What is a Graphics Tablet?
A graphics tablet (also known as a pen tablet, drawing tablet or digitizer) is a hardware input device used primarily by digital artists. Graphics tablets have a touch-sensitive drawing surface with up to 2048 levels of pen pressure sensitivity that transfers stylus movements to a monitor. The position of the stylus directly correlates to the position of the cursor on the monitor. It takes a while to get used to drawing on the tablet surface, but once you get over the learning curve, it’s as natural as using a pen or pencil on paper.
There are several brands of graphic tablets on the market, Wacom being the most popular manufacturer by far so we’ll use them as an example with products ranging from the Wacom Intuos Pen range on the low end, the Wacom Intuos Pro range in the mid-range and the Wacom Cintiq range on the high end in terms of price and features.
What is a Mouse?
I’m sure we’re all familiar with this device by now, especially if you consider yourself a CG Artist, whether in 2D or 3D but if you’re not, (for whatever reason) a mouse is a pointing device that detects two-dimensional motion relative to a surface and allows an individual to control a pointer on a graphical user interface and manipulate on-screen objects such as icons, files, and folders.
Which is better?
It all comes down to a matter of opinion and preference but most people who’ve used both devices swear by the Pen & Tablet and have very compelling facts and arguments that a pen & tablet is better than a mouse some of which are:
- Pressure sensitivity, the ability to control design software tools by varying how much you depress the pen tip onto the tablet surface, something not capable with a mouse.
- Ease of drawing or painting in a natural way since most people are familiar with pens and their ergonomic design.
- They reduce repetitive stress injuries and help ward off carpal tunnel syndrome due to their ergonomic design.
Which Graphics tablet should you get?
This is an entry-level drawing tablet. You can use it for sketching, painting, doodling, notes, and more. You can retouch photos with it as well. The Intuos line is a great starter model if you want an inexpensive way to try out a drawing tablet.
There are 4 different models of the Intuos. You have the Intuos Pen, the Intuos Pen & Touch, Intuos Manga and the Intuos Pro. There are significant differences between the models, so the choice really comes down to what you are looking for in a tablet. The Intuos Pen does not have eraser features on the stylus. This feature is handy, because it allows you to flip the stylus around and erase a mistake like you would with a normal pencil. Thankfully though they all come with wireless capability.
The Intuos Pro is further split into 3 sizes, Intuos Pro Small, Intuos Pro Medium and Intuos Pro Large. Besides their varying sizes, the only difference among these three different models is that the small model only has 6 express keys, and the two larger models have 8. Express keys allow you to customize your settings and create hotkeys for different actions that you perform frequently.
The Intuos line supports pen tilt recognition, meaning that the tablet recognizes when you are tilting the pen at an angle, and the brush or software reacts to the tilt of the stylus. The Intuos models also feature a multi-function touch ring. You can set the scroll wheel to control different aspects of your stylus. A good example would be setting the scroll wheel to control brush size. Scroll in a clockwise motion, and the brush gets larger. Spin it the opposite way, and the brush gets smaller.
The Intous line also supports multi-touch functionality, which means that you use your fingers to perform different tasks. Different multi-touch gestures will complete common task in a flick of the fingers. This line of tablets gives you a great deal of control with a lot of customizable express keys to save you a lot of time and make your work a lot sharper.
Intuos Pen – $79 or Ksh 7,000.
Intuos Manga – $99 or Ksh 9,000.
Intuos Pro Small – $249 or Ksh 22,000.
Intuos Pro Medium – $349 or Ksh 30,500.
Intuos Pro Large – $499 or Ksh 44,000.
The Cintiq line of tablets is unique in the sense that instead of drawing on a tablet, you can draw directly on the screen itself. This is extremely accurate and it’s the ultimate way to work traditionally on a digital canvas. The real difference here is portability. Obviously, these models are more fragile and hard to move between offices or studios. These tablets are fairly expensive as well and aren’t meant for beginners or drawing hobbyists.
Starting Price – $999 or Ksh 90,000.