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What is a Graphics Tablet?

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016 by | Filed Under: Hardware & Peripherals, Uncategorized
 
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Are you an artist? Do you enjoy drawing or doodling in your spare time, or even professionally? If so, you may be interested in exploring the world of digital art, and with it, the possibility of a graphics tablet. The truth is, artists around the world use graphics tablets to do their work, either as a hobby or in a professional environment. If you’re itching to open some drawing software and create some professional-looking artwork, a tablet may just be what you need to get started.

What is a Graphics Tablet?

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Let’s explore what a graphics tablet is, exactly.  If you played around in Paint for a little while, you’ll discover that drawing with a mouse is very hard, especially on a level that looks professional. Mice can be used for vector-based arts, where you click on points on a canvas and allow the computer to do the drawing for you. When it comes to sketches, drawings, and even digital watercolors, mice can be very hard (if not impossible!) to get a good result from.

That’s why many people who want to get into digital drawing purchase a graphics tablet. Don’t be mistaken; these are different from regular tablets, such as the iPad. These are pads you plug into the PC via USB, and usually don’t have a screen unless you pay a premium price for one. The tablet also comes with a stylus, and decent tablet models will also have pressure sensitivity within the stylus.

The idea is that you use the stylus like a pen, pencil, or even a brush, and then make strokes on the tablet. This then translates to the computer as pen strokes, allowing you to draw efficiently as if it were on paper. Of course, how the strokes are represented depends on the art program you’re using. You probably won’t see much difference if you used a tablet in Paint, but if you used more specialist art programs such as Photoshop, GIMP, Paint Tool SAI or FireAlpaca, the difference is vastly noticeable for mouse vs. tablet.

What Kind Of Tablets Are Available?

Tablets range from simple  luxury models and for all levels of artist. Let’s look at what’s available.

Lower Range

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Low range models tend to come in around $70 to $80 mark in terms of price. While they can be quite small and lack some of the more premium features, you can find excellent entry-level tablets.

Be sure to check the reviews and specifications of any tablet you purchase. For tablets in the lower price range, you can still expect  some nice features, such as side buttons on the stylus you can assign specific actions to, and pressure sensitivity for variable stroke sizes. These make them ideal for curious beginners who don’t want to shell out  a fortune, but still , but want more features than a mouse.

Tomorrow, in part of this article, we’ll look at higher end tablets and what they have to offer.

~ Simon

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