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All About Graphics Tablets

Tablets are mobile devices typically defined by portability, touchscreens, and intuitive design. These devices have become extremely popular for entertainment, schoolwork, and even office use. One area that has seen an increase in tablet use is artwork and graphic design.

Tablets for artwork

Graphics tablets have specific features which lend themselves to photo retouching, drawing, and other forms of art. Most importantly, these devices make use of an electronic pen which is used for drawing on the tablet.

The results are typically displayed on a connected computer monitor (except for a few products which will be discussed later). These pens can also act as a mouse, with buttons for left and right clicking.

Newer versions of graphics tablets feature touch screens, which allow users to more easily zoom in on details of their work, change settings and applications, and use more versatile shortcuts.

Another important feature is pressure sensitivity, which allows artists to press the pen harder onto the tablet to change brush size and other details.

Benefits of drawing tablets

The benefit of such technology is that it is essentially the electronic equivalent of drawing on paper. It can be very difficult and time consuming to draw with a mouse, so the pen is a convenient and useful technology for artists.

It also circumvents the scanning process; instead of drawing on paper and then scanning the result into a computer, the drawing tablet is able to directly deliver the finished artwork to the files of the computer. Most tablets worth purchasing will function on both Windows and Mac operating systems.

Obviously, this is a market dominated by one brand. There are other options available, such as the Huion on this list, but Wacom is the leader in this industry for a reason. The tablets featured on this list are defined by great design, convenient features, and precise drawing capability.

 

Top 10 Drawing Tablets

If you are on the hunt for a new graphic design tablet, you should definitely read this article first. We are here today to talk about our top 10 drawing tablets. For your convenience we have provided you with a list of the top 10 drawing tablets (above). We want to help you discover what makes a top 10 drawing tablet. Let’s go over the most important features you should look out for when buying one of these things.

Working Area Size

One of the things which makes for a good graphic design tablet is the working area surface itself. You want the area to be of a decent size. Now, this is kind of a tradeoff that you have to live with. A large working area means that you can do more, especially in terms of precision and fine detail work. However, a larger work area does mean that the tablet is probably going to be bigger and heavier.

Weight and Overall Size

You want to look for a tablet that is a good mix of being big enough to work efficiently, but also small enough to be convenient. You want the graphic design tablet you get to be small enough to fit in your backpack or other bag. You will probably be taking these things with you on the go, so being easily transportable is a big deal to many people.

Compatibility with Software

You want the tablet you get to be compatible with modern graphic design software. We are not going to get into listing all of the different design and drawing software out there, but this is something that you need to look out for. The more different types of software the tablet in question is compatible with, the better off you will be in the long run. You at least need to make sure that the tablet you get is compatible with the software that you prefer to use.

Compatibility with Operating Systems

A top 10 graphic design tablet should be compatible with most modern operating systems for computers. Generally speaking, it should be compatible with newer versions of Microsoft Windows and Mac operating systems. Some are also compatible with other systems such as Linux. Yes, being compatible with the operating system you use is important, but in case you ever decide to switch things up, being compatible with multiple operating systems will come in handy.

The Stylus – Ergonomically Friendly?

You want the stylus to be ergonomically friendly. You might be using these things for days on end, so having a comfortable stylus is quite important. You definitely do not want a stylus that is uncomfortable to hold.

The Stylus and Batteries

Some styluses use disposable batteries, some use rechargeable batteries, and some do not use any batteries whatsoever. Now, this is once again kind of a tradeoff. Those with rechargeable batteries tend to have more functions than those with no batteries, but you have to worry about making sure that the batteries are always charged. It is up to you to figure out which of these is more important to you.

Number of Pen Pressure Levels

The number of pressure levels which the stylus comes with is also important as this will decide how thick and thin lines can be. This has to do with accuracy. A pen or stylus with a lot of pressure levels will be more accurate in terms of how thin the lines you create are. Generally speaking, the more pressure levels the pen has, the better of you are.

Buttons on the Pen

A good stylus or pen will also have some buttons on it. At the very least, it should have a button on it which allows you to quickly change the pen into an eraser with the click of a button. Some more advanced styluses also come with scrolling features, so you can easily scroll through website pages and documents.

Customizable Quick Shortcut Keys

The tablet you get should ideally have some customizable shortcut keys. These can be set to perform any simple function you like, such as undo, zoom, changing the drawing tool, and so on. While these are not absolutely necessary, they do help make it a lot easier in the short term and long term.

Line Resolution

Line resolution for these graphic design tablets is measured in LPI. Simply put, the more LPI your graphic design tablet has, the better the resolution of your designs. Yes, more LPI will mean a more expensive tablet, but most people would say that it is worth the extra investment.

Response Rate

The tablet you get should have a fairly quick response rate. The minimum RPS your graphic design tablet should come with is 200 RPS, but there are better ones that have an RPS of 233 and higher. This will determine how smooth and fluid your drawings are. The more RPS you tablet has, the more fluent your drawings will be. One aspect here is the lag between your tablet and the computer. At any rate, the higher the RPS, the better off you are.

Accuracy

The tablet you get should be accurate. What is meant here is that the lines you draw with the stylus should match up perfectly with the result you see. Some graphic design tablets have an accuracy of ± 0.01 inches while others have an accuracy of ± 0.001 inches. The smaller that number is, the more accurate your designs will be.

Its Look

Now, this might not be all that important to some people, but it is to others. Personally, I like a tablet that looks the part. I am doing graphic design, so having a tablet that looks nice is always good.

Quick Connection

A good quick plug-and-play connectivity is always nice too. Being able to skip software and driver installation is always a big benefit if you ask me.

The Feel of the Screen

The screen or drawing surface should not be rock solid. The best graphic design tablets are made to feel kind of like paper so that it feels smooth and real.

Finding the right tablet

Luckily, there are a myriad of products to choose from. This may be a daunting task, but it certainly allows for users of all levels to find the tablet best suited to them.

Beginners should look to tablets such as the Huion New 1060 Plus for an inexpensive tablet that will give them the experience and confidence needed to get the most out of higher-end models.

Intermediate users have many options available, depending on their ability and objectives. For the hobbyist, the Intuos Art, Draw, Photo, or Comic are excellent options which feature good sensitivity and features for a modest price.

The Intuos5 is the highest quality product that an intermediate should consider, as professionals will also enjoy this device.

Professional level graphic designers should opt for the unique and outstanding Ciniq 22HD, if the price is manageable. The ability to draw directly on the screen is an asset that cannot be overstated.

Along with this feature, it contains the highest level of convenience with 16 express keys, a multi-touch screen, and touch strips on either side.

Ultimately, there are three factors which determine the best drawing tablet for any person.

Firstly, the objectives of the individual will greatly narrow down the products available. While there are many mid-range options, professionals require only the highest quality. Secondly, price ranges must be taken into consideration, as better features always come with a higher cost.

Lastly, individual preferences will attract some users to touch screens, battery powered pens, and tablet monitors, while some may prefer using the pen instead of the fingers, magnetically operated pens, and tablets separate from the screen. The products listed above are all high quality, and will certainly satisfy the needs of any artist.

Final verdict

Drawing tablets are fantastic tools for professional, intermediate, and beginner artists. They offer a superior experience when compared with drawing using a mouse.

Further, the convenience of drawing directly onto a computer, as opposed to drawing on paper and scanning after, is hugely important in a fast-past society. No professional artist should be without one.