This content originally appeared on Mashable for US audiences and has been adapted for UK audiences.
Paint cans and canvases are a thing of the past. Technology has digitized almost all forms of art. While there are debates about whether novel concepts can truly be considered works of art (we’re talking about you, NFTs), there’s no denying that technology has made art much more accessible.
Digital technology allows graphic designers and illustrators to simulate a variety of media using a selection of devices and tools: a tablet, a stylus, a touchpad and some creative software like Adobe Fresco. This flexibility, in addition to a quick turnaround and final product, makes digital art commercially attractive.
Of course, tablets, styluses and pads can be quite expensive. And it’s all a bit confusing if you don’t know your art-based tech lingo. As far as we’re concerned, the best place to start is a graphics tablet. And we can help you paint a clear picture of how to choose one.
Why should you use a graphics tablet?
A good tablet, along with your software and pen, will affect your ability to translate your drawing skills to the screen or, if you’re a total beginner, the control you have over your artistic process. Meanwhile, different software, such as Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, will offer different media and editing options.
What types of drawing tablets are there?
Most graphics tablets can be classified into the categories below:
Graphic tablet — The simplest of the group, essentially a touchpad with a stylus that you can plug into your computer to have more control over your cursor (and therefore your digital pen) while you draw. The movement of your stylus on the pad will be reflected on your computer screen.
Pen display — Probably what most people think of in terms of graphics tablets, these panels will allow you to see your stylus or pen marks as you go. Instead of having to plug into a computer, these are self-contained tablets capable of producing art themselves.
Tablet — iPads and their ilk are powerful mini-computers for which drawing is just one function among many others. Often, using them for artistic purposes will require purchasing a pen or other accessory for greater control, as well as the creative software of your choice.
Keep these categories in mind when looking for a new tablet.
Do you have to be a good artist to use a graphics tablet?
Artists of any level can use a tablet. But consider your skill level before purchasing. If you’re not entirely comfortable drawing without watching your hand move across the paper, for example, you might find a graphics tablet a little difficult to use, as you’ll have to look at the screen while drawing with it. your hand. In this case, a pen display or an iPad might suit you better.
What is the best type of screen for a graphics tablet?
A tablet’s screen is essential to its performance. If you’re trying to create photorealistic artwork, high resolution is worth it. But if you just want to practice your drawing skills in a more informal way, a regular tablet with a lower resolution will be more cost-effective. The thickness of a screen will affect parallax – the movement of a line or object based on a person’s perspective, caused by the distance (even small) between the pen and the interface, separated by the screen. Minimizing parallax will help keep your perspective consistent.
How sensitive are graphics tablets?
These may be different sensitivities, but again think about what works best for you. Some may prefer a super touchscreen that will pick up every feather-light brush, while others will want a less responsive tablet that they can press harder on to maintain a steadier line or avoid accidental marks.
The feel of a tablet is also crucial. Obviously, this won’t have the same feel as drawing on paper, but the material and construction of the tablet can determine its elasticity, friction, and glide. The tactile aspect of a tablet is very important to take into account, especially if you are someone who is very picky about your configuration.
How big are graphics tablets?
Size and weight are one of the most important aspects to keep in mind – whether you want a small, portable item to take anywhere with you for drawing or a sturdy unit equipped with plenty of extra features that will stay on your desk. The size of a tablet generally corresponds to the dimensions of its active area (i.e. the part of the tablet you can actually draw on), so in addition to portability, consider the size and details of the tablet work you plan to do. It’s never fun to run out of drawing space.
What is tracking speed?
This means the time lag between the stroke of your pen and the corresponding line appearing on the screen. The higher the tracking speed (measured in PPS — points per second), the less lag and the more instantaneous the result. And while lag is annoying at the best of times – even in the case of loading our email inboxes – it can make finer work, like drawing, simply impossible.
How to choose a stylus?
A tablet sometimes comes with a stylus. Otherwise, you will have to purchase one separately. Either way, make sure you choose a pen with a grip you like and the features you need. Additionally, styluses have their own distinct types: battery-powered (thicker, requires additional batteries), rechargeable (thinner, less reliable) and the newer EMR (wireless charging from the tablet itself) .
What is the best tablet for drawing?
It’s always a good idea to try before you buy with a product like this. Feeling is extremely important. But here are some ideas so you can at least start to get an idea of what kind of tablet you might want.
These are the best graphics tablets in 2023.