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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. 11th, 2016 07:05 am (UTC)
**It's probably worth noting that almost all of my professional work is done using a mouse in vector programs, so people with the goal to purchase a tablet for professional work and commissions may find my comment less helpful than comments by others who do use their tablets for professional grade work**

Tablets I have used:

Bamboo Fun - this I had a very long time ago, I don't think they even sell the exact Fun model that I used any more. It worked well enough, eventually the wire just came loose so I needed to replace it. It did always feel kind of 'cheap' and flimsy in terms of the plastic but it always worked alright. I will say that back then, this was an expensive choice for the quality of tablet, I believe the price of Wacom's Bamboo line has dropped since then to make it more affordable.

Monoprice - this is the tablet I've had for the past seven? years. It's held up extremely well for how long I've had it, is very large and sturdy and professional-feeling, especially for the price. I can't quite figure out how to change the settings for the quick-select buttons, but I was not particularly inclined to use them anyway. I WILL SAY that this might not be such a good option if you struggle with 'off-roading' with software etc. I have to carefully google what drivers to download for my monoprice whenever I get a new computer. Whereas with something like a Wacom you can just go to their website and search for your product and get the most up-to-date drivers very easily.

I used both these tablets with Photoshop Elements and Paint Tool Sai; I've also used the Monoprice tablet with Inkscape, although I don't do it very often and I do have some trouble with pen sensitivity etc. but I think that's on Inkscape not on the tablet. Always used them on Windows OS - I do have a split Windows/Linux operating system but I have never tried them on the Linux OS. I believe the Bamboo Fun I used on mostly Dell computers? Since I got the Monoprice I've had two Lenovo laptops and am now using an Acer, it seems to work just as well on either one.


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