Best drawing tablets in 2022: Create paperless art

You no longer have to carry around a set of paint cans or a heavy canvas to create art; technology has digitized just about every form of art. From 3D printed sculptures to photoshopped images, art is constantly evolving alongside our increasingly tech-savvy world. But although there are debates about whether innovative concepts can really be considered works of art (cough NFT cough), there is no denying that technology has made more traditional art forms much more accessible.

Digital art is also more convenient for employerswhich has caused many professional graphic designers and illustrators to be hired to do their work on the computer rather than on paper, which in turn influences aesthetics marketing and journalism. Whole communities have sprung up around the digital art space – Deviantart, Pixiv and, of course, Tumblr. (The latter is the most popular, though it hosts much more than digital art, including text messages, movie screenshots, and sound clips.)

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A guide to the best tablets

Digital tools allow artists to simulate a variety of mediums using the same tools: a stylus, a touchpad, and certain creative software like Adobe Fresco. This flexibility, along with fast turnaround times and a digitized end product, is what makes digital art so commercially appealing.

Of course, the styluses and pads in question can be quite expensive – and that’s assuming you have a tablet or laptop to use them, if necessary. This contrasts with the physical world, however, where even if you were to be more frugal with paint or paper, the various drafts and ruined jobs that a single mistake can cause really add up. And that’s only with one medium – investing in oil paints, acrylic paints, watercolours, pastels, graphite pencils, charcoal…all of these cost money and can be quickly exhausted. So when you compare a one-time investment that provides access to virtually any type of creative medium (as well as the panacea that is the undo button) to the more demanding, prep-heavy physical drawing work, there can be a real gain.

Why use a graphics tablet?

Physical tools, as well as your software, will affect your ability to translate your drawing skills to screen or, if you’re a total beginner, the control you have over your artistic process. Different software will offer different media and editing options (Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop are always safe bets, but depending on what you want there are alternatives that might be better suited). Whichever software you choose, you probably need some kind of tablet and a digital pen. Have you ever tried signing your name on a trackpad with your finger? If you’re struggling to simply replicate a signature you’ve written hundreds of times with a mouse or laptop trackpad, think about the pain it would be trying to do fine line work in the shapes. and the exact locations you want. So a stylus of some sort and an accompanying tablet are essential – but what should you consider when looking at which model to invest in?

What types of tablets are there?

Most graphics tablets can be categorized into three types: graphics tablets, pen displays, and tablet computers.

  • Graphic tablet: The simplest of the bunch, essentially a touchpad with a stylus that you can plug into your computer so you have more control over your cursor (and therefore your digital pen) while drawing. The movement of your stylus on the pad will reflect on your computer screen.

  • Pen display: Probably what most people think of in terms of drawing tablets, these panels will allow you to see the traces of your stylus or pen as you go. Instead of having to plug into a computer, these are standalone tablets capable of producing art on their own.

  • Tablet: iPads and their ilk – powerful mini-computers for which drawing is just one of many other functions. Often, using them for art will require the purchase of a pen or some other accessory for better control, and the creative software of your choice.

What to consider when choosing a tablet?

First and foremost, consider your skill level. If you’re not quite comfortable drawing without watching your hand move across the paper, you might find a graphics tablet a bit difficult to use, because to keep track of your work you have to look at the screen while moving your hand at the same time. time to draw.

Another consideration is the sensitivity of your tablet. Some might prefer a super touchscreen that will pick up every light brush from the stylus, while others might want a less responsive tablet that they can press harder on to keep a steadier line or avoid accidental marks (another perk of digital art though – there’s always an undo button, unlike smudges on a piece of paper).

The feel of a tablet is also crucial. Obviously, it won’t feel the same as drawing on paper, but the material and construction of the tablet can determine how soft, frictionless and gliding it is. The tactile aspect of a tablet is very important to take into account, especially if you are very demanding about your configuration.

And, of course, size and weight is one of the most important tablet features to keep in mind; Whether you want a small, portable item to take with you wherever you go for sketching or a sturdy unit with lots of extra features that will stay on your desk for everyday illustration work, it’s important to choose a model that will meet your needs.

Not to mention that the size of a tablet usually corresponds to the dimensions of its active area (i.e. the part of the tablet that you can actually draw on), so in addition to portability, consider size and details of the work you intend to do. It’s never fun to run out of drawing space; although this is another area where digital art has advantages over traditional media (most software allows you to zoom in on a drawing and re-orient your tablet at the boundaries of the specified area) , if you want to keep the entire piece on screen while working, a tablet that will fit your entire drawing in its active area is best.

Apart from its physical aspects, the screen of a tablet is essential to its performance. If you’re trying to create photorealistic artwork, high resolution is probably worth the price. On the other hand, if you just want to practice your drawing skills without worrying about losing your work, a regular tablet with a lower resolution will be more cost effective. Additionally, the thickness of a screen will affect parallax – the displacement of a line or object based on a person’s perspective, caused by the distance (however small) between the stylus and the interface. , separated by the screen. You’ll want to minimize parallax to keep your perspective consistent.

Another big feature to buy is tracking speed, which basically means a lag between your pen stroke and the corresponding line appearing on screen. The higher the tracking speed (measured in PPS, points per second), the less the lag and the more instantaneous the result. And while lag is annoying at the best of times, even for things like loading our email inboxes, it can make finer work like drawing simply impossible.

And if you want a tablet that is not a computer on its own, you’ll probably need to make sure it connects to the computer you already own. If not, you will need to purchase an adapter.

When you buy a tablet, remember that you’re also buying the stylus that comes with it, unless you already have one (which you’ve verified is compatible with your new tablet) or plan to upgrade. buy one separately. Be sure to choose a stylus with the 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) .

And most importantly, keep in mind that the operating system your tablet is running on will determine which apps you can use, and therefore functionality – the ever-popular Procreate app, for example, isn’t available on tablets. running Windows, which makes Apple tablets a good option if that’s your preferred platform.

That being said, Mashable illustrator Bob Al-Greene reminds us: “The technical limitations [of the tablet] don’t necessarily have anything to do with the quality of the art you can make of it… The quality of the artist, not the technology, dictates the end product.”

It’s always a good idea to try out a product like this, where feel is hugely important, in person, but here are some ideas to at least start you off to get an idea of ​​what kind of tablet you might to wish :

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