This article is dedicated to the Newbies, we’ll see what is a graphics tablet, what are they for and how to choose the tablet that fit your needs.
What is a graphics tablet?
It’s a device used mainly to paint with a computer, but it’s also useful to draw, photo retouching or even to design. Imagine that instead of a mouse you use a pencil in a tablet that perceives movement; the big advantage is that it has sensitivity to pressure, the more you press, the thicker the trace will be.
What can i do with a graphics tablet? Is it worth it to buy one?
It’s basically the same thing as using a mouse, the difference is that for some tasks it’s a lot more comfortable:
- To paint: it’s essential.
- For photo retouch: it’s a good help.
- To draw: it helps, but requires practice.
- To design: it wont be very helpful. I normally use the mouse (included in the pack).
- To browse: if you have extra cash…
With which software can i use them?
With any software for image editing slightly professional, for both: vectorial or bitmap: Photoshop, Painter, Illustrator, Flash…
Is it difficult to learn how to use a graphics tablet? Are they comfortable?
The most difficult part is to coordinate your hand with what you see, since when you paint you look at the screen, not the tablet. But it’s just a matter of hours, they’re very comfortables and the pencil is very light since it doesn’t use bateries.
I remember that when i bought my first tablet i felt very dissapointed, luckily it was just the first impression; at the next day i was thinking on what i could do with my Wacom, a week later it was essential for me. Today i’d pay 100 times its value.
What trademark should i choose to buy a graphics tablet?
Without a doubt, a Wacom. It’s by far the best. There are pretty cheap models, they work by resonance (no batteries), without any wires between the pencil and tablet, some of them even completely wireless, they work on PC and Mac, they’re light, nice, and well designed and in many sizes… don’t even look at the rest of the trademarks. If you don’t have money, less beers and save some cash.
What size should i choose?
My advice is to go for the smaller ones, for two reasons: they’re cheaper and more comfortable. If you’re an expert user of any editing program (ie: Photoshop) appart from the mouse you’ll use the keyboard shortcuts, if you have a tablet in A2 size it’ll be pretty difficult to also have the keyboard near your hand.
I have an Intuos3 A6 (the smaller one of the higher rank) and i wouldn’t change it for a bigger one… if you want to make a good investment, do it in one of the higher rank tablets instead of a bigger one.
How much do i have to spend?
There are 4 groups, obviously as they become more expensive, the better they are. If you want it for digital painting get at least a Graphire (512 preassure levels), and if you can afford it go for the Intuos (1024 preassure levels).
- Amateur: from 40€ you have the Bamboo and Volito. If you aren’t sure and want to try.
- Intermediate: from 150€ you have the Graphire. If you want to start, they’re semiprofessional.
- Professional: from 240€ you have the Intuos. The best investment for the ones that know how to use them.
- And for the ones that have extra money, from 1200-3000€ you have the Cintiq: this ones aren’t tablets, they’re monitors where you paint directly, these are great… my dream!!!
The prices are aproximate, if you want more information visit Wacom‘s website.
Is sensitivity important?
Sensitivity for me is the main technic requisite at the time of choosing the model, the results will be the same with both (if you hurry me even with the mouse), it’s more a matter of comfort.
As i said at the beggining, the pencil is preassure sensitive, which means the more you press the thicker will be the trace. The lower rank tablets have 512 preassure levels, and from the Intuos they have 1024 levels.
What problems do Wacoms have?
More than problems, they have a few useless functions:
- The have some keys (Express Keys) you can set as shortcuts, although they’re not very useful, i prefer having the keyboard in my left hand and the tablet in the right one.
- They also come with a transparent paper, i guess it’s used to trace a drawing… but it’s not very practical, since it’s impossible to look at the drawing and the screen at the same time. Also with use it breaks and ends up being uncomfortable.
- The pencil has an eraser on top of it (useless because it’s very big, i prefer to use photoshop’s eraser).
- If you have a small tablet it’s a bit uncomfortable using the mouse since it only works in the active area of the tablet.
- There are many accesories: airbrushes, pens, markers… but they’re expensive almost useless; if you use Photoshop you only need the pencil that comes with the tablet.
- With Photoshop sometimes i have problems, it doesn’t recognize the preassure and i have to restart the program many times. I guess it can happen due to my Operating System, the software or the tablet.
- The pencil is very delicate and expensive, so if you break it, start saving.