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Thursday, July 22

What to look for in a graphic tablet

This question has been asked of me ever since I posted something about the graphic tablets that I use.
If I'm buying a graphic tablet, what should I look for?
Here's a few pointers for you:

Size doesn't matter

I find that the size of your tablet doesn't really matter. Though I wouldn't necessarily pick the smallest one, I don't find any particular advantages apply when I paint on a a3 sized tablet, as opposed to an a4 or a5 one. My first tablet was an a6 one, and I painted on that for many years even after I bought an a5 one. I now own a larger tablet as well, but the big downside to that is that it is difficult to carry around with you (it won't fit in any of my bags).

Pressure levels need to be high

I strongly recommend a tablet that has a lot of pressure levels because more pressure levels = more pressure sensitivity = more detailed/more lifelike painting experience.


Pentips matter

If within your budget, look for a tablet with a pen that has multiple (different) pentips. Pentips come in different sizes and shapes, as well as materials. Each material has a different feel to it and thus you can change your drawing experience. It'll help you convey different styles and find your own preferred material to make you feel most comfortable when painting.

Always have spare pentips. Pentips lose their texture after you've been painting a while (I replace mine once a year).


Custom pens

Wacom gives you the possibility to buy custom pens for different drawing situations. Things you can buy:
  • Airbrush. Really does spray the digital ink onto your canvas. I have this, but I still haven't really incorporated it into my work.
  • Ink pen. The Ink pen is the ideal input device for tracing and illustrating original artwork and inputting hand-written text, including signatures, with immediate monitoring of results. Just place your paper or drawing pad on the tablet and off you go. The ballpoint pen with replaceable ballpoint refills allows you to sketch and draw in the same way as a conventional pen on paper. I have this too, but haven't used it yet. But I've seen it being used and it looks awesome.
  • Art pen. Most designers know the classical felt marker – basically a high-value felt pen with an angled tip that enabled the designer to draw thick and fine strokes by simply turning the marker.


Ask yourself: Do I make a living from this?

If no, then just buy whatever tablet you can afford. If yes, buy Wacom. What can I say, they're the best. If art is your income generator, I would recommend buying an Intuos4 or a Cintiq.

Intuos4 has a great surface that to me, feels rather like paper. It also has a lot of buttons on the side that you can set to do whatever you like and the pressure sensitivity is perfect.

The Cintiq is a graphic tablet in the form of a monitor, and it works as a second screen to your computer. In comparison to other graphic tablets, this one allows you to draw directly onto the surface and into your preferred computer program. The screen can rotate 360 degrees. This makes it easy to draw in angles you couldn't normally draw in. It also has a two touch strips (which are fully customizable), which I use for zooming and scrolling, and several express keys. The Cintiq increases your speed and improves your workflow.

Well, those are my pointers about pens and tablets, hope they help!

Orginally posted on my website (please subscribe to my rss-feed)


Lauri said...

Nice post. =) There are a lot of things to consider when getting a graphic tablet and I think you hit all the points. I have a bamboo fun wacom. It's small but I have only been painting of barely a year when I bought it. It was fairly good priced and it's size is easy for me to pack whenever I want to take it along. I've only have one other tablet before (it was a genius) but I think Wacom is best! lol

Maartje van Hoorn said...

Hey Lauri, I'm glad you think I hit the right points. :)

Bamboo is really fun especially if you haven't been painting very long!

Lav egen hjemmeside said...

Great - Nice points when you know very little about it.. Like the economical aspect of your tips..
Thanks :)

Maartje van Hoorn said...

glad to be of service! For more about art do check my website: