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Community Tablet Discussion

Hello! This is a post we've decided to make to help people who are shopping around for digital art tablets. Much of this will rely on user input, along with our own personal recommendations.

Whether you're a beginner or an experienced artist, shopping for a tablet can be one of the most individual, confusing experiences out there. There are so many different kinds at different pricepoints, but be aware that as a general rule, tablets are 'get what you pay for'. What you need will depend quite a bit on what you plan to do with it. If you're a casual doodler, you likely won't need a $400 dollar Intuous, much less a $1600 dollar Cintiq.

The first thing to figure out is your personal preference in regards to drawing on a traditional tablet, or if you're more comfortable drawing directly on a screen. Just be aware that the latter options, while lacking the mental disconnect between screen and where you draw that normal tablets have, are often far more expensive. I highly recommend doing everything you can to test between the two types before deciding to make a purchase, but if you are unable to do so there are many cheap traditional tablets you could try just to get a feel for it.

For easy reference, I will refer to the type of tablet that you draw on which is separate from your monitor as a 'traditional' tablet, and the type where you draw on it directly as a 'cintiq-type' (as that's most recognizable for people).

For beginners, here is a small list of cheap, traditional tablets I have heard of that you may wish to try, all under $100:




Wacom Intuous Draw

Wacom Intuous Refurbished

These are small, cheap tablets that would be good for beginners to try while they work to get used to digital art and the disconnect between the tablet and the screen.

If you are an artist who is looking to upgrade from a cheap traditional tablet to something better, my -personal- recommendation based on experience is the Wacom Intuous 4. I took art as a contract job for a website and needed something better than what I had, and have not regretted my purchase since. My only complaint would be the rough surface texture, which will eat through your nibs, but I got around this easily via a screen covers.

The Wacom Intuous series are widely regarded as the best tablets on the market, thus the expense.

There are many options, however, and many artists will go through a couple of tablets before finding one that suits all their needs, so don't be discouraged if it takes you a few tries. It's usually fairly easy to re-sell a lightly used tablet or to donate them if you're feeling generous.

As for cintiq-type tablets, you may be able to try them via display models at stores. Unfortunately, unless you manage to find a good deal for something probably refurbished or heavily used, you are unlikely to find one that won't cost at least a couple hundred dollars, which is a costly gamble to take for something you might not like in the end (I have tried cintiqs and personally didn't care for it, myself). I would definitely recommend at least making a real effort to get used to traditional tablets before giving up, as it can a while. It took me over a year to get the hang of one!

I am now opening the comments for discussion over people's experiences and recommendations for tablets so this can become a post that is a good resource for new and not-new artists! What tablets have you tried? What were the pros and cons? Are you looking for recommendations based on your needs? Go for it.

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Nov. 9th, 2016 05:17 pm (UTC)
Allow me to preface my opinion with the fact that I do not take art commissions any longer (unless there's some crazy emergency), I'm a fursuit maker but draw on the side. I stopped taking commissions 3 years ago. On the flip side, I've owned and traded over 10 tablets, most were Wacom and one Monoprice. The longest tablet I held onto was a Wacom Pen and Touch, lasted from 2007 to 2014.

If you're starting out with digital art or want to upgrade your mouse and hand method to using a tablet, I'd recommend starting out with a tablet under $100, especially if it is from Wacom. It usually comes bundled with freeware (they used to bundle with Photoshop) and it's a great stepping stone. I've seen some people go full in with a more expensive $500 Intuous large and absolutely hate it, even saw someone convert back to mouse/hand.

Once you feel comfortable using a smaller tablet and get a hang of it, then I'd recommend upgrading. The largest tablet I've personally owned is a Wacom Intuous Medium, it's a bit large for me but it's nice. I might re-sell it as I don't have time to draw any more and the massive drawing space is a bit overwhelming.

If someone wants to buy a Cintique(?) I'd recommend trying one out before buying one. They're a huge investment and may not be worth it in the end, especially if you do art as a hobby or rely on large screens. It's perfectly okay to be a full time artist and not own one of these.

If you rely heavily on strokes for your style or it's how you work, make sure you READ the description of the tablet you're purchasing. I'm huge on pen pressure so that's a determining factor for me. There's people who don't mind and either go with the bold, flat strokes or use the eraser tool to minimize their lines in certain areas.

Final note, my experience with the Monoprice wasn't well. I personally didn't like it, it felt cheap compared to the Wacom. There's people who really enjoy them though!

- If you're just starting out, get a small, cheaper Wacom tablet.
- If you draw small, use a smaller tablet. If you need a lot of swoop space upgrade to a larger one.


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