Decide on the type of tablet
A graphics tablet digitizes the analog interaction with its surface and brings it to the screen of a computer, mobile device or its own display. This is a modern version of the easel, which can be used not only by artists, but also by designers, photographers, retouchers, animators and editors.
Each format is suitable for different tasks and working methods. Graphic tablets come in three types and differ in design:
- Familiar to most devices with a work surface and a stylus. They are usually used in conjunction with a computer to which they are connected via USB or wirelessly. The user draws on the surface of the graphics tablet and watches the result on the PC monitor. This option is suitable for most tasks for both professionals and beginners. The most budget models are available in this category.
- Interactive gadgets with a screen. They allow you to edit the picture with the stylus directly on the touch screen. In this case, the processing of information is handled by the device to which such a tablet is connected. This option is more like traditional canvas or paper work. Such models are more expensive than the first category and are suitable for professionals in digital painting and 3D modeling.
- Graphic computers. They function without connecting to a PC. These are the most expensive models for professionals. Such gadgets not only have an interactive display installed, but also have their own processor and RAM. If desired, the device can be connected to a computer and used as a touch monitor.
Which graphics tablet to buy
Choose active area size and resolution
When choosing a tablet, you should look first of all at the size of the sensitive area for drawing, and not the entire device. Usually it roughly corresponds to the formats of sheets of paper: A6, A5, A4 and A3. At the same time, remember that ready-made images from the device are easy to scale.
A6 format (148 × 105 mm) is suitable for beginners, photographers and retouchers. A5 (210 × 148 mm) is a more versatile option that will come in handy for both professional artists and novice students. Sizes A4 (297 x 210 mm) and A3 (420 x 297 mm) are more commonly used by professionals to work with a large number of details.
Tablets have a border around the active area. In some devices, it is thin, while in others large additional buttons are installed, which significantly affects the size of the model. The format does not greatly affect the work with graphic editors, but on a wider active space it is more convenient to draw small elements — you do not have to constantly scale and move the layout.
The resolution indicator for graphics tablets without a built-in display is indicated by the LPI value (lines per inch). This is the number of lines per inch that the working area of the device can recognize when moving the stylus over it.
The higher the LPI, the more accurate the image on the screen will be. For beginners, models with an indicator of up to 2,500 LPI are enough. With this level of resolution, you can use all the functions of the gadget and graphics programs. In professional work with a large monitor, the resolution should be higher — about 5,000 LPI.
For interactive models, the diagonal and display resolution are also important. Keep in mind that you will be watching the picture quite close, so it is better to choose a model with a resolution of at least 1920 × 1080 pixels, even for a small screen.
Another indicator of screen quality is the density of pixels per inch (PPI, pixels per inch). The higher the PPI value, the better the picture will look on the screen. For graphics tablets, a good option is 250 PPI or more.
Which graphics tablet to buy
Learn about the main features of the stylus
The stylus, or pen, for a graphics tablet can be wired or wireless. The first option is powered by the device through a cable. And the latter are also divided into two types — with batteries and magnetic resonance. The latter work from the active surface of the tablet.
The magnetic resonance pen is the most convenient, but also the most expensive option. Such a stylus is more compact than a rechargeable one. In addition, with him you don’t have to worry that he will be discharged at the most crucial moment.
When choosing a graphics tablet, check the stylus for the presence of an “eraser” — an analogue of an eraser on a pencil. You also need programmable buttons for working in editors and interchangeable nozzles in the kit. The tips need to be changed regularly — they gradually wear out and can damage the work surface. Specify what consumables are needed for a particular model and their cost.
An important characteristic of the stylus is the maximum reading height. It shows how far from the tablet surface the device detects the pen. A comfortable value for work is at least 6 mm. If it is lower, then annoying errors like random strokes can occur.
The tilt of the pen helps control the thickness of the line and makes the process similar to drawing with a pencil. Usually this figure is 60 degrees.
The accuracy of the stylus shows the error in millimeters within which the tablet reads the touch of the tool. The smaller the value, the finer strokes can be made without magnification.
In budget devices, lines can merge with each other, while in models of the middle segment and in professional accuracy, there is enough for very small details. At the moment, gadget manufacturers most often offer an accuracy of about 0.3 mm, which is quite enough for most creative tasks.
Consider pen responsiveness and pressure sensitivity
Different manufacturers indicate the response speed with their own version of the indicator: RPS (report per second), PPS (points per second) or DPS (dots per second). This characteristic indicates how many points the touch surface recognizes per second, or how many times per second the sensor transmits to the computer information that the stylus is on its surface. If the value is low, then the cursor will move slower than the tool.
The higher the sensitivity, the more responsive the surface and the smoother the lines will be. For budget tablets, this indicator is usually in the range from 100 to 150 points, and for professional tablets — from 200 and above.
The pressure sensitivity of a pen means how precisely you can control it. The indicator is measured in levels, and the higher it is, the better for detailed work. Depending on the sensitivity to pressure, you can adjust the thickness of the lines, color saturation, transparency and naturalness of the shadows.
For beginners, a tablet with a sensitivity of up to 2,048 levels is suitable. This is enough for sketches and simple illustrations. Professionals, on the other hand, need a value of 4,096 levels to work on complex designs or animations.
Learn the input method
Graphics tablets have two input options. The model either recognizes only touches with the stylus, or also determines the simultaneous interaction with the hand.
Pen-only models will cost less, but they have limitations that slow down the creative process. When scaling and flipping, you have to make a lot of unnecessary movements. But for beginners, this will be quite enough: at the initial stage, there is no particular need to use additional functions often.
Touch-pen type input recognizes multiple simultaneous touches. In this case, the active area also works as a touchpad on a laptop. In multi-touch mode, you can move the image with your fingers, change the scale and switch active files. Models of this type are suitable for professionals and are more expensive.
Which graphics tablet to buy
Understand the type of connection
According to the type of connection, tablets are divided into wired and wireless, if they are not standalone graphics computers.
Wireless connect to a PC or mobile gadget via Bluetooth. Usually in such models a rechargeable battery is installed, the capacity of which should be considered when buying. These devices allow you to draw not only sitting at a table in one position, but also lying on a comfortable sofa or chair without annoying wires. But there are drawbacks: you have to regularly recharge the battery, there may be connection problems and slow response.
Wired tablets connect via USB or HDMI to the main device. They don’t need batteries or battery recharging. A suitable USB port is found in most modern gadgets, so models of this type are more versatile. The cable connection works quickly and does not interfere with interference. But at the same time there is no freedom in the location of the workplace.
Which graphics tablet to buy
Check compatibility with operating systems
When choosing the right pen tablet, consider which operating systems the device software is compatible with. If you have to connect the model to different software environments, then choose the one that works stably with both Windows and macOS and mobile platforms.
In some cases, you will need to install the drivers manually. Also pay attention to the compatibility of the model with popular graphic editors like Photoshop and Illustrator.
Pay attention to additional features
The ergonomics of the stylus and its weight are important. Too light a tool can be uncomfortable and feel unnatural, and a heavy one will tire your hands faster. The optimal pen weight is from 16 to 22 grams, although it is better to focus on your own feelings.
It is convenient when tablets have built-in hotkeys. These can be physical buttons on a frame around the active drawing surface, or digital buttons on the screen. They can be programmed for the functions you need and the quick execution of chains of actions.
It is desirable that the tablet has a durable case. Most models use ABS plastic. Make sure that the surface is free from roughness and damage, and that it does not squeak when pressed.
For a portable device, consider weight. Small graphics tablets weigh about 300 grams, while large ones weigh about a kilogram. This is an important feature for those who will often carry the gadget with them.
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