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11-14-2010   #29 (permalink)
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So before you make a huge investment in a tablet you should know a few things about it. . .

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Things a Tablet can do for you:

1. Pressure Sensing - This allows you to control how thick the line becomes by pressing harder on the tablet. [The harder you press the thicker / darker the line becomes or the softer you press the thinner / lighter the line becomes] When you have this setting on it helps you to control the thickness and the opacity of the line making it easier to draw / enhance. This is very useful for doing hair enhancements or drawing a line art.


The one on the left I used a mouse and the one on the right I used a tablet. Notice the difference? I used the exact same brush for each one.

2. Straighter Lines - Notice how jagged the lines become when you use a mouse? With a tablet they can become a lot straighter.

3. Easier to Draw - and it's easier to draw shapes and lines etc.

But remember all of these can be accomplished with a mouse; it's just harder and a bit more time consuming.

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Things that should be noted:

1. It doesn't enhance the picture for you. Meaning, it won't magically make your picture better then it was before. If you suck at drawing you'll continue to suck after getting a tablet.


If you draw like the picture on the left your skills won't magically get better with a tablet (the picture on the right).
The only thing that has changed is your lines have gotten smoother.

2. People are starting to think that are things that can only be done on the tablet that you can't do with a mouse - this is so wrong! Everything, I seriously mean everything that is done with a tablet can be done with a mouse; it's as simple as that.

3. Other times people are getting this idea that only super talented people use a mouse. It's not true. People who say, "I HAS A MOUSE!!11 sO I cAníT be as GOuD as Sumz one wit a tabeels!/!1!!" are just using that as an excuse.

4. Lastly that only the best graphic designers deserve the right to buy a tablet. It may seem to you that I am condemning anyone who wants to buy a tablet. What I am trying to say with all this is that you should think twice before you spend a lot of money on one. Graphic Artists at any skill can buy a tablet. Just make sure that if you do want to buy one that doing graphics on the computer is something that you are interested in and you'll get good use our of a tablet if you buy one.

People who gets the idea that I am trying to convince people not to buy tablets. I am not. I am simply stating the truth that tablets will not ever = instant success.

Tablet Type
There are a lot of different tablet types, Wikipedia has classed them into 6 main ones:


Most notably these are Wacom Tablets, which make use of a technology called "electromagnetic induction". The tablet generates a signal, received by the circuit on the pen, which sends a signal back to the tablet. This electromagnetic signal powers the circuit on the pen, meaning you never have to use batteries and the pen does not actually have to touch the surface to register. Wacom have a patent on this, and don't allow competitors to use this charging technique.


Like Passive tablets, but the pen is self powered (has batteries usually). Not having to power the pen means that these tablets don't constantly swap between transmit and receive and in turn, they can have less jitter.

This works with a small digital camera in the pen, which pattern matches the image on the paper. This is mostly good for tracing (Things such as architectural drawings etc).

This one's quite interesting. It works with a small sound generator in the stylus, and the audio signal is picked up by 2 microphones near the writing surface. Apparently, some modern designs can read in 3D!

The passive system is based on this, electromagnetic tablets are simply any tablets with a grid of wires and a pen that generates the signal location to the grid.

uses an electrostatic signal, detecting the position of the pen while it is near the tablet or above it.

Some features of tablets (mostly wacom features, sorry I don't know much about other brands).

Tilt Sensitivity

This relates to the way you hold your pen. Ever had a highlighter, and noticed your stroke is wider when you draw across the flat part than the thin part? Tilt sensitivity recognizes the way you have your pen tilted and angles your stroke accordingly.

Pressure Sensitivity
This measures how hard you press. A tablet with pressure sensitivity will draw darker when you press harder, and lighter when you press softly with your pen on your tablet.

Tool Distinction
some tablets allow you to use different pens with your tablet. For example, the Wacom Intuous has a grip pen. One end of it is used to draw, when you flip it around the tablet driver recognizes it as an eraser, and then you can put it down and pick up an airbrush pen and it will recognize that it's now a different type of pen and give you appropriate settings and controls.

This relates to how accurate the tablet is. If you draw a line, pick up the pen, place it back down and continue the line, the more accurate the tablet is, the less disturbance there will be when you continue the line (there may be a large space and the line may continue from not quite in the same place).


The size of your tablet. You have to think carefully about how big the tablet has to be, as the bigger it is, the more expensive it obviously gets. Most programs allow you to choose a window as the area the tablet covers rather than your whole screen, which will often mean that you can simply zoom in for detailed work.