A graphics tablet is indispensable for drawing. Artists and illustrators can’t do without it; web designers, architects, 3D modelers, photographers, retouchers, those who create designs for online casino blackjack games, and representatives of other professions will find it useful. This gadget is used by those who once drew with pencil or paints at school or in an art studio, and want to try doing the same on a computer.
As a rule, people who have been using the device for a long time have no questions about choosing a new one. If it’s your first such technique or you buy it as a gift, the manual will come in handy.
Why the Prices for Graphic Tablets Are Different
The size of their workspace and resolution (the more, the more expensive), quality and sensitivity of the stylus and number of functions have a direct influence on it. All these parameters are primarily important for professionals.
The most expensive and well promoted brand is Wacom, which is traditionally preferred by most artists and designers. Low budget – Huion or XP-Pen, many photographers and retouchers like them. Moreover, graphic tablets are produced by VEIKK, Techshow, Xiaomi, and other brands.
Conventionally, all graphic tablets can be divided into three groups:
- Entry level. Such devices are inexpensive and have basic functions quite sufficient for children or those who just want to try their hand.
- Advanced level. More functional and expensive models. They have a greater screen resolution, pen sensitivity, and a system of settings for different apps. They are used both by advanced amateurs and some professionals who do not need to work with complex programs.
- Professional level. Expensive tablets with powerful hardware, a very sensitive pen, maximum functions and settings, suitable for the most complex tasks.
How to Choose a Graphics Tablet: Where to Start
The first thing to do is to decide on four main points:
- What skills you have. This will determine what level of device you need: basic, advanced, or professional. It makes no sense for beginners to buy expensive devices with advanced functionality – it’s better to start with basic models or advanced budget ones.
- The purpose for which you are buying the tablet – this will allow you to choose the parameters and the necessary functions. For example, a compact-sized device might be enough for retouching photos, while a larger workspace is required for graphics.
- What your budget is. Don’t count on the fact that you can buy a top-level graphics tablet for the price of an advanced one. If you have a limited budget, it’s better to look not at Wacom, but at Huion or XP-Pen.
- What computer you have. If Mac, the graphic tablet has to be compatible with it. If you want to sketch on the go, you need iOS or Android compatibility. The size of the monitor is also important.
The Size of the Working Area of a Tablet
Like the size of a sheet of paper (or canvas for an artist), it determines how convenient it will be to use the gadget. It is similar to the size of paper sheets.
- A6 – 148×105 mm.
- A5 – 210×148 mm.
- A4 – 297×210 mm (standard sheet of paper).
- А3 – 297×420.
There are tablets even smaller than A6, but it’s inconvenient to use them for graphics. Much depends on what tasks the tablet is used for. For retouching photos, drawing small elements or digitizing signatures, an A5 or A6 is usually sufficient.
The A5 is the universal format preferred by many artists. Such tablets are the most common and cost less than larger ones. It’s easier to work with small details on an A4 size tablet, which is important for architects, modelers, and designers. In some cases, A3 format is required for the most detailed work.
Moreover, the size of the tablet must match the diagonal of the monitor. If the monitor is large (20 inches or more), then working on a small graphics tablet will be uncomfortable, and details will be lost. And vice versa: an A4 tablet with a 15-inch screen will not give advantages.
The graphics tablet and the monitor should also match the aspect ratio – it’s more convenient to work this way. But this parameter can be adjusted if necessary.
It’s given in lpi (lines per inch) and reflects the sensitivity of the working part of the graphics tablet to the pen. For simple graphic tasks, 2540 lpi is enough – this is the resolution of many entry-level tablets. Some models are closer to the advanced level with resolution of 5080 lpi. But a non-professional won’t notice the difference.
Pen Pressure Sensitivity
It’s measured in levels. The parameter affects how well a graphic tablet will “feel” the pen and respond. It’s especially important for drawing. The higher the sensitivity of the stylus to pressure, the easier to operate the thickness and transparency of the lines.
The sensitivity ranges from 512 (for the most primitive models) to 8192 levels. The minimum setting to make a more or less smooth gradient (from darker to lighter colors) is 2048 levels. This is often enough for retouching, drawings, vector graphics. Artists who use pens for painting prefer models with 4096 levels and higher. If transparency isn’t important, sensitivity of 1024 levels is enough.
It’s measured in millimeters and determines how accurately the tablet’s sensors detect the touch of the stylus. It can be compared to the sharpness of a pencil stick. The cheapest tablets, like the ones used at school and designed more for taking notes than for graphics, can have a pen precision of 0.5-1mm. The result is that lines that are less far apart will merge.
The pen tablets suitable for drawing have a stylus precision of 0.25-0.35 mm. The higher it is, the easier it is to create, for example, a fine hatch without having to magnify the image.
Type of Connection
Graphics tablets can connect to a computer or laptop with wires or have a wireless connection via Bluetooth. It all depends on personal preference here. Someone likes to work in an organized way, at a desk and a desktop computer – in this case, the wires of a graphics tablet won’t get in the way. If it’s more convenient to hold the device in hand, wireless is preferable. But such models are more expensive.
There are two options:
- Pen input method – the most primitive, in which case the tablet responds only to the stylus.
- Touch and pen – the device also responds to the touch of the fingers. This option is more convenient for work because it simplifies the control. For example, the left hand can zoom in on the picture, without letting the stylus out of the right hand.
Maximum Stylus Reading Height
This determines how far away from the working area the tablet can “see” the stylus. The optimal height is between 6-7 mm. If it is higher, there is a high probability of accidental lines if you just hold the stylus too close to the gadget.
It could be wired or wireless. Wireless pens are divided into two types:
- Magnetic resonant pens charged wirelessly.
The weight and other parameters of the pen are also important:
- Styluses with a rough surface are more comfortable than smooth ones.
- The tip should not be too soft (otherwise it rubs off quickly) or too hard (it can scratch the tablet’s surface if pressed hard).
- It is important to make sure that the settings buttons, if they are on the body, are easy to press.
- It’s good to have an electronic eraser on the back.
- For artists, tablets that respond to the angle of the stylus can also be handy.
But the most important thing is that the pen should feel comfortable in your hand. The best option is to try it out, touch it, weigh it, and make test lines.
This is defined in points per second (pps). This parameter is especially important for those who actively use the tablet at work, as the cursor will lag if the response speed is low.
Basic graphics tablets usually have a response rate of 100-150 pps, and cheap advanced devices can be in the range of 150-170 pps. More expensive and professional devices have a response speed of about 200 pps. A beginner will not notice the difference, but professionals do not consider tablet models with speeds less than 200 pps.
Professional tablets can also have a screen. Of course, it’s more convenient to use these devices because you can see immediately what is being drawn, almost like on a sheet of paper. But tablets with a good screen with high resolution are expensive.