Sending a graphic input to a computer via a mouse is very tedious and imprecise. A drawing tablet is a much better option as you can send an exact and detailed graphic input to a computer using it. It is usually used by artists. Techspirited will provide you with the necessary guidelines to make a smart, informed choice in buying a graphics tablet for your needs.
Who is the Leader?
Wacom is the market leader when it comes to graphics tablets. It offers 42 products and accessories, whereas all the other companies combined only offer 15. In 2013, Wacom had a market share of 92.3% in Japan and 80% in the rest of the world.
A graphics tablet is also known as a drawing tablet or a digitizer. It is an input device that replicates the act of drawing on a paper with a pencil or pen. But when you draw with a graphics tablet, a flat pressure-sensitive pad replaces the paper, and a stylus replaces the pencil or pen. We can use a graphics tablet to input hand-drawn illustrations, text, and also signatures. Once the input is captured, it is sent to the computer via an interface (mostly USB) where it is converted to digital format and sent to a CAD (computer-aided design) application for further processing.
In this article, we give you some tips to choose the right graphics tablet according to your needs.
Pointers for Buying a Graphics or Drawing Tablet
Pressure Sensitivity and Accuracy of Input
● As we mentioned earlier, the input is sent through a pad that is sensitive to pressure. Typically, the pressure level of the tablet varies from 256, 512, 1024, to 2048. Higher the sensitivity, better is the quality of the illustration.
● The tablet should be able to accurately take in input from the stylus. Drawing with a stylus is similar to what we do with a pen, pencil, brush, chalk, or crayon. By varying the pressure, we can vary the thickness, darkness, and texture of the drawing. The drawing pad should also respond to the inclination of the stylus.
Deciding the Size
● The actual drawing area of the tablet is different from the physical dimensions of the tablet. It resembles your computer screen. A smaller-sized tablet may also provide the same features than the one with a larger size. The dimensions given refer to active area of the pad; it varies from 4″ by 6″ to 9″ by 12″.
● Remember that the price of the tablet also goes on increasing with the size. Although it is easier to work on larger tablets, they are not portable and take up more space. Take into consideration the available working space where you shall operate the tablet. If space is a constraint, choose a smaller tablet; it will be cheaper and easier to move around.
You also have to consider the screen size of your computer in relation to the drawing area of your tablet. With smaller tablets, you have to move your hand over a smaller area to make the cursor move on your screen. But you will not be able to add details and make fine selections. A comparatively larger tablet will require more hand movement, making the processing slow. It may be ergonomically unsuitable as it might tire your arm muscles.
According to the Interface
To transfer the graphics input from the drawing tablet to your computer, you need to connect them. It can be connected to your computer by a USB interface, serial interface, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi. So you have to know the hardware capabilities of your computer and purchase the tablet that is compatible to your laptop or desktop.
The driver software that comes along with the graphics tablet should be compatible to the operating system you are currently using on your computer. This is important because many features of the tablet such as pressure and tilt sensitivity are dependent on its driver. It can be an added advantage if the tablet comes along with some software like Photoshop Elements, Corel Painter, Sketchbook Pro, GIMP, etc., which can enhance the functioning of your graphics tablet.
Some Stylus Features to Consider
Some manufacturers provide additional nibs with the usual hard plastic nib. These nibs that come with the stylus should be such that they allow us to use it as a pencil, pen, or brush according to our needs.
An eraser that functions similar to a pencil eraser is also provided with some graphics tablets. It erases digital marks instead of pencil marks.
Styluses also have side-switches. They usually function as double-click or right-click. But some manufacturers allow you to modify their default functionality.
Compatibility with other manufacturers
You should also check if your tablet is compatible with a stylus from another manufacturer. This will be important when you want to change your stylus after use.
Is Buying a Graphics Tablet Worth it?
If you are a graphic artist and are required to do digital illustrations, image editing, and photo retouching, a graphics tablet will make your job a whole lot easier. It has many advantages over the conventional mouse. You can edit, draw, and paint digital images in the same way that you would with regular paper drawings. This is not possible with a mouse as its design is not suited for this work. Your wrist is flat, so it is very difficult to drag the mouse to create a drawing. Also, you cannot add details to it. A graphics tablet will, thus, be very useful in this regard. You can also avoid stress injuries of the hand, like the carpal tunnel syndrome, by using a drawing tablet.