Graphic tablets, which some call digitizers, are input devices. Contrary to popular belief, the device is not only useful for artists: it can be used instead of a mouse, keyboard or trackball. The tablet is an indispensable tool for a professional designer or a beginner, who learns to create illustrations, banners, logos, 3D models, etc.
The gadget has a huge number of functions, how to choose the right one? We looked at formats, resolution, stylus and additional characteristics of graphic tablets, figured out their features and collected 10 tips.
How to choose a tablet manufacturer
The graphics tablet market is dominated by several manufacturers that produce quality gadgets with good warranties:
- Wacom. Any professional artist will tell you that there are no better tablets of this company. The company annually updates the model range, and the quality is unquestionable. Buyers can choose between Macintosh and Windows operating systems, the most popular line is considered Bamboo.
- Genius. Offers inexpensive tablets, for which it has earned popularity among beginners. These devices are suitable for drawing in simple editors and photo processing.
- Huion. The company has appeared relatively recently, but managed to release several dozen tablets for a variety of purposes. The brand uses the latest technology to win the buyer. At the same time the prices remain affordable. It is recommended to buy a powerful tablet for professional artists and photographers.
Of course, there are many more manufacturers on the market than these three: Aiptek, Trust and Adesso are not so famous, although they produce not bad devices. They are inferior to the leaders in the number of features and power, but are great for beginners. They have programs for drawing and processing photos, and the price is often quite affordable. For example, many people prefer Adesso’s Cybertablet Z12 because of its handy stylus, ease of use and versatility.
2. Types of tablets
Which tablet to choose for the tasks at hand
It is easy to get confused in the variety of tablets, especially for beginners. It is important to choose the right model according to its functionality and design features to ensure that the device performs its tasks:
This option is considered the most accessible and simple, it is preferred by novice photographers and teenagers. The notepad has limited functionality, it opens simple programs for editing images. Initially, they were produced to make notes and translate handwritten text into digital.
Nowadays, these tablets can be seen in business people who sign documents. The low screen resolution and lack of stylus pressure recognition allow for simple sketches and outlines, but complex shading and hatching cannot be handled.
Semi-professional graphics tablets.
It’s the best way to buy such a device for drawing on a computer. It has high sensitivity and a variety of features. They are used by beginners and professionals to draw, enter graphics and text. They differ from higher category tablets in size: the standard format is A5 or A6.
The only disadvantage of this device is the lack of a multifunctional stylus. It is more difficult to adjust it for shading, it is impossible to change the degree of pressure. Otherwise, semi-professional tablets are not inferior to more expensive ones. They are bought for home drawings, web design, creating banners and logos.
These tablets are purchased by professional designers, artists and photographers. Thanks to the touch screen display and sensitive stylus, the buyer is able to create any image and text.
How to choose a stylus for your tablet
The choice of the stylus is one of the main steps in the purchase of a graphic tablet, because it determines the usability of any model, even the most expensive. The main characteristics are considered to be the sensitivity to tilt and pressure, the type of pen, the material and the device of the tip. Accordingly, all styli are divided into 3 types:
- Normal. Such a pen is able to draw a straight line, a zigzag and any other element. They can recognize the angle of inclination and pressure force to repeat the movement accurately.
- Realistic. Does not repeat the given elements (straight line, circle, etc.), but follows the user’s hand.
- Sensitive. Characterized by a high response to pressure and tilt, ideal for professionals.
The sensitivity is responsible for the correspondence of the picture or text to the artist’s idea. Such styli accurately repeat the movement of the hand, as if a person was drawing on paper. They can make the line thinner or thicker depending on the degree of pressure. There are several dozens of sensitivity values, but manufacturers mostly use only three:
- 1024 degrees. Great for kids and beginners who create simple minimalist images for websites.
- 2048 degrees. The most popular value, it is used by designers and artists who produce works for the Internet and print publications.
- From 4086 degrees. It occurs in expensive models. Suitable for those who need maximum accuracy of hand movement.
