Choosing a graphics tablet can be difficult, especially with all these terms and lingo you need to be aware of in order to make an informed decision when you're trying to pick the best graphics tablet for you. This can be even more difficult when it's your first time picking out a tablet.
That's why I've put together this nice little guide to help you choose the best graphics tablet for your needs.
What Kind Of User Are You?
Graphics tablets come in many different shapes and sizes. If you want to find the best graphics tablet for your needs the first thing you should identify the what kind of user you are.
For example, some graphics tablets come with a display that you can directly draw on so you don't even need to look up at your computer screen to work. This may be beneficial for industry artists but someone just looking to get into digital drawing as a hobby may find that the cost of a tablet display just isn't worth it.
Once you've identified what your needs are you can (with maybe a little help from review sites like this one!) find the best drawing tablet for you.
The size of the area of the tablet that you can draw on, called the active area of the tablet, should be chosen based on two factors: The size of the computer screen and your style of drawing. Let me elaborate.
Imagine you have a 27 inch computer monitor and buy the Huion Giano WH1409. This tablet has an active area of 20.5 x 11.1 inches(which is huge, by the way).
You won't have a hard time finding drawing space with this tablet on your monitor because the computer monitor is only 7 inches larger than the active area of the tablet.
Now imagine you have the same computer monitor but you bought the Huion H420, which has a much smaller active area of 4.0 x 2.23 inches. You'd keeping hitting the edge of the tablet whenever you drew on it! You'd be stuck drawing masterpieces for ants.
It's also important to take into account your style of drawing when choosing the active area of your tablet.
If you naturally draw with bigger strokes you may want to go bigger with your active area while a person who draws with smaller strokes may be fine with a more modest size.
The responsiveness of a tablet means how often the tablet successfully and accurately renders what the user has drawn on the tablet.
Two of the most important factors in finding a tablets responsiveness are its resolution and RPS (Reports per second), also called PPS (Points per second).
The resolution of a tablet is measured in LPI (lines per inch). Dots are placed in lines and are measured by how close together they are on the grid they create.
The higher the LPI, the more detail and sharpness your drawings will have when using the tablet.
RPS is simply how many times the tablet notifies your computer where the stylus is located on the surface of the tablet. Like with the resolution, you want a tablet with higher RPS as a tablet with low RPS will create jagged lines.
Are you a shortcut junkie? Then express keys are exactly what you need!
Express keys are buttons usually found on the side of the tablet that can be assigned certain shortcuts on your computer to execute when pressed.
The thinking behind this is that when you're grinding away on your latest masterpiece you won't have to reach over to your keyboard and mouse to undo something or change a color; you can just press a button and you're back to drawing!
You will find express keys on almost all tablets; even some of the cheapest tablet models have at least four.
Some tablets even have extra things like scroll wheels that can mimic the mouse wheel and do things like zoom in and out, scroll through different tools, etc.
However, if you're the type of person that thinks you might not have any use for these things you may be able to save a few dollars by buying one of the few models that doesn't include express keys.
Researching the stylus that comes with your tablet is another important step to take when choosing which tablet is the best graphics tablet for you.
Think about it, this is the tool you'll be using to draw on the tablet. If the stylus that comes with the tablet doesn't work for you then what good is the tablet itself?
Some things to consider about the design of the stylus are the grip of the pen, how comfortable is it? Does it have a good weight to it? What about the length? If you have larger hands you may need a different type of stylus than a person with smaller hands. All these things are usually mentioned in reviews as these are things people usually notice when testing out a tablet.
Another thing to consider is the type of stylus that you're getting.
There are some stylus' that are battery-powered, meaning you'll either have to switch out the batteries every few weeks or plug the stylus into your computer to charge depending on the brand. Another type of stylus requires no battery at all and may be less of a hassle to deal with.
Keep in mind that depending on where and if there is a battery in your stylus there may be difference in weight. This is something else to consider when researching which graphics tablet is the best for you.
This is something else related to the stylus but I believed it was important enough to warrant its own section.
The pressure sensitivity of a tablet is how many levels of pressure from the stylus the tablet can register.
When you draw with pencil and paper, the harder you press on the paper when drawing, the harder the line, right? The same goes with drawing tablets.
Pressure sensitivity levels can go up to 3000 but usually tablets will either have 1024 or 2048 levels. The more levels of pressure sensitivity your tablet has the more line variety you will be able to have in your drawings.
Another thing that's worth noting about stylus' is tilt sensitivity.
Usually included in higher-price models, tilt sensitivity measures how the stylus is tilted and changes the line accordingly to match the tilt.
This is more important if you're looking to use your tablet for digital painting rather than just drawing, but is still something worth considering when choosing your tablet.
Choosing the right graphics tablet can be a challenge, but now that you know all the terms and things to look for I hope you're empowered to make an informed decision about your graphics tablet.
Feel free to contact me through the contact form or by leaving a comment on this or any post and I'll do my best to help you with whatever you need.