GRAPHIC TABLET


The advantages

For me, the most important equipment for digital drawing is a graphic tablet.
Because of their stylus-based interface and ability to detect pressure, tilt or rotation (depending on the model), graphic tablets offer a very natural and comfortable way to create digital art, as well as for image or photo editing.

The pressure sensitive stylus pen gives you a lot more possibilities for creating art, making use of the different brushes, brush sizes and individual settings (e.g. in programs like Photoshop). It is a lot easier to draw a line with such a stylus pen (instead of a regular computer mouse).

Manufacturers like Wacom also offer different stylus pens (grip pen, art pen, airbrush pen), depending on your needs. The pens include different interchangable tips, and there are additional (freely configurable) hotkeys on the tablet front, which are very useful. While you're drawing on the tablet, on the regular graphic tablets, the image does not appear on the tablet, but on your computer screen (which may require some training to get used to it). There are tablets like the Cintiq by Wacom that have a screen as their drawing surface, so you can directly draw on it (which is a lot nicer and easier to use, but also still very expensive).



Wacom Cintiq / Personal experiences

Having tried various models over the years, my personal choice of graphic tablets is Wacom. They offer a nice range of tablets - from smaller tablets (more affordable, like e.g. the Bamboo) up to large professional (and very expensive) graphic tablets (like the Intuos or Cintiq).

Until 2008 I have been using a Wacom Intuos3 (size DIN A5). In 2008 I got myself a Wacom Cintiq 12WX, the old small version of the Cintiq series (with the integrated screen). This was a huge improvement, as I enjoyed drawing directly on the screen a lot more.

As much as I liked the Cintiq 12WX, it was a little too small for my needs (as I am often working with big images and needed to scroll way too much), so I decided to save up for a bigger one. Currently I am working with my love - the Wacom Cintiq 24HDT, although I barely use the Touch function. Those tablets are pretty expensive, but it was the best investment I made so far. It took me to a whole new level of drawing and motivation, and I am enjoying using this device every day. Who wants to know more about its technical specifications, you can find them on the Wacom website.

However, using a graphic tablet still requires practice! Don't expect to immediately start creating masterpieces just because you got a tablet. So don't be disappointed if things don't immediately turn out the way you want it to look.




Wacom Companion - going mobile

The idea of being able to draw when I am not at home (or just not at my desk) was tempting. Some years ago I got myself the first version of the Wacom Companion (Windows), Wacom's first tablet with integrated computer.

Photoshop is running perfectly on it (also my Adobe subscription). The hot keys (on the side of the tablet) and adjustable on-screen menu (digital buttons) are very useful and it's nice and easy to work with. After having it for some time now, I have to admit that I did not use it as much as I expected to. It's nice to work on, however it does not replace my large Cintiq, so whenever I was at home, I still rather used my big one.

Something that could use improvement (and probably was improved in the newer versions, I haven't had the chance to try them, so my feedback here is only for the old Companion I) was the battery time. Working with Photoshop, you could all in all say battery time was about 4 hours. Actually I always had to have the power adapter with me (also the power connector on the Companion was a weak point and easy to damage/bend when plugged in). The Companion and the pen fit into the softshell sleeve, however power adapter / cables always needed to go extra. All in all, the quality was good, especially for a first edition. However the weight, battery time and also the price stopped me from getting the newer versions.




iPad Pro with Pencil

When I had the chance to try the new iPad Pro with the Pencil, I immediately fell in love with it. The Pencil costs extra (about a hundred bucks), but it's really worth it. The feeling to sketch / draw on the iPad is just fun and gives an incredible illusion of drawing with real media. The screen is really good (retina), the battery time lasts a lot longer than the Companion. The pad is a lot lighter too, so having the iPad Pro on your lap to draw really feels like having a drawing pad on your lap, that you can easily turn or rotate. The Pencil is connected to the pad via blutooth and can be charged via cable or directly on the iPad (lightning connector).



There are various drawing apps. One of the best ones for me was Procreate (about 6 bucks). I have also tried SketchBookX and the Photoshop sketch app (it's actually free, it only requires an Adobe account). Just for sketching, all apps are nice. For drawing and more features, I recommend Procreate. It lets you create own brushes, work with layers, use filters, save your file as Photoshop file, rotate your canvas, or directly record and stream a video of your work in progress. If you're using a Mac for drawing, you can easily exchange the Photoshop files via Airdrop.

The iPad Pro does not replace my Cintiq. The amazing features of Photoshop and the Cintiq are irreplacable in my view. However, the iPad is a lovely addition, especially for sketching wherever you are. It's light, easy to carry, and the long battery time doesn't require to always have a cable with you. Even if you take the biggest version, it's still half the price of the Wacom Companion.