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Drawing Tablets

A Quick Guide to Drawing Tablets

Whether drawing for web design, creating logos, or simply drawing for the joy of it, digital media used to pose certain difficulties for the artist. Drawing with a mouse is rather like drawing with a brick; it is cumbersome and does not offer the natural feel of a pen in the hand. The invention of the drawing tablet and the accompanying pen/stylus has solved that problem.

There are now numerous options in tablets designed for the artist. They vary widely in price, with the high-end ones being intended for professional graphic designers. Wacom makes a wide range of these and couples most of them with excellent software.

The price of drawing tablets depends on a number of factors. On the high end, they have interactive displays to eliminate the need for a monitor, and memory and storage are built in. Less expensive models do not have these features, and it is necessary to use a computer and monitor (or monitors) with them. The least expensive models do not come bundled with software.

Active area is very important. This is the amount of room the artist has to work in, and the larger ones generally cost more. Artists have different ways of working: some prefer to draw as large as possible, while others are perfectly content with a much smaller surface.

Pressure sensitivity is also important. The best tablets currently on the market have 2048 levels, and offer the most natural experience. This too tends to raise the price. Less expensive tablets often have 1024 levels, which is more than adequate for most purposes.

The pen/stylus degree of functionality, weight and whether or not it requires a battery also influence price. The weight of the pen in the hand is an important factor in choosing a stylus, and a battery naturally raises that weight by a significant amount. Some pens come with tilt sensitivity, which is important to some artists. All of these factors, along with price, must be considered when choosing a pen.

Wacom not only makes excellent tablets for professionals, but has some less expensive options that still offer good functionality. Their Bamboo tablet is inexpensive and useful for someone who already has graphics software and just wants a more natural interface. It is medium-sized, has 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity and has an optional wireless kit to free it from the computer. It is also good for non-artists who want a tablet and pen for navigation and for scribbling notes and doodling.

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