4. Stylus tip
Which stylus tip is right for the tablet
Stylus nibs are mostly made of plastic that will wear out over time, so they need to be replaced regularly. Accordingly, the stylus should have a removable mechanism. All pens are divided into 4 categories:
- Standard. Inexpensive variant, made of soft plastic. It is suitable for photographers and novice artists. With their help it is convenient to draw, create digital painting, design logos, brands, websites.
- Rigid. These nibs last the longest due to their high density. They are purchased by professionals who work a lot with the device. However, the beginner may be unaccustomed, because the stylus is more difficult to control. At first, the hand gets tired quickly.
- Spring-loaded. These nibs have a small spring that softens the pressure of the stylus. They wear out slowly, but you will have to learn to use the device again. Spring-loaded nibs change the pressure force completely.
- Elastic. These are the second most popular nibs. Suitable for painters because their hands get tired slowly. However, they wear out quickly and are expensive.
The choice of nib depends on preference, but professionals recommend taking a closer look at electromagnetic resonance technology. Such styli do not require recharging. The Initial activation force parameter affects pen activation. The lower the value, the faster the stylus will activate when it comes into contact with the tablet.
How to choose the optimal size of a graphics tablet
Even a beginner pays attention to the size of the device, because the usability depends on it. This value is measured in inches (1 inch equals 25.4 mm) and indicated by the diagonal. In this case, a large tablet is not always better than a small one. For the home will be suitable compact versions of 6×8 or even 4×5. This size is enough for the manufacturer to place a powerful iron inside.
Professional artists and photographers prefer large tablets, but the price is the same. Bulky gadgets are uncomfortable because you have to move your hands a lot. If you do not need large canvases, this tablet will be a burden, not a help.
A couple of years ago, the maximum size was 9×12 inches, which corresponded to the diagonal of computer monitors. Over time, they have become larger, and the indicators of the gadgets have grown. Wide-format tablets are produced by Wacom and some Chinese brands, duplicating the original. Thanks to the modern software, the gadget itself adjusts to the monitor. Drivers change automatically, the user only agrees with the result or reject it. Recently, a large tablet was released by Aiptek, which also includes free software.
The last thing to consider when choosing a size is the aspect ratio of the working area. Users of widescreen monitors should buy devices marked wide, that is, wide. Otherwise, a part of the display will not be used, missing the sense of the big screen. If you make a big mistake with the size, the proportions will be distorted.
Professionals themselves install drivers and adjust the size of the tablet to the monitor, but for a beginner it can become an unnecessary difficulty. It is recommended to choose the appropriate diagonal size right away.
How much dpi should a graphics tablet have?
If the images on the tablet look blurry or grainy, it means that the dpi of the drawing is too low for its size. Professionals call this figure DPI, that is the number of dots per inch. Artists sometimes say PPI, because Photoshop and other graphics editors use this value. The meaning of the action is similar, it is important to buy a tablet with the right number of dots per inch. The higher the value, the clearer and brighter the picture or photo will be. Such images look great when printed and zoomed in on.
The DPI, which some manufacturers call the information reading pitch, indicates how many sensors are on the surface of the screen. The higher the value, the more accurate the line and dot transfer will be. Professionals choose graphics tablets with a value of about 5080 dpi, because even at high magnification the picture remains clear. Amateurs and beginners will do 2040 dpi. This is enough to make the lines do not look grainy, and the image was easy to edit and manipulate.
The higher the resolution, the more pixels in an ordinary stroke. Consequently, it is more difficult for the program to process the drawing. For a tablet to cope with such a task, it will need a powerful iron.
Judging by the reviews of professionals, a high resolution is needed only for creating detailed images. Despite the fact that beginners often choose a high value and overpay, many do not use this feature. 2040 dpi is enough to create realistic images and photos of excellent quality.
