How to choose a graphics tablet? | Articles | Gadgets, gifts and accessories
If you’re constantly drawing or are into digital graphics, chances are you’ve experienced the daunting process of choosing a graphics tablet. If you are choosing a tablet for the first time, or you are simply not very well versed in the types and specifications of the device, then our recommendations on how to choose a high-quality and suitable graphics tablet for you will come to the rescue.
To do this, we will talk about the characteristics of devices and functions that you may find useful.
The characteristics of the graphics tablet must indicate the size of the active area. The active area is the part of the tablet surface on which you can write and draw. In essence, this is a sensitive coating that is able to receive a stylus signal and, in some cases, respond to pressing force. It is she who performs the function of paper in the tablet.
This area requires the most careful protection, because if it is damaged (especially by liquids), then the entire device loses its basic functionality.
Tablets themselves are usually larger than the active surface, so take this into account when choosing. This part of the surface is often expressed either with a different shade or with a different coating.
Dimensions can be specified in centimeters, inches or format A3, A4, A5, etc. Accordingly, in order to draw more conveniently, and the image was more detailed, it is better to choose a tablet with a larger active surface. In most cases, unless you are doing complex projects, A5-A4 sizes will suffice.
The resolution of a graphics tablet is measured in lines per inch, or lpi. In this way, the printed resolution is also measured, where a halftone screen is used. According to the scheme, the measurement of resolution is similar to dpi in digital printing. In simpler terms, lpi are points placed in a line, while the lines depend on how far they are from each other on the grid. Accordingly, the larger the lpi number, the greater the detail and sharpness of the image.
Response per second or dots per second
Another characteristic that has a different name for different brands: rps or pps. This is, in fact, the same thing and means how many times per second the tablet (or any other touch device) notifies the computer when the stylus (pen or even finger) is on the surface. The faster this indicator, the more responsive the surface is considered, the better and more convenient it is to work with it. Be sure to keep in mind that low-responsive tablets will create jagged lines, so pay attention to this indicator when choosing a device to work with. Of course, all these characteristics are included in the price, so it is undesirable to save on your working tool.
Stylus and pen
A stylus is a digital pen that is used directly for drawing on the device. Some of them are designed with ergonomics in mind, so they are made of rubberized materials in the same way as rubber-surfaced handles appeared in their time. Styluses should be comfortable, not washable, and should be comfortable to hold. Consider this point, because if you have already worked with a stylus and had an unpleasant experience, it is better to look at other models. The styluses are shaped almost the same as a pen or pencil, so you feel familiar. A pen is a stylus attachment that tends to wear off over time. Be sure to pay attention to the number of feathers in the kit and the possibility of replacing them.
In general, there are three types of styluses: battery-powered, battery-free, and wired.
The latter are practically not used at present. Battery powered styluses use replaceable AAA batteries for power. They are thicker, although in the place you hold while drawing, they are the size of a regular pen. Batteryless styluses use the power of the tablet itself through electromagnetic resonance. This stylus is more comfortable and lighter.
Many modern tablet models are equipped with pen rotation sensitivity. They recognize rotation and thereby thicken or thin the line, just like regular brushes do. In most cases, this feature is useful for those who use Corel Painter or Adobe applications. This characteristic is fundamentally important for artists who combine digital and analog painting.
A more important characteristic, perhaps, not only for professionals, but also for amateurs, is the sensitivity of the active surface of the tablet to pressure. It defines the weight, that is, the pressing force in order to form a line in accordance with it. For an analogy, imagine the process of drawing with a soft pencil. This function allows you to achieve more realistic drawings, especially if you are simulating an analog drawing. The higher this value, the higher the sensitivity. The mark starts at about 256 and can go up to 3000. The most common sensitivity is 1024, higher sensitivity requires more modern graphics applications. So keep in mind that along with the tablet, you may need to update the applications. The sensitivity sometimes depends on the pen, and on the friction on the surface. It is best to arrange a test drive for the tablet.
Among the characteristics that are no less important, but not fundamental, are programmable buttons that allow you to quickly access any functions that you use most often. On some types of devices, these buttons are programmed automatically, but in most cases, these settings can be changed by digging into the instructions for the tablet.
A number of devices are equipped with wheels and scrollers that allow you to zoom in and out of the image without interrupting the work process.
How to make a choice?
All this information should be taken into account before you plan to purchase the device. Consider the price aspect as well as the feature set you need. Basically, it all depends on what goals you are pursuing and what kind of budget you have. The most popular tablets on the market today are Wacom, but make sure the software is compatible with the type of computer you use. Updates for MacOS are sometimes released for quite a long time, for Windows – more often. Wacom isn’t the only company that makes tablets, but let’s take a look at a few of the most popular and feature-packed devices.
- Wacom Intuos Pro
A simple and small tablet with a set of features that will please any user. The size of the active surface is 158x98mm (A6). The Wacom tablet is a compact device for simple tasks, photo editing, drawing, and more. The response time is 200 pps, the pressure sensitivity is 2048 levels. Includes replacement pens for the wireless stylus. Via USB, the device connects to a computer and is compatible with Windows and MacOS. The tablet is ideal for both right-handers and left-handers. It weighs from 600g and fits into a laptop bag without much difficulty. You can always carry it with you and complete tasks wherever you are. The surface is sensitive to both pressure and rotation, so you can create real masterpieces.
- XP Pen Deco 03
Stylish tablet with a minimalistic design and a convenient scroll wheel located at the top. The tablet is equipped with a working surface measuring 254x159mm or A5. At the same time, 6 programmable buttons are placed on the case itself for quick access to the necessary functions. The tablet connects to the computer via USB Type-C. The resolution is 5080 lpi, and the pressure sensitivity is 8192 levels. The XP-Pen is equipped with an ergonomic pen that runs on replaceable batteries (batteries not included). The surface is extremely sensitive, so a special drawing glove is included in the kit, which allows you not to damage the drawing.
In addition to the stylish design, the tablet opens up a wide range of possibilities for the user, allowing you to enjoy fast work and convenient control. The device weighs 1600g, and is compatible with MacOS and Windows.
- Huion H610PRO
A tablet with an A5 working surface is designed for both digital graphics enthusiasts and professionals. It connects via USB, and is equipped with a wireless pen with a charger. The resolution is 5080 lpi and the response is 233 pps. The ergonomic stylus has an interchangeable nib, and there are additional 8 buttons on the body of the device that can be used for quick access to various functions. The tablet has a physical size of 400x320mm and weighs 1110. It fits in a laptop bag and is suitable for everyday use, and for the price it outperforms many more expensive counterparts with the same work surface. Easy to manage and operate, it will help a novice artist to master the intricacies of digital graphics, but it will allow a professional to get the opportunity to work anywhere at any time.