting time to find the Paint Tool, you can simply program your settings to have it as a shortcut. This makes it easier for you to color areas without spending too much time looking for the tools that you need.

Reports Per Second

Pen responsiveness is also measured in Reports Per Second (RPS). The higher the RPS, the faster your computer will be at calculating and reporting your hand motions. While it's good to buy a cheap tablet, you don't want to waste money on one with a low RPS.

The reason why is because low RPS tablets are hard to control properly. They will take a long time to respond to your movements and will make your drawings look sluggish. That's why you should invest in a tablet with a high RPS so that your creations can remain smooth and sharp.

Conclusion

To conclude, a graphics tablet is the best thing you can own as an artist. It can turn your traditional drawings into work of digital art. By buying one, you're making a commitment to improving your skills and art workflow.

Designer working with graphics tablet

But there are still a few things that you'll need to know. While you know every thing there is that makes up a drawing tablet, you need to find out which one is the best for you.

We invite you to look into our buying guide to learn more about the best tablets in the market. Each of them is known for their reliability, accuracy, and user-friendly design. Whichever product you'll choose, you'll have a fully operational table that will help you expand your creative options.

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