7. Integrated or discrete graphics card
How to choose the right graphics card for your tablet
There are a total of 2 types of graphics cards installed in graphics tablets: integrated and discrete. The first is integrated, and the second acts through the bus. Both output images to the computer monitor. However, the built-in card can not qualitatively process a complex 3D model. It does not have the necessary cores, shaders, shadows, antialiasing and other modern “chips”. The most popular manufacturers of such cards are Amd Radeon and Intel HD. It is recommended to buy these cards for amateurs, beginners and semi-professionals, because they are much cheaper.
The main difference between the discrete model – the number of cores and bandwidth. Such a video card has modern filters and powerful technologies. As a result, even complex and heavy graphics are produced quickly. Not surprisingly, such graphics cards cost much more, but are very much appreciated by professionals.
If you need a tablet to create simple graphics, standard processing of photos and 2D drawings, the integrated graphics card will do its job well. And if you need a device for 3D modeling and running complex editors that take up many gigabytes of memory, then the discrete will be a better choice.
Modern tablets allow you to connect an additional graphics card to the native integrated. The cost of these gadgets is higher than others, but they grow and evolve with the owner.
How much memory does a graphics tablet need?
RAM is responsible for the operation of all running applications, including graphics editors, photo programs, etc. It consumes energy while it is active, and when it is turned off, all information is deleted. Only the processor cache works faster than RAM, so it directly affects the responsiveness of the tablet. If it is not enough, the multitasking ability of the device will decrease significantly. All downloads will take much longer.
Most inexpensive graphics tablets have memory from 512 mb to 3 gigs. Of course, it is not only responsible for the speed of the device, a lot depends on the operating system. But with Android and Windows everything is simple – the more the better. 512 MB is not enough for most graphics editors. 1 gb is enough to run Photoshop and comfortably save a few medium-sized images.
When buying a new tablet from Apple, RAM is almost irrelevant. The company has optimized the software so that it runs quickly, does not glitch and does not lag behind the actions of the user. 1 gb is enough even for professionals.
9. Wiring and programs
What kind of wires and programs does a graphics tablet need?
A total of 3 options for powering the tablet are possible:
- Cord (from AC power supply);
- Wireless power (only Wacom tablets have it).
For most beginning artists who do not plan to take their graphic tablet with them, a USB power supply connected to a computer will do. Professionals often travel with a gadget and need alternative sources of power.
A tablet of any value requires the right drivers to be installed. These programs control all functions of the device, such as the sensitivity and tilt of the stylus. In most cases, they are installed automatically, especially with proven manufacturers. Buying a very cheap tablet, there is a risk to be left without programs that will have to be purchased additionally.
There are two popular operating systems that are installed in gadgets:
- Microsoft Windows (xp, 7 or 8);
- Mac Os (10.4, 10.5, 10.6).
Depending on the system, the user purchases free software along with the device. Some companies, including Wacom, require online registration to access all the features of the graphics tablet. Many have free libraries with tutorials, others offer a large selection of creative/graphics/design utilities, etc. Before you buy, it is recommended that you review the list of programs that come with it. This will help you save money in the future.
10. Wireless connectivity
Ability to connect your tablet wirelessly
Most modern tablets are capable of operating either USB or wirelessly, but not both at the same time. With quality gadgets, the appropriate mode of action is activated automatically when the device cannot find a wire.
Modern tablets have battery status sensors that are located on the back or side panels. They signal three situations:
- A yellow light if the battery is charging through the wire.
- Green if the battery is fully charged but the cable is connected to the unit.
- Red or off if the tablet is operating in wireless mode.
When choosing a device with wireless connectivity, it is important to pay attention to a few nuances:
- This mode recognizes the monitor up to 10 meters away, often much less. Leaving to another room with a tablet will not work.
- Although it is not necessary to sit with the device directly in front of the computer, many manufacturers warn that other equipment (TVs, computers) creates interference. Even metal objects between the monitor and the tablet affect the signal. It is often uncomfortable to work further than a couple of steps away from the screen.
- For the tablet to work longer, it is important to wait until the system is fully loaded and then turn on wireless mode. Otherwise, programs will start to glitch and respond to user actions with a delay.