Drawing tablets and applications for different users of digital drawing

by Cheuk Man Chung, Joyce, Design Studio Member, Feb 2020

A lot of people like to draw and paint. Since access to technology is getting very wide spread in our societies, most people have thought about trying to do digital drawing. However, it is very hard to use a mouse to do digital drawing all the time. And a lot of beginners of digital drawing can easily have the misconcept that drawing tablets are very expensive or that if they are cheap, they will not last long or the functions are useless.

From my perspective, there are mainly three types of users who would want advice on buying drawing tablets:

  1. Beginners who just want to try digital drawing, they are just doing that for fun. They like drawing but they may not spend a lot of time drawing.

  2. Academic users: students on courses that require them to have drawing tablets for learning.

  3. Professionals: this kind of user they already has the experience of how to do various kinds of digital drawing. They want more functions and better resolution to make their work better.

Beginners

Since they have not tried any digital tablets at all, they already know they might not use the tablets that often and that tablets with too many functions would be complicated. They want something cheap that is satisfying their requirements. For this kind of user, I have two recommendations. One is for users that already have an Apple iPad or another tablet (option1), another one is for users that do not have any iPad (option2).

Student users

For this type of users, let us set their budget at under £500 (in case a student not only needs to buy the drawing board but might also need money for other devices). For this kind of user, I would recommend some tablets that are cheaper but more functional (option3). However, depending on their budget, academic course, and the skills that a student user already has you might also want to look at more expensive and functional options in this category (option4).

Professionals

My option4 also includes some tablets that have exceptionally good function range but are a little bit more expensive. The reason being that this 3rd type of users will use drawing tablets to earn money. So, they will not try to save money as much as other types of users and be more concerned about functionality. People who aim to be illustrators, graphic designers, and animators will have higher requirements of drawing tablets, thus my option4 is preferable for them.

Option1: Computer tablet

The apple store or Google play have many applications that can make common tablets have the same functions as specialized drawing ones. If you do not want to spend any money on applications, you can use Autodesk Sketchbook, Adobe Comp cc, or Adobe Illustrator Draw. If you do not mind paying, Procreate is an application I am personally using, it is very convenient compared to a lot of free applications that I have tried.

Apple:

iPad keeps updating applications for drawing, so they will not get outdated and have other functions to offer so even if a person just tries digital drawing and becomes not interested in it, they can still use the tablet in different ways.

I would also recommend buying an apple pencil (£89-119 but apple pencil2.0 only support 2018 and 2020 iPad Pro) or if they do not want to spend too much money, they can buy a digital drawing pen (around £20) which usually can be used with an iPad as well (ask seller about the compatibility).

Also, iPad Pro is a particularly good computer tablet for drawing, but this is quite expensive if you buy the device and the apple pencil. From my own experience, when I bought iPad Pro12.9 and Apple pencil2.0, it took me so long to consider it. Combined with two of them it was around 10000HKD even though I got a student discount at that point. Personally, it was worth it for me. I did a lot of research and user review before I bought this tablet. Apple pencil2.0 compared to Apple pencil1.0, is easier to charge and the pen cap was not so easy to lose. Also, it is shorter than 1.0, and more comfortable when you are drawing.

Android:

If using the Android system, users would have different kinds of drawing pen options. Almost every app that the Apple store has, Android users would be able to download too.

Applications for Apple and Android:

 

App
 Apple 
 Android 
Brushes
Notes
Procreate~£4136Supports both CMYK and RGB colour formats
Affinity DesignerFreeFree100+
Adobe Illustrator DrawFreeFreeAvailable to download
ArtRage~£4£4.79Can create custom brushes
Autodesk SketchbookFreeFreeAvailable to download
Adobe Comp ccFreeFreeCan use images to capture and create brushes
Adobe Photoshop SketchFreeFreeAvailable to download
MediBang PaintFreeFreeAvailable to download
Linea SketchFree7Automatically recommends matching colours

Option2: Very cheap tablet for users who want their first experience

My option2 will give you advice on some cheaper but functional tablets:


Huion H430P(£26.98)
Further information: https://www.huion.com/pen_tablet/Inspiroy/H430P.html

If you are not sure whether a drawing tablet is something that you will use regularly enough to justify the cost, this offers the basic functions of drawing tablets. The price is low compared to a lot of other drawing tables but the drawing area is also smaller. (If you want to look for similar choices, Wacom has a similar tablet like this one). I bought one from Wacom that was like this one too, but I prefer to see what I am drawing on the tablet itself rather than looking at the monitor and drawing on a tablet. It depends on each person’s drawing habits.

I got my first drawing tablet when I was 10, at that age parents may not want to spend too much money on children’s hobbies. I did not enjoy this kind of drawing tablet that much when I was little, but a lot of my friends the same age as me used it very often and drew very well. It might take time to get used to it. Even though using this tablet is not that different from drawing on paper, a lot of people still enjoy it to explore the fun of digital drawing, thanks to various brushes, colour control panels; plus it is easier to fix mistakes when you are drawing digitally.

Option3: Price affordable, more functions than option2

 


XP-Pen Artist 15.6 pen display (£270-320)
Further information: https://www.xp-pen.com/product/60.html


Wacom Intuos Pro (£185.88-371.31)
Further information: https://www.wacom.com/en-us/products/pen- tablets/wacom-intuos-pro

These tablets are relatively affordable and have all the basics. Either one is a solid, realistic choice for a student who considers their budget. It also can be used in two systems (windows and mac), so it is very suitable for students.

Option4 for Professionals:

 


Wacom Cintiq 22 (£869.99)
Further information: https://www.wacom.com/en-us/products/pen-displays/cintiq-22-hd


Wacom Cintiq 16 (£512.78)
Further information: https://www.wacom.com/en-us/products/pen-displays/wacom-cintiq-pro-16

Final Tips

The recommendations above are a personal view, if you are browsing for more options, here are some further tips for you:

Size:

Choose a suitable size for the drawing area and match the size of the tablet with your computer screen size. If you are accustomed to using the power of the elbow with an animation pen, I suggest buying a drawing board of bigger size, if you are not, medium-size, or small size would be better.

Pen pressure sensitivity:

For beginners suggest not to choose too high pen pressure sensitivity, as it would be too hard for them to control.

Three brands I would recommend you to look out for:

1. Wacom
2. XP-PEN
3. HUION

Did you find any drawing tablets you were interested in so far?